Friday Group Ride #299

Friday Group Ride #299

A long time ago, we did a Group Ride on component allegiances. My idea back then was that components were like religions. Campy guys wouldn’t ride Shimano. Shimano guys thought Campy guys were snobs, and there weren’t any SRAM guys, except me.

Times have changed.

Hydraulic disc brake systems, and then electronic shifting created converts. SRAM surged with their first hydro groups, but then a recall cost them that momentum, while Shimano’s Di2 groups, especially the second generation Ultegra Di2 group, became the gold standard on the road. SRAM stole some market back with 1x gruppos.

I know Campy guys who’ve crossed the divide, and I can’t see a reason they’re going back. At some point function overcomes form, at least for most folks.

I have some Shimano bikes. I have some SRAM bikes. I don’t know what I’ll do next. So much is changing, so quickly.

Now SRAM is raising the bar with eTap, a wireless electronic group that has been in testing for a good long time. I haven’t talked to anyone who isn’t impressed. What wireless means for cable routing (none) will change how frames are made. But then Shimano announced an across the board price decrease this week, so…

Meanwhile, other companies, like FSA, Rotor and TRP, are rounding out their product offerings. Will one of them make a dent in the dominance of the big three?

This week’s Group Ride asks, how strong is your component allegiance now? If you’ve switched teams in the last five years, what was it that convinced you? If you’re still loyal to the same gruppos, is there anything coming out that has you thinking about a change?

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  1. Jay

    Road Campy for years until an accident damaged my right thumb and I couldn’t downshift the Ergo lever. Switched to Shimano Di2. Works every bit as well. Not as glamorous, but so what.

  2. Jay

    Everything that I currently ride is Shimano equipped, but I am not married to them either. My first serious road bike was Campagnolo equipped and I liked that a lot. I have next to no experience with SRAM, not that I would rule them out for future use. Regardless of whatever group I am riding, I will remain true to mechanical shifting for the foreseeable future. Just my bias. Keep it simple.

  3. chuckster

    Loyalty till death about my old mid-90s Campy Record on a beautiful 20 year old steel frame. Other than that, zero allegiances other than to 1) quality/functionality, 2) value and 3) aesthetics. While I’d love to have Campy on all my road bikes in theory, maintaining a small “fleet” between my wife and I has kept me at 10 speed Shimano and SRAM gruppos for the most part. But I love SRAM’s innovation and I look forward to how their bar-raising has been pushing Shimano and Campy to put out better quality and drive price points down a bit on the things that are a step below their top tier!

  4. Aar

    I have loved the “my thumbs shift one way and index fingers shift the opposite” functionality of Campy since ergo levers were introduced and don’t foresee a change of opinion any time soon. That said, I recognize that I’m paying more for components that are more finicky to adjust and wear out faster. That impracticality may eventually move me to an alternative. Time will tell….

  5. Bob

    I’ve been riding Shimano since it first started clicking. Can’t imagine using anything else – the current generation Dura Ace is the best yet (and I’ve used every generation). Great functionality and ergonomics. Pleasing aesthetic – at least to my eye!

  6. Ric

    I’ve been a Shimano guy since day one and I can’t see any reason to jump ship. The eTap thing is admittedly pretty cool but I have to believe Shimano is not going to let that go unchallenged.

  7. John Kopp

    I have SunTour on my bikes. They work well with my Avocet crank set and hubs, and last a long time. I have no plans to change at this time. But if I need new components, what’s out there? I haven’t a clue. I’ve heard rumors of free wheel cassettes with more gears than fingers to count on! Maybe I’m showing my age. Do the latest components work with 5 speed free wheels? Guess I have to talk to the old geezer at the local bike shop.

  8. Alan

    SRAM vs Shimano vs Campagnolo.

    Apple vs Android vs Microsoft.

    All are good.

    Only losers I know are debating Chevy vs Ford vs Dodge.


  9. Paul Thober

    I have always preferred Campagnolo road components. Had a Basso Gap with super record back in the early eighties. Then the economics of being a bicycle mechanic dictated various combinations of Campy, Sun Tour, Shimano, Phil Wood, etc. as came available within my budget. About fifteen years ago I bit the bullet and bought a 9 speed Campy Chorus group for my Merckx and haven’t looked back. A couple of years ago I bought a Tarmac frameset and a Chorus 11 group. Shimano or SRAM? No thanks. My only consistent disloyalty to Campagnolo has been chains – Sedis from back in the ’80s and SRAM ever since they labeled them SRAM. My mountain bikes have always had Sun Tour and then Shimano. I wouldn’t have put Campy mountain bike components on my bike unless I intended to use it as a boat anchor.

