Campagnolo, based in Vicenza, Italy, is arguably the most prestigious of the three major road bike groupset manufacturers – the other two being Shimano and SRAM. Established back in 1933, it’s a company with unrivalled heritage, riders from Gino Bartali to Vincenzo Nibali having won countless top-level races using Campagnolo components.
Campagnolo products aren’t specced as original equipment on bikes as widely as components from either Shimano or SRAM because it caters only to the mid and high levels of the market.
Campagnolo offers seven groupset levels from Veloce at the entry level right up to Super Record. The top three groupsets – Super Record, Record and Chorus – come in both mechanical and electronic versions. Campagnolo calls its electronic systems EPS: Electronic Power Shift. Super-Record EPS is used by UCI WorldTeams UAE Team Emirates, Movistar and Lotto-Soudal.
Campagnolo also makes disc brakes for some of its groupsets, and a in 2017 announced a mid-range 11-speed groupset, Centaur. Centaur is intended to compete directly with Shimano's 105 group, and we may see more Campagnolo parts of complete bikes as a result.
Most recently, Campagnolo announced that the next incarnation of the top-level Record and Super Record mechanical groupsets would offer 12 sprockets, so let's first take a look at those new components.
In Spring of 2018 both Campagnolo and Shimano announced gear systems with 12 sprockets and double chainrings. The catch is that only Campagnolo’s 12-speed Record and Super Record systems are for road bikes; Shimano’s 12-speed XTR system is aimed at mountain bikers, though it does strongly hint at what we’ll see in the next iteration of Dura-Ace.
For the 12-speed systems Campagnolo has announced all-new chainsets, front and rear derailleurs, rim and disc brakes, and shift/brake levers. However, the 12-speed kit will be compatible with existing 11-speed wheels and frames, so there’s an upgrade path for Campagnolo aficionados who already have a prized frame with an 11-speed group.
A key feature of the new groupsets is that they simplify some aspects of bike set-up. Instead of a multitude of cassette options there are just two: 11-29 and 11-32. The gaps between gears are small, so Campagnolo reasons you might as well have an emergency bail-out gear or two. Racing cyclists have long chosen smooth gear transitions instead of gear range; when you have 12 sprockets you no longer need to make that choice.
There’s also just one rear derailleur, rather than the usual pair of derailleurs for narrow- and wide-range sprockets. That will allow race mechanics to easily swap to the larger sprocket set for hilly days. A team leader and climbing specialist might stick with the 11-29, but a domestique whose job it is to bury himself pacing the leader on the lower slopes will likely appreciate that 32-tooth sprocket when his main work is done.
The 12-speed chainsets will be available in four crank lengths (165mm,
170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm) and three chainring combinations (50/34, 53/39
There are many more clever details to the 12-speed Record and Super Record groups, like adjustable brake lever reach, magnetic ‘springs’ in the disc brake calipers and a rear derailleur design that more accurately tracks the sprockets than before.
The rim-brake versions of Record and Super Record 12-speed are already available from a limited number of retailers; the disc-brake versions are due later in the year.
Campagnolo Super Record EPS
Campagnolo’s three electronic groupsets – Super Record, Record and Chorus – are powered by a rechargeable unit that’s positioned within the seatpost or frame.
From a user’s point of view, they all work in the same way, the EPS Ergopower controls (the shifters) featuring a lever behind the brake lever that moves the chain in one direction, and a small thumb lever on the side of the shifter body that moves the chain the opposite way. This configuration is the same as Campagnolo uses for its mechanical shifters. Both levers are easy to access whether you’re riding with your hands on the hoods or on the drops.
With EPS, when you want to shift more than one gear you can just keep your finger or thumb on the relevant lever. You don’t need to hit it more than once, you just hold the position. You can do the same with both Shimano Di2 and SRAM’s new eTap electronic system.
Once the EPS system is set up correctly, no matter which sprocket you are in you never need to trim the position of the front mech to prevent chain rub because it adjusts automatically. Again, this is something that Di2 does as well, while no trim is necessary, automatic or manual, with SRAM eTap.
When changing gear with EPS, the front derailleur acts slightly differently depending on the sprocket you’re in at the time. If there’s a high chain crossover, the front mech performs an extra stroke compared to normal to make the shift easier. So, if you’re in a large sprocket and you want to change into the big chainring, the front mech will move further than normal to help the shift. After a moment, once the shift is complete, the front mech moves to its correct position.
