Battle Royal, Part III: Campagnolo Super-Record

Campagnolo wins. There, that’s one of the two acceptable conclusions it would seem most readers will accept as just. I’m willing to bet that for most readers the sentimental favorite, the group of components that if—for any reason, any reason at all—I fail to find Campagnolo’s Super Record group the absolute winner of this little comparison, this subset of readers will feel justified in coming to the conclusion that I simply don’t know what I’m talking about.

I understand that sentiment, I really do.

The other alternative, of course, is that I’m supposed to come to the conclusion that these three groups and our love for them are as beyond question as religion. If you’ve had the impossibly good fortune to have had a love of Campagnolo passed down to you by your father, conceivably even a grandfather, you, sir, are lucky beyond measure and are thusly awarded a dispensation from this discussion. In your case, Campagnolo, by virtue of the fact that it was as inherited  by you as your actual religion, is beyond question the winner.

But most of us made a choice. Maybe it wasn’t all that conscious, but we had to make a choice, so for most of us, it’s not like religion.

It’s a helluva prelude, but I had to do it. And here’s why: When I bought my first racing bike in the 1980s, it was both used and equipped with Campagnolo Super Record. I had a sense that what I purchased was an investment in my future. That my bicycle was without an expiration date. It was not, however, impervious to ham-fisted wrenching. The headset had been brinnelled, “indexed,” as we joked. When I replaced the headset (with a Chris King), I took the opportunity to overhaul the entire bike. I recall my shop’s manager turning the brake’s quick release and saying, “This works so well … why would Shimano want to go and change that?”

That was a direct quote recalled verbatim more than 20 years later.

Campagnolo’s Record group carries with it an air of elegance. Record has the enviable distinction of combining components of obvious function with a wash of art that rises above good industrial design. It reminds me of the work you find in a great guitar, fine silver or some of the best German sedans.

It seems unlikely that either Dura-Ace or Red will ever be as pretty as Record. This is a level of unlikely akin to me winning a Pulitzer or peace breaking out in the Middle East, although I’d welcome either or both. Campagnolo’s sense of the interplay of artful design and function are readily apparent at almost every turn, to be found in the use of carbon fiber in the front and rear derailleurs. Even better are the flowing contours of the Ergo levers. There’s something Eames-like in the way the lever bodies curve inward at the rise and the brake levers flatten and wrap outward at the hook.

Out of the box, the skeleton brakes remind me of some German shower fixture: minimal, functional and almost endlessly adjustable. On the road, however, they accumulate more dirt, sand and assorted road grime than any other brake I’ve encountered. Not surprising, I suppose, they’ve got surface area like Norway has coastline. And getting in there to clean them has forced me to amass a set of brushes I didn’t previously need.

Best Features: Their creativity. They were the first to add 10 speeds and then 11. They added carbon fiber to components like shift levers and derailleurs before anyone else did. They embraced both triples and compact cranks before Shimano did. They’ve offered a greater array of cassettes for their top group than Shimano has for some years. It’s a fact that Campagnolo has done more to meet the needs of the everyman than Shimano has by virtue of its willingness to offer smaller chainrings and bigger rear cogs on its cassettes. For an executive with taste and too few hours to ride, there isn’t a better choice than Campy with a compact crank and a 13-29 cassette, that is unless he lives some place relatively flat where he can get by with the compact and a 12-23.

I appreciate that Campagnolo offers cassettes with a 12t small cog. I don’t climb as fast as I did when I was racing, so I like having a 27t large cog. My unabashed love of climbing combined with my even greater love of technical descents (where my speed rarely hits 50 mph) makes my absolute favorite cassette the 11-speed 12-27. It has worked for me in the canyons above Malibu and makes great sense in the Alps as well. I can’t defend this preference in any remotely objective way; it suits my fitness and the terrain I prefer.

