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.
Similar Products Used: Shimano Ultegra 6700, Shimano 105, Sram Rival, Sram RED
Bike Setup: Seven Axiom SL
Fulcrum Racing 1 Wheelset
Chorus 11 w/ 53/39 to 12-27
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: June 7, 2010
Strengths: Great performance for the price. It's 90% of Super Record for half the $$$. Pretty light, 2185 grams on my scale (with 175 CT crank.) Reliable. The more I ride it the better and smoother it seems.
Weaknesses: Not much. Requires Torx head bits for lots of the set up including levers. Chain tool was hideously expensive but now about 50% of when first released.
Have ridden and /or owned groupsets from all the main players in the last few years, this suits my needs / wants the best.
Shifting is really crisp and direct. Feels solid but smooth once run in. Lever shape is great. Braking from the hoods is the best out there. Hood material is comfy even on long rides.
Cables are quite light and run smoother than the 10 speed versions.
Bottom bracket is smooth as butter. People go on about Red having ceramics but these must be very good steel bearings because you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
Derailleurs work flawlessly. FD trim is tops. Shift to the big ring is much improved, not in the league of Dura Ace but better in every other respect.
Chain and cassette work perfectly and will be durable thanks to them being all steel. The 11-23 cassette is surprisingly light too.
Crank set is light and stiff. Assessment of flex is simple... there isn't any.
Brakes are good if they are better than the 10 speed version it would only be because of the better lever shape. There is more purchase than before.
Looks like a supermodel but is much less maintenance.
Similar Products Used: Red, Force, Dura-Ace 7900 & 7800, Campag Record and Chorus 10 spd. Truth be told they are all good. I do prefer the new 11spd to all the others but will concede Red is lighter by 200 grams (who cares) but is crude compared to this and Dura Ace has a better big ring shift (everything else though is sub-standard.)
Bike Setup: Scott Addict SL, Chorus 11, Neutron Ultras.