  10. Peter Kelley

    I’ve been a Campy guy on road and cross bikes since my first 8 speed Chorus group. Currently have Chorus 11 on my #1. Have always ridden Shimano on Mtb. In the last few years I’ve opened up to the idea of a change. Mostly due to Campy’s expensive, proprietary chain tool requirements, and their lack of BB30 cranksets. I now run KMC chains with the missing link, and an FSA SLK-Light crank. Maybe my next group will be SRAM or Shimano 🙂

  11. Pat O'Brien

    For road, I keep coming back to Shimano 105 after trying Campy Veloce. On mountain bikes I use both SRAM X9 and Shimano XT. When I finally wear out the X9 group on my Niner, I will replace it with XT. For touring, Shimano LX with Dura Ace bar ends. If I even change groups for touring it will probably be XT with Microshift bar ends or Paul thumb shifters. Favorite group of all time? Easy, 105. Since it was brought up in another comment, Apple.

  12. Rick

    In the 80’s I used a mix of Shimano, SunTour and Campagnolo But from the mid 90’s on, it’s been all Shimano Dura Ace. I have to say that their 9000 components are the best to date and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

  13. michael

    i’m a campy guy. shimano appreciator, SRAM hater (i liken their road groups to playing with a cheapy made chinese knock-off Fisher Price toy).

    Now? Still a campy guy, but SRAM E-tap has changed the game.

    But the one I am REALLY jonesing to use? Rotor Uno hydraulic, please and thanks

    1. Harris

      Michael: 100% Campagnolo mechanical, 8-9-10-11, Centaur through Super Record, on any number of bikes. I think SRAM mechanical is the worst of the big three.

      That said, I want SRAM eTap as bad as I want a fresh head of hair and a mulligan on my career.

  14. Bear

    My first good road bike (late 80s and is the rain bike now) has a down tube shifting Shimano Sante group. But the latest 2 road bikes both have SRAM (force and RED 22). I like the SRAM 1 tap “paddle shifters” better than the Shimano or Campy gear selectors and I really would like to get my paws on E TAP!

  15. Mrk

    I’ve been on Campy Chorus 11 since 2009 and just upgraded to the new Chorus. The only snag I’ve had was trying to find chainrings when they updated the crankset and trying to find a replacement rear DR in Utah after a crash (the one shop in the area that carried campy products only had a Super Rec derailleur).

    I bought a cross bike with Ultegra and rode it for about two months and now have it stripped down and ready for a Chorus 11 build. I couldn’t get the feeling of the Ultegra shifters that felt like I was holding on to two VHS tapes nor the moving brake levers.


  16. Scott G.

    I am nondenominational when in come to components,
    groupos are for product managers.
    Shimano & Campys 3 sizes fit all cranks, mean all my bikes
    have Sugino, TA or Stronglight cranksets. None have series brakes either.

    Question for the readers, Does wireless/hyrdo mean the end of Campagnolo ?

  17. Rod

    I am agnostic. My LBS/team has a good deal with SRAM and so that’s on most my bikes. I actually like how definite the shifters feel at the Red/Force level. Not so much with the extra strain my very primitive Apex had.

    Exception is for CX bike – the failure mode for the levers on side impact is “blow the hinge off irreparably”. That’s a major problem for my poor ‘cross skills. So that’s got Shimano hydraulic. Love them.

    Also like Campagnolo, just too costly in comparison for my purposes. And not a big fan of electronic systems but eTap looks amazing. And very curious about the Rotor group as well.

    1. Mrk

      From a cost standpoint, there seems to be a false analogy because of groupo levels. If you compare Shimano vs Campy, Dura Ace is perceivably the same mechanical advantage and weight (as a full groupset +/- a few increments) as Chorus. With Campy, two more groupsets exist above that level. If Super Dura Ace existed it would be on par with Rec and Super-Duper Dura Ace would be equal to Super Rec. At that level we’re paying for less grams. With the wife on DA9000 and I on Chorus, I’ve had the opportunity to ride both groups on basically the same frame with the same wheels. I’d even add that Chorus shifts quicker with more precision and reliability, especially in a sprint.

      I agree about the electronic systems, no appeal.

  18. MattC

    Campy Record 10 spd came w/ my first REAL road bike and it was awesome, then my next road bike I built from frame up for travel (Ritchey Breakaway) and went right back to the good ol’ Record 10 spd. One thing I really liked about it: shifted the same way as my old MTB w/ Shimano 9 spd rapid-rise (finger shift easier, thumb shift harder). However I JUST got a new mtb w/ the SRAM XXX1 1×11 (came w/ the bike, wasn’t my first choice…I was hoping for Shimano XTR 2×10). But after riding the 1×11 for a while, it’s FANTASTIC! Really only lost 2 gears: 1 on top and 1 on bottom…I can live w/ that! It’s my first experience w/ SRAM, and it’s a WINNER!

