Jim’s Tech Talk
The road technical development that dominated my inbox last week was Campagnolo’s new Super Record and Record 12-Speed groups – the first 12-speed components to hit the road market (available in May or June 2018). Having had a few days to think about it and knock it around with riding buddies, I still have more questions than answers about this development.
Let’s start by looking at some of the details and then I’ll pose a few thoughts and look forward to yours in the comments. First, I want to make clear for any Campagnolo fans tuning in, this is not a comprehensive review of the new groups because I haven’t seen them yet. Instead, this is intended as an overview and a commentary.
Campagnolo was very considerate with their new groups because they maintained the same spacing as on their 11-speed components. This means you won’t suffer the hassle of needing to replace your wheels or go to a frame with wider rear spacing.
To match 11-speed spacing Campy went to thinner all-steel cogs and aluminum spacers thereby narrowing the spacing between the cogs while making sure the cogs and spacers are still strong. Of course, the narrow spacing required developing a new 12-speed chain, too, which is narrower than their 11-speed. Campy claims it’s as durable as their 11-speed thanks to stouter pins.
For Now, Only Two Cassette Sizes
Interestingly, Campagnolo is only offering two cassette gearing options for 12-speed, an 11-29 and an 11-32. About this on their site, they say, “Only two options available as only two options are necessary.”
I’m not sure I agree, but elsewhere in the press about these new groups it’s stated that they’re possibly considering an 11-25 and/or 11-27 for pro teams who would use them on flatter races.
Looking at the available gearing ranges, on the 11-29 cassette, you get 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 26 and 29 tooth cogs, and the 11-32 has 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 22, 25, 28 and 32 tooth cogs. Notice that both have 1-tooth jumps for the first 7 shifts and then normal jumps to the lower gears.
If Campy does come out with 12-speed cassettes for flat courses, they should look something like 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25 and 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27. Which means even more shifts of only a 1-tooth jump.
What’s The Value Of 1-Tooth Jumps Between Cogs?
Imagine if your road bike had only two gears, one that made even the steepest hills easy and another that let you cruise along a flat road with a tailwind at 30mph. In other words, a very easy-to-pedal low gear and a relatively hard-to-pedal, high gear.
With this gearing arrangement, unless you always ride on flat roads with a tailwind, or up steep climbs, you will find yourself pedaling way too fast in the super easy gear and barely able to turn the pedals in the hard gear. In short, you need more gears.
As the number of gears on a drivetrain increases, you start to become a more efficient rider because you start to have more gears that feel ideal for the terrain.
And, the ultimate scenario is when you have 1-tooth jumps between gears – especially on the high end, because it means you will usually be able to find a gear that feels exactly right for the conditions. You’ll never have to struggle spinning like mad in too easy a gear, or straining just to move along in too hard a gear.
Note that, it’s not as important to have 1-tooth jumps between cogs in the larger/easier hill climbing cogs. That’s because hills increase pedaling difficulty more significantly than flat terrain and speeds are slower, so multiple-tooth jumps work fine.
Carbon Crankarms And A Unique Spider
2018 Super Record and Record 12-speed both boast carbon cranksets with the option of 50/34/ 52/36 or 53/39 chainrings. The Super Record sports hollow carbon construction while the Record is solid carbon.
The most interesting new feature is on the Super Record crank, which has a unique new spider that sort of resembles an aircraft style steering wheel (see photo).
The unique shape braces 2/3rds of the circumference of the large chainring ensuring maximum support at the points of greatest pedal pressure. In my opinion, it also makes the new Super Record look a little like Shimano’s Dura-Ace crank with their hollow chainrings.
Other details of the new groups include, availability with rim (standard or direct-mount with clearance for 32c tires), or disc brakes; redesigned derailleurs to handle the wider gear range; and extensive use of carbon to shave grams and keep Record and Super Record featherweight.
We haven’t yet received a press kit about the new groups so I can’t share all the details, but I can point you to their promotional page. It has a fun interactive interface and decent photos.
And, here’s the most comprehensive story I was able to find online:
Hands on: Campagnolo Super Record, Record 12-speed road drivetrain in depth
It’s possible that the new groups will make an appearance at The Sea Otter Classic this week in Monterey, California, one of the most important events for manufacturers to show new products this time of year.
