Campagnolo have launched a new Chorus groupset, bringing 12 speed technology down to their third groupset tier and also offering 48/32 chainset and 11-34t cassette options for the first time.
The new components take on the same aesthetics as the 12 speed mechanical Super Record and Record groupsets launched last year, with material differences allowing Campag to bring it down to a lower price point. There are hydraulic disc and rim brake versions, and most of the new components are Chorus-specific apart from the disc brake calipers and rotors, which are the same across Campag's range. The full groupset weights are as follows:
That's just 120g and 178g less than the 12 speed Record rim and disc brake groupsets respectively. Here's a breakdown of the main components...
For the first time, Campag will be offering a 48/32 chainset option at Chorus level. With the additional announcement of an 11-34t cassette, you can put two and two together and assume that Campag have aimed this at the gravel and adventure market. There's no 53/39 chainset, so your options are 48/32, 50/34 and 52/36. It has the same oversized outer driveside crank as the Super Record and Record versions, and has a carbon layup with an advanced resin to block UV rays and keep it looking fresh over time. It uses an Ultra Torque axle and standard bearings (not ceramic) and the crank lengths are 165mm, 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm.
All Campag's 12 speed components are (unofficially) cross-compatible, so if you want to put the 48/32 Chorus chainset on a pre-existing Record or Super Record build, you can fill your boots.
The new Chorus front mech is all steel and aluminium. It has single positions for each individual shift to make for precise changes and now rubbing against the chain even at extreme angles. The new upper connecting rod also allows for bigger tyre clearance.
The rear mech is a technopolymer and carbon mix in the upper cage, and the lower cage is all alloy. No matter what cassette size you opt for it's a one-size-fits-all derailleur, and it's the same oversized 12 teeth pulley wheels you get on Super Record and Record. Campag also carry over their 3D Embrace technology, with the shape ensuring that the derailleur is always kept an optimal distance away from the sprockets.
The new Chorus-level chain weighs 13g more than the Super Record/Record chain, and comes with 110 links as opposed to 114 because you won't be needing the extra links with a maximum chainring size of 52/36. It's lighter and thinner than the Chorus 11 speed chain, and Campag say it's still as strong, if not stronger too.
The new Chorus rim brakes come in direct mount (183g) or standard post-mount versions (330g a pair). They lack the aero-inspired appearance of the Record and Super Record rim brakes, but have the same dual-pivot action and promise the same stopping power as the higher tier versions.
Campagnolo say they don't want your braking performance to be compromised the further you go down their groupset hierarchy, so the rotors and calipers are unchanged. You get the AFS rotors with rounded edges and the calipers featuring the classic Campag logo. New for 2019 is a 140mm front rotor, along with the pre-exisiting 140mm rear and 160mm front/rear rotors already available.
The new Chorus levers have the same construction and work largely the same as the Record and Super Record versions, with customisable ergonomics, the Vari Cushion hood design and a double curve in the brake lever for extra plushness in your hands. You can shift five sprockets down the cassette with a throw of the right lever and three up with one click of the paddle, and both of those are larger and easier to access than Chorus 11 speed, so say Campag.
The disc brake levers are just 8mm taller than their rim brake counterparts. One difference on the Chorus versions compared to Record/Super Record is that you can't adjust the modulation. You can still customise the ergonomics with a hex key to alter your reach, but you won't be able to fine-tune your stopping power.
The big news here other than the extra sprocket is the addition of an 11-34t cassette, a first for Campagnolo. The other two sizes are 11-29 and 11-32; and once more, if you want to run the Chorus 11-34 cassette with an otherwise Record or Super Record-level groupset, it'll work just fine. It has the same single tooth increments up to the seventh sprocket on all cassette sizes, with larger jumps at the back to arrive at a 34t largest sprocket.
Nope, not yet anyway. Unlike SRAM who introduced their new 12 speed wireless electronic system at Force level a few weeks after the announcement of SRAM Red AXS, Campagnolo are only offering their EPS electronic shifting at the top tier Super Record level (launched last month). We were told at the launch that trickling down EPS to Record, Chorus and so on is inevitable, but for now it’s just mechanical.
In 2016 Campag revamped its 11 speed Potenza groupset, and at the time declared it a rival to Shimano’s Ultegra. With Chorus positioned above Potenza in Campag’s groupset hierarchy and with the extra sprocket and wider gearing options, has this deemed Potenza obsolete until it moves to 12 speed? At £219 less than new Chorus in disc brake form and £315 less for the rim brake version it's still a significant saving (and a very good groupset as you'll read in our review) so you could say there's still a place for it.
The clincher for many people considering buying Chorus will be pricing, and it’s unlikely to make you gasp like many did at the RRP’s of Super Record, Record and Super Record EPS; the latter costs upward of £4,000 in its disc brake guise. Here goes:
Chorus 12s rim brake: £1,120
Chorus 12s disc Brake: £1,597
So compared to the RRP’s of 12 speed Record, that’s £601 and £528 less for rim and disc groupsets respectively. How does it compare to 11 speed rivals? Shimano Ultegra R8000 rim and Ultegra R8020 disc both have an RRP of £1,099.00 (they can often be found cheaper online) so you are paying a premium for Campag’s 12 speed tech.
Like the launch of Record and Super Record 12 speed last year, Campagnolo promised stronger partnerships with many of the big brands, so bikes with their groupsets would be a more common sight off-the-peg in shops and online; to be honest that’s not something we saw happen much in the UK, so we’re hoping the greater accessibility of Chorus will make it more readily available to purchase on an actual bike, rather than having to build it up yourself.
While we attended the top secret launch and saw the groupset up close a few weeks ago to bring you the details, there were only a couple of finished products in existence at the time, so we weren’t able to take it for a test ride. Campagnolo are estimating availability dates of July, and we’ll be looking to get our hands on a groupset to bring you a full review later in the year.
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He was Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine for two years before joining road.cc in 2017, and reports on all things tech as well as editing the road.cc live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.