    That all said, I’m STILL not a fan of Avid brakes (had a few diff sets)…the XX’s that came w/ my new bike I’m SO not a fan of…likely will ‘downgrade’ soon and put Shimino XT Ice-tech’s on (which is what I have on my old MTB…they are FANTASTIC). Already switched the rotors over to XT ice-techs..they make the XX’s almost tolerable. You’d really think a $480 set of brakes (Avid XX’s) would be better than the XT’s (at about $200 for the set)…but they’re not.

    1. chuckster

      I have several friends who mix XX1 or other SRAM 1×11 with XT or XTR brakes. It’s a fantastic combo. Ultra reliable great brakes with an awesome 10-42 1x setup!

  19. Noah

    I’ve got Centaur 10 levers shifting a Force 1 derailleur across a Shimano 10-speed cassette, with a single narrow-wide chainring up front. Works like a charm.

    But I can’t wait to lay hands on etap once they introduce a clutch derailleur. It looks amazing.

  20. David

    Campy exclusively since about 1980 (Nuovo Record first on a prototype Japanese criterium frame, then on a Columbus steel Pinarello, which I still have), and now 11 speed SR mechanical. I don’t like the shifting of mechanical Shimano or SRAM (I’ve tried them both), and especially don’t like the shape of either of their hoods- the Campy design just feels better in my hands. And, yes, I will admit it, I’m a sucker for the history and mystique that goes along with it, too. I rode a rental bike with Ultegra DI2 last week when I was in Hawaii, and was quite impressed, but not enough to make the switch!

  21. Tom in Albany

    I ride what comes on the bike. the one time I got to choose, I chose Ultegra because I’d been told it was bomb-proof/affordable. I was told right. That said, I don’t really care. I just ride.

  22. Tom in Albany

    Oh, and my first bike I bought, a Schwinn that had a really nice 12-speed Suntour groupo with index shifters on the stem. I still have that bike and it still shifts beautifully.

  23. Gus C

    Good question, Robot. I used to be a campy fan through and through till sram. had the first generation, an aluminum rival groupset, and it worked well enough to consider severing my allegiance. however at the time i had a bridgestone set up with veloce 9spd controls, before campy showed a BIG middle finger to its users by manufacturing piss-poor quality entry level groups. It used to be that entry level campy groups were sturdy and rebuildable. My veloce aluminum levers were gorgeou, rebuilt 2x, and worked extremely well. sold it when all my bikes were 10 speed, but sold it with a pang of regret. well, the regret foreshadowed my next chapter in campy veloce. i got a brand new set (rd, fd and new-style levers) back in 2010 and it worked well for a few months. the right lever felt bendy and plasticky, characteristcs I’d attribute to shimano’s lower end groups. Turns out campy’s new entry level groups don’t last long, aren’t rebuildable, broke after less than a year of commuter-duties, and my attempts at rebuilding it fell flat. I eventually bought a NOS centaur from a friend, early 2000s when lower-mid groups were sturdy, made of metal parts that wore well, clicked soundily and were rebuildable. I was happy with it till my last rear campy wheel broke (rim wore through), so i detensioned the wheel, chucked the dead rim and sold the hub, a 28h record piece of awesomeness. Now all my bikes are sram, and i even opened an exception to microshift, bolting it to my winter/commuter/indoor bike. Microshift looks good, has great ergonomics, has hidden cables and works like campy used to: solid, audible clicks that felt mechanical and sturdy. To me it’s an affront that campy redesigned its ergo levers to be expendable; i understand its cost-cutting concerns and ease of manufacturing with less moving parts, but never i’d imagine that i’d associate campy with poor quality garbage. If you want good campy stuff, go chorus and up, where they still retain their honorable patina of mechanical prowess. But those are race-worthy or A-bike dream group. And for the cost of chorus one can purchase 2 rivals, 1 and a half force or 1 and a half ultegra, all 11 speeds.
    Currently 2/3 of my bike fleet (2 bikes, that is) have complete sram red/force. They work well with solid clicks that move swiftly, more so than my friends’ electronic grouppos. I’d give shimano a try if/when the opportunity presents itself, but for now, sram it is. Plus, with e-tap, now I have some real lustworthy subjects to dream about when I think of new bicis. So there.

  24. Dan R

    Sorry, Robot, but your take on “function over form” hardly seems universal. If function were really the core issue, we probably all should be riding Shimano 105 10-speed.