One great feature of Campagnolo’s Ergo shifter is your ability to dump the chain down the cassette after getting over the top of a climb. Where I live I rarely need this feature, but I have ridden loads of hills in New England that had a sharp finish to them and being able to drop three or four cogs instantly was pretty handy. Even better than this is the mechanical advantage of their shifters. It requires less force to execute a shift with Campagnolo shifters than either of their competitors’ shifters. And then there’s trim. Whether you’re in the small or large chainring, you get trim and I’ve yet to ride a Dura-Ace bike adjusted so perfectly as to prevent me from desiring at least a touch of trim.

Campagnolo has also endorsed the concept of running changes in a way Shimano doesn’t appreciate. If you didn’t like a feature of 7800, too bad; it stayed until the release of 7900. With Campagnolo, every year there are a few tweaks. The downside is that sometimes the new group isn’t all that new, but that process of tweaking has meant that the pressure required to shift the thumb button has decreased but the chance of overshifting has dropped as well. It used to be that in a sprint, by the time you generated enough pressure to execute a shift, you were well on your way to yet another shift. I was careful about the smallest cog I’d run on my cassette when I raced to make sure I didn’t risk overshifting. Running changes also means that each year Super Record gets a bit lighter; no matter what Shimano is doing, the fact that each year Super record gets lighter will keep the group competitive and push Shimano to catch up.

Worst Features: Their creativity. Let’s face it, three of the biggest game changers in component design—integrated control levers, large diameter BB spindles and dual-pivot brakes—all came from Shimano. It pains me to write that. Five or six years ago a friend summed up the reason he thought Campagnolo was OTB in component design with this: “Two words dude, square taper.” He was referring to the Italian company’s ongoing use of the square taper BB spindle, something they did finally abandon.

It’s not that Campagnolo isn’t creative. God knows. The problem is that the company used to lose the plot line periodically. Two more words: Delta brakes. I covered this ground adequately in peloton‘s issue 8, but I’ll remind you that the Delta brake, while as gorgeous as Riedel crystal, worked only as well as something spec’d by Huffy and was even harder to adjust. Imagine something as pretty as an iPod but with circa 1990s system software by Microsoft.

As much as I love the shape of the Ergo body and brake lever, I’m dismayed that Campagnolo has yet to offer the ability to adjust the reach on the brake lever. This is never more frustrating than when I move back to my Super Record-equipped bike from either a Dura-Ace or Red-equipped bike. It seems to me that ideal ergonomics would mean that lever reach would be adjustable so that any rider could open their hands while in the drops and their fingers would immediately reach the levers. It’s not a huge reach, but it’s a reach, nonetheless, that many of us are forced to make. That the quick release for the brake is on the lever is a feature I’ve never liked. A broken spoke will result in a brake lever that can only be reached from the hood.

Campagnolo’s extensive use of carbon fiber has a downside. Lay a Campy-equipped bike down and you’d better sharpen up your American Express card. I once had one of their chains blow apart at the shop-installed with the $100 tool masterlink (an abandoned design) and the broken link caught in the rear derailleur pulleys as I pedaled. The carbon parallelogram snapped like dried pasta. I still find the fact that their chains are non-repairable and require a $100 chain tool irksome. And that’s putting it mildly.

Assembly and Maintenance: The last iteration of Campagnolo 10-speed Record set a new standard in functionality for the Italian manufacturer’s top group. It was by far the quickest to set up and adjust, save the chain, but we’ve covered that. Unfortunately, Super Record 11 has proven to be fussier to set up. If the front derailleur set up isn’t perfect a dropped chain can result in chewed up carbon fiber, either in the front derailleur (no bueno) or perhaps at the frame (really no bueno).

Worse is the company’s decision to use aluminum Torx fittings to secure the levers and brake pads. Gone are the days of slipping a 5mm driver below the hood and giving a firm twist. Now you have to peel the hood back to a crazy degree and try to shove a Torx driver in there squarely enough that you don’t end up with aluminum shavings all over the lever. Your results may vary. To get the lever clamp tight enough I had to snug a crescent wrench on the driver’s handle. To see a picture of me doing this you can check out the Wikipedia entry for “awkward.” Not publicized by the company was the release of some alternative cassette spacers some months after the introduction of Super Record. There was an acknowledgement that some users might not be getting the best possible shifting performance. I was Googling for information on optimal adjustment of Super Record drivetrains when I happened to run across info about the ever-so-slightly thicker spacers.

Running new cables in a lever is less fun than changing a diaper. By a long shot. Those little white cable guides may give you choice, and they pop out to aid installation, but getting them back in is a bit like trying to replace a AA battery with a D cell.

The good news is that once it’s working properly all it needs is the occasional wash and chain lube.

Group Weight: 4.3 lbs. (1950g)

Best Internet Pricing: $2199

 

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52 comments

  1. CptCrnch

    My love of Campagnolo was passed on to me by my great grandfather. He started racing bikes back in early teens of the 20th century (he even rode his single bike to his wedding and tandem back home with his bride). As his father (my great great grandfather) also raced that technically makes me the fifth generation of bike racer in my family. Also being Italian I wasn’t given much choice in bike manufacturer or component maker. It has always been and will always be Bianchi and Campagnolo.

    I whole heartedly agree with the assembly and maintence section. I dread installing new cables each season. Even popping out the white guide only helps slightly. I have found the puttin a slight bend at the end of the cable helps get it through the guide. As for the torx screw. I hate that thing. I have had to do the same thing with an adjustable wrench to get the clamp tight. Not fun setting up to say the least. But it’s simply a small price to pay for the beautiful design of Campy. Their stuff oozes sexiness and I’ll never for moment consider any other brand.

  2. Julius Kusuma

    If you wanted longer reach, you could get a shim for the shifter. Part number EC-SR040 (insert for big hands). If you wanted shorter reach, it’s a matter of handlebar v. shifter angle setup.

    Blessed be Tullio!

  3. randomactsofcycling

    You’re right about so many things here! I am on my third Campy group set though I have never used anything more than Chorus. I love the multi-shifting and I actually really like having the brake release at the lever. It’s handy and if after a quick wheel change you forget to re-engage the brake, you can do it while rolling, quite safely.
    Lever reach is MUCH better on the 11 speed group. You do need to invest in a set of bars that are designed for Campy though. So many handlebars, particularly the ‘ergonomic’ ones, were really designed for Shimano OEM that it was difficult to get a good curve for small handed riders on Campy 10 speed. With 11 speed and shallow drop bars (the 3T stuff is perfect) the fit is now perfect.

  4. Smackalacka

    I see you are reviewing the previous generation Super Record (2010). It’s worth noting that Super Record was completely retooled for 2011. It shifts better than ever and is now the lightest gruppo available. There are other tweaks as well. You really should be reviewing that kit for a fair comparison.

  5. randomactsofcycling

    @AMR: the differences are so minute that even ProTour riders are often seen riding various hybrids of Super Record and Record. You may find Super R. has titanium bearings in the rear derailleur (where Record has regular steel bearings) and perhaps the same is the case with the Cranks.
    If price is really a sticking point, take a serious look at Chorus. Apart from the bushes in the rear derailleur (where Record has bearings) there is next to no difference. As soon as I can I will be purchasing some aftermarket bearings for my Chorus derailleur.

  6. paul

    Crediting Campy’s “creativity” for going to 10 or 11 speeds is like calling the first 4 bladed razor a stroke of genius.

  7. paul

    And it’s interesting that the article tags Campy as the group of the everyman, then shortly after uses an “executive” as an example of Campy’s blue collar, everyman image. And nevermind that Campy is historically the most expensive component group, which would do nothing for a (non-executive) everyman.

    RKP fail.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      CptCrnch: Okay, wow. That’s really amazing. If you every buy anything other than a Campy-equipped Bianchi and dishonor your family, I’ll personally drop by to smack you.

      Julius Kusuma: Moving the lever around the bar is not an adequate response to actual adjustability.

