Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

My thoughts and experience with Campagnolo’s 11 Speed Chorus Groupset

6

Campagnolo Front Derailleur
Image by a man a plan via Flickr

Let me start by warning those of you that are lovers of Campagnolo kit that this post isn’t going to make you happy and that you’ll probably have an opposing view in your experience. Please go ahead and voice your thoughts on the comments section. However, I feel that I should at least share my experience should you or someone you know be on the fence on choosing between groupsets, as I was (not too long ago).

Having been a Shimano person for a long time, the thought of trying something ‘new’ was quite intriguing. Not only that, the allure around the Campy kit was quite enticing… Everything from the history of the brand, the country of origin, the aesthetic smoothness of their kit across the different levels, and even the thumb-lever shifting mechanism appealed to me. Although the additional speed of the new 11-speed kit was interesting because of the gap it filled in a wide range cassette like an 11-27, I knew that it wasn’t THAT crucial to making my bike riding experience hugely better. Frankly, I was more intrigued by the new Ergo hoods and shifters in my ‘justification’ for choosing Chorus 11 over Shimano’s Ultegra.

So perhaps that’s a good place to start.. the positives.

campy

The new Campy hoods/levers/shifters are simply wonderful. I wish they were compatible with all major systems. I found them very comfortable and easy to use; the hand ‘just felt right’ on them and they looked cool to boot.

Now, to the bad part.

Quite simply, no one was able to get this groupset to shift right for me. I had over 5 mechanics look at it, all from different stores and one in a different country. They all tried many things, but the results were always the same. It shifted fine on the bike stand, but on the road, the groupset either shifted well in one direction or in another or struggled in the middle. Additionally, in combination with my Easton EA70’s all sorts of funny noises came when the chain was at the highest cog. It is pointless for me to go into the details of what I heard or experienced as I’m now beyond crowd-sourcing a mechanical solution for the variety of issues. I trust that 5 qualified Campy mechanics which cumulatively spent in excess of 10 hours reviewing the issue, TRIED EVERYTHING. I even had a swapped out rear derailleur in the process, but it didn’t resolve the issue.

After my training camp in Spain, I decided to vote with my feet and swapped the entire groupset for Dura Ace and voila, everything worked SOOO much better. I’m not referring to how something feels, such as ‘solid’ or ‘smooth’ as you hear in many forums when discussing the difference between groupsets. I’m merely referring to the thing shifting when I tell it to shift.

So, what’s the point of this story then? Is it just to vent my bad experience? Maybe… although I’ve already tried group therapy when I spoke to others that have had similar stories.. the point, is that Campy 11 speed (and maybe just Chorus) isn’t, in my book, reliable.

Reliability aside, Campy has other flaws beyond the ones that I mentioned above.. flaws that only became more apparent to me once I owned the stuff and had to do stuff to it:

1) My old saddle-bag tool was no longer ‘complete’ as I needed to buy a star-shaped tool (torx) to fix certain Campy things. Why couldn’t they just use an Allen?

2) Mechanics that were ‘comfortable’ fixing Campy were not as easy to find as those comfortable with Shimano. This meant that replacing something as simple as a chain became a longer trip to specific bike stores that had the special tool or the people qualified to fix stuff. Not so bad in a metropolis, but not good when you take cycling trips and there is one local shop in the middle of nowhere.

3) Cycling camps that I’ve gone to all have spare Shimano-compatible parts… Campy? You’re on your own and the basic kit like chain tools are in excess of 100 pounds!

4) In general, as above, this stuff is expensive!!! The mid-range cassette (Chorus) from Campy costs the same as a Dura-Ace??? What?

5) Stock of Campy stuff in many bike stores is limited, thus finding stupid little things like brake pads isn’t always something you can just walk in and get, you have to order them online many times.

6) Girls do not look at you or your bike any more than they did when you had Shimano.

In summary, I was very disappointed with Campy. Very. I wanted it to be good. I wanted to be able to brag about how much better it was than the Shimano that comes in all bikes you see in ‘normal’ bikes so as to make up for the fact that I’m slow. I wanted to buy into their story.. but in the end, reliability wins every time. Function over form. Until I test out SRAM to see how it compares, I will remain a loyal Shimano-man.

Campy, if you’re reading this and want me to review a bike you set up for me, please feel free to get in touch via editor [at] faston2wheels [dot] com and I’m willing to give the groupset another try!

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Comments

6 Responses to “My thoughts and experience with Campagnolo’s 11 Speed Chorus Groupset”
  1. hey! nice pic up there.
    any possibility you could put my full name as the credit? thanks!
    (don’t publish this comment if you don’t want to!)

  2. Stan says:

    I just can agree with the story. There is no need to say anything else. It is true.

  3. Jaimie Henderson says:

    I recently “upgraded” to Chorus 11 after putting 6,000 miles on the 10-speed Centaur gruppo that came on my bike. I loved that gruppo, but it was just completely worn out and refused to shift properly any more. I have to say I was pretty excited about the 11 speed and couldn’t wait to get it out on the road. I consider myself a Campy fan but that doesn’t seem to make me immune – I am having the EXACT SAME experience that you had! It just refuses to work properly and I am supremely disappointed for the amount of money I spent. Wish I had read your comment before I dropped the dough on this disappointing component set.

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  1. […] Insert a dynamic date hereBTW, this is my extended review of what I thought of Campy when I had it: http://www.faston2wheels.com/f2/…Carlos Eduardo • Insert a dynamic date hereView 1 CommentCannot add comment at this […]

  2. Quora says:

    Which is better, Campagnolo, Shimano or SRAM and why?…

    I had Shimano (105 and Ultegra) then Campy 11-speed Chorus… it was the worst decision I ever made. After about 6 months of fighting with the groupset and 5 different mechanics trying to sort out why the shifting was messy, I switched back to Shimano …



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