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Campagnolo Super Record Ti review

Campagnolo Super Record brakes
22 Apr 2015
Verdict:

Campagnolo's flagship groupset has a renewed focus on mechanical shifting, but can it live up to the cult of Campy?

In the golden days of cycling, when anyone who was anyone rode on sturdy 531 steel bicycles and frames all looked much the same, the groupset was a bike’s ‘soul’. Back then Campagnolo was a kind of religion. These days things are different, with Campy components falling somewhere between high-performance engineering and bike bling. But this year it has poured its efforts into redeveloping its flagship mechanical groupset, fearing that its traditional components were becoming handsome relics in the shadow of its electronic group.

For the first time since Campagnolo’s move to 11-speed shifting in 2008, this groupset looks significantly different to its predecessor. Most striking is the four-arm crankset, which follows a fashion led by Shimano, Rotor and FSA. The aesthetics have polarised opinion but there’s an immediate practical benefit, mainly that the bolt-pattern is compatible with multiple chainring sizes – meaning you can switch from a standard double set-up (53/39) to compact (50/34) and all things in between without changing the entire crankset.

Campagnolo Super Record shifters

The shift levers and both derailleurs have undergone tweaks too, but rather than get bogged down in details of bolt diameters and spring tension, we may as well get down to the Campagnolo’s raison d’etre – feel.

Campagnolo has enjoyed loyalty from riders who prefer a decisive (some might say agricultural) transition through the gears. Super Record has never effortlessly drifted through the cassette, but tends to create more positive, staccato shifts. While some people have grown to prefer the easy, automated shifts of the electronic systems, I was worried Campagnolo would do away with the rigid mechanical feel to emulate such effortless shifts. Thankfully, it hasn’t.

Campagnolo Super Record derailleur

The rear derailleur’s plane of movement has been shifted slightly so the derailleur pushes more horizontally (rather than diagonally) and the shifts have become even quicker than the previous model’s. But with that comes a weight to the lever that riders used to Shimano could find unsettling. I find the slight clunkiness reassuring, though. It feels as if you are involved in the gear change rather than being a passive trigger for it.

A side effect of the rear derailleur’s new design is that shifts are so decisive that any slight misalignment causes an audible disturbance. It means the fine-tuning has to be perfect before shifting feels comfortable.

Campagnolo Super Record crankset

The front shifter, by contrast, has become lighter and softer in its response – almost electronic in feel. This softer touch is welcome, as the clicks between small and large chainring remain tactile yet easy, even under heavy pedalling pressure.

While comparisons between groupsets can be futile, as so much is dependent on set-up and personal taste, to me the main difference between the 2015 Super Record and Dura-Ace 9000 is character rather than function. Where Shimano’s flagship groupset displays the cold efficiency of the Death Star, Super Record has the more maverick character of the Millennium Falcon. It’s a little temperamental at times, but the groupset offers a real sense of connection with the bike. What’s more, there’s an impressive level of stiffness through the system that assured me there was no power being lost in flex at any point, even during hurried shifts under pressure.

In weight terms, some of the components, such as the chainset, are now marginally heavier compared to the previous generation, but it still adds up to a reasonably low overall weight, which we measured at 1,686g with a compact chainset, and without including cables or BB.

Perhaps Campagnolo will always be judged on its traditional forte – aesthetics. Certainly it’s a risk to have departed from the longstanding appearance of the groupset, especially when it comes to the iconic chainset. For me, though, this groupset proves Campy’s resolve to innovate, rather than create purely pretty products.

Price: 
£1,858

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