We can’t do posts about Shimano and Sram without doing one (or a couple) on Campy.
Campagnolo has a long-standing tradition in cycling and the name has always been associated with high-end componentry and excellence. Any reputable bike shop will have their components and it’s one of those names that hardcore cyclists say with a bit of reverence. This is one brand that has fierce fans and converts that sing its praises into the headwind.
This is Campagnolo’s entry level component group set. If you want to go all out Campagnolo on your first bike, this is a good way to get to know the family and experience the ride quality. Its ergonomics makes the hand positioning comfortable, as well as the Power-Shift mechanism, which allows for upshifting three sprockets at a time and downshifting one. With ten speeds in the back (compatible with any ten-speed compact or standard group) and a nickel-chrome front derailleur (which provides for rust protection), you’ve got flexibility, as well as a good bang for your buck.
The middle-of-the-line group, the Centaur offers ergonomics (Centaur ErgoPower controls), the Power-Shift mechanism and a choice of aluminum or carbon-fiber with alloy core shifters. This is lighter than the Veloce (although the Campy page puts in a disclaimer saying that the weight may differ due to “considerable quantities” of grease used in the components). The rear derailleur has a short jockey cage with silicone rollers to reduce drive train noise. There is a ten-speed cassette on the back and the chain has an anti-friction treatment that was applied, giving you a smoother and more quiet ride.
This component group features Campy’s entry level 11-speed drivetrain. We are pulling out some serious artillery with excellent design touches like the color choice for the shifters: deep black, bright silver or carbon finish. Ultra-Shift helps the front shifting stay crisp and clean, with a thinner but stronger chain. Cross chaining is not even an issue here. You would be gunning for power and speed if you’re considering this group. The crankset has basically an external bearing, available as the Power-Torque System. The Campy Tech Lab had also been hard at work with the X.P.S.S. (Extreme Performance Shifting System), which only created for the sole purpose of shifting perfection for the 11-speed family.
Did anyone say “carbon fiber”? If you figured you didn’t have enough carbon fiber in your life, this component group will change that. You want high end but don’t want to give your wallet too bad of a beating? The Campagnolo Chorus has all the trappings of the Record but with several internal differences and, of course, weight. There are certain components, like the cassette with is nickel-treated steel, which add the weight but it does include the ergonomic improvements for a better comfort. With an 11-speed cassette, there is no road you won’t be tearing up. Apart from the Ultra-Shift, the unique front derailleur design, the Ultra-Torque and the X.P.S.S., there is also the Skeleton Brakes, which feature no-bend arms. Technological advances in a moderately priced component group.
For the techie cyclist, you’ve got carbon fiber AND performance technology for your cycling needs. This is also the choice of most cyclists who want Campagnolo’s higher end. Record has got all the trimmings of the technology and the innovation that makes it a name to be reckoned with. Ultra-Shift, Ergopower, carbon fiber front plate on the front and rear derailleur, 11 speed cassette, Ultra-Torque crankset, X.P.S.S. chainrings and enough carbon fiber to leave your vision checkered. What are you getting out of this component group? A whole lot of Campagnolo tradition and the flagship.
This is Record, carbon and titanium style. Now, I’ve got to be honest because I’ve been scouring the internet for more of a difference between the Record and the Super Record and it only really comes down to weight and the CULT system (Ceramic Ultimate Level Technology). The CULT employs ceramic ball bearings in the bearing cages of the bottom bracket, providing for a smoother pedal stroke. There is no grease involved in lubing it up; just oil. It’s more resistant to wear than the average bearings and it apparently improves 3.5 watts per pedal stroke so for all you power meter users, this one is something that you should definitely consider.
The Electronic Power Shift is an option that comes in Athena, Record and Super Record. It is as techie as you can get in Campyland and I’m pretty sure the engineers in the Campy Tech Lab were having many a field day with this one. The obvious differences are the extra black boxes that come with the group. You can basically adjust both front and rear derailleur positions through the Ergopower levers and the front derailleur even has a motor gear box. There is also a trimming feature on the front derailleur so there isn’t any chain rub. The electronics also allow for up- and down-shifting through all 11 speeds by holding down the lever, whereas in the standard mechanical setup, you can down-shift 5 and up-shift 3. The batteries are rechargeable and the power unit cases themselves are waterproof and fireproof. According to the website, the electronic drivetrain was able to perform perfectly under one meter of water for about 30 minutes. So unless you are considering biking through a river for over half an hour, I’d say you’re pretty set.