Super Record EPS components are largely made from carbon-fibre and titanium to keep the weight down. The rear derailleur, for example, has a carbon-fibre front plate and cage made, the upper and lower bodies made from what Campagnolo calls “monolithic carbonpowder technopolymer”, and there’s titanium hardware.
Campagnolo says that the 2016 version of Super Record EPS is better than before thanks to a smaller power unit and a revamped interface unit. This allows a wireless connection between the Super Record and Record EPS groupsets and devices equipped with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and ANT+ technology.
A new MyCampy App works with this and allows you to configure exactly how the EPS functions, including the way the multi-shifting system works, when you press and hold a lever in to shift more than one sprocket.
Like all of Campagnolo’s groupsets apart from Veloce, Super Record EPS is 11-speed.
Buy if: You want a professional-level groupset with electronic shifting and you’re prepared to pay a premium price.
Campagnolo Super Record
Market price: £1,750
Super Record is also available with mechanical shifting and, as with the EPS components, there’s carbon-fibre and titanium as far as the eye can see. The crankarms and spider of the chainset , for instance, are hollow carbon-fibre, while the axle is titanium.
The Ergopower controls use what Campagnolo calls Ultra-Shift technology that allows you to shift up (to a larger gear) a maximum of five sprockets with a single push of the lever, and down a maximum of three sprockets at a time.
Unlike with the EPS system, Super Record mechanical’s thumb shifter comes out at a right angle to the side of the Ergopower control body. We’ve heard of some people with smaller hands finding this quite difficult to operate from the drops, although most people manage it fine. If you’re in any doubt, get along to a Campagnolo dealer and try it out for yourself.
Recent changes to both the derailleurs mean it’s possible to move the chain right across the cassette without it rubbing on the front derailleur cage. That means there’s no need to trim the front mech’s position when you move sprockets. The same is true with most of SRAM’s groupsets.
The chainset is available in 53/39, 52/36 and 50/34-tooth combinations, and it’s easy to swap between different chainring sizes because the fitting system is standard across all sizes now.
Cassettes come in a range of sizes from 11-23-tooth to 11-29-tooth. SRAM and Shimano offer groupsets with larger sprocket sizes, but nearly all performance-minded roadies will be able to get the ratios they want here.
Campagnolo has joined Shimano in offering direct mount brake callipers. These are available from Super Record down to Chorus level.
Buy if: You’d like a lightweight, super-high end groupset with mechanical shifting.
Campagnolo Record EPS
Record EPS works in the same way as Super Record EPS and boasts the same technologies. Record components are a little heavier, but even that is minor. According to Campagnolo’s own figures, the Record rear mech is 5g heavier than the Super Record version, the front mech is 6g heavier, and the levers are 4g heavier. Added together, that’s still not much, so if you want higher value, Record is the better option.
If you have a triathlon/time trial bike, Campagnolo offers Record EPS bar end controls that allow you to shift from the ends of the aero extensions, along with brake levers for the base bar that incorporate more shifter buttons, so you can change gear easily whatever your hand position.
Buy if: You don’t mind a few extra grams over Super Record in return for a big cash saving.
If the differences between Super Record EPS and Record EPS are small, the same is true of the differences between the mechanical versions of the groupsets.
The biggest differences between the rear derailleurs, for example, is that the Super Record version uses ceramic ball bearings in the lower pulley while the Record version uses simple bushings, and the Super Record’s outer link has three holes in it to reduce weight while the Record’s has two.
There’s a bit less carbon-fibre in the Record groupset, a little less titanium, and a little more steel, but we’re talking about fairly minor differences.
The chainset features hollow carbon-fibre cranks and it uses Campagnolo’s Ultra-Torque system where the axle is divided into two halves that mesh into one another in the middle of the bottom bracket. It’s a very lightweight and stiff design.
Buy if: You want a similar performance to Super Record but without the price tag
Campagnolo Chorus EPS
Campagnolo fans like to see Chorus as roughly equal to Shimano’s top-level Dura-Ace groupset with Record and Super-Record of a quality that’s way above everything else out there, although Shimano aficionados might disagree with that assessment.
Campagnolo launched Chorus EPS in 2014.
