Exclusive First Look: Campagnolo Athena EPS

We get an exclusive peek at Campag's new electronic groupset, and put it on the scales

by David Arthur   August 16, 2012  

The most hotly anticipated product release of the year is arguably Campagnolo's Athena EPS (Electric Power Shift) electronic groupset.

Taking the decision to skip Chorus, Campag they've trickled the EPS technology straight from Super Record to the more affordable Athena range. It's a clear move to compete at the "bikes most people can actually afford to buy" end of the market and as such, puts it in direct competition with Shimano's Ultegra Di2.

You can read more about the new Athena EPS groupset in our first look article. And Mat took a Super Record EPS groupset for a ride late last year.

The very first groupsets landed at distributor i-ride's East Sussex office earlier this week. They've recieved just eight groupsets so far, destined to be built onto De Rosa Merak bikes (more on that later). We dashed down there yesterday, camera and scales in hand, to give you the very first look at the new groupset. And here it is. Looks nice, doesn't it?

Claimed weight for the lot is is around 2,500g (similar to Ultegra Di2). We thought it would be interesting to weigh some of the key components and see how they look on the scales. Here we go...

Front derailleur
Price £341.99
Weight 152g

Rear derailleur
Price £374.99
Weight 228g

EPS interface
Price £102.99
Weight 20g

Power unit
Price £303.99
Weight 166g

Ergopower shifters
Price £210.99
Weight 285g

Athena EPS Power-Torque chainset
Price £330
Weight 645g

11-speed chain
Price £41.99
Weight 251g

Power-Torque OS-Fit integrated cups
Price £29.99
Weight 91g

11-speed cassette
Price £137.99
Weight 258g

Skeloton brake callipers
Price £115
Weight 312g

An Athena EPS groupset is going to cost you between £1,899 and £2,000. Unfortunately, for anyone hoping to mix some Athena parts with Record or Super Record, Campagnolo have reversed the polarity so they are not compatible.

Thanks to the guys at www.i-ride.co.uk for making me feel at home and letting me snap the new groupset.

14 user comments

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"Unfortunately, for anyone hoping to mix some Athena parts with Record or Super Record, Campagnolo have reversed the polarity so they are not compatible."

Oh yes, we wouldn't want any of that nasty, convenient compatibility creeping into anything!!

Exercising my rights by taking them cycling

posted by pedalingparamedic [86 posts]
16th August 2012 - 16:17

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pedalingparamedic wrote:
"Unfortunately, for anyone hoping to mix some Athena parts with Record or Super Record, Campagnolo have reversed the polarity so they are not compatible."

Oh yes, we wouldn't want any of that nasty, convenient compatibility creeping into anything!!

Typical Campag. F***wits. Japanese (and now Americans) leaving them for dead again by providing boring old consistency.

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posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
16th August 2012 - 16:29

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to be fair to campag, shimano's first two groupsets weren't compatible either Nerd

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7320 posts]
16th August 2012 - 17:15

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G-bitch wrote:
Typical Campag. F***wits. Japanese (and now Americans) leaving them for dead again by providing boring old consistency.

Typical f***wit. Doesn't know anything about Di2.

posted by robert.brady [146 posts]
16th August 2012 - 18:34

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It goes way back before the electronic groupsets - backwards incompatability was pioneered by Shimano in the 80s - the AX groupset included a 10mm pitch chain!

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [360 posts]
16th August 2012 - 18:53

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Quote:
Campagnolo have reversed the polarity so they are not compatible.

Ah yes, the Pertwee Methodology.

Is there any more pointless "invention" than electronic bicycle gears? Personally, I find the manual action required to pick my nose too strenuous, so I am going to invent an electronic nose picking device. The top-of-the-range will be made out of printed titanium, but I'll make some concessions to the plebs and produce a machined aluminium version for the low, low price of £1,899. But I'll design it so you'll have to buy two, one for each nostril.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
16th August 2012 - 20:13

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OOPs, your Shimano history is off.
Here is their catalog view for track only 10mm pitch parts.
http://sheldonbrown.com/shimano1982/pages/11.html

Shut up legs, you don't get a vote.