      RandomActs: I really hate the release at the lever, in part because it’s easy enough to reach down and either open or close a quick release at the brake. That said, lever reach is improved, though I still thing they need to address adjustability.

      Smackalacka: Campy doesn’t send us anything. Ever. If I want to review something of theirs, I have to buy it. The last time Campy sent me something to review was when I was at Bicycle Guide. That was 1998.

      AMR: I haven’t ridden Chorus or Record, some I’m sorry that I can’t help there.

      Paul: There’s a considerable amount of engineering that goes into adding an additional cog to a drivetrain, a good deal more than adding another blade to a razor. And to do so is becoming exponentially harder. It’s not creative thinking in the classic sense, but I hope that you can see there was a trope at work regarding creativity. The company has done some very good work, but rarely groundbreaking the way Shimano has. Also, I believe you’ve misunderstood my use of the term “everyman.” I was referring to people who aren’t racer fast, that is, most anyone. Yes, Campy is the most expensive, which is exactly why I referred to an executive buying the stuff. It was an implicit acknowledgement that their groups aren’t cheap. “Blue collar” was nowhere in what I wrote.

  8. Ed Wolph

    Padraig, “It’s not creative thinking in the classic sense, but I hope that you can see there was a trope at work regarding creativity.” Trope?? OK, you got me, I had to look it up and I still don’t understand it.

    However, thanks for your (somewhat biased) article. It is true, only a religious view could so readily overlooks the flaws and highlight the virtues.

    I have Campy on my wife’s bike and Shimano on mine. I find Shimano much easier to live with. I have 25,000 miles on my 7900 group. I’ve replaced only brake pads, cables, chain and bottom bracket. I’m still using the original cassette and chain rings.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Ed Wolph: I do what I can to be honest about the biases I have. I don’t pretend to be perfectly objective, though I try to be fair. In this instance though, I’m unaware of any bias, so I’m eager to hear just what my bias is.

  9. velopoint

    I assumed that Padraig was very deliberately including photos of the 2010 Super Record group. The red graphics added to the 2011 group is Madison Ave. tawdry, not Italian sexy.

  10. Fat Monte

    Padraig, some of us are new to riding, or becoming reacquainted with it after a lengthy pause. Unlike CptCrnch, we were not lucky enough to have allegiances passed down from earlier generations. Nor do we have an encyclopedic knowledge of component history (sadly). We’ve all heard the rationale for Campy, and even witnessed fanaticism bordering on religious.

    For us, with our basic mechanical skills and limited tool kits, there’s something just too Italian, too complex, too fragile about Super Record. I’d be as inclined to re-cable a Campy gruppo as I would change the clutch in a Ferrari. Afraid I’d bugger it permanently, then have to bring it to a mechanic with my head hung in shame. Then he’d put my hamfistedness on display for other riders to see as a cautionary tale.

    From a practical standpoint, we (I, myself and I’m sure a few others like me) need something far more practical. Durable. Simple. Sturdy. And yes, less expensive. The business model Campy has carved out for themselves is that very top 10%. Elite. Experienced. And I’m afraid I’m not worthy. It’s as if worthiness is imperceptibly designed into the components themselves. As if they’re designed to weed us out. “Not enough history? Not enough skill? No Campy for you. You do not deserve.”

    For us, it’s SRAM or Shimano. Everyman components. And you know what, I don’t even think Campagnolo cares. In fact, I get the impression they prefer it that way.

  11. CptCrnch

    @Fat Monte

    That’s the great part about having a wide selection to pick from. Pick what is going to work best for YOU and what you’ll be happy with. One thing I can’t stand is Campy fanatics who try to push their view on everyone (it’s like the iPhone vs. Android debate). Pick equipment you will be happy with and you’re likely to enjoy your ride much more then picking something just because history says you should. And enjoying the ride is what it’s all about.

  12. Smackalacka

    @Fat Monte. Your comments are valid to a point. Super Record certainly could be compared to a Ferrari, and its appeal is as such.