“The Campagnolo Chorus EPS groupset takes a great deal of its DNA from its mechanical counterpart as it represents a more accessible version of Campagnolo performance, quality and attention to detail but delivers it in the laser-like precision package of an EPS drivetrain,” said Campagnolo at the launch.
Chorus EPS operates in the same way as Super Record EPS and Record EPS,
and Campagnolo says that the shifting performance is identical.
“Its extremely powerful motors are capable of producing levels of torque without rival in electronic shifting which guarantee precise and effective shifting no matter the conditions or circumstances,” says Campagnolo.
Chorus EPS uses cheaper and slightly heavier materials than Record EPS in certain areas but the differences aren’t massive and everything functions in the same way.
Buy if: You’d like Campagnolo’s most affordable electronic groupset.
Campagnolo updated its Super Record, Record and Chorus mechanical groupsets in 2015, one of the biggest changes being a shift to a 4-arm spider with a single bolt circle diameter (BCD) that can accommodate all chainring options: 53/39, 52/36 and 50/34. Campagnolo says that it has increased stiffness by bolting the chainrings directly to the new larger spider.
The rear derailleur got a makeover too, Campagnolo saying that the new design is stiffer, smoother and better performing than its predecessor thanks to a reshaping of the parallelogram mechanism and a change in the angle at which it moves relative to the cassette.
If you’re a fan of carbon-fibre, Chorus has plenty; not as much as in Campagnolo’s higher level groupsets, but the brake levers, cranks and parts of the rear derailleur are all carbon.
Buy if: You’re after a solid performance and a sprinkling of carbon-fibre.
Introduced in 2016, Potenza is Campagnolo’s mid-market group, intended to compete directly with Shimano’s popular Ultegra collection.
It’s a mechanical group that sits between the high-end Chorus, Record and Super Record sets and the cheaper Athena and Veloce groups, and blends features from the two line-ups. There are some fibre-reinforced sub-components here, and also the four-arm spider pattern from Chorus and up, while the brake/shift levers work like the Athena/Veloce design.
The chainset is available in 53/39, 52/36 and 50/34-tooth combinations, and gets a welcome feature inexplicably omitted from previous Power-Torque cranks: a built-in extractor.
The rear derailleur has Campagnolo’s ‘Embrace’ feature, which wraps the chain around more sprocket teeth, a feature claimed to improve power transfer and reduce wear. There are two versions, the larger of which will handle Campagnolo’s 11-32 sprocket cassette.
Like Athena and Veloce, Potenza has the dropped inner lever Campagnolo introduced with its electronic shifting. This is easier to reach from the drops, but limits the number of shifts you can make in one movement.
Buy if: You want a tidy, modern Campagnolo groupset, and an aluminium crank you can remove without bodgy tools
RRPs: Black £539.33 Silver £571.10
Centaur – Campagnolo's attempt at a Shimano 105 killer – is gradually beginning to appear on bikes, though oddly another manufacturer's chainset is usually substituted for the Campagnolo item. One criticism we've heard is that the black finish of the parts Campagnolo showed at the launch wasn't the prettiest. Here's a look at the silver versions, which cost a bit more but we suspect will appeal more to old-school Campagnolo fans.
In a bold move, Campagnolo says it's not going to bother with a 53/39 version of the Centaur chainset, but will just offer the 50/34 and 52/36 sizes better suited to non-racing riders. The cranks use the two-part Ultra-Torque axle previously only seen on high-end Campagnolo cranks.
The Centaur ErgoPower units follow the same overall design pattern as Campagnolo's other midrange brake/shift levers, with a dropped inboard lever so you can shift from the drops.
This is Campagnolo's first 11-speed 11-32 cassette, providing a big gear range for riders who aren't race fit.
Veloce is Campagnolo’s entry-level groupset and it’s the only 10-speed option on the roster. There’s no carbon-fibre on show here, virtually everything is aluminium. Most items are a little heavier than their Athena counterparts, as you’d expect. The lightest Veloce chainset, for example, is 753g while the lightest aluminium Athena option is 736g, so we’re not talking about massive margins.
Veloce shares much of Athena’s technology, including the Power-Shift system (see above) and the Power-Torque chainset/bottom bracket design.
Veloce is available in both black and silver finishes.
Buy if: You’re after value and you don’t mind missing out on carbon-fibre and an 11-speed drivetrain.
For more info go to www.campagnolo.com
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Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.