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posted by ridein [48 posts]
16th August 2012 - 22:07

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So this will retail for just under what Evans are asking for the jamis quest complete bike which comes with DI2? Hmmm.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3099 posts]
16th August 2012 - 22:09

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Just a small point, but if it really is just reversed polarity at the connectors that's not a terribly hard thing to work around.

It'd be quite interesting (though not that much money worth of interesting, to me) to put a scope/logic analyser on the lines to see how hey're doing the signalling.

posted by steff [81 posts]
16th August 2012 - 22:59

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dave_atkinson wrote:
to be fair to campag, shimano's first two groupsets weren't compatible either Nerd

True, but at least Shimano has an excuse - the new DI2 uses CAN bus, which eliminated the need for a central processing unit. It's an improvment over the older DI2, and is why the car industry moved to CAN bus. How is reversed polarity an improvement?

posted by Shanghaied [41 posts]
17th August 2012 - 14:00

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I have a friend who's been using Shinano Di2 for a year now - had nothing but trouble and is seriously thinking of returning to cables. Weight of front and rear mech cables versus battery pack anyone??

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1058 posts]
17th August 2012 - 16:46

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Get a grip, super record ti carb is approx 600 quid cheaper, works better and is 600 grams lighter. Mmm.tough decision.

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
17th August 2012 - 17:37

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It's partly about horses for courses.

EPS & Di2 both allow for a different kind of shifting. With a directly-actuated, motor driven shift, Campagnolo or Shimano, there are several things that become possible, which are extremely difficult if not impossible with mechanical shift as we have it now.

Examples:

Shifting, front or rear, up or down, under full gas is possible and very predictable - much harder to do with mechanical.

Wide ratio shifts at the front end become easier to facilitate - so 52/36 is an option, and easier to actuate, even for those with small hands, or those who suffer badly in the cold.

Exact re-alignment with a correctly matched cassette following a wheel change which displaces the cassette left or right relative to the frame ... you can't do that with a mechanical system quickly, and definitely not in the saddle whilst riding. With an electronic (EPS) or electro-mechanical (Di2 / Ui2) system you can.

Routine maintenance is reduced, in so far as there is no degradation of shift caused by degradation of cable inners and outers. OK, the battery needs to be charged, so that might be seen as an additional maintenance hassle not present with mechanical, so maybe that's a neutral point.

On the flip, there is a weight penalty, and not all riders will find the above characteristics useful, or sufficient reason to change.

Riders for whom weight is paramount will probably continue to use mechanical systems. Riders who need other characteristics now have the option of looking at EPS and Di2.

Personally, as someone who was very, very skeptical, having been a wires and springs man for all of my 30 years as a mechanic, I am now a convert to the benefits where they apply ... even though being involved with the inner workings of EPS took me well outside of my comfort zone.

I'd say ride it, draw up a pros and cons list, then make your choice, but don't dismiss it until you have had opportunity to ride a significant distance over some varying terrian.

This week I have mostly been riding a Mondiale in Deda V107 with Campagnolo Super Record 11 ...

posted by velotech_cycling [74 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 22:24

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There are also some small changes in the software that require compatible interface and power units - these changes will also flow across to Record / Super Record. This is a part of the reason for wanting to ensure that complete systems are sold, and sold to dealers with access to compatibility information.

The changes are not mission-critical, they are very small tweaks related to increasing battery life under some circumstances and a very small change to the shift protocol in top gear. They require an interaction of the PU and the interface, but if one of the two partners carries older software, that's OK - the changes degrade gracefully, as the IT bods put it.

Campag would, however, prefer the system to behave as well as they can make it behave, so prefer to avoid a mix-and-match approach.

This week I have mostly been riding a Mondiale in Deda V107 with Campagnolo Super Record 11 ...

posted by velotech_cycling [74 posts]
3rd October 2012 - 22:35

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