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Campagnolo launch Potenza 11 Speed group pitched against Shimano Ultegra

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Campagnolo's new Ultegra-worrