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Campagnolo Super Record EPS electronic transmission – First ride review

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The Super Record front derailleur boasts a carbon-and-aluminum outer cage plate as compared to Record's anodized aluminum piece.

The Super Record front derailleur boasts a carbon-and-aluminum outer cage plate as compared to Record's anodized aluminum piece. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo's Record EPS and Super Record EPS electronic groups use the same brakes, cranksets, chains, and cassettes with no changes for 2012, meaning they still work great.

Campagnolo's Record EPS and Super Record EPS electronic groups use the same brakes, cranksets, chains, and cassettes with no changes for 2012, meaning they still work great. (Image credit: James Huang)
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As with Di2, mechanics will have to get a little creative when running the wires for Campagnolo's new EPS electronic drivetrain.

As with Di2, mechanics will have to get a little creative when running the wires for Campagnolo's new EPS electronic drivetrain. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The only limit screw used on the entire system is the inner stop for the rear derailleur for extra insurance against shifting into the spokes.

The only limit screw used on the entire system is the inner stop for the rear derailleur for extra insurance against shifting into the spokes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo equips the Super Record EPS rear derailleur with ceramic pulley bearings.

Campagnolo equips the Super Record EPS rear derailleur with ceramic pulley bearings. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The actuator rod on the Super Record EPS rear derailleur is TiN-coated aluminum to save a few grams.

The actuator rod on the Super Record EPS rear derailleur is TiN-coated aluminum to save a few grams. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The top-end Campagnolo Super Record EPS rear derailleur is rife with carbon fiber, including the carbon-reinforced molded nylon knuckles.

The top-end Campagnolo Super Record EPS rear derailleur is rife with carbon fiber, including the carbon-reinforced molded nylon knuckles. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The rechargeable Li-ion battery is sealed with the 'brain' inside an ultrasonically welded case that Campagnolo claims is more resistant to weather than a removeable pack.

The rechargeable Li-ion battery is sealed with the 'brain' inside an ultrasonically welded case that Campagnolo claims is more resistant to weather than a removeable pack. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo group communication manager Lerrj Piazza told us that the wiring harness leads are long enough to accommodate a variety of battery mounting options.

Campagnolo group communication manager Lerrj Piazza told us that the wiring harness leads are long enough to accommodate a variety of battery mounting options. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The aggressive texturing on the Super Record EPS hood is great for grip when wearing gloves but we found it a little tough on bare hands.

The aggressive texturing on the Super Record EPS hood is great for grip when wearing gloves but we found it a little tough on bare hands. (Image credit: James Huang)
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As usual, the generous brake lever blade length makes for an easy pull from the drops though adjustable reach would be a nice added feature.

As usual, the generous brake lever blade length makes for an easy pull from the drops though adjustable reach would be a nice added feature. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo has dropped the thumb paddle position on the Record EPS and Super Record EPS levers, making them much easier to operate while in the drops.

Campagnolo has dropped the thumb paddle position on the Record EPS and Super Record EPS levers, making them much easier to operate while in the drops. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Overall shape for Campagnolo's new Record EPS and Super Record EPS levers is virtually identical to the standard Ergopower units.

Overall shape for Campagnolo's new Record EPS and Super Record EPS levers is virtually identical to the standard Ergopower units. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Owners of newer Garmin GPS computers can use the same o-ring for the converter to attach the quarter-turn mount.

Owners of newer Garmin GPS computers can use the same o-ring for the converter to attach the quarter-turn mount. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The bulky stepper motor and gearbox makes for a fairly bulky Super Record EPS front derailleur but it's still curvaceous in that distinctly Campagnolo way.

The bulky stepper motor and gearbox makes for a fairly bulky Super Record EPS front derailleur but it's still curvaceous in that distinctly Campagnolo way. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo amplifies the output of the front derailleur stepper motor with a small gearbox.

Campagnolo amplifies the output of the front derailleur stepper motor with a small gearbox. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo's XPSS chainrings also shifted quickly and smoothly but the addition of the computer-controlled EPS motorized front derailleur has only enhanced that functionality.

Campagnolo's XPSS chainrings also shifted quickly and smoothly but the addition of the computer-controlled EPS motorized front derailleur has only enhanced that functionality. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Campagnolo says this little box converts the levers' analog signals into digital ones and then relays that information to the system 'brain' down below, plus it also houses the multi-color LED indicator. You can mount the signal converter to the stem with o-rings or to the brake housing with zip-ties depending on your preferences.

Campagnolo says this little box converts the levers' analog signals into digital ones and then relays that information to the system 'brain' down below, plus it also houses the multi-color LED indicator. You can mount the signal converter to the stem with o-rings or to the brake housing with zip-ties depending on your preferences. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Thankfully, Campagnolo has designed its EPS electronic group to use the same access port locations and sizes as Di2 so frames will be cross-compatible.

