Super Record is Campagnolo's flagship mechanical groupset and commands a hefty price tag, but it is ergonomically wonderful, its appearance is stunning and the performance is impeccable.
It's also available in electronic guise (Super Record EPS) but it's satisfying that the company, as with Shimano, hasn't quietly dropped its support for mechanical groupsets and instead continues to develop and refine them. Which is great for fans of mechanical groupsets with their lack of batteries and simplicity of design.
It's not a radical or major overhaul, instead a refinement of the previous Super Record groupset. Critically, the Italian company has managed to retain the same aesthetics of the previous groupset which to my mind, with its smattering of carbon fibre and titanium, is one of the nicest looking that money can buy. And what a lot of money you'll need to buy it. But let's not get bogged down with the price just yet.
The most obvious change is the new chainset. It follows Shimano's lead with a four-arm crankset that allows chainrings to be easily swapped, so you can run 53/39, 52/36 or 50/34. The front and rear derailleurs have also undergone some redesign work, with a focus on improving the shift speed, and the shifter levers have also received some attention.
While the shifting layout remains classic Campagnolo, it has changed the indexing in the front shift lever. It now takes two clicks to downshift from the large ring, with a third click trimming the front mech when in the largest sprockets on the cassette. To upshift from the small to big chainring requires three clicks. There's no trim option in the big ring, instead Campagnolo has widened the front mech cage so there's more clearance. The rear shift lever retains the previous multi-shift pattern of five downshifts and three upshifts with one throw of either lever.
Visually, the Ergopower levers look the same as the previous version, but along with those indexing changes, the hoods are now constructed from a hypoallergenic silicone with varying density and grooves to provide more comfort and grip. Campagnolo has also reshaped the inside face of the brake lever body so it is a closer fit with a wider range of handlebars.
There's a restyled rear derailleur, designed to shift gears even quicker. It has reshaped the parallelogram mechanism with a stronger spring that now pushes the chain in a horizontal rather than diagonal manner, and also keeps the chain closer to the cassette on the top jockey wheel for more engagement and improved power transmission. It's only available in one cage length but is compatible with an 11-29 cassette.
The new front derailleur uses a one-piece carbon fibre outer cage, to lower the weight while maintaining a high stiffness level, but it's the longer arm that delivers a lighter shift feel.
Ride and performance
I tested the Super Record groupset on a Pinarello Dogma F8 (review to come), so there's no review of the installation process. The groupset comprised a 52/36 chainset and 11-23 cassette. Nobody in their right mind these days would choose such a tiny cassette – I certainly wouldn't – and if I was buying this groupset, I'd opt for the 11-29.
Despite the changes, there's a familiarity with the revised Super Record. Campagnolo has been using its one-lever-behind-the-brake lever and finger-operated paddle shift layout for many, many years. It works and there's no reason to change it. I find it intuitive and easy to use: changing gear is different to Shimano and SRAM, yes, but it works wonderfully.
I find it easy switching from one groupset to another, but it's always a pleasure (rare these days) to test a bike equipped with Campagnolo. There's never any doubt that a gear change has occurred after prodding one of the levers, and that's something I really like about the Super Record groupset. It's especially useful at higher paces in a fast bunch.
The shape of the hoods and the materials used, in my opinion, makes them the most ergonomically satisfying of all the main groupsets. They're simply really comfortable in the hands, there's a nice degree of cushioning for longer rides and even riding without gloves is a pleasant experience, with good grip even when your hands are covered in sweat or rain. (You'll probably have your own opinion on Campagnolo and I'm not going to try to change that.)
Get a shift on
So far, so familiar, but it's the refinements that really make this an improved groupset. The changes, especially at the front mech, have closed the gap to Shimano's Dura-Ace mechanical groupset (arguably the benchmark mechanical groupset and the big rival to Super Record) while the rear shift speed is much faster and, I'd suggest, in the same ballpark as Shimano's top-tier groupset.
Front shifting performance is exceptionally good. The new front derailleur uses a one-piece carbon fibre outer cage, to lower the weight while maintaining a high stiffness level, but it's the longer arm that delivers a lighter shift feel. It works extremely well; shifting is easy with a light action at the lever meaning only a small push is required to change gear. Changes from the big ring to small are lightning quick, and it never missed a gear even in those panic situations at the bottom of a massively steep climb. Shift performance is enhanced by the usual plethora of ramps and pins on the inner face of the chainring.