    However, don’t forget that Campy DOES have working man’s gruppos. Specifically Chorus, Athena and even Veloce. These groups are alot less expensive, very simple and sturdy. Quite frankly they operate better than any of the competition, even their top groups. And they are built to last, with most components being completely rebuildable.

    I have an 2011 all Alloy Athena kit on my Colnago Master and I love it.

    Problem is you just dont see these group spec’d on US bikes much. To say they don’t care is a little harsh. What they do care about is keeping production in Italy which makes it tough to compete with Asian made groups when most bikes are made there too.

  13. Wayne

    Providing the user with the gears that are needed and ease of shifting is the primary purpose of any group. If Campy responds to real customers needs here then that is the best reason to use it. Why would anyone choose to have gears that are too high or with spacing that is too great?

    The best result for brakes is achieved by not worshiping at the alter of the complete groupo. Campy shifters, Shimano dual pivot brakes give quick releases on both ends. Works great.

    Wayne

  14. Adam

    I’ll second that I love the casette options for Campy. From October to March I just put on a 12-28 and that’ll cover me for wherever and however far I ride anytime in those five months.
    The chain tool is a pain – surely if you can create an electronic system you can simplify one of the oldest parts of a bike.
    Having owned all three I prefer Campy. I like the look and feel of it. I like dumping gears. My perception is that it does last longer and doesn’t corrode.

  15. Ghost Rider

    I’m with CptCrnch — except it was my Italian grandfather rather than my great-grandfather. Why, I still have the Campagnolo T-wrench he gave me in 1977 (my first of many bike tools). For me, Shimano goes on the bikes I really don’t care about…the unglamorous workhorses like my cargo bike and the tourer. The road machines have never seen anything but Campagnolo.

    Campagnolo actually recommends putting a kink in the first inch of cable to help thread it through those infernal lever guides. Once everything is run, that inch gets cut off anyway. And then off you go without a care in the world!

  16. armybikerider

    I love the multi-generational love for all things Campy that some of the posters write about. Just goes to show that there is a LOT more to choosing (and riding) bicycling gear than simply nuts-and-bolts performance. There’s that sort-of visceral subjective quality that many times persuades us to make the choices that we make…it’s why I ride nothing but metal frames.

  17. bob

    I ride Campy. I have never had anything else on a road bike. This comes from someone who can into this sport later in life (late 30′s). For me, Campy just feels and works better than the other tow option. When I was test riding m new frame (S-Works SL3), it had SRAM on it. I hated it. I also have SRAM on my TT bike (only because the carbon levers were nicer than Campy’s at that time and i got a killer price). I have never like it. I have also used Dura-Ace, and was not impressed. For me, Campy feels better. It is more intutive. When I ride my fixed gear, I miss my thumb levers

    I would tend to agree with some of the other posters that there is more that goes into buying a gruppo. There is a pride of ownership with Campy that the other two will never match. Maybe it is akin to people who (like me) would rather listen to LP’s using tubes over MP3′s. Or use a shave brush and shave soap than cream.

    I do wish to thank you for our words and time on this topic.

  18. Smackalacka

    IMO Campy is just better. It’s lighter, has better ergonomics, shifts better (shifting actually improves over time), and the drivetrains are WAY quieter. (something that drives me crazy about SRAM). Better materials, bearings and machine surfaces. Most parts are rebuildbale.

    Plus they look better and their kits never go out of style. And they will last.

    …just my 2 cents.

  19. Chromatic Dramatic

    Interesting post. I’ve often thought about giving Campy a try (more at the Athena level), and here are a few points to consider.

    Out of interest, when is sram review likely to be up.

    I know it’s difficult to do a review of the little sisters (or is it brothers) to these groupsets, but I’m wondering how much of the reviews from above can translate down to the lower groups?


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Scott: I’ll do what I can to eliminate the esoteric talk going forward. That will likely make my posts much quicker to read. Alternatively, you may have stumbled into the wrong blog by mistake. Seriously though, one thing I love about cycling is that one cyclist’s answer to a question won’t be every cyclist’s answer to the same question. It’s great that you want something cost efficient and chock full of performance. I dig that. I also dig that some people value style more than any other feature, sometimes even including performance.

