Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
This week’s tech question is from a reader named Dave. You’ll see after reading his query and my reply that we could use more help. We’re hoping that some of you Campagnolo tifosi who may use the same cables David uses will be able to offer some.
I have a question that I can’t seem to find a consensus on. I bought and installed a Campagnolo Record 12 speed mechanical rim-brake group on my 10 year old Moots Vamoots last winter. It works great but I broke a shift cable inside the right shift lever body in November after approximately 4,500 miles.
It was a Campy Ultra Smooth 12 speed shift cable and housing that came with the groupset. I had to take the lever off the bar and remove the wind-up reel to get the shift cable out.
My question is this: I don’t want this to happen next year, (I had to ride a hilly 11 miles home in the 36 x 11). So should I use a different cable, housing, or both, or just replace my cables mid season?
Campy doesn’t sell the cable separately and the Ultra Smooth 12 speed shift cable with housing is about $70, ouch. I am hoping you have some advice for me.
Sorry to hear about your cable breaking, Dave. I don’t have any experience with those cables. But, according to the only reference I could find in Campagnolo’s instruction sheets they say you should replace their cables and housing yearly or after 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles). Which suggests yours might have failed a bit early.
I couldn’t find an instruction manual on Campagnolo’s website showing the proper installation and setup for the cables and shift levers. I did find the cable and housing sets listed in numerous places online for $74 (photo).
I did a little googling and found a couple of other people on a bike forum who said their cables broke, too. It’s a pretty common problem for people with Shimano shifters, too.
Here’s what the guys on the forum wrote:
“I’ve had a maximum smoothness cable break in my Chorus 12 right lever. Which was very surprising as I’ve never ever had a Campagnolo cable break. It broke inside the lever and was quite difficult to get the end piece out.”
“I also had a Campagnolo Ultra Smooth right shift cable break inside the lever body. Had to take the reel out to remove the frayed and broken cable. Replaced it with a Jagwire Elite cable and it is working fine.”
I wonder if Campy’s tech guys could tell us more about the issue and what causes it? Might be worth calling them and asking to speak with technical support.
With Shimano STI levers of which I have fixed quite a few broken shift cables, it can be installation issues that cause the breaks. And, I wonder if that’s true with Campy. I’ve written about this before on Shimano levers here:
I don’t know if Campy 12 speed levers and problems with the cable and housing routing or setup can cause the cable to break, but in theory they work similarly to Shimano’s so maybe that’s worth investigating or thinking about.
Should you try other cables?
Even though Campy says to replace them yearly or after 15K kilometers, at $70 a cable set I would hope a cable would last a long, long time, like at least 5 years if not more (I have plenty of cables a lot older than that and still going strong). Campy seems very proud of their cable technology so it’s very curious to me that it broke at 4,500 miles.
I would also hope that the Campy cables are higher quality than replacement cables from Jagwire, etc. After all they are supposed to be designed to be the highest quality and to complement the Campy components specifically, which they also designed.
Which makes me think that maybe only Campy can answer the question with any authority because if the cables are breaking due to something people are doing wrong when installing the cables, levers or housings (assuming that these $70 cables are actually the super cables they’re claimed to be), it seems like Campy would know exactly what those wrong things are.
Campy contact info
I looked up their contact number in the USA. In their instructions they do recommend calling them for technical help so with any luck you’ll reach someone who can help.
Campagnolo North America Inc.
5431 Avenida Encinas, Suite C
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Tel: +1 760 9310106
Sorry I can’t give you a better answer but maybe something here will help or if you can reach techs at Campy maybe they can help.
I heard back from Dave that he had left a message with Campagnolo’s tech department and had not yet heard anything back.
Calling all Campy experts
Please leave a comment if you can help Dave with his Campy cable conundrum. Thanks!
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. A pro mechanic & cycling writer for more than 40 years, he’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Tune in to Jim’s popular YouTube channel for wheel building & bike repair how-to’s. Jim’s also known for his cycling streak that ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.