Campagnolo has just released two totally new top-end groupsets. As well as a revamped design, both of them feature 12 sprockets on the rear.
Why the move to a 12 speed system? Campagnolo have been slow to adopt the wider gear ranges championed by other brands. With a wider range cassette comes bigger gaps between gears, and some riders don’t like this. Adding a 12th sprocket means that new 11-29 and 11-32 cassettes can now be used while maintaining what Campagnolo consider ‘acceptable’ steps between gear ratios.
While SRAM’s Eagle 12-speed uses a wider cassette and hangs the extra sprocket over the dish of the wheel, Campagnolo’s 12-speed uses narrower sprockets to fit their cassettes into the same width. This should mean that all your old wheels will work, and will also mean a slightly less extreme chain line.
The rear derailleurs have also moved to mimic Shimano’s new direct mount road rear mechs – something that will undoubtedly become a standard in the near future – and come with longer cages than before to accommodate the bigger cassettes. The front derailleur is also redesigned, and includes a long arm similar to what was seen on older Shimano models. Hopefully they won’t see the same tyre clearance issues that spelled the end of that design.
Another standout feature of the new groupsets is the cranksets – especially the Super Record. The new design is said to offer some extra stiffness for the chainrings when shifting or under heavy loads. That remains to be seen, but I think they look great!
Of course, there are options for hydraulic disc brakes as well as direct mount and standard rim brakes, with the latter claiming to clear 28mm tyres. The new rim brakes drop the ‘classic’ styling of older models for a more modern image, but still maintain the uniqueness you’d expect from Campagnolo.
While lots of people will be sorry to see Campagnolo moving to a more modern look, I think it’s an excellent match to a newer frameset and components. 10 speed Record is one of my all-time favourites in the looks department, but unfortunately it’s now a piece of history to be looked upon fondly. The new groupsets will hopefully help Campag keep its place as the left-field stylish groupset option for those ‘in the know’.