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review

Campagnolo Chorus

9
£1,091.99

VERDICT:

9
10
A performance similar to Campag's top-level groupsets, just a touch heavier and a lot more affordable
Weight: 
1,746g

Campagnolo Chorus offers a very high level of performance at what is, compared with the Italian brand's top tier groupsets, a pretty reasonable price.

Chorus is the third-level groupset from Campag, sitting below Super Record and Record and their electronic EPS incarnations. Chorus is available with electronic shifting too, although we have the mechanical version here. Like Super Record, Record, and the cheaper Athena groupset, Chorus is 11-speed.

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Campagnolo likes to see Chorus as roughly equivalent to Shimano's top level Dura-Ace groupset, with Super Record and Record a higher quality than anything else out there, although Shimano would doubtless disagree with that assessment.

A complete groupset is priced from £1,091.99, although the exact price will vary according to the sprockets and bottom bracket that you use.

We'll take a look at each of the components individually.

Ergopower controls 9/10

£217.99, 350g

Campagnolo Chorus groupset - Ergopower controls.jpg

As is the case across the board with Campagnolo, the Chorus Ergopower controls follow the principle of 'one lever-one action'. You have a carbon fibre brake lever, then shifting is handled by a finger-operated lever that sits behind it, and a thumb lever that comes out at a right angle to the composite shifter body.

This thumb lever can occasionally be difficult to operate from the drops, especially if you are riding out of the saddle in a sprint or if you have small hands.

Campag's Ultra-Shift internal mechanism allows you to shift up the cassette a maximum of three sprockets with one lever throw, and down the cassette a maximum of five sprockets at a time. This can be really useful when you crest a steep hill, for example, and you want to find a bigger gear quickly, or when you shoot down into a dip fast and need to get into a much easier gear to get out the other side. Next-level-down Athena isn't as generous in its shifting options, allowing you to move the chain up the cassette a maximum of three sprockets with one lever throw and in the opposite direction just one sprocket at a time.

Changing gear is always very definite; you feel and hear a click when you push the lever so you're never in any doubt whether you've pushed far enough.

The controls use what Campag calls Vari-Cushion hoods, which are made from a natural silicone material in various thicknesses. It's extremely comfortable and very grippy, even when it's wet.

The front shift lever now operates with two clicks to downshift from the large chainring to the small one, while a third click moves the front mech further inboard when you want to use the largest sprockets. Three clicks are needed for upshifting.

Campag shifters do not offer reach adjustment for smaller hands, although you'd need to have extremely small hands to need this. If you have really large hands you can fit a shim to between the handlebar and the shifter body to move the levers further out although, again, you'd need to have hands of a really unusual size to need this.

Rear derailleur 9/10

£191.99, 183g

Sarto Asola - rear wheel

The Chorus rear mech is designed the same as Super Record and Record models, the only differences being in the materials used. You get a carbon fibre cage and front plate to keep the weight low, with the body made from thermopolymer infused with carbon powder.

Campag revamped the rear derailleur in 2014, reshaping the parallelogram mechanism and changing the angle at which it moves relative to the cassette. These changes are designed to keep the chain closer to the cassette for better power transmission, improved traction, and greater durability.

The shifting has been perfect throughout our review period, quick and accurate, and there's barely any difference in feel whether you're changing at the bottom of the cassette or at the top.

Fine-tuning the indexing is simple, even in big winter gloves, via an easy-to-grab barrel adjuster at the back.

Front derailleur 9/10

£71.99, 76g

Campagnolo Chorus groupset - drivetrain.jpg

The Chorus front derailleur is made from aluminium, and unlike the Super Record and Record models, it has no carbon fibre parts, if that's an issue for you. It's virtually the same weight, though, and it operates equally well. Whether shifting up or down, it does its job quickly and with the minimum of fuss. It's very quiet too.

The front derailleur has a capacity (the difference in the number of teeth between the large and small chainrings) of 16, and will work with chainrings between 34 and 56 teeth, so that should cover pretty much everyone.

Campag does offer a chain security device (CSD, 15g, £31.99) to help keep the chain from dropping off the inner chainring. It's compatible with all of Campag's braze-on front derailleurs.

Chainset 9/10

£321.99, 683g

Campagnolo Chorus groupset - crank.jpg

Like Shimano, Campagnolo now uses a four-arm spider (don't ask us why they're not called spider legs; that would make much more sense) with uneven spacing for its higher end groupsets. The idea is that the arms are positioned to transfer power as best they can – taking the positions in the pedal stroke where we tend to apply most power into account – while keeping the weight down. The carbon fibre cranks and spider arms are hollow to reduce weight too.

The chainset comes in 53/39-tooth, 52/36t and 50/34t options, and it's simple to swap chainring sizes because they all use the same bolt circle diameters (BCD): 145mm for the outer chainrings, 112mm for the inner chainrings. Those chainrings have an anodised finish to add durability, and 170, 172.5 and 175mm crank lengths are available.

The axle is made to Campag's Ultra-Torque design which is used for both Super Record and Record as well. Half of the axle is attached to each crank, the teeth on the ends meshing together in the centre of the bottom bracket shell with a single oversized bolt holding them in place.

It's a great design: light and stiff, and the changes are very quick, even when making the big jump from the smaller 34t chainring to the larger 50t one in a compact system.

It's also very neat looking and is easy to remove and replace during maintenance.