My Thoughts And Comments
Just like a lot of you, I bet, I always wonder if we really need more cogs? And I worry about having to upgrade all my bikes to the new standard or about my old bikes becoming obsolete. But, judging from the past when we went from 5 to 6 and 6 to 7 and 7 to 8, and so on, that never really happens.
Even if the supply of original replacement parts for that old 8-speed drivetrain dries up at retailers, the parts keep turning up for a long time other places, such as eBay.com. Sometimes other companies see the demand and step in the make replacements. So it’s not as big an issue as it seems. You can also stockpile replacement parts for awhile if you’re worried about parts becoming unavailable.
Another question that crossed my mind is why Campagnolo decided to introduce the first 12-speed road drivetrain in the first place? Were they trying to beat Shimano and SRAM to the punch? Were they aiming to take market share away from Sram’s red hot eTap wireless group? Was the goal to make Campy an even more exclusive brand – the one with the mostest?
Does Shimano or SRAM even care that Campy introduced 12-speed? SRAM already has 12-speed for mountain bikes. It won’t be hard for them to come out with a road group. And, I initially thought Shimano would quickly come out with a wireless group to compete with eTap, but they haven’t yet. Which makes me wonder if they’ll care at all that Campy now has 12-speed or just stand pat with Di2 and their highly regarded Dura-Ace and Ultegra mechanical groups?
Overall, for someone taking up road riding, it makes for an even more confusing choice when shopping for that new high-end ride. Yet, if you’re a dedicated Shimano or Sram fan you might not care a bit. Whereas Campagnolo tifosi will probably find a lot to like – unless they’re hooked on their electric Campy EPS groups.
I look forward to your comments about these new 12-speed groupos from Italy.
Ride total: 8,877
Next article: Anti-Aging: Elizabeth Wicks’ Story.
The Super Record and the Record are the ugliest derailleurs I have ever seen from any manufacture over the past 45 years!
Ramon Donestevez Jr says
Ill het you are ugly
There is no big sense in the 1-tooth jumps for bigger cogs – for example 11->12 jump brings the same relative chnage in gearing as 22->24.
David Stihler says
I love this – first 12 is an even number, enough said. But really, we ride in the mountains and having an 11-32 would be fantastic. I ride an 13-29 and could use a little help on some of the very steep grades and can peddle at 30 mph on the flats but it’s just for a few yards. Having an 11 tooth cog would give me the speed on flat roads (just because). I have had Campy since 2003 and trust the company’s product. They obviously have put lots of engineering into their work and I do appreciate that. Currently I have two calfees with 10spd triples and it probably would be easy to convert to the new groupset. that said, I’ll most likely stick with my aging groupsets and dream of owning a 12 spd someday.
Why do the manufacturers insist on an 11 tooth cog? For pros yes, but for us weekend riders we need more lower gears. Instead of a 28-32 jump give me 28-30-32
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…dingdingding! 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 crank arm (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.
David W says
Is there 12 tooth setup available as EPs or is it still mechanical only?
Wide range, 17t cog, what’s not to like here?
And…an advantage of the 11t cog for “non pros” is that you can run a straighter chainline on the gears you actually use. Hey, it’s a plus, right?
I put two of the new 12s together and now have 24 – so, 1 tooth increments from 11 to 34 – what more could I ever want. Was going to post a picture but my wide angle lens is not quite wide enough.
Ken Horii says
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!
I have to say, the release of the new 12 speed gruppo so soon after introducing H11 disk 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.
David Kamp says
Last weekend on a club ride I eyed with envy my friends’ 11-40 cogset with a 30-46 crankset, by Shimano and SR, respectively. Campagnolo, when you market drivetrains for us who are average cyclists with ambitions, we’ll have to show elsewhere. My 34-50 and 11-36 setup is barely enough for me to negotiate a long 15-20 percent gradient after 75 miles in my 70 year old legs, so when I saw that 30-46 I vowed to rebuild my drive train. Look, a good part of the 1970s bike boom crowd NEEDS lower gears. We’re not all dead, yet.
j.w. briand says
campy- there is no substitute! there’s something to be said for “il passione” and it’s frequently impossible to describe to those poor schlubs who don’t feel it!!! i’m still riding some campy nraring 40 years old that is just as serviceable as the day it left italy. ok, so the delta brakes won’t necessarily go down in history for the right reasons, but hey they looked great!! I think 12 is great and these 63 year old legs will really appreciate that 32 a whole lotta times! ciao!
