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Ladies and Gents, i currently have Shimano Tiagra fitted to my bike and i'm looking to upgrade the groupset as its getting a bit worn.

Now i'm no genius when it comes to groupsets and i'm more inclined to pick one that looks good on my bike rather than going into the in's and out's of specifications etc.

So having said that i've decided to go for either the Ultegra 6800 or the Campag Athena. Both look completely different but i'm drawn towards the Campag as i can get it in black which matches my frame, a minor point i know.

What i'm after from you lovely people is your thoughts on which one is best or which one to totally avoid. Both are similar priced at the £500+ mark.

Cheers.

63 comments

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 2 years ago
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SRAM Rival .... its black, just to throw it in, incase you haven't checked it out  3

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AWPeleton [3312 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah i looked at them but it just didn't do anything for me, cheers though its appreciated mate.

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notfastenough [3679 posts] 2 years ago
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6800 is this years' model, right? I ask because I have 10-speed Ultegra and while it's really good, the upshift requires a relatively long throw of the lever. This is something which I believe they fixed for this year.

I will also say that coming from SRAM, Shimano seems to be far easier to tweak and keep running smoothly without being an ace mechanic.

As for Campag, well my clubmate that runs it, loves it. However, my impression is that it can feel a bit clunky but appeals to traditionalists and those who want an 'all-Italian' bike. I'm not really a fan of the thumbshift lever either. HOWEVER, these things are entirely personal, and no doubt someone else will be along to tell you that Shimano is like buying a Toyota - reliable but soulless.

If you use an LBS to service your bike, then unless they are a 'proper' road bike shop, they may get a nervous twitch when asked to service Campag.

Oh also, Ultegra is Shimano's second tier group so inherits the majority of the nice stuff, while Athena is further down the list, with Chorus, Record and Super Record all offering the higher end Campag bits.

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andylul [410 posts] 2 years ago
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I've had Athena for two years nearly and only just changed the chain and BB Cups (rode it all through winter - twice)

I like the thumbshift - I find it's the easiest way to downshift on the drops.

The carbon cranks look stunning, too. The whole group set, IMHO, is better looking than Shimano or (boak) SRAM - and agree with notfastenough. If you want a Toyota, get Shimano  1

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Fringe [1047 posts] 2 years ago
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The shimano 6800 requires an 11 speed compatible freewheel, think I'm right in saying that Mavic wheels are okay but some other makes are not so you may need to get a new rear hub with 11sp freewheel (don't think you can just replace the freewheel on a 10sp hub either..but I could be wrong).

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mrmo [2075 posts] 2 years ago
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What wheels do you have, what wheels do you intend to get.

Campag uses a specific freehub, although you may be able to get something bodged. 11spd Shimano also uses a specific pattern.

I don't think either is bad, well I think SRAM is overpriced tat but anyway....
If you can try the levers see if you prefer the shapes. I am using old Campag and do like the shape of the new campag hoods far more than new shimano.

I just find the reach to the brake levers nicer with Campagnolo as well

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mike the bike [676 posts] 2 years ago
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Some things in life defy rational explanation but are, nevertheless, important. The woman you love, the book you have read three times, the taste of cold Guinness on a summer Sunday, each the result of subjective assessment that ignores any attempt at rational analysis.

And so it is in the eternal Campagnolo/Shimano debate. If you have to ask the question, you will never understand the answer.

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allezrider [92 posts] 2 years ago
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They're now both 11 speed, although Campag has had theirs out for 3-4 years so should have sorted any minor niggles. It probably comes down to the wheels - if you are upgrading those too going across to Campag is feasible. If you are retaining your current wheels you'll need to go down the Shimano route as the Campag cassette won't fit. Having used both Campag and Shimano I prefer Campag - it has a more positive feel and you don't swing the brake lever to change gear. That said maintaining Campag tends to be more expensive than Shimano. If you are going to use it through all weathers go Shimano, if its a 'best' bike I'd lean towards Campag.

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AWPeleton [3312 posts] 2 years ago
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Thanks folks, as for the wheels i was going to get whatever fitted the groupset. I like the look of the Campagnolo Zonda Clincher Wheelset which you can get through Wiggle fitted with either a Campag or Shimano freehub so its good for both groupsets i believe.

