Jim’s Tech Talk
Thanks readers for your thoughtful comments regarding our article on Campagnolo’s new 12-speed groups, Record and Super Record. Most of you are excited about 12-speed and it’s nice to read that a couple of you are ready to upgrade. While I was at the Sea Otter Classic this past Sunday, I was able to snap a quick photo of the group in Campy’s booth.
Here are my favorite comments.
“Mary,” wrote, “As a silver-haired woman who lives in big mountains, loves a fast descent, but must go up before coming down, I LOVE this. I’m also a self-professed Italia-phile. Been on Chorus for 6 years, have wanted to upgrade my group, but also wanted a 32 — for the reasons stated above (and I love my 11, too). And now…ding-ding-ding! I’ll bite.
ALSO – and this is something none of you guys are writing about – I think Campy has finally figured out that WOMEN are a very real and large market. The new groups offer a 165 crankarm (heretofore 170 was the shortest they offered, as far as I can tell), and also allow for more adjustment in the reach of the levers for smaller hands, Yay! So with those and that 32, I’m ecstatic. Mine will be Record. And my birthday is in June. :o) So glad I waited.”
And, Ken Horri added these insights, “I am a long-time Campy aficionado, so I am going for the upgrade from 11. I suspect Campy wanted to introduce this now in advance of the Giro and TDF. They have only 3 or 4 teams on these tours riding their components, and the buzz of the new gruppo will excite customers and potential new customers.
I suspect the intro is motivated not only because they want to showcase their newest development, but also create a confluence of excitement around viewers of pro racing – and perhaps the pros themselves. EPS 12 will hit the peloton and now the only feather would be for a Campy sponsored team to win either big tour.
I love the look of the new components- especially the crank. I do hope the casting mold ridges in the photos are of pre-production parts, but they are not a deal breaker. I have Super Record on order!”
Meanwhile, Ken reflected on Campy old and new, “I have to say, the release of the new 12-speed gruppo so soon after introducing H11 disc and recent (2015) upgrades to their top 11-speed components is worrying. Campagnolo has lost market share at the top end, and their lower spec components are only a fraction of the Shimano dominance as OEM on lower end bikes.
I am of the generation that raced Campagnolo back in the 1970s, and have a life-long love of the brand for all the reasons – function, form and brand narrative. I still cringe when I see beautiful Italian framesets built up with other than Campagnolo components – yes even (especially) pro Pinarellos and Colnagos.
It goes beyond functionality. I know many/most Campy fans feel the same. The introduction of 12-speed gives new excitement to the brand. Let’s hope the legendary Campagnolo company will live on and thrive.”
Shimano & Sram Likely To Go To 12-Speed
Thanks for sharing your take on Campagnolo’s new stuff. Last week I wrote that I wasn’t certain Sram or Shimano would jump on the 12-speed road bandwagon.
Yet, talking to a couple of product managers at the Sea Otter (because they are always working on next year’s bikes, they find out first what companies are doing), I learned that what they heard is that, while it might not be until 2019, both Shimano and Sram are already working on 12-speed road.
Premier Bike’s Super Efficient Chain
Thanks to my friend Tom Petrie of Cantitoe Road, a longtime distributor of Wipperman Connex chains (which I have trusted for years), I learned of PremierBike last week. Based in Illinois, they specialize in direct-to-consumer sales of triathlon bikes.
The reason Tom pointed me their way and the reason I’m telling you about them is because, for $135, they also offer an optimized Connex chain. What’s “an optimized chain?” And, why would anyone pay so much money for a chain?
Good questions, so I reached out to Dan Kennison at Premier to find out more. You can see how they optimize the Connex chain in this short video on their site. Watch it and then read on for our email thread to learn more.
I wrote to Dan, “I read about your chain treatment and watched the video today, Dan. Thanks. What you’re doing looks impressive. Do you think in a blind test a discerning rider would be able to actually feel a difference on the road?
Also, I wonder – could the same treatment be used on the other parts of the drivetrain, the cassette and chainrings? It seems like if a person got one of your improved chains their standard cassette cogs and chainrings which have stock surface treatments would quickly roughen, scratch and essentially change the smoothness of the improved chain – wouldn’t they?”
Dan wrote back, “The video is more of an example of what we do. I did not want to give away too many secrets 🙂 An athlete may not be able to feel it but they will see it through their power meter and time. The treatment is worth about 5-6 Watts. Independent tests show that we are 2.6 watts faster that the Ceramic Speed UFO chain. A typical UFO chain saves about 3 watts over a chain out of the box.
About 95% of the driveline friction is in the plates, rollers and pins in the chain. The material in the chain is very hard so the cassette and ring don’t play a big role in the friction or in roughing up the chain once processed. The same treatment can be used on other parts of the drivetrain but I would need to work out the chemistry for each alloy.
Our process takes the longest lasting chain and also makes it the one with the least friction – a really good value proposition. Because we physically reduce the friction – the Connex will continue to be a low friction chain for thousands of miles as long as the athlete uses a waxed base lube.”
I replied, “I love the idea of less friction, but it seems to me that a chain that can last for thousands of miles and that only needs refreshing with wax based lube once in a while, is also quite an advancement.
In my opinion/experience, the biggest drivetrain hassle is finding the right lube for your riding conditions and even harder, figuring out the right amount of lube to use. Most people end up with too little or too much lube. To have a chain that will never become a grimy mess and need a solvent bath to clean would be a game-changer.
Do you recommend something like White Lightning for relubing your chains?
I live in Northern California where it can get rainy. White lightning doesn’t hold up that well to long rides in the rain. Have you found the Connex chain with your heated wax treatment can take the wet weather?”
And, Dan replied, “For most conditions a wax lube like Squirt or our Premier Lube (same as Squirt but with WS2 added) works best. Any oil based lube will mix with dirt and grime and create a paste that grinds on all the surfaces.
The initial hot wax treatment definitely bonds the wax to the chain better than just adding a wax lube. The nice thing about a wax lube is that any excess flakes off. (So if you are on a trainer inside 🙂 maybe not great for whoever has to clean up.) The chain stays very clean compared to other lubes and the wax repels the water. About every 300 – 500 miles just apply the drip wax lube to the chain and let sit overnight. Then when you ride, the excess flakes off.”
I’d like to thank Dan at Premier Bike for the information about his Ultra Optimized Connex chains and for taking the time to answer my questions. I know chains like this aren’t for everyone, however, this technology might at some point become more mainstream – or even lead to a lube-free chain someday! I’d love to see that.
Ride total: 8,884
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.