I don’t know, the new Dura-Ace 9150 is hard to beat, except maybe for the (almost the same as Dura-Ace) Ultegra 8050 at $1,000 less or maybe the new R7000 (105) which is almost identical to the R8000. Jim, we’re waiting on your tests of the 8050 and 7000.
A 34-32 may be low enough for “silver haired woman”, but not for this man. Currently my Shimano Ultegra 34-36 (11 speed) u(sing a SRAM cassette) works for most steep ascents. As long as Campagnolo insists on selling only to racers and strong people, the market for low gearing will go to Shimano and SRAM.
When are people going to learn that it’s the motor, NOT the machine that matters. I say this having ridden a 100K race on a one mile course with 6 right-angle corners in the 1970s on a FIVE speed straight block freewheel (14-18/52×42) in 2 Hrs 11 Minutes. Do the math. That’s fast. I had no use whatsoever for the 14 (even in the final sprint) so to all those who say they are spun out in their 11s, learn how to pedal!
This so-called improvement is one more nail in cycling’s coffin. It makes it even more ridiculously expensive – that much more out of reach of a person of normal means.. That race in the 70’s was on a $450 steel bike – full Campy Record with Clement Seta Extra tires.. Most anybody could buy one (if they could find one – they were rare in those days). My bike was no different than anybody else’s.
Do people realize that you can climb a TREE with a 39×29 gear??? I have no idea what the gear ratio of a granny gear is but it can’t be a lot lower.. Pedaling that gear at 100 rpm will get you going about 10 mph. There is not a lot of difference between a 29 and 32. They are both equally useless on the road. But they make for great hype to those who know no better.
But this is what really enrages me: My perfectly fine Campy 10 speed set-up with 100,000 miles has moved one step closer to becoming a relic. 12 speed and 11 speed for that matter and 10 speed, etc for that matter are changes with no improvement. Bicycles are simple machines and they should stay that way.
IMHO, this stuff is not for bike riders; its for bike wannabes. Don’t be a sucker and buy this stuff. Become a better motor!
Tom Butcher says
I agree, I’d rather have improvements in function and durability or else save the R&D and cut prices. I could just about afford a Chorus or Record groupset but I baulk at the prices of consumables like cassettes and chainrings. That said whenever I’ve bought Shimano I’ve regretted it – life is too short to use fishing equipment on a bike.
These new parts are really beautiful. I love the derailleurs in particular. I ride on rougher roads and a bit of cross and am quite tempted towards SRAM features such as an 11-36 cassette, clutch derailleur and single chainring, but the Campy shifters have always worked significantly better for me.
12 speeds in the rear makes it yet easier to have only 1 speed up front. That’s the real beauty of it. So what, Campy won’t do it, somebody else will: start from a 12 (or 13!) make an even easier big cog, like so:
The Campagnolo Record 10 has connected Me to meet my destinations: on each planned ride. With no trouble. Add the steel frames that my Record 10 components been mounted on.
I wonder which riders disregard steel frames more: Record 10, or Record 11 / Record 12 groupset riders,
As it is so much in comparison of Record 10 vs Record 11/Record 12 AS Metal vs Carbon Fiber frames.
I been noticing that NO REAL,SERIOUS Cyclists are of the mindset who speak of the Treasured, Late Brian Baylis. The cycling industry/society never will have such a person/mindset as him again.
It likely be that noone that comes to this website & reads — was at Brian’s funeral.
donald ostertag says
I am old and out of shape. The wide range will help me to get reacclimated to cycling. As I get in better and better shape, i can tighten the rear up and put larger chainrings on the front. Get it? BTW, I love Campy!!!
Anthony Gullace says
I have a 12 Speed Super Record EPS and the larger Cassettes 29-11 and 32-11 have introduced a major problem as they are heavier.
See the video . At high speeds in a race . when I stop pedaling the chain drops . This is due to the heavier cassette keeps on rolling and causes the chain to slap .Its a product limitation according to campy. This totally sucks !