My head says Shimano whereas my heart says Campag. Decisions decisions  39

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Craig0605 [12 posts] 2 years ago
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I have ultegra 6800 and it's so smooth and amzing to use. I love how responsive the gear shift is without being clunky.

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Nick T [913 posts] 2 years ago
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Reasons I use Campag:

The brake levers are just brake levers and don't move sideways.
The front shifting.
The hoods feel more comfortable in my hands.
The brake levers are a nicer shape for use on the hoods and drops.
The front shifting.
I can access the thumb shifter while on the tops with my little finger.
The thumb shifter on Chorus and up can go up to 5 clicks instead of releasing between each one.
The front shifting.
I can double shift both thumb levers and be in a roughly equivalent inner ring/rear cog combo to what I was in before, instantly.
And finally, the front shifting is so nice compared to the old Shimano group I used to use.

Just try riding it and see if you like the feel of it - it's no less durable or more expensive to maintain than a Shimano group, unless you intend on buying yourself a load of new tools to maintain it with and even then it's not a massive outlay.

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Nick T [913 posts] 2 years ago
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I've got some Zondas as well, they're decent. Stiff, solid, hard wearing. Not too heavy. Great for every day riding, broadly equivalent to Fulcrum R3s.

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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If you intend keeping it, Campag is the better option as you can have the shifters rebuilt, as they still do parts, a lot of Shimano stuff is throw away, it's not designed to be rebuilt.

Campag cassettes tend to be expensive, but are usually stocked in the way you want them, unlike shimano which are cheaper and more interchangeable, but not as many genuine shimano options.

Campag is designed to be a more positive shift, which some people don't like, they prefer the lighter touch of shimano.

All 3 (including SRAM) work flawlessly most of the time, but unfortunately the first to wear out is proving to be SRAM, then Shimano, then Campag.

Also I would have athena and Ultegra about equal, Chorus slightly higher, with Record equalling dura ace and super record for posers......

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pirnie [199 posts] 2 years ago
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Nick T wrote:

Reasons I use Campag:

I can access the thumb shifter while on the tops with my little finger.

Nice to know it's not just me that does this!!

I have Athena (the older Ultrashift version) and it's great. But then I'm sure Ultegra is too. At the end of the day it's a personal preference as to what you prefer. (Unless it's an Italian frame and then Campag is compulsory  19 )

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Nick T [913 posts] 2 years ago
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Chorus, Record and Super Record are all the same groupset essentially, just at different weights. record gains you better bearings, hollow crank arms, bearings instead of bushings in the shifters and brakes and a bit more carbon over Chorus, and Super Record adds more carbon, better still bearings and a titanium axle.

Chorus is on par with Dura Ace more or less, the other two are a step up provided Campag is your bag. None of the shifters are as user serviceable as before so don't let that be a factor in your buying decision.

The only thing Athena gives away to the top 3 is a slightly inferior thumb shifter and a less friendly crankset when you want to remove it.

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DanTe [190 posts] 2 years ago
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All I know is that Athena bearings are very awkward to service.
There's the price to consider, Campag costs more. On Merlin Cycles site for instance the third tier Chorus crankset is the same price as a Dura Ace.
I would go Ultegra but I don't like the long push across on the front shift and I hate the noise this long drawn out process makes if the derailleur is covered in grit and road crud, cringe everytime.

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ajmarshal1 [411 posts] 2 years ago
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DanTe wrote:

Campag costs more. On Merlin Cycles site for instance the third tier Chorus crankset is the same price as a Dura Ace.

That's because Chorus is easily on a par with Dura Ace. It may be Campagnolo's third tier but it's not industry standard third tier.

The answer to the OP is Campy, always.

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sorebones [139 posts] 2 years ago
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ajmarshal1 wrote:
DanTe wrote:

Campag costs more. On Merlin Cycles site for instance the third tier Chorus crankset is the same price as a Dura Ace.

That's because Chorus is easily on a par with Dura Ace. It may be Campagnolo's third tier but it's not industry standard third tier.

That's hilarious, and utter nonsense!

My last 3 bikes have had Campag Chorus, Campag Super Record and Shimano Ultegra 6800, so I am in a reasonable position to judge. All three are excellent groupsets of course, these days there are no bad groupsets once you reach 105 or Veloce. What you get as you go up the rankings is lighter weight and crisper shifting.

Chorus is great - looks terrific and functions well. However, having ridden both, I would take Ultegra 6800 every time. The shifts are much lighter and feel more precise, really minimal effort. The front mech is a joy to use, again lighter than Chorus, and with 2 trim positions it always runs quietly across the gears.

I laugh at the notion that somehow you are going to brake at the same time as shifting if you use Shimano - you get use to the difference in lever action in a ride or two. What you won't miss is the thumb shifting button on Campag levers, personally I found it felt awkward having changed to Shimano, but that's personal preference of course.

You cannot state that one groupset is better than another, it's all subjective. Ultegra 6800 is extraordinarily good though, and great value for money.

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Miles253 [198 posts] 2 years ago
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@sorebones Having used both, do you find that campagnolo is worth that bit more cash? And also do you find the feel of the leavers massively different?

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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sorebones wrote:

these days there are no bad groupsets once you reach 105 or Veloce. .

I fully agree, the biggest difference as you go up is more looks and weight I have found, they're aren't always necessarily slicker, this depends more down to cable routing.

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ajmarshal1 [411 posts] 2 years ago
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sorebones wrote:
ajmarshal1 wrote:
DanTe wrote:

Campag costs more. On Merlin Cycles site for instance the third tier Chorus crankset is the same price as a Dura Ace.

That's because Chorus is easily on a par with Dura Ace. It may be Campagnolo's third tier but it's not industry standard third tier.

That's hilarious, and utter nonsense!

My last 3 bikes have had Campag Chorus, Campag Super Record and Shimano Ultegra 6800, so I am in a reasonable position to judge. All three are excellent groupsets of course, these days there are no bad groupsets once you reach 105 or Veloce. What you get as you go up the rankings is lighter weight and crisper shifting.

Chorus is great - looks terrific and functions well. However, having ridden both, I would take Ultegra 6800 every time. The shifts are much lighter and feel more precise, really minimal effort. The front mech is a joy to use, again lighter than Chorus, and with 2 trim positions it always runs quietly across the gears.

I laugh at the notion that somehow you are going to brake at the same time as shifting if you use Shimano - you get use to the difference in lever action in a ride or two. What you won't miss is the thumb shifting button on Campag levers, personally I found it felt awkward having changed to Shimano, but that's personal preference of course.

You cannot state that one groupset is better than another, it's all subjective. Ultegra 6800 is extraordinarily good though, and great value for money.

Opinions are like..... You get it.

I'm also in a position to judge having ridden most of them. (I haven't ridden SR though)

I personally believe Ultegra is far inferior to Chorus and I've also ridden and owned both. I also disagree that Ultegra shifts crisper than 105, I defy anyone to tell the difference between Ultegra and 105 in a blind test if they're both set up correctly. I now have one Shimano bike and it runs 105, the Ultegra got sold with my TCR.

But as you said, it's all subjective and ride what you like. The key is to try them and see.

And then choose Campy.

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ajmarshal1 [411 posts] 2 years ago
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Nick T wrote:

DA9000 fares better against Chorus with its 1998g to Campags 2096g.

Yep, and most of that is in the cassette.

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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True, in my mind Shimano looks crap on anything other than a chunky frame, looks heavy and leaden on elegant slim (e.g tubular) frames

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Nick T [913 posts] 2 years ago
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You can only compare weights as the only absolute, everything else is relative. As it is, Ultegra is broadly similar to Athena at 2294g vs 2168g respectively. DA9000 fares better against Chorus with its 1998g to Campags 2096g. It's trumped by Record and Super Record who dip in at 1974g and 1875g though.

Ain't worth a squirt if you don't like the shape or function of any of the groups though, is it.

