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 groupsets 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 five groupset levels from Centaur at the mid-price 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 in 2017 announced a mid-range 11-speed groupset, Centaur. Centaur is intended to compete directly with Shimano's 105 group, but doesn't yet seem to have made significant inroads in the area where 105 dominates, parts specced as original equipment by bike manufacturers.
In 2018, Campagnolo announced that the next incarnation of the top-level Record and Super Record mechanical groupsets would offer 12 sprockets — Campagnolo calls it 12x2 — followed up that announcement with a 12-speed electronic version of Super Record and in 2019 unveiled a 12-speed version of the Chorus groupset.
Let's kick off with Campagnolo's latest baby, the remarkable Ekar gravel bike groupset, which Campagnolo says is the lightest gravel group you can buy.
Campagnolo blended a host of technical innovations into a tour de force groupset that it's fair to say is currently the best single-chainring system around.
The heart of Ekar is a 13-speed cassette available in three versions, two of which have a tiny 9-tooth smallest sprocket: 9-36, 9-42, and 10-44. Going to 13 sprockets allows Campagnolo to keep the gaps between them reasonably small, while achieving the range and especially the low gears necessary for gravel riding. Having just one chainring keeps shifting simple.
Just as Shimano and SRAM have come up with new freehub body shapes to handle small sprockets, so Campagnolo has introduced the N3W freehub body. It stands for Next 3 Ways and denotes a freehub body that's 4.4mm shorter than Campagnolo's previous body but has the same spline shape. The shorter length allows the nine- and ten-tooth sprockets to hang off the end. The clever bit is that the N3W body is compatible with previous Campagnolo 10, 11- and 12-speed cassettes with an adapter that slots on to the end.
To work with the narrow sprocket spacing of the Ekar cassette there's an Ekar 13-speed chain which is 0.25mm narrower than Campagnolo's 12-speed chains. You can join it either with a snap-off connector pin or a C-Link, Campagnolo's version of the ubiquitous two-part joining link.
To shift the chain across that huge sprocket range the Ekar rear derailleur incorporates a feature Campagnolo calls a 2D parallelogram trajectory that keeps the top jockey close to the sprockets whethers it's on that tiny 9-toother or the 44-tooth sprocket. A clutch helps stop the chain from bouncing around on rough terrain and can be locked out for easy wheel removal.
The single-ring carbon fibre Ekar chainset is available with 38, 40, 42 and 44-tooth chainrings and in 165, 170, 172.5 and 175mm lengths. You can change the chainring with the cranks on the bike for easy tweaking of gearing. A new axle and bottom bracket design that Campagnolo calls ProTech means the Ultra-Torque style semi-axles are joined with a single bolt while the outboard bearings are protected from the elements by multiple seals.
The Ergopower shift/brake levers can shift up to three sprockets at a time when moving up the cassette, and single jumps when shifting to smaller sprockets. A new C-shaped upshift lever makes it easier to reach from drops or tops.
On the braking side, the Ergopower levers' hydraulic cylinders actuate calipers with a new external shape but internals shared with other Campagnolo disc brakes. Campagnolo says the DB310 organic pads have improved wear resistance as well as high stopping power.
Buy if: You want the most advanced 1X system around
We're really impressed with Ekar and we could carry on about it at great length. In fact we already have:
Super Record EPS 12-speed, rim brakes: £3,800
Super Record EPS 12-speed, disc brakes: £4,108
Super Record EPS 12-speed, rim brakes: ~£1,800 (derailleurs, brake levers, brakes, cassette & chain)
Super Record EPS 12-speed, disc brakes: ~£2,000 (derailleurs, brake levers, brakes, cassette & chain)
Campagnolo's latest is an electronic version of 2018's 12-speed Super Record groupset. It comes hot on the heels of SRAM's wireless 12-speed eTap AXS electronic groupset, and in disc brake version it almost certainly takes the crown for the most expensive production groupset you can buy at £4,108.
Most of the new groupset's features are shared with the mechanical 12-speed Super Record groupset. Chainset and cassette options are the same, for example.
Version 4 EPS features include a new junction box that can replace a bar end on your handlebar, or be placed inside the downtube on some bike models, tidying up the cabling and allowing the rider to see the charge status more easily. To check your battery charge, perform diagnostics and make fine derailleur adjustments you simply press the Mode button, which is located behind the thumb shift lever on both the left and right sides. To do more in-depth customisation with the MyCampy app, it's a long press of the Mode button.
The new system has both ANT+ and Bluetooth LE communications protocols, so it can connect to just about every smart phone on the market, and most recent GPS computers.
A new battery is slimmer than the EPS Version 3 unit, but a bit longer, and increases the number of shifts per charge by 10%.
Holding down the shift button on the new Ergopower controls shifts right across the cassette, but if you're worried about inadvertently multi-shifting, you can fine-tune the number of shifts with the MyCampy app.
Campagnolo says the new Super Record EPS front derailleur has the most powerful motor of any electronic front derailleur. Out back, the rear derailleur replicates the mechanical version's 45-degree movement along the sprockets, 12-tooth jockey wheels and increased wrap around the sprockets, which Campagnolo calls 3D Embrace.
Speaking of disc brakes, Super Record EPS v4 uses the same disc brake calipers Campagnolo announced in 2017. Campagnolo was the last of the big three component manufacturers to announce and ship disc brakes, but waiting seems to have paid off as they've avoided problems like the reliability issues of SRAM's early discs or the ugliness of Shimano's first-generation levers. Launching the brakes, Campagnolo marketing and communications director Lorenzo Taxis said: “We are the last company in the peloton to launch disc brakes, so we need to be the best.”
