Campagnolo Chorus 11 Speed Group: It's hard to resist the allure of carbon fiber. That is why Campagnolo has designed the all new Chorus groupset, making it more aggressive and with even better performance, reaching top-of-the-line levels...
Strengths: -Positive shift action with good tactile and audible feedback
-Solid front shifting
-High quality feel
-Serviceable / rebuildable
-Very "set and forget" once properly set-up
-All torque specs provided
-3/5 shifts per push possible
-Extended warranty (was on when I bought my set)
Weaknesses: -Thumb shifters can take a while to get used to
-Not as common (spares can be harder to get)
-Some proprietary parts / tools can be required
-Takes time to set up properly
Now that I have a season on my 2014 Campy Chorus group, I think I have enough experience to give a proper review. I swapped the Chorus group onto my bike, relieving it of it's SRAM Rival / FSA mix that came stock. Dura-Ace was my other option at the time, so there are a few comparisons here (though most would compare Chorus to Ultegra).
Ok, I have a full set of Allen and Torx bits for my torque wrench, so I didn't have any issues installing the set. I also used the appropriate quick link rather than the Campy chain tool (which is expensive).
I think the hardest part was running the internal cables through my frame (there are lots of good pointers on the forums to assist you). The BB went in easily and the install of the crank was one of the most "no fuss" I've had...preload is done by a wave washer, so all you need to do is insert one side, lock it in with the retaining spring, line up and insert the other side then insert and torque up the bolt that holds the two halves of the spindle together.
Everything else went in as typical....levers (I added the spacers as I have large hands), brakes and derailleurs. The rear derailleur took only a couple minutes to get installed and set-up. The front took a little longer...the "three click to shift" took a couple tries. Don't be rushed in setting up the front...it pays big dividends to do it right.
I will admit that there was a bit of a learning curve having the thumbies again after being on Double Tap for a while. Similar to SRAM shifting, the rear with very quick, positive response. The front was an eye opener...I've never had a system shift so positively. My Shimano set-ups have been good....don't get me wrong here....but there has always seemed to be a bit of a delay, even with the derailleur as dialed in as possible. There is no delay or missed shifts with the Campy group.
After a season:
Ok....with more time, I've found a few things to really love about the group. First is the multi-shift ability. It isn't something you use all the time, but when you do, it is a bit of a bonus to be able to just keep going.
Doing trips into the foothills and Rocky Mountains means some good transitions up/down and down/up. Being able to double-sweep or double-thumb has made these transitions almost disappear...including with the multi-shift ability. By the time the season was drawing down, hill transitions have become almost an intuitive thing....I don't have to think about them anymore, I can just think about it and it seems to happen.
My overall impression is that the Chorus group is a very refined group. Dura-Ace is a hair lighter (both lever feel and overall weight), but is also so quiet that it is possible that you don't get any shifting feedback. If you like that, then Chorus will seem loud and too firm. I like the positive feedback and positive shifting.
If I had to do a comparison, the Chorus group is more like a Ferrari transmission...hard gates, a bit notchy, but still with that undeniable refined feel that is hard to describe. Dura-Ace felt more like a Japanese double-clutched paddle shift system: light, smooth, fast and capable, but something in the feel was missing (to me).
This was my first foray into Campagnolo after all of my cycling career spent on Shimano or SRAM gear. I know there is personal preference involved (i.e. hood shape, shifting style), but for me the Chorus group has worked exceptionally well and was a very good upgrade over my stock set-up. The weight is about the same as Dura-Ace with an Ultegra cassette, so the bike lost weight (not that the rider doesn't need to lose far more than what was saved over stock) and has been bullet-proof so far.
The ultimate question, I guess is: would I do it again or put Chorus on another bike if it were an option? The answer for this clyde is a definite yes. There are some quirks, but overall, it is one hell of a group for the price.
Strengths: Snappy shifting, lightweight construction, 11 usable gears, multi-gear shifts in either direction.
Weaknesses: It's Campy so it's not the perfect choice when the budget is tight. Limited options for joining the chain.
