Ask a Mechanic | Campagnolo Road Components: Where To Spend Your Money

Preston asks: “Where should I spend money on Campy?”

Campagnolo, or “Campy,” has some of the most dedicated followers in the cycling world. Talk to anyone who has ridden Campy for long enough and they’ll tell you there is no other component group they would put on their bike, period. Campagnolo’s components have remained fairly unchanged throughout the years, and offer serviceability that is unmatched by other manufacturers. Campy shifters are unique in that they use a separate thumb shifter to release shifts, and a more standard paddle behind the brake lever for both front and rear upshifts. Campy was also one of the first manufacturers to keep both the brake and shift housing routed along the handlebar. The hood shape, shifting methods, and the classic carbon weave set Campagnolo components apart from the rest.

Let’s start with the shifters. The shifter hood shape is the same tried-and-true design across their entire line of components. No matter which you choose, you know you’re getting the most comfortable hoods on the market. When looking at the different models, the most obvious difference is the use of carbon fiber. Although the higher-end components use more carbon fiber, there really isn’t a significant weight advantage, with a mere eight grams separating Chorus from Super Record. Mechanically they are all incredibly similar, and for that reason, I would recommend going with the Chorus shifters.

When choosing a rear derailleur, I recommend Chorus again. The main difference between Chorus, Record, and Super Record is the use of a carbon pulley cage and lighter hardware. All rear derailleur models use Campy’s Ultra-Shift exclusive geometry parallelogram and their cassette capacity is the same at 11-29. The Chorus uses an aluminum pulley cage, where the Record and Super Record use carbon cages; once again, the weight difference is very minimal compared to the price differential.

Looking at the front derailleur, you will see more of the same. All three models we’re looking at will use an alloy inner plate to force the chain to the large chainring. The difference again comes with the carbon outer cage featured on the Record and Super Record groups. In this case, it’s actually worth it to spring for the carbon Super Record. The added stiffness and precision machining of the linkage offer very precise and accurate front shifts, which helps avoid the frustration and lost time in poor shifting.

Choosing a crank will usually come down to budget. All the crank options are carbon, use the same Extreme Performance Shift System chainrings, and come with bottom bracket bearings on the axle. The pricier options are significantly lighter, but also come with a pretty hefty price tag. With 80 grams weight savings costing about $340, I would once again have to go with Chorus. Even if you’ve got money to burn, that’s a pretty rough dollar per gram ratio.

You can almost save as much weight in the cassette as you can in the crank between Chorus and Super Record, but again, you’re looking at spending twice as much to make the jump. Because cassettes are high-wear items, Chorus cassettes are the easy choice here.

Chains are an often-overlooked part of the group. People like to save a little cash here, thinking that a chain is just a chain, but I’d advise otherwise. This is an instance where you get what you pay for. The stronger and lighter Super Record chain will run smoother and quieter than the lower level chains. Also note that the price difference between the models is very minimal here, as opposed to the rest of the components. Spend a little of the money you saved on the other components and treat yourself with the Super Record chain.

All of Campy’s brakes use the same lightweight skeleton design and offer plenty of power and control for long descents and emergency stops. With weight savings being fairly minimal between groups, and performance virtually identical, stick with Chorus brakes and a thicker wallet.

Across the board Campagnolo parts offer incredible quality and precision—lucky for you, Campy’s “budget” options are nearly as good as their top-of-the-line models. Whether you worry more about grams or dollars, Campy’s got something for you. Drop by to find the Campy group that’s right for you.