Super Record, Record, Chorus and Potenza each have their own brake levers, but all share the same aluminium-bodied brake caliper. The calipers bolt to flat-mount fittings on your frame and are available in a front version for 160mm rotor and rear brakes for 160mm and 140mm rotors. Campagnolo suggests 160mm rear rotor if you weigh more than 80kg.
The system uses low-viscosity mineral oil to transmit braking force with phenolic resin pistons for the final stage between oil and organic brake pad. The resin pistons help keep braking heat away from the oil. Instead of springs to return the pads Campagnolo has used magnets, which are said to be more reliable and to last longer. The pads sit in a steel frame and have wear indicators so it's easy to tell when it's time for new ones.
All the levers use the same master cylinder; differences in materials account for the differences in cost across the range, and of course the latest Super Record, Record and Chorus levers support 12-speed shifting while Potenza remains 11-speed.
Electronic components are always heavier than their mechanical equivalents, but Campagnolo has trimmed that difference to the bone with the new EPS. The rear derailleur weighs just 232g, compared to 181g for the mechanical version.
Super Record EPS v4 is currently Campagnolo's only 12-speed electronic groupset, but Record EPS v4 is in development, according to Campagnolo.
Buy if: You want Campagnolo's very latest and greatest
Record 12-speed, rim brakes: £1,750
Record 12-speed, disc brakes: £2,138
Super Record 12-speed, rim brakes: £2,615
Super Record 12-speed, disc brakes: £2,856
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. That means Campagnolo has crammed 12 sprockets into the space previously occupied by 11, and made the chain appropriately thinner.
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 three: 11-29, 11-32 and 11-34. 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 34-tooth sprocket when his main work is done. Only the mechanical systems will handle that 34, according to Campagnolo.
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 and 52/36).
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.
Buy if: You're a Campagnolo fan who's ready to step up to 12-speed
Chorus 12-speed, rim brakes: £1,120
Chorus 12-speed, disc brakes: £1,597
Campagnolo's latest groupset trickles the 12-sprocket transmission of Super Record and Record down to a level where a few more of us might just be able to afford it. And in a welcome a show of providing for ordinary mortals, Chorus 12 sees the introduction of a 48/32 chainset and 11-34 cassette for the widest gear range Campagnolo has ever offered.
The new components look very similar to the 12 speed mechanical Super Record and Record parts, with differences in materials allowing lower prices. The disc brake calipers and rotors are the same as those for Campagnolo's other groupsets.
As well as the 48/32 chainset, there's a traditional 50/34 compact and a 52/36 semi-compact, but no 53/39.
Where the Record and Super Record derailleurs shave weight and drive up the price with extensive use of carbon fibre and titanium, the Chorus front derailleur is steel and aluminium, and the rear derailleur has some carbon fibre-reinforced polymer parts, but is mostly aluminium and steel. As with Record 12 and Super Record 12 there's just one derailleur for all the available cassette options.
Those options are the 11-29 and 11-32 selections that were introduced with the Record 12 groupsets, plus that 11-34. All three cassettes have the same 11-17 range across the seven smallest sprockets, and a 19-toother in the next position. From there they go 21/23/26/29, 22/25/28/32 and 22/25/29/34.
The Chorus 12-speed chain has solid pins instead of the Super record chain's hollow pins. That adds a few grams; Campagnolo says it's 13g heavier.
The new dual-pivot Chorus Skeleton rim brakes look very similar to the previous version, but are actually slightly heavier (318g v 302g) which implies they've been beefed up a touch for better stopping. Chorus 12-speed uses the same disc brake calipers as Record and Super record, but the disc rotors are all-steel
There's no electronic version of Chorus yet, but Campagnolo says it's inevitable.
Buy if: You want a value-for-money 12-speed groupset.
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.
It's less common than Shimano, but Campagnolo components tend to persist in the retail channel long after they've been replaced in the range by new models. Campagnolo's durability is legendary too, so you may well encounter older Campagnolo parts on second-hand bikes. Here's a guide to more recent superseded Campagnolo groupsets.
Introduced in 2016, and quietly dropped in 2020, Potenza was a mid-market group, intended to compete directly with Shimano’s popular Ultegra collection. It's nominally gone, but you can still buy Potenza-equipped bikes from Van Rysel and Tifosi, though full groupsets in black seem to have completely sold out.
It’s a mechanical group that sat between the high-end Chorus, Record and Super Record sets and the cheaper Centaur and Veloce groups, and blended 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. Early version used Campagnolo's Power-Torque design with the welcome addition of a built-in extractor. More recent versions are Ultra-Torque
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
While the 11-speed Super Record EPS v3 is nominally replaced by Super Record EPS v4 12-speed there's still plenty of it in the shops. Along with the 11-speed EPS versions of Record and Chorus it's 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 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.
The 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.
Buy if: You want a professional-level groupset with electronic shifting and you’re prepared to pay a premium price.
Market price: NA
The 11-speed mechanical version of Super Record is still available 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.
Market price: NA
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.
Market price: NA
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
Market price: NA
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.
Market price: NA
Veloce was 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 counterparts from the long-vanished Athena groupset that used to sit above Veloce in the range. 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 been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.