We've seen quite a bit of it over the last few months on various pro team Instagram feeds, so the launch of Campagnolo's EPS version of their 12 speed Super Record groupset didn't exactly come as a surprise. Even so, the chance to ride it before the official grand reveal was one I didn't want to pass up, so off I popped to Girona for the press launch.
Campagnolo launch Super Record EPS 12 Speed groupset
Review: Campagnolo Record 12 speed disc groupset
All the test bikes were Movistar team edition Canyon Ultimates, basically the exact same bikes as used by their riders. This is the medium-sized bike I rode above, with a mid-compact chainset, 11-32 cassette and the shifters set for 'normal' hand sizes - you can alter them with an allen key to improve the ergonomics for small hands, and the braking power can also be tweaked if you like them more or less jumpy.
As mentioned in our previous article with full specs and prices, this isn't exactly a radical overhaul of the EPS system. Basically Campag have carried over the 11 speed electronic tech with a few improvements to 12 speed, and it all works largely the same as mechanical 12 speed Super Record that was revealed last year. As such this is going to be a fairly short write-up, because we've used and reviewed the mechanical versions extensively already. What I was able to get a feel for over the 70km test ride was any possible improvements in shifting between 11 speed and 12 speed EPS, that Campag say is better than ever thanks to more powerful front mech motors and more precise rear shifting due to the Embrace technology, which wraps more of the chain around the cassette for better power transfer. The other main changes are increased battery life - which obviously we can't comment on until we've put in a lot more miles - and the option to integrate the junction box in to the frame or on the end of the handlebar, whereas our test bike came with it under the stem.
The ride - super comfortable up front
Our test ride in Girona was around 70km in length, with a couple of climbs and decent descents thrown in for good measure. I've waxed lyrical about 12 speed mechanical Campag plenty of times already, but to reiterate again, it impresses me every time. It works as good, if not better than any 11 speed groupset I've used, and has proven to be durable despite the thinner chain and sprockets.
The Ergopower levers are the most comfortable on the market in my book, and as the name suggests the ergonomics are superb. The thumb shifter/paddles or whatever you want to call them are placed in a really intuitive position, and make a nice clunky clicking noise when you shift. You wouldn't know you were using an electronic groupset from the feeling and sound of them, and while some might appreciate the more discreet shifting of Shimano or SRAM, I appreciate the good old clunk you get with Campag. The downshifting lever on the left/upshifting lever on the right do feel different to the mechanical versions because of course they don't move, but the size and the shape makes them really easy to access.
On EPS, Campag's multishift tech allows you to shift all the way up or down the cassette in one go by just holding down continuously on the right lever or thumb shifter. It moves rapidly, the only issue is knowing exactly when and where it's going to stop with there being so many sprockets at the back. The single click shifting is so quick and precise anyway that it doesn't matter if you land one or two sprockets away from your intended target, so I think it's a nice weapon to have in your shifting arsenal. If you don't like it, you can customise the multishifting using the MyCampy app. As this was just a test ride I didn't get to try out any of the app customisation options, but you can make basic changes and check your battery charge on the V4 interface (shown under the stem above). Its two aerials can pick up Bluetooth Low Energy and ANT+ signals, and its totally waterproof to the IP 67 rating.
Loads of load = no problem
As Campag promised, I found the front derailleur shifting to be extremely responsive and dealt with whatever was thrown at it. I made as many unwise decisions as I could on the test loop, such as dropping to the small ring at the bottom of a hill, changing it up and down while cross-chaining and leaving it till I could barely push the pedals going uphill before shifting down, and there were no issues to report. Campag would say this is thanks to their D.T.I. Auto Repositioning technology, that knows what the rear derailleur position is and selected sprocket at all times to keep the front mech in the ideal place.
As groupset technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, Campag's stubbornness to break with tradition by offering 1x options, smaller chainring sizes or wider cassettes could be seen as a missed opportunity - but this is a groupset intended for road racers who demand the perfect ratio for every gradient, and when the front mech is this good what's the point of taking it away and having less gears? That's my tuppence worth anyway, I know a good proportion of my colleagues would probably disagree.
So, is it worth the money?
Obviously this is a question I can't answer based off one 40 mile test ride, but it can't be denied that at £4,108 and £3,800 for the disc and rim brake groupsets respectively, new EPS is sadly out of reach for most of us. What I have personally gathered based off 1,500 or so miles of riding both Campag's Potenza 11 and Record 12 groupsets last year is that their components LAST, and for some of you that might be worth the big premium. What some perceive as good value will differ from others - the top-of-the-range version of SRAM's new Red AXS groupset comes with a power meter and still costs less at £3,794, so if you want pro level 12 speed components and more for your money then it's a no-brainer.
Personally I just prefer the way Campag works compared to the other two big component brands and love the ergonomics, so with unlimited funds it would be going on my dream road bike build. Even without unlimited funds, if I had a really nice car would I be prepared to drive a cheaper one to put towards this? Possibly, and if you look at the premiums you pay for luxury cars for no real reason other than brand power then I still don't think Campag's pricing is completely outrageous, relatively speaking. Campagnolo Super Record is really good (I think so far anyway), it looks great, it's durable, and it's a premium product. So while I might be a little underwhelmed that new EPS is nothing groundbreaking and more an evolution of its predecessor, it's still going to be highly desirable amongst faithful Campag fans.
As mentioned in our previous article, we were pleasantly surprised by the price of some of the bikes specced with Campag's mechanical Record and Super Record groupsets last year - the Canyon Ultimate in Movistar colours with Record Disc that we reviewed came in at £5,099 with Bora's excellent 50mm carbon race wheels.
We'll be looking to get a full EPS 12 speed groupset to test very soon, so check back for a full review in the coming months.
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