      Chromatic: The SRAM review will be going up shortly. I’m a little off my game due to some oral surgery and a deadline for peloton.

      I’ve got experience with both Ultegra and Veloce as well as Apex. They are each pretty remarkable. While the basics of function certainly trickle down, the finer points of engineering get lost in the shuffle. Brake response is all over the map with Shimano, though with SRAM the brakes all work pretty much the same; they just get heavier as the price goes down.

  20. Vandenberg

    Having grown up in a pentecostal church, I have an aversion to evangelism in most forms. The manner in which Campy is spoken about often mimics the fervour of the newly born-again christian, with talk of life-changingness, and never-the-same-again, and once-you-try-it-you’ll-see-what-I’m-talking-about. This is entirely off-putting, and means that any review by one of the faithful always comes across as a little bit evangelistic: come into the fold brother, you’ll see how good it is over here, and what a mistake your life of sin has been…

    I appreciate that Padraig has fronted up with his biases from the get-go, at least we know where we stand. I just wish more Campy-philes would be up front and honest and state straight out that they prefer it because it’s more expensive, has more prestige, and buys them entry into an exclusive club. At the end of the day, it’s a group of bike parts that do the same thing as other bike parts: you’ll hopefully still love riding bikes whether your bits were made in Italy/Romania or Japan/Taiwan.

    Disclaimer: my current roadie has Campag Veloce, which is a great group. My next bike is having Ultegra 6700, which is a great group.

  21. Hautacam

    Wait, what’s all this talk about bottom brackets with something other than square-taper spindles? I thought all bikes came with square-taper spindles?!

    Kidding. But the Campy change to torx screws for that application really does cheese me off. And as much as I love my Campy (and I do), the spring tensions in my ’89 Chorus single-caliper brakes were insanely high. Sure, adrenalin and racers and late braking and slowing-not-stopping and all that, but holy smokes at a certain point you just gotta be able to squeeze the lever and get the brake to grab the rim. I was always worried that I might not manage to do it when I really needed to.

  22. SteveP

    I do not currently ride in any particular house of worship, but @#$%! those Campy levers feel great and the Shimano drive train works great (and with everything). Will I burn for all eternity if I mate Campy and Shimano?

    btw This debate is an excellent bit of education for me as a newbie to components made in this century. Looking forward to the SRAM bit.

  23. Matt Wikstrom

    Great stuff RKP. All great sports that benefit from passionate supporters exhibit religious tendencies. Defending our chosen faith stirs the passion and quickens the blood in our veins. Shimano, SRAM or Campag, pick one and defend it with passion!

    So… what about electronic shifting?

  24. A Stray Velo

    Since having moved to Europe I find myself becoming more and more of a Campagnolo fan. If I had to answer why I would agree with the aforementioned descriptive of elegance. Those levers are shaped in all the right ways and it’s as if your fingers say yes when they grip the brake lever or the hoods.

    My biggest problem is the brake pads. There are of course tricks to removing them and replacing them safely, it’s just the idea that they could have been better thought out. As with other brands, by simply removing a fixing screw the brake pad can be changed. The screw wouldn’t be as pretty but it would work a heck of a lot better.

    As far as the install issues. You can pull the hood back a little bit and then slip the Torx T-25 under the hood via the side if the lever. With the hood pulled back a little and the tool going in from the side you’ll be better able to guide the tool to the head of the bolt. It’s much easier than trying to pull the hood back so far. A very light sandpaper can be used on the inside of the circular handlebar clamp to rough it up a bit, taking away some of the smoothness and adding a bit of grip.

  25. Sy

    From a servicing point of view Campy can really be a pain.

    Why make the bolt pattern of the compact 110 BCD chain-ring off-set, so that only their own or a very few esoteric brands make ones top fit.

