Big Mig was in the house today signing posters for the fans at the Pinarello display. Elsewhere, Cipollini was keeping the ladies happy and I spent a lot of time at the Shimano and Campagnolo booths to learn about their new offerings for 2013.
Shimano announced their 11-speed Dura Ace group set earlier this year and the new gear looks impressive in real life. The new 11-speed transmission comes in both mechanical and Di2 versions, and both feature a new two-tone black and silver finish on all the parts (except the levers). The crankset has been redesigned, so now the crank has a four-arm spider rather than five and offers some new combinations such as 52/36 and 52/38. The chainring bolts thread directly into the large chainring and there hollow gaps continue to be used to lighten the final product. Fairwheel bikes posted a thorough and very thoughtful review of the mechanical and Di2 groups a little while ago.
There were a lot of other new products at the Shimano booth including a new electronic version of the Alfine group set. Alfine is intended for city bike use and comprises a single speed transmission mated to an internally geared hub. Now an electronic shifter has been added that is paired with a nifty LED indicator and is available in both flat-bar and road versions. Interestingly, holding the shift buttons on the lever allows the rider to continuously shift up or down through the gears, a feature that is absent from the Dura Ace and Ultegra Di2 systems (for the moment, at least).
The big news at the Campagnolo booth was the release of the Athena 11 EPS group set. Up until now, riders wanting electronic an Campagnolo transmission had to buy a Record or Super Record group. The Athena 11 EPS group lacks all of the carbon that defines the Record and Super Record groups, using aluminium or steel instead and the difference in materials makes for a cheaper groupset. Athena EPS be priced just over US$3000, putting it in the same bracket as Ultegra Di2. Elsewhere, Campagnolo’s groupsets remain unchanged save for a new 52/36 compact crankset that has been added to their 11 speed groupsets.