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sorebones [139 posts] 2 years ago
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Miles253 wrote:

@sorebones Having used both, do you find that campagnolo is worth that bit more cash? And also do you find the feel of the leavers massively different?

Honestly - no. Campag and Athena in particular I would not pay more for, due to the power shift function as opposed to ultrashift (moving more gears at once). The cost of replacement parts such as cassettes and chainrings is significantly higher for campy (typically nearly twice as much for a chorus cassette v Ultegra 11 speed.

Lever feel is the most noticeable difference between campag and shimano. I liked Campag levers, the curve towards the top of the hoods is a natural shape for my hands, very comfortable.

By contrast, recent shimano hoods felt very unnatural to me, to bulky and frankly not very easy on the eye. The new Ultegra and Dura Ace hoods are very good indeed though, the body has slimmed down and although perhaps still not as pretty as Campag, they feel great in the hand and its easy to find a comfortable grip in several positions. Shimano levers are a doddle to adjust for reach as well, just a turn of a screw if you peel back the front of the hoods and the levers can be brought inwards for a perfect fit.

I will admit I have been converted to Shimano. I was a sceptic about the brake and gear lever being one unit, but I now find it so much easier and faster to use. Take the current weather conditions for example - with thick winter gloves Shimano is still so easy to use as upshifts do not require any precision to find the 'paddle' behind the brake lever.

All personal opinion of course, but in my experience I would not select Athena over Ultegra, the Shimano has cheaper drivetrain parts and is faster shifting. I couldn't say it is prettier though, more 'functional' looking, less flair than Campag perhaps!

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Ush [692 posts] 2 years ago
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One of the strengths of older campagnolo (i.e. 9 speed) was that it was rebuildable and parts for said rebuilds were easily obtainable. There's been a bit of debate over whether the 11-speed campagnolo is rebuildable: http://snydercyclingservices.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/scstod-campagnolo-...

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Miles253 [198 posts] 2 years ago
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You don't miss the thumb button at all? Mo can't believe I've never ridden a shimano equipped bike, need to demo one.

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glynr36 [637 posts] 2 years ago
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My Athena gruppo has gone strong since 2010, went from the best bike when I got a warranty replaced frame, and is now on the winter bike.
All I've replaced on it were chains, cassettes, and cables.
Usually about 12 months out of them, and runs well still.
Replaced that with Chorus, and love that too.

It's a personal thing, but I've only ever rode Campag, and just feel more comfortable with it (plus why would I ruin a Bianchi with Shimano!).

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Nick T [913 posts] 2 years ago
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sorebones wrote:

Take the current weather conditions for example - with thick winter gloves Shimano is still so easy to use as upshifts do not require any precision to find the 'paddle' behind the brake lever.

So it's just the downshifts that suffer instead while you're looking for Shimano's paddle behind the brake lever. Personally, I prefer it that way around because it's usually a harder gear I want to shift to in a hurry - I tend to be slowing down when I look for an easier one so I've got more time. As for the moving brake levers, I never felt unsafe or insecure about the fact they move sideways, I just didn't like it. Neither do Shimano if their Di2 shifters are anything to go by.

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notfastenough [3679 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Thanks folks, as for the wheels i was going to get whatever fitted the groupset. I like the look of the Campagnolo Zonda Clincher Wheelset which you can get through Wiggle fitted with either a Campag or Shimano freehub so its good for both groupsets i believe.

My head says Shimano whereas my heart says Campag. Decisions decisions  39

And herein lies the real nub of the matter - both are very good systems, as demonstrated by the spread of opinions here. As such, there is nothing wrong with choosing the one that looks cool. Let's face it, Zondas are nice, and the Campag spoke pattern looks ace. No-one chooses Shimano group with Campag wheels - it just looks wrong to be flashing those brand grphics on the rim but be running something else. I reckon this is the reason that Fulcrum wheels exist - they're a Campag brand, but you don't look a weapon if you spec them with someone else's groupset.

Oh, and should you happen to choose a Shimano group with Campag wheels, thou shall be cast into the fires of eternal damnation etc etc.

So if you went all-Campag, what's the frame that all this is going on? Please say its a Bianchi!

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