    As mentioned above, the brake pads removal and re-fit is awkward at best.

    Why make chain-ring bolts that are non-standard, and seize very easily.

    The lever fixing bolts are inaccessible as mentioned before.

    A special chain tool at £100 is madness, also the special tools required to extract the BB bearings all makes tooling up a workshop very expensive.

    The UT axle design seems unnecessarily complex, and prone to creaking.

    From an aesthetic point of view, and functionality-wise it is as good as the the other top-end groups, but for working on in the workshop, I prefer the Japanese groups.

    Not being able to change down the block from the drops will always stop me riding Campy, but that’s just me.

  26. Peter Lin

    I am new to cycling. Looking at campy shifters, they look similar to Sora shifters. Is Sora shifter comparable to campy? I’ve never used campy before, so I have no clue. I do have shimano 105 on one of my road bikes and Sora shifter on my specialized dolce. Comparing sora to 105, I prefer the 105.

  27. Tricky Dicky

    Surely all we can do is go on personal experience? I tried Ultegra and SRAM Force when I got back into riding after many years away as those are what came with the bikes. I was blown away by how often I had to change chains and cassettes and how quickly everything corroded (I live near the beach). So, a years or so back I made the switch over to Campagnolo – Record for my race bike, Chorus for my “training/travel” bike. They’re definitely a bit more fiddly to set up but once dialled in are, frankly, miles better – quieter and smoother and the components last way longer. Brakes might not be quite as good as the Japanese though. I reckon Chorus is the best value component group out there.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Evan: This also is a feature of Ultegra, not Dura-Ace. Dura-Ace is meant to feature a trimless front derailleur and while I’ve seen some mechanics manage perfect adjustment to achieve it, most mechanics, judging from their work, can’t achieve it (me included).

  28. AMR

    Loved reading all the comments. Did someone say late starter at late 30′s… I was very, very late starter then.

    Moved from 105 to Ultegra and loved it. Told myself, and others, I would never go D-A or Record because I didn’t see the need for it and I rather spend my cash on frames and wheels first.

    Always wanted to try Campag and Chorus would have done the job. My choice of new bike only comes with Record or D-A, the former at a better price. Record it is!

    I hope I can find a way to change down the block from the drops.

  29. Gummee!

    I wanted Campy. I really did! I had a PDM Concorde in college. Wanted to make it ‘Team Issue.’ Then I saw how much C-Record was selling for new (no ebay back then!) I found some mixed Shimano parts for it from friends and my LBS. Fast forward a few years and I have a stable of bikes. All are Shimano compatible. Changing over 5 bikes with at least one extra pair of wheels per = VERY expensive. So I didn’t.

    I’ve ridden Sachs New Success. I liked the thumb button but my legs still had to turn the pedals.

    I’ve owned D/A, Ultegra, 105, Red, Force, and Rival. My legs still have to pedal the bike. IDK about yours, but my legs can’t tell the difference between any of the groups that the bikes have had on em.

    M

  30. Souleur

    good stuff…been waiting til all the grouppo’s were reviewed, but seems like a good time to chime in

    I am one who did not have a father ride, therefore I had to ‘self-teach’ my religion if you will. Perhaps that brings with it a bit more objectivity, because your right, all that have commented, its is a deeply held belief in some ways.

    I personally feel the Campy Record/Chorus 10 group were very very good, perhaps in some ways better than the 11. I have only had my hands in the levers of the campy 11, but what I heard, the Chorus is troublesome, the Record and Super Record are finicky. Anyway, they are drop dead gorgeous however. Campy pushes the envelope, and their carbon technology is the best. But one thing that I feel locks them out is their rear hub design. They lock themselves into a ‘must’ have campy style freehub, and for some its a non issue, for some wheelsets though, there is incompatibility with switching it out. And the price of campy, its so pricey, that if I laid it down, it would make me sick.

    otherwise, i agree with much of what you guys are saying

  31. comptonius

    Best shifting setup I have had was back in the early 90′s. I had a Campag Athena Front and Rear D., Shimano freehub with a 7-speed hyperglide straight block cassetter, and Campag Retro-Friction levers (on the downtube). Ran so silent! Amazing!!