Rear shifting is sharp and accurate, but is it quicker? That's tricky to assess without a previous generation Super Record groupset to compare it with, but there's certainly a rapid response when you flick the lever – no delay, no hesitation. Shifting gears is an accurate and very definite process – I love the bolt action feedback that accompanies a gear change, which you'll either love or hate. I like this sort of feedback but it's definitely very different to Shimano's whisper quiet gear changes.
You can change gear easily at any time you need, and it works well under load as well, such as when changing gear on a steep hill when you've realised you're not going to get up it in the big ring. You can even cross the chain from big to big without any consequences.
Leaving the question of whether the new four-arm chainset is better looking than the old version, Campagnolo claims to have improved the stiffness of the carbon crankset by bolting the chainrings directly to the larger spider, with the four arms positioned to better transfer power. Such a difference in stiffness is tricky to assess, but it's certainly on the same level as a rival chainset from one of the other two big groupset manufacturers. Being able to easily change the chainrings is also going to be a huge benefit: you could have a compact on standby for a trip to the Alps, for example.
The brakes have gone unchanged and are the same as the previous groupset, with a dual-pivot design that has been around since 2009. Suffice to say they offered brilliant performance with a firm lever feel when used with carbon fibre wheels and carbon-specific brake blocks.
As I tested the groupset supplied on a review bike, I wasn't able to weigh the individual parts of the groupset. Here, though, are the manufacturer's claimed weights:
Ergopower Controls (pair) 342g
Rear Derailleur 166g
Front Derailleur (braze-on) 71g
Crankset (52/36) 631g
Cassette (11-29) 177g
Brake Calipers (Dual Pivot f+r) 297g
Ultra-Torque Threaded Cups 45g
Complete groupset weight: 1,939g. That's a smidgen lighter than current Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical but not as light as SRAM Red mechanical.
The changes to Campagnolo's flagship mechanical groupset might be only minor, but they do provide a noticeable improvement in shifting performance, with lighter and quicker gear changes. Functionally and aesthetically it's a superb groupset and if you're a fan of the Campagnolo shifting layout, you'll be pleased.
However, because the changes are refinements rather than game-changers, they might not be enough to convince anyone with a current Campagnolo groupset to upgrade. It's great that Campagnolo is still investing in the future of mechanical groupsets, though, and despite the growing popularity of electronic groupsets, you really have to want electronic to be able to look past mechanical when it's this good.
Brilliant performance, stunning looks, low weight, big price tag
road.cc test report
Make and model: Campagnolo Super Record Road Groupset
Size tested: Carbon
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?
For over 80 years Campagnolo has researched, developed, tested and produced a cornucopia of innovative solutions in order to push the limits of what is possible through mechanical shifting.
The current limit at this point in time can be summed up in two words: SUPER RECORD.
With 2015 range Campagnolo presents the new Super Record groupset, namely the maximum evolutional and technological expression of a mechanical drivetrain for bikes.
And thanks to its materials and performance, Super Record is still the reference groupset without equal on the market.
Each component of the drivetrain has been completely rethought in terms of both design and function, to give maximum performance.
Carbon, titanium, lightness, silence, design and exclusiveness are the ingredients for unprecedented performance and unique sensations.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Chainset: Carbon with titanium axle
Bottom bracket cups: choice of threaded or BB30 options
Front Derailleur: Braze-on fitting only
Cassette: Choice of ratio, 11 speed
Ergo Levers: Carbon Ergo brake/gear levers
Brake Calipers: Dual pivot front and rear
Stunning quality and attention to detail, all the carbon and titanium is wonderfully put together.
It's the Italian company's flagship mechanical groupset and the performance is the best it has ever been, with rapid and accurate gear changes.
The redesigned hoods are even more comfortable than the old ones, and in my opinion the nicest to use of any groupset from Shimano or SRAM.
Tricky to judge value for money on such an expensive product – you can get a functionally similar groupset in Chorus which saves a load of money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Shifting is lighter and quicker than the previous version, the hoods are ergonomic and tactile, and it all works smoothly.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The shape and feel of the shifter hoods, and the easy shifting layout.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a bit noisier than Shimano Dura-Ace.
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
It might not score highly for value, but if you can afford it you'll love it. Judging it on performance and quality, it's superb.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.