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Squirrel Hunter
3,854 Posts

Here is my real life experience:

Campy Chorus - 10 years old and still going strong. With Campagnolo's trickle down design this is probably similar to todays Centaur.

Campy Chorus - 3 years old and my everyday race bike. Feels as good as the first day.

Campy Centaur - 4 years old and rebuilt the right shifter a year ago. After the rebuild it shifted like a new lever. This was my sons everyday race bike until some moron hit him with a car. Now it is a dedicated trainer bike but the shifters still function well.

Campy Centaur - 1 year old and my sons everyday race bike. Still works like it was brand new.

Campy Chorus - 2 months old and my wife's Valentines Day present. Replaced yet another dead STI shifter.

Campy Veloce - Had on my sons bike for two seasons. Subsequently sold the bike. It was still working like new when sold however it was definitely a lower level model.

Shimano 105 - My wife road this for 4 years and then the right STI lever began its death spiral. Retired.

Shimano Ultegra - Came on my wifes bike for our first anniversary. She had only ridden Shimano and did not want to change when she got her new bike. Transferred to trainer after 4 years. Shifting is starting to degrade and is not as crisp as when new and will occassionaly miss a shift.

Shimano Ultegra - The right lever began its death spiral a year ago on our tandem after 5 years. I refuse to buy any more disposable levers and am going to try and keep it running until SRAM comes out since converting a tandem drivetrain from Shimano to Campy is no small expense.

Between my wife, my son and I we probably put on in excess of 15,000 miles a season. On par I would say from my experience that you might expect 4-5 good years from Shimano stuff and 7+ years from Campagnolo components with perhaps a rebuild of the right lever at some time. If you are comparing Shimano Ultegra components to Campagnolo then the corresponding group would be Centaur although with the recent move by Ultegra to 10 speed you might look at Chorus although Chorus is really closer to Dura Ace. The Campy Veloce would probably be more comparable to Shimano 105.

I focused primarily on the shift levers as that is where differences between the two companies are most appearant as well as differences within their lines. The only other area that I might look at would be the rear derailer although I have not had any problems with either Shimano or Campy RDs. For the most part the other component differences are weight and marketing. The other factor to consider is which levers are most comfortable to your hands. You will simply have to try the two brands and see.
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