I chose 2013 Chorus 11 speed for my first road bike build (2nd road bike). Compared to the Shimano 105/Ultegra 10 speed components, the shifting is much cleaner and more positive. Comparing Shimano shifting to Campy is like comparing the keystrokes of a computer keyboard to a Royal manual typewriter, it's just that satisfying. Single gear shifts are so smooth that if I'm not paying attention I don't sense the movement of the chain, and if I'm pedaling on the flats there is no need to adjust my pedaling torque to "let" in shift in either direction. Installation of the shifters was somewhat tedious and included some issues getting the front derailleur cable properly threaded through the shifter. (I was unsuccessful threading it as described in the documentation).
The shifters are quite different from Shimano, especially that the tension shift (the direction that moves the chain to the bigger gears) is behind the brake handle. In Shimano that's the lever that moves in the opposite direction. Also the thumb buttons are harder to reach in the drops if you have your shifter hoods positioned above horizontal. I love that I can pull 2, 3, 4, or even 5 gears at a time in either direction, however I can only do that with my hand over the hood. With my hands on the drops I'm limited to 2 gears/shift, and my hands are larger than most. All that said, I can still move the chain further than I can with Shimano.
The chain certainly is narrow. As a 200lb guy the only things I fear are a broken chain or wheel spoke. On my Shimano I was confident to use a quick-release link and carry another plus a chain tool for roadside repair, but on the Campy there are few options. Chain breakage is not a common occurrence, but still it's good to have a repair option. You can get quick links but there is currently only one option (KMC I believe) and I'm won't use it until others provide me the confidence it will be as strong and reliable as a pinned link. I opted for the Campy chain tool, which I built into my budget when comparing gruppos. Actually, it's not optional - use it or use a shop that has one.
Comparing again to Shimano, the front derailleur motion is 3 clicks of the left hand shifter. With the high and low limits correctly set, this makes a shift clean and easy and also allows 2 trim positions.
Braking is responsive and consistent and the stock pads are perfectly usable on aluminum rims. They open enough to slip in 25mm tires. I do wish however that Campy would have included extra ferrules for frames that run exposed cable to the rear brake along the top tube.
Another note on durability - I like that Campy cassettes are not known for biting into the freehub. This is common with Shimano / Sram freehub splines and although some people say it's harmless, I am concerned that it misaligns the shift ramp features of the cogs and reduces shifting performance. On the subject of cassettes, I should mention it's terrific that they have an 11-29t option for those of us clydesdales who are still drawn to the steepest hills. I'm running at the moment.
Strengths: Exacting performance - just doesn't miss a shift. Braking on par with similar/higher end group sets. Graphics are good, probably not great, but form and fit are precise. You feel like you are using an engineered product, not merely one that's been manufactured. Quiet and smooth from start to finish.
Weaknesses: Non, less the graphics. I like what SRAM does in adding color & could be nice to see in the Campy line as well.
Came off of SRAM Red 2010, Dura-Ace/Ultegra hybrid prior to that. Will never go back to the others. Built up my first Campy bike this winter as I put this kit on my new Moots Vamoots CR. Clean and crisp is the best way to describe this group - looked at going to DI or even Record but was convinced by LBS this was a great set up - and it is. I do not race and am a pure recreational/event rider (Ms, Fondos, etc.) so for my purposes of performance need this is an exceptional product.
Strengths: Crisp, sure, tight, easy, ergo, satisfying, fast, reliable, awesome, less expensive than Record or Super Record for almost the same thing just a half a poo heavier.
Weaknesses: A little more spendy, but worth the expense in saved heartache.
I made the switch to Campy after 3 years running Shimano Ultegra... and what a relief. The shifting is crisp, sure and definite. I haven't had to touch the barrel adjuster since the first week of breaking it in. Pop! I am in gear. It is not mushy or unsure like Ultegra. The hoods feel great on my hands and the thumb shifter is perfect. I never thought I would like the thumb shifter as I was assuming Sora... but not I get it. It makes perfect sense from each part of the bar; drops, hoods, tops... I can even get lazy and reach a pinky out to shift on a century ride. I still have Shimano 105 on my CX bike, but I wish I didn't. Chorus has never failed me like Ultegra used to... always on a crucial ramp on a 10% grade or in a sprint.