We all aspire to ride the top-of-the-range electronic groupsets, but unfortunately not all of our wallets can stretch to their cost. But now rejoice as Campagnolo, the historic and iconic Italian drivetrain producer, have developed the Potenza 11 speed groupset, which they feel will not only take your wallet but also the original equipment market by storm. Fancy Italian for power, intensity and strength, the Potenza marks a paradigm shift for this cult Italian brand.
Long considered pioneers when it comes to groupset tech, Campagnolo have made themselves a cushy home within the high-end segment, steering clear of the Japanese-dominated mid-market. If you’re riding Campa, then you’ve probably gone for the plush Super Record or Record groupset – but now the Italians want to change this state of affairs. “Right in the mid-range”, the company is targeting this super attractive mechanical groupset to more budget-wary cyclists (i.e. a wider market). And it’s tempting too; the Potenza 11 speed groupset is crammed with many of the exact same technologies as the Super Record and Record, but within a mostly aluminium get-up.
The new Ergopower shifters are strongly reminiscent of the top-of-the-range siblings when it comes to ergonomics, but the tops of the hoods are slightly rounder to add comfort on long rides – the inclusion of indulgent Vari-Cushion technology under the hoods should work to the same benefit too.
Both the brake levers and the cranks are made from aluminium alloy with design cues taken from the Super Record, ensuring about the same amount of stiffness too. The chainset comes in three sizes: 50/34, 52/36 and 53/39, all compatible with the same cranks as there’s just one spider size. The front derailleur – also made from aluminium but very much like the rest of the Rev11+ models – has been designed to allow you to fit a higher tooth-count cassette thanks to the revised steel cage. Campagnolo claim the front mech has an 11% advantage in precision (or “fluidity”) over its direct competitors.
The rear derailleur is also courtesy of the current Rev11+ models, coming in two cage sizes: a medium cage for up to 32 tooth sprockets, and the short cage for up to 29 teeth. Thanks to Campagnolo’s Embrace Technology, wear and tear should be kept to a minimum, as the derailleur body closely follows the curve of the sprockets improving the chainline. Cassette-wise, take your pick from 11–32, 11–29, 11–27, 12–27 and 11–25 tooth models, each going by the name of Campagnolo 11.
Virtually unchanged apart from the brake pads, the new Potenza brakes feature a skeleton caliper construction, which keeps the weight down but maintains rigidity. In this case, no change is good change.
Front Derailleur: 94g
Rear Derailleur: 211g
In total: 2.303g
Cranks: € 227,01
Front Derailleur: € 65,62
Rear Derailleur: € 145.82
Cassette: € 167,85
Chain: € 41,04
Shifters: € 174,99
Brakes: € 58,33
In total: € 852,53
Out on the legendary undulating roads of Gran Canaria, the Campagnolo Potenza 11 speed mechanical groupset set the tone with precise shifting and great braking modulation. The 3-click shifting on the left lever executed brilliantly, eliminating chain rub and demonstrating perfect trim. The more rounded hoods definitely felt more comfortable than usual, and our mountainous route on the island was eased with the ‘extreme’ 11-32 cassette. I mean, I’d even go as far as to say that this gear ratio nailed the 25 km climb that we grinded our way up. On the descents the brakes lived up to their name with great potency and modulation, working well with the Campa Zonda wheelset.
After a day in the saddle we’d got our first impression and it was pretty damn positive, but only a more extensive test is going to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of this new affordable groupset. Naturally we’re excited to get our hands on the Campagnolo Potenza 11 groupset for a long-term test. Given its great price point, it has the potential to be original equipment on a lot of bikes – taking the fight to Ultegra the Potenza is 5g lighter and a touch cheaper.
Words: Noah Haxel Photos: Robin Schmitt