Just-published patent applications give the clearest indication yet that Campagnolo is about to launch a wireless Super Record groupset, and it looks like the brand’s distinctive thumb levers are on the way out, replaced by a second finger-operated shift lever that sits behind the brake lever, and buttons on the body of the shift unit.
We’ve written a zillion stories (I’m rounding up here) suggesting that Campagnolo is planning a wireless groupset – and it is – but all of the evidence so far has come from rear derailleur patent applications. This is the first time we’ve gained insight into the shifters.
> Is Campagnolo planning a wireless groupset?
A patent application (US 2023/0031666 A1) for a ‘manual control device for a bicycle’ shows a shifter that is powered by a coin cell (marked 69 on the pictures). Campagnolo’s usual thumb lever on the inner face (referred to as the ‘proximal face') of the shifter body is missing. Instead, the patent application shows two finger-operated levers (marked 10 and 11 on the pictures), one sitting above the other.
The thumb lever has been a defining characteristic of Campagnolo shift systems for years. Campag could have easily ditched it when introducing EPS (Electronic Power Shift) but wanted to retain some of the look and feel of a mechanical system. You know, brand recognition, point of difference... stuff like that.
The shifter has a rounded hood reminiscent of a Shimano design, although that doesn’t mean that the final product will be this shape.
Control lever 10 is for upshifts and control lever 11 is for downshifts. Campagnolo has clearly thought about making sure you don’t press the wrong one accidentally. It intends for you to use your forefinger for the upper lever and your middle finger for the lower one.
“The cyclist’s finger may therefore ‘specialise’ and an involuntary actuation is avoided,” it says.
“The control regions [for the individual levers] may have a different surface texture so as to allow them to be distinguished by feel… [and] may be separated by a slit.”
As well as those levers, the shifter body (which is called the ‘support body’ in the patent application) also features push buttons (marked 16 and 17) broadly where the thumb lever sits on previous designs.
These buttons “are in charge of, for example, issuing commands to electronics of controlled equipment, in particular to the electronics of the front derailleur in the case of the left control device shown, of the [rear] gearshift in the case of the right control device”.
They’re positioned there “so as to be easily accessed by the cyclist’s thumb, and in a position to be visible to the cyclist.”
> Is a 13-speed Campagnolo road groupset on the way?
In other words, it looks like you’ll be able to move both derailleurs with your thumbs using these buttons when you’re riding with your hands on the hoods.
The part marked 18 on the pictures is a ‘luminous indicator’ – presumably something like an LED to indicate which chainring you’re currently using or perhaps battery level.
The shifter body will be covered in the usual way, with either holes to allow you to press the buttons or areas of greater flexibility in that area.
If we were in any doubt about this being a wireless system, Campagnolo spells it out.
“The control device may comprise a coaxial cable [marked 24 in the pictures] having an antenna function for wireless communication with one or more pieces of equipment controlled by the control device and/or with other electronic devices.”
In other words, the shifter will be able to communicate wirelessly with the rest of the system and also with things like bike computers and apps.
Campagnolo doesn’t yet have the approval necessary to use a wireless system in the US but we’re confident that’s just a matter of time.
We always point out that anything patent-related isn’t guaranteed to become reality but Campagnolo has done so much work on a wireless shift system that we’d be stunned if we didn’t see this being used by pro riders over the next few months. We imagine that we’re looking at a revamp of the top-level Super Record groupset soon, and possibly an electronic version of the Ekar gravel groupset before too long too.
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