The chainset requires Ultra-Torque bottom bracket cups which are available in various standards including BB30 and BB386.

Sprockets 8/10

£103.99-£126.99, 230g

Campagnolo Chorus groupset - cassette.jpg

Campagnolo doesn't offer the same cassette range as either Shimano or SRAM, the largest spread being 11-29t, so you can't get ultra-small gears, but that should be plenty for most people on most gradients. With a 34t chainring, a 29t sprocket, and 700x25mm tyres, you're looking at a gear of 30.8in.

All of the sprockets are steel, whereas some are titanium if you go for a Record or Super Record groupset. This adds a few grams to the weight, but not much. A nickel-chrome surface treatment is designed to add durability, and we've certainly not experienced any worries in that department.

The shifting is quick in both directions, even when you're maxing out your wattage.

Brakes 8/10

£82.99, 302g

Campagnolo Chorus groupset - front brake.jpg
Campagnolo Chorus groupset - rear brake.jpg

Campagnolo uses skeleton brake arms to keep the weight down. The front brake is dual pivot while at the rear you have the choice of either dual pivot or single pivot (we've been using dual pivot).

The rationale behind speccing a less powerful single pivot brake is that it'll stop the rear wheel from swerving as a result of the back end of the bike lightening when you brake hard. It also saves a few grams.

Given the choice, though, we'd definitely go for dual pivot because of the increased power on offer. You never know when it'll come in handy.

The brakes don't provide quite the same level of bite as Shimano equivalents but they're still very good whether you're scrubbing off a bit of excess speed or needing to stop in a hurry.

As is the case across the Campagnolo range, the quick release for applying more clearance when you want to remove the wheel is located at the Ergopower control rather than on the brake calliper.

Campagnolo doesn't offer any disc brakes yet, although they're sure to arrive soon. Whether they'll be added to the Chorus groupset or be confined to Super Record and perhaps Record, we have no idea.

Chain 8/10

£37.99, 2.24g per link

Sarto Asola - detail

The 5.5mm wide chain uses steel links with a nickel/PTFE anti-friction treatment. It's a little heavier than the Record/Super Record chain, but it performs equally well.

One peculiarity of the Campag system is that once you have removed the tip of the Ultra-Link pin after fitting, you need to deform the end to keep it in place. It's a simple enough job but if you don't fancy doing it you can use a quick link from KMC, for instance.

Overall

The biggest difference you'll notice between a Campagnolo groupset and one from either Shimano or SRAM is the shifting, and that comes down to personal preference: some people prefer one, other people prefer another. If Campag's shift system suits you, Chorus is a great way to get it.

This groupset performs as well as either Super Record or Record, it's just a little heavier and a lot cheaper. Whereas a complete Chorus groupset will cost you from £1,091.99 at RRP, a mechanical Record groupset is £1,576.99 and mechanical Super Record starts at over £2,000.

Check out our complete guide to Campagnolo’s 2016 road bike groupsets here

Chorus might not have quite the prestige of the top two tiers but it certainly benefits from technology that has trickled down from the higher level groupsets. The derailleurs, for example, are essentially the same designs but with a little more aluminium and a little less carbon fibre. If you want top level performance at a more reasonable price point, this could be the groupset for you.

Verdict

A performance similar to Campag's top-level groupsets, just a touch heavier and a lot more affordable

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Campagnolo Chorus

Size tested: 50/34 chainset, 11-29 cassette

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Campagnolo says: "The Campagnolo Chorus drivetrain represents the perfect solution for the sophisticated cyclist searching for Super Record performance at a more competitive price.

"Fitting a Campagnolo drivetrain to their bike has always been the ambition of many keen cyclists. Introduction of the new mechanical groupsets and the resulting incredible technical-performance and aesthetic innovation only serve to increase this desire.

"The new Chorus groupset is the optimum choice for those wanting the best results that a mechanical groupset can offer, combined with appeal and Italian design at the best price possible."

Campag also says: "The Chorus groupset family, whether you choose electronic or mechanic transmission, has extreme performance at the core of its DNA and will ensure that the technological advantage it represents is constant no matter how many kilometres you ride. World Tour performance without the need of a professional team's budget, the Campagnolo Chorus groupset is perhaps the first step towards pedalling like the pros.

"Sophisticated materials, extreme precision, Italian design and Campagnolo authenticity make this groupset family a fantastic choice towards building up a true racing machine."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
9/10

The Ergopower controls are super-comfortable when your hands are resting on the hoods.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Campag reckons that Chorus is roughly the equivalent of Shimano Dura-Ace, with Record and Super Record in a class of their own. If you agree, Chorus looks like excellent value for money.

We'd say that Chorus provides the performance of Super Record and Record, but with a slight weight penalty. Compared to the amount of money you save over the higher level groupsets, Chorus is very good value.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It performs very well indeed. The performance is on a par with Super Record and Record, it's just that Chorus is made from different materials in certain areas, so it's a little heavier.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

You don't often want to shift several gears at a time, but the ability to do so very quickly can occasionally be really valuable. Riding on the hoods is extremely comfortable, and the stealthy looks help too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Reaching up to the thumb lever when you're riding on the drops can be difficult, especially if you're out of the saddle.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

In terms of performance, Chorus warrants a 9. In terms of value, I'd say it's an 8. The overall mark should be an 8 or a 9, and I'm going with 9 because it's just such a pleasure to use. It works beautifully.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

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.

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