  32. Howard hesterberg

    As a campy user from 95 with experience with chorus 9s, Record and Centaur 10s I have always been amazed at how much Shimano users have to fuss with their bikes. I worked in shops for many of these years again I am amazed at how the durability of Campagnolo is superior. I have Rival on my ‘cross bike for 4 seasons, same thing not fussy very durable. Mtn bike with Shimano SLX Bb gone in 350 miles and fussy shifting. I have a new bike coming w Ultegra Di2 so we’ll how it goes, I am excited tho.
    Good post, Interesting to read things I’ve never seen in the cycling press before. Thanks

  33. Malcolm

    When I was a boy I remember me and my mate sticking our faces against the window of the only serious bike shop in my town, peering at shiny hubs, cranksets and brakes with Campagnolo engraved on all of them. I had only my memories, nostalgia, childhood dreams to go by when the day came to decide what would adorn my 1989 Pinarello. Campagnolo Record it was then; shiny as the day we rubbed noses against that window.

    Oh, how times have changed. We are spoilt for choice (did Shimano even exist in 1969?) and we are very well informed, so much so that all of us who care about such things (well, after Padraig has reviewed the Red group) will be able to go out and ride the best, avoid the awkward, the troublesome and the unreliable (who cares if it’s not the lightest). Thank you Padraig for pointing out the little things and, well, for perhaps being a bit courageous even. I feel I have grown up now. I will purchase wisely.

    Yet the shiny stuff in the window still whispers to me.

  34. MCH

    Kudos for doing your best to not offend the tifosi. That said, seems to me that the review could be summed up as:
    - looks pretty
    - overpriced
    - under performs relative to the other 2 groups

    As much as I love the history, the russian battle tank durability of the late 70s/early 80s SR group, and all the mythology, I just can bring myself to ride the stuff.

  35. gene r

    I suppose you can disagree on some of the finer points of these grouppos forever however there is one point that hasn’t been mentioned and can’t be denied. If your bike ends in a vowel and has Campy on it it will always hold its value. Think anyone will pay top dollar for a SRAM grouppo down the road?
    I own a 72 Atala with the original NR on it. Came with sneaky petes no less. I have a custom Medici that I restored with the original SR components that I’m putting up for sale. The pride of the fleet is a 97 DeRosa which I put Chorus 11 on last year. Swap out the Campy for Shimano and you’ve lost money. I belong to a fairly large club here on Long Island and I can’t think of one rider who rides any better or worse because of their groups. If you want to BUY a group, chose Shimano or Sram. If you want to invest in a group pick Campy

  36. Bob

    I love the fact that the brake quick release is on the ergo lever. I’m surprised that is a point of contention, and it’s the first I’ve heard that. If your brake pad starts rubbing it’s an easy flick to open the caliper, right in the ‘controls area’.

    Having it on the brake is like having to reach down to downtube shifters. Or worse, reaching behind to flick it open at the base of a climb???

    Sure, if you break a spoke and then flick it open, the reach from the hoods is a little more, but are you wanting to hammer in the drops with an out of true wheel and a broken spoke?

    That’s a complaint I’ll never have.


    1. Author
      Padraig

      Bob: I couldn’t agree with you less. If you move the brake release pin on a Campy lever most riders (me included) flat-out can’t reach the lever at all from the drops, rendering that brake useless. Hammering or not, that is plain unsafe.

      As to the comparison to a downtube shifter, I think you’re off on that. A rider may execute 100 shifts or more on a long ride, whereas if there’s a problem with a brake rubbing, you’ll reach down and open the brake once. The reach, given how infrequently you need it, doesn’t need to be convenient.

      With today’s low-spoke-count wheels, these arguments only apply to a wheel that’s out of true. If you break a spoke on a wheel with 20 or even 24 spokes, it’s generally unrideable.

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