Campagnolo has written a big part of race-bike history with numerous innovations. With the new 12-speed Record and Super Record the Italians want to herald a new groupset-era. After testing Campa’s latest innovation on Gran Canaria’s roads we can answer all your burning questions concerning the “12-speed revolution” and tell you whether you really need it!

With the slogan ‘Movement’ Campagnolo introduces the new 12-speed technology. For the time being it will only be available in the two high-end versions – the Record and the Super Record.

Movement – what’s behind it? The frame and components of a bike bring stiffness and lightness but without a set of wheels and a groupset you won’t go anywhere. With its legendary groupsets and wheels the Italian brand has delivered “Movement” for 85 years and even their cornerstone – Tullio Campagnolo’s quick-release patent – allowed for quicker wheel changes. We can’t wait to see what else Campagnolo will “move” in the future with this slogan – the electronic 12-speed EPS will definitely be a part of it.

Campagnolo’s 12-speed Super Record and Record: Prices and availability

The Italian 12-speed-revolution starts with the Record and Super Record groupsets in both rim- and disc-brake versions. Here are all the key data and the release dates for the new groupsets:

Groupset Brake Availability Weight Price
Super Record Rim brake May 2018 2,041 g € 2,915
Super Record Disc brake June/July 2018 2,323 g € 3,199
Record Rim brake June 2018 2,213 g € 1,960
Record Disc brake July 2018 2,453 g € 2,394

Campagnolo 12-speed shifter

The 12-speed update is the heart of Campagnolo’s new groupset. At first this might sound pretty straightforward and effectively just means an additional sprocket on the cassette but actually implicates a huge number of innovations.

The new 12-speed drivetrain comes with a standard cage length of 72,5 mm and is compatible with the new 11-28 and 11-32 cassettes.

The major update on Campagnolo’s new groupset is its 12-speed rear derailleur. It comes with a standard cage length of 72.5 mm and will be compatible with both new 11-28 and 11-32 cassettes. The internals of the rear derailleur have been entirely overhauled and the top jockey wheel has now moved closer towards the cassette; this change is meant to improve the shifting performance significantly. Additionally the engineers increased the chain-wrap capacity by by moving the upper pulley wheel forward with the shifting movement. Campagnolo calls it the “3D Embrace Technology” a system that allows more teeth of the sprocket to be engaged and is meant to enhance the efficiency and precision of the drivetrain while extending its lifespan.

The ‘3D Embrace Technology’ is said to improve precision…
… , efficiency and longevity.
New materials allowed Campagnolo to reduce the weight while maintaining a good, consistent performance.

The cage is built from a new ultra-light, carbon-reinforced technopolymer material which allows the engineers to reduce the weight and still maintain the same great level of performance. Additionally they’ve made a few changes to allow for easier maintenance. All the adjustment screws are now located on the top side of the rear-derailleur and are much easier to access. A small but incredibly efficient detail is the new return-spring which absorbs the vibrations from the tarmac and also keeps the chain tensioned.

Enhanced usability of the new 12-speed rear-derailleur

With the new 12-speed cassette nothing has been left untouched. The additional sprocket allows for a finer gradation of the gear jumps which is reflected in the one-tooth jumps up to the seventh sprocket.

The new 12-speed cassette with fine 1-tooth sprocket-gradations up to the seventh pinion

Both the Record and Super Record versions share the same cassette which has the same overall width of Campagnolo’s 11x cassette – a great and welcoming feature that avoids frustrating and very expensive wheel-upgrades. But this also means that the engineers had to find a way to reduce the width of the cogs and the chain. Will this affect the lifespan of the drivetrain? According to Campagnolo that’s not the case as they solved this issue by using new materials to build the cassette. The large top-sprocket are divided into two blocks of three made of monolithic steel which – in combination with a chemical coating– guarantees high durability of the cassette.

With a special manufacturing process and new materials Campagnolo achieves a higher durability for their new 12x cassette.

When talking about chains the word “thinner” automatically sounds like trouble. But if you take a closer look you’ll realise that Campagnolo found a solution that actually extends the lifespan of their new chain. The inner and outer plates of the chain maintain the same thickness of an 11-speed chain. Only the rivets are now shorter which makes them even stiffer; this improves both durability and shifting performance.

A detail of the new 12-speed chain – according to Campagnolo it is stiffer and more durable than the 11-speed chain

Campagnolo also updated their front derailleur to make it compatible with the revised 12-speed drivetrain. The new thinner inner plate of the cage leaves more room for lateral chain-movement. The leverage of the Derailleur has been optimised to  reduce the shifting forces and delivering a faster shifting-action. On top of this the derailleur cable can be mounted on either side of the derailleur which gives you effectively more freedom in the choice of tire-width.

Thanks to the optimized lever the new 12x front-derailleur allows for a reduction of the shifting forces …
… and for faster gear-changes.

Ergonomics

Campagnolo is well known for the superb ergonomics of their gear levers which are called Ergolevers for a reason. What’s new on the latest 12-speed version?

At first glance you’ll notice the slightly different shape of the hoods on the revised Ergolever. The new inward-bend makes for a better grip and effectively allows for an additional hand position on the hoods.

The inwards-bend on the hoods make for a better fit and allow for an additional hand position on the hoods.

Despite having undergone a major overhaul the new shifting-levers haven’t lost their familiar Italian curves. The curves have even been emphasized which is according to Campagnolo the result of countless hand studies. On the other hand the actual lever has been slightly bent outwards and is now easier to reach and even more ergonomic.

Finest Italian curves – once more Campagnolo improved the curvature.
The brake levers have been slightly bent outwards to improve accessibility and ergonomics.

One lever, one action – the motto keeps every action clear even in trickiest situations. The down-shift thumb-shifter – a Campagnolo trademark – has also been optimised to work with the new 12-speed groupset. The lever is now bigger and slightly slanted towards the handlebar (and towards the hand as a consequence). This angle makes it easier to reach especially when riding in the drops. On top of that the motion of the lever is now tilted slightly forward to follow the natural movement of the thumb.

The down-shifter is now bigger and slightly slanted towards the hand. This allows it to follow the natural movement of the thumb especially when riding in the drops.

The adjustable ergonomics of the brake lever is one more exciting feature of the new Ergolever. Campagnolo’s popular mechanism that allows you to release the brake for wheel-changes has been extended by an intermediate position. This brings the brake lever closer to the handlebars and guarantees optimal accessibility especially for riders with smaller hands.

Cranks

One size fits all – this is probably the best way to describe what lies behind the innovations of Campagnolo’s new 12-speed crank. One crank that works with every chainset size: 50/34, 52/36 and 53/39 chainsets are compatible with the same crank. This is possible thanks to two separate bolt circle diameters for the outer and inner chainring.

One crank for all chainsets thanks to bolt circle diameters for the outer and inner chainring.

On the new Ultra-Torque-crank the crank-bolt has moved to the left side making the opening on the drive-side obsolete. According to Campagnolo this is meant to improve both the aerodynamics and the stiffness of the crankset. The Super Record crank comes with a titanium spindle and CULT-ceramic bearings whilst the Record features a steel-spindle and standard ceramic bearings. One more difference between the two models is the additional aero-lip on the Super Record crank which reduces torsion in the chainring and increases aerodynamics. Whether the average mortal roadie will notice a difference is still unsure but either way it looks great.

The Aero-lip on the Super Record crank reduces torsion in the chainring and improves aerodynamics.

Brakes

The rim brake of the 12-speed group has been given a cosmetic update which reflects on the smoother contours. According to Campagnolo these are also aerodynamically optimised. In addition, the new brakes are now compatible with tire widths up to 28 mm.

The new rim brakes of the new 12-speed groupset. According to Campagnolo the smoother contours are also aerodynamically more efficient.

The disc-brake version of the new Record and Super Record groupsets also gets the 12x update. The hydraulics and performance of the disc brakes haven’t changed but all of the changes of the mechanical shifter have been integrated into the H12 version. Our Test of the Campagnolo Disc Brakes is available here.

All of the changes of the mechanical shifter have been integrated into the H12 version.

Test of the Campagnolo 12-speed Record and Super Record groupsets

The coast- and mountain-roads of Gran Canaria were a dream scenario to test the new 12-speed group and the constantly changing gradients are a real challenge for the groupset’s shifting performance. For our test we had access to an entire fleet of high-end bikes – all from Campagnolo’s ever growing OEM-list. This will make all Campagnolo hearts beat a little faster!

Italian Beauty – Basso Diamant with the new 12x Record group and Bora 35/50 combination.
In Gran Canaria we punished the new 12-speed groupset with endless miles of brutal climbing.

In comparison with the shifting performance of its predecessor the new Record is now significantly faster and even more precise. Good News for all Campa fans: The typical Campagnolo sound has been preserved and is a sweet symphony for every true Campa geek. Faster shifting performance, a significant reduction of forces when shifting between chainrings and the improved reaction-timing of the shift have addressed most of the weak points that the previous model had been criticised for. Now the shifting initiates with the slightest lever movement.

Gran Canaria’s changing terrain is the ideal scenario to put the shifting performance of the new 12-speed groupset to the test.
Gran Canaria in Italian hands.

The optimised ergonomics of the Ergolever totally convinced us. The new shifters – both up and down – know how to impress. The enlarged surfaces as well as the revised motion axis make shifting a lot easier and above all the slight angle on the thumb switch makes it extremely easy to shift gears whilst riding in the drops. With Campa’s improved ergonomics the Belgian Aero-tuck with your hands on the hoods in full TT-mode on flat roads will be proper fun.

The new brake levers fit the hand superbly and inspire tons of confidence… but still not quite enough to keep up with world champion Allesandro Ballan on the downhill.
The new Ergolever offers great performance but still not quite enough to keep up with world champion Allessandro Ballan on the downhill.
The backcountry of Gran Canaria offers perfect testing conditions.

Conclusions

Even though the 12-speed isn’t quite a revolution in itself it is definitely an evolution introduced by Campagnolo which many other manufactures will follow in the future. The “Italian” twelve speed system is certainly an improvement in shifting performance. It is faster, more precise and above all offers a wider gear ratio with a finer gradation. Nevertheless you will have to make sure the gears are finely tuned as the narrower dimensions allow for less tolerance range with stretched cables or rear derailleurs that are not perfectly adjusted. The fact is that the new 12-speed transmission is more than just an extra gear. The shifting performance and ergonomics of the new Record and Super Record Group have been significantly improved and bring the Italians to the top of your “must have” list!

Here you’ll find all details to the Italian 12 speed groupset: campagnolo.com

A perfect mix – Spanisch tapas, cocktails and the calmness of the sea

Words: Manuel Buck Photos: Pablo Moreno, Manuel Buck