Electronic shifting may be all the rage, but that doesn’t mean mechanical groupsets are immediately going the way of VHS, landlines and film. This week Italian-component manufacturer Campagnolo released details of its 2015 model year Super Record, Record and Chorus groupsets — all of them cable actuated. And while we’ve yet to see official weight or pricing information, there are a host of noteworthy improvements sure to please the legion of Campy devotees, and perhaps create a few new ones as well.
Following the lead of Shimano’s new Dura-Ace 9000 and Ultegra 6800 groups, the three updated Campagnolo drivetrains feature four-arm spider cranks that allow for use of multiple gearing combinations without switching cranksets. Options include standard 53-39, compact 50-34, and the increasingly popular 52-36 tweener set-up. Cranks will be available in 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm lengths.
Moving the chain up and down on these chainrings will be a revamped front derailleur that uses a one-piece carbon outer cage with a longer arm, which increases leverage, meaning less required shifting force and reduced hand fatigue.
Campy’s much-loved ErgoPower levers have also undergone a revitalization. But changes are internal only; their popular ergonomics are retained. The new set-up incorporates a dual-click system, where on lever click drops the chain from the large chainring to the small chainring, while a third click provides trim. Campagnolo claims this will drastically reduce (if not eliminate) dropped chains when shifting from the large to small chainring. Campy also says the new system will work across all 11 cogs without chain rub when in the large chainring.
Unchanged is the ability to grab or dump multiple gears. All three systems continue to allow riders to move up three cogs or down five with one swing of the lever. The new hoods also have a special multi-density silicone that’s claimed to improve grip and enhance comfort, as well as better interface with more bar types and shapes.
Out back, the revised rear derailleurs moves at a slightly different angle, which the Campagnolo folks say keeps the chain closer to the cassette. That means longer chain life and better overall performance. The rear derailleur body has also been beefed up, which is claimed to improve shifting performance. Additionally, the chain will now wrap around more of the cassette, meaning engagement with more teeth and thus increased durability of chain and cassette.
So why bother with all these updates when electronic shifting (including Campy’s highly-regarded EPS system) seems the way of the future. The party line is that, “Campagnolo does not seek to produce an electronic groupset that outperforms the mechanical version, or produce a mechanical version that claims to be superior to the electronic counterpart.” Indeed, they’re trying to make something for everyone. We’ll soon see if they’ve succeeded.