    All of my bikes have mechanical drivetrains with rim brakes, even recent purchases, and I am happy with my choices for racing and riding, both on and off road. The majority of my rides are equipped with Campagnolo (for road and for cyclocross), but I do own two with Dura Ace drivetrains. I am glad to see that some companies continue to refine mechanical groupsets even as they develop electronic counterparts. Choice is good!

    By the way, owning both Campy and Shimano-equipped bikes is hardly a novel idea; I rode Dura Ace 7400 alongside C-Record decades ago.

  25. CowtownCyclist

    My commuter is a Rival equipped cross bike and my road bike is rolling on 10 year old Campy Centaur. I’ve had Shimano equipped bikes, but I dislike the layout of shifters. I was almost tempted to the dark side with the Campy EPS Athena came out, but not quite. I would also like to go disk on my cross/commuter bike, but it is a huge compromise. Either good brakes and a shifter I don’t like (Shimano) or shifter I like with SRAM brakes. Neither one of those seems like a good deal to me, I run SRAM brakes on my winter commuter because the Shimano’s on my mountain bikes freeze around -15 C, otherwise I wouldn’t touch them with a 10 foot pole.

    The new SRAM blips may make it all better though. You could get the TT head unit and use whatever calliper/lever combo you want and that seems like a win to me. But then again, my 10 year old Campy road stuff is just starting to break in. It would be a shame not to keep riding it for a while longer.

  26. winky

    I’m an engineer and generally appreciate function over form. But I draw the line at SRAM’s hydro road levers. These are an abomination and must be killed with fire. The ugly, it burns….it burns…….

  27. Ransom

    Shimano on the primary bike (a ‘cross bike which does quadruple duty as everything but my mountain bike) and SRAM on the mountain bike (except XT brakes on Problem Solver adapters, because Elixirs were as bad as their reputation). I really like the way my mountain bike shifts; very positive. That said, I’m half inclined to swap things, as my brief encounter with SRAM road shifters was okay, but I *still* miss RapidFire+ (index finger trigger and thumb lever) mountain bike shifting. I’ve just never liked the two-thumb-buttons half as well.

    I kind of want a Campy-equipped road bike at some point on general principle, in the same way that as a gearhead I think I need an Alfa at some point. Perhaps when I have the time and space for such a thing, it’ll just be a C-Record (Delta brakes!) equipped Ciocc from the ’80s that I just stare at.

    I’m road-bike shopping, but I’m feeling like I really haven’t earned my dream bike, so it’s likely to be a nice but not exotic bike, like a 105-or-possibly-Ultegra Giant. If it were SRAM, I’d be at least as happy, maybe even more. But I’m going Shimano because that’s what’s on the Giant, and Giant because that’s what my favorite local shop sells and rides.

  28. Peter Leach

    I’m a bit of a “one lever, one function” guy, so that’s had me in the Campagnolo space for a long time. That said, I thought that 9-speed Ultegra was exceptional value for money and ran that in parallel for a while.
    I don’t have a huge budget, so my current value for money sweet spot is 11-speed Athena. I run carbon EPS on my carbon frame and alloy mechanical on my titanium frame – at least until I can find a way to put EPS on a frame built for external cables 🙂 I have 9-speed Record Titanium on an older frame [custom built by Paul Hillbrick] and of course, my track bike runs vintage Pista. I think that Eurus fill the value for money sweet spot when it comes to wheels, so I have both tubular and clincher versions for the road. My track wheels are vintage Fiamme rims ‘tied and soldered’ to high flange Record hubs.
    And I wonder why my wife sometimes says that I’m a bit obsessive …
    What tempts me?
    eTap is a big temptation.
    Disk brakes are a lesser temptation, but I’m definitely tempted.
    Even though I don’t ride off road very much, big wheels [27.5 or 29er] are tempting.
    Brooks saddles are tempting, but they don’t come in white 🙁
    I’m old enough [and slowly getting back to rising after a prolonged recovery from a leg injury] that e-bikes are tempting. Oops, did I say that out loud?
    I’m happy with my loyalty, but I hope that there will always be something different that tempts me to try it. Preference is one thing, narrow-mindedness is another.
    Ride forever …

  29. Marshall

    I very nearly put Campy Chorus on my bike after always riding Shimano. When I found out about the clip on the BB and the requirement of a special tool to disassemble the crank, I walked away. I’d like to ride a SRAM bike sometime just to see what they’re like, but it’s unlikely I’d actually pull the trigger on it.

    Shimano has its quirks, and some of their components are not that pretty, but I got hooked on it back in the Dura Ace 7400 days and I haven’t seen anything else since then that’s been compelling.

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