Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed: Details and first-ride review
It was hardly a secret that Campagnolo would upgrade its Super Record EPS electronic groupset to 12-speed; the company even told us that outright a few months ago, and sponsored riders have already been using it since the start of the season. But now it’s finally here, and we have all the details.
Just like with previous EPS groupsets, many of the components are carried over from the mechanical version. But Campagnolo has overhauled nearly every EPS-specific part to create what feels like a pretty major step forward.
Updates to the new Ergopower levers are subtle, including a new texture on the Vari-Cushion rubber hoods and a new unidirectional finish on the carbon fibre brake lever blades. The double curve of the brake levers is carried over as well, and falls nicely into the hand with long blades that are easy to grasp with one or two fingers. It’s a fine design and something that I feel is a strong point within the groupset.
Inside – as you’d expect – the electronic and braking bits are the same as before. Campagnolo once again uses the dropped thumb lever from the previous generation of Ergopower for easier access from the drops, but now the paddle behind the brake lever is a little bigger and longer, too.
Of course, Campagnolo is offering the Super Record EPS Ergopower levers in both rim-brake and disc-brake versions, with little visual difference between the two other than 8mm of extra height on the hydraulic levers. Both versions have adjustable reach for the brake levers, and you can also adjust the lever throw for the disc-brake version, too. The rim brake Ergopower levers offer the ability to adjust reach of the blades to better accommodate differing hand sizes and preferences. Whereas the disc brake version incorporates not just the adjustable reach system but also allows for riders to tinker with custom performance. New algorithms let you Multi-Shift overall 12 gears with a single press and hold of the button. A job you’ll only need to undertake if you’ve really been caught out on a tricky road or situation.
Going deeper into the customization setting on the MyCampy app will allow you to configure your shifting set up, to the point where it theoretically could be possible to change all the gears with a single lever, front and back. And much like the previous version, derailleur adjustments can be made on-the-fly, too, with a handy button located just behind the thumb paddle on either Ergopower lever.
Claimed weight for the disc-brake levers is 381g per pair; the rim-brake ones are 280g.
No surprises on the new rear derailleur
Campagnolo’s electronic rear derailleurs have always been close analogues of the mechanical versions, with just a stepper motor in place of the usual cable and spring mechanisms. It’s no different this time around, and the new Super Record EPS rear derailleur brings along the same advancements as what Campag introduced a few months ago with the mechanical Super Record groupset.
“The lion’s share of the groupset is mechanically based; even the electronic groupset has three-quarters of its technology mechanical,” explained Campagnolo global marketing manager Joshua Riddle. “So if we have all the work done, it makes sense to go ahead and launch [the mechanical version], then work the successive year to electro-mechanise it.”
Technology that’s jumped across includes the new parallelogram geometry for increased chain wrap around each sprocket, and a longer pulley cage to handle the wider-range 12-speed cassettes; both the 11-29T and 11-32T cassettes work with the same derailleur. Pulleys have grown to 12-teeth each, with the upper one having taller and more squared-off teeth for better shifting precision, and the lower sporting a shallower profile for quieter running and reduced friction.
Wires are permanently bonded and sealed for a claimed IP67 waterproof rating. In real-world speak, Campagnolo says there’s zero chance of water getting in.
Material choice is as you’d expect from Campag’s flagship groupset, including a large swathe of carbon fibre, forged aluminium, and lightweight “technopolymer”. Claimed weight is just 234g.
Subtle changes to the front derailleur
Just as the rear derailleur took advantage of the developments made for the latest mechanical Record and Super record groupsets, the front does the same. The main body, parallelogram links, and internal bits are all carried over, and once again, the cage is made of an aluminium inner plate and a carbon fibre outer one. That cage has been reshaped to work with the new 12-speed spacing, though, and combined with the automatic trim feature, Campag says the new front mech not only shifts better than ever, but also runs quietly regardless of gearing combination.
Molded carbon fibre construction on the body and titanium hardware help keep the claimed weight down to 132g.
Longer battery life, a new internal interface
Campagnolo has finally made more of an effort to clean up the wiring aesthetics a bit on its EPS electronic groupsets, with a new internal version of its wiring interface that can be hidden inside the end of the handlebar or tucked inside frames that have specific mounts built into them.
The standard interface is basically the same as before, and both versions have Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless hardware built-in to communicate with app-enabled smartphones or compatible computers.
Also new is the battery, which is now longer, but slimmer, to better fit into modern aero frames and seatposts. Charge capacity has gone up by 10%, according to Campag.
Shared 12-speed drivetrain bits and brakes
As already mentioned, the chainset, chainrings, chain, and cassette are all straight carryovers from the mechanical groupset version. You can find a deeper dive on those products in the feature we published from the 12-speed Record and Super Record mechanical groupset release.
To recap a bit, though, the new hollow carbon fibre chainset still looks impressive. It’s certainly modern in design, but perhaps a little too modern for some, especially with the additional carbon fibre reinforcements around the edges of the outer chainring on the Super Record version.
Chainring options include 53/39T, 52/36T, and 50/34T sizes, and Campag will offer the arms in 165, 170, 172.5, and 175mm lengths.
Cassette options are carried over, too, with the same 11-29T and 11-32T sizes that were announced with the mechanical 12-speed groupsets. Fans of smaller jumps between gears will be happy to know that there are just single-tooth jumps up to the 17T sprocket, and then either two- or three-tooth jumps throughout the rest.
As you’d expect, the 12-speed chain is narrower than the 11-speed one that came before it, but Campagnolo nevertheless claims that it offers the same durability while also shifting more smoothly.
Brakes are once again offered in both disc and rim versions, with both center-mount and direct-mount options for the rim-brake callipers. Disc versions get new longer-lasting organic pad compounds, though, as well as a new stainless steel spring to improve pad retraction and help prevent rotor rub.
New medium-depth Bora aero carbon wheels, too
Campagnolo announced the Bora WTO 60 and Bora WTO 77 aero carbon wheels last year, and those will now be joined by a shallower Bora WTO 45 in both rim- and disc-brake variants.
Rim depth is – go figure – 45mm for greater crosswind stability and lower weight relative to the 60 and 77, and the 19mm inner width on the tubeless-compatible clincher is meant to be paired with 25-28mm tyres. Interestingly for Campag, there is no tubular version.
Disc-brake versions use splined rotor mounts, while rim-brake versions get Campagnolo’s AC3 etched sidewalls. Both feature Campagnolo’s trademark 3G triplet spoke lacing pattern for more even tensions from one side to the other, diamond-profile spoke cross-sections, and aluminium nipples. The aero-shaped aluminium hubs rotate on Campagnolo’s USB ceramic bearings.
It’s unlikely many people will complain about the stunning finish, with its clearcoated unidirectional surface and minimal graphics.
Claimed weight for the rim-brake version is 1,496g per pair (657g front; 893g rear). The disc version is 1,520g per set (708g front; 812g rear).
Prices and weights
Are you sitting down? You should sit down.
Given that it’s Campagnolo, and that Super Record EPS is the company’s flagship groupset, no one will expect that this will be remotely inexpensive to buy. But at US$4,636 / £4,108 / €4,677 for the disc version and US$4,327 / £4,292 / €3,800 for the rim-brake version, even the most dedicated Campagnolo fan will need deeper pockets than usual. When compared to the recently released SRAM Red eTap AXS, the new Super Record EPS disc-brake groupset works out to a roughly US$1,000 / £750 / €1000 premium. Adding the optional Red eTap AXS power meter cuts that gap in half, but Super Record EPS is still more expensive.
The rim-brake version is a bit more competitive, with roughly US$300 / £300 / €300 difference between the two groupsets. This is pretty much as expected from Campagnolo, but still a tough pill to swallow.
As for the weight, the disc version tips the scales all in at 2,502g, and the rim version is slightly lighter at 2,255g.
70km is hardly enough time to form a long-term view of any product – let alone a flagship groupset from a major manufacturer – but it’s at least sufficient for some solid initial impressions. We’ll hopefully get our hands on a long-term test sample at some point, but with that in mind, here are some early thoughts.
Basically, everything that has been carried over from the mechanical version I found a delight to use. The good-looking chainset seems plenty stiff, and the snappy front shifting works well under pressure. The automatic trim also works faultlessly, too, as there was never any chain rub.
Rear shifting isn’t what I’d call exceptionally quiet or quick. As compared to the 12-speed mechanical groupsets, EPS seems to lag behind, especially once you get past that 7th (17-tooth) sprocket. Shifting down the cassette to smaller sprockets is noticeably smoother, but still not as snappy as you’d expect from a premium product. The timing of shifting I’m sure will get an update at some point via firmware again through the MyCampy app, but this initial impression could have been better.
One of Campagnolo’s recurring selling points in the presentation is its one-lever, one-function Ergopower design with completely separate levers that each perform only a single function and move in one way. Whether that’s actually less confusing is debatable, and probably more a matter of preference than anything else. Personally, I love how SRAM lay out the controls for eTap; the first time I used it, I found it quick to learn and almost intuitive in its function. Riders who are already well-accustomed to Ergopower won’t have any issues, though, and being able to personalise the levers’ functions with the company’s in-depth MyCampy app is an obvious boon if you want to reconfigure things.
The other niggle with the levers is that the shift lever behind the brake blade still seems slightly too small. I could imagine that it would be easy to miss the target under race pressure or on a cold day with winter gloves on. As for the thumb shifters’ position, it’s a love-it or kinda-just-get-on-with-it situation. The lower position is easier to access than what Campag uses for its mechanical Ergopower levers, but I would like to see it lower down the lever hood. Without the functional constraints of its mechanical brethren, I’m sure it would be possible. As is, it’s a bit tricky to hit when your hands are in the drops.
The hoods are practically unchanged in both rim and disc versions, and seeing as how I gushed over the shape and comfort last year, this time around was no different. The shape is still very comfortable to hold, and the extra 8mm of height on the hydraulic version never felt strange or huge. In fact, that extra extension is a lovely place to rest the hands or push against when you’re outstretched into a more aero position. The brake blades are long and have a satisfying curve that your fingers naturally fall into. The fact that these can be adjusted in distance from the hoods will please many with smaller hands, too.
The brakes themselves — of which we only got to sample the disc version — are some of the best I’ve had the pleasure to use. Usually on a test ride with multiple other journalists and staff all on the same kit, you’re going to hear a rubbing disc or a squeal of a brake under pressure. Not once, though, did I hear rubbing or squealing on the test ride from anyone. The only noise is a slight hiss under heavy, prolonged braking. Heat doesn’t seem to be an issue, either. Campag says it has tested them to nearly 500°C without failure, and it’s clear that Campagnolo’s work with Magura has produced a superb braking system. The adjustment is also nice; never do you feel an overly sharp bite, and the power comes on gently and builds progressively. Granted, I have yet to use Campag disc brakes in the wet, so the verdict is still out on how they do there. But then again, given the cost, I wonder how many Super Record owners are going to subject this drool-worthy group to a miserably wet day, anyway.
Campagnolo has managed to yet again produce a good-looking product that practically screams Italian design and keeps in harmony with the Record and Super Record mechanical versions. Its rear mech I’d argue is even nicer, plus, if I’m honest, the minimalistic graphics have grown on me in the year that they’ve been used. Looks are all good and well, but worthless if the groupset doesn’t function well. Luckily it does, but there are a few niggles.
Last year’s 12-speed Super Record and Record groupset saw the Italian company invest two years of development, research, and huge sums of money into new machinery and engineering, resulting in two groupsets that I loved. Between the snappy, direct, and locked-in feel of the shifting, and the fact that I never found myself wanting for another gear in any given road situation, it was clear to me that Campag was on to a winner. A year on, many of these traits has been brought over to Super Record EPS, and overall, it certainly has much of that Campag allure, heritage, and feel. And it certainly doesn’t feel like a groupset that’s a consumable or disposable, which is good considering the steep asking price; each part seems lovingly manufactured.
But unfortunately, this fancier — and far more expensive — groupset just didn’t quite wow me as much. There seemed to be something lacking, something that would have me picking their mechanical version over the electronic version, at least for now. Maybe it’s because the Super Record mechanical groupset feels like a distillation of what the Italian brand is at heart to me, and maybe a firmware update with improve the performance moving forward, but the simple fact is that this EPS version didn’t give me the same grin or wow factor that the mechanical version does.