Thankfully, Campagnolo has designed its EPS electronic group to use the same access port locations and sizes as Di2 so frames will be cross-compatible. (Image credit: James Huang)

This article first appeared on Bikeradar

Riders who are interested in electronic shifting but aren't smitten by Shimano Dura-Ace Di2's ultralight touch may find Campagnolo's distinctly more feedback-laden Record EPS and Super Record EPS transmissions to be just the thing they've been waiting for.

Launched yesterday after years in development, the EPS system is a technical marvel with impressive performance credentials, plus it's lighter and arguably prettier than Osaka's take. But just like with Di2, our first ride revealed a few chinks in its otherwise hardy carbon-clad armor.

It's all about the shifting

Shifting precision is just as spot-on as with Di2 – hit the button and you're rewarded with an uncannily faultless shift in either direction, regardless of whether you're pedaling lazily along or attacking a short rise out of the saddle to close a gap. Lever effort and feel don't change with different shifting conditions, either – just push the button and let the system do the rest.

Front shifts are especially impressive, with the same sort of overshift functionality built into Di2. When moving to the big ring, the EPS front derailleur pushes further than would be typical for a mechanical setup to insure the chain makes the jump – sort of like it's yelling at the chain to move rather than politely asking it to oblige. A split-second later, the cage magically trims itself to the correct position. Speaking of trim, the EPS 'brain' automatically trims the chain depending on the rear cog position, so once you've selected a chainring, there's nothing else to do up front.

Lever feedback is heaps better than Di2 – Campagnolo have done an excellent job of convincing your fingers that you're actually doing something when you press a lever. Lever throws are very short but significantly longer than Di2 and you can feel the click through your fingers when you've hit the switch – a good thing since the audible click is pretty easily drowned out by wind and road noise.

Moreover, the two levers are distinctly separated, just like with mechanical Ergopower, so while our brief 50km test ride was done mostly in warm and dry conditions, we expect EPS to be much easier to operate confidently when wearing full-finger gloves or in the wet. The higher spring tensions and relatively high button force thresholds also do a great job of warding off accidental shifts.

One button, one action, multiple gear changes

Campagnolo has achieved something Shimano either couldn't or wouldn't with Di2: the ability to request multiple shifts without having to repeatedly stab at the buttons. The Italians' solution is to simply hold down the button, and for the most part it works as advertised and reasonably quickly, too. There's no indicator as to how many gears you're selecting so there's a bit of a learning curve to figure out the timing but we had it down within a couple of hours so longer-term users should have few issues.

That being said, our initial opinion on Multi-Shift is still a little mixed. There's a bit of a lag while holding down the button before the 'brain' realizes you're asking for multiple gear changes, and while you can move across the entire cluster in just a second-and-a-half according to Campagnolo (and roughly verified by us during our test ride), that's still distinctly slower than what we can do with the company's mechanical drivetrains – albeit not quite as smoothly.

We found that we could hit the button 10 times in rapid-fire fashion in less than 1.5 seconds but that didn't yield any improvement in shift speed. Campagnolo electrical engineer Flavio Cracco told us that the EPS brain requires a short lag between button pushes – about 100ms or so, though he wasn't sure of the exact figure – and faster pushes aren't always recognized. According to Cracco, Campagnolo believe the Multi-Shift technique is better than multiple stabs but even so, we'd prefer that the company provide the option and he agreed to look into it moving forward.

More worrisome was the handful of times we felt the rear upshift button click but got no gear change in return. Campagnolo say that 'click' comes from their Multi-Dome concept – multiple contact-lens-shaped metal discs stacked on top of each other to achieve the desired amount of resistance – and according to Cracco, it's impossible to click those discs without also making electrical contact. Talks with other journalists at the event seemed to confirm that we were the only ones with the issue but this is something we're going to keep our eyes on, for sure.

Where to go from here

We have to reserve final judgment until after our long-term test group arrives sometime next month but our initial impressions have us very intrigued. Campagnolo's new EPS design improves on Di2 in many ways while also adding the company's own design philosophy and ergonomics for a final product that's more tactilely rewarding and arguably prettier to look at.

Time will tell if our mis-shift issue was a fluke and more testing time might sway our opinion on Multi-Shift, too, but either way, if you're a Campagnolo fan and have been waiting for Vicenza to offer their own take on electronic, your day is finally here. Now where's that Chorus EPS group, we wonder? There's no word yet on pricing for the Super Record EPS groupset.

Campagnolo reviews on Cyclingnews


Cyclingnews takes a look through its extensive archives to bring you some of the best Campagnolo reviews from the last few years.

2011: Campagnolo Super Record 11 group voted Cyclingnews Best Product
2008: Campagnolo steps up
2008: It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super Record!
2006: Campagnolo new 2007 groups - all 10-speed, all the time
2005: Campagnolo Electronic
2005: Eeckhout wins on Campagnolo Electric
2005: Campagnolo looks to the future
2004: Campagnolo 2004: Changes across the board
2004: Campagnolo 2004: Improving the Middle Ground
2003: Virtual Visit: Campagnolo, Vicenza, Italy
2003: Eye Spy: Campagnolo's 2nd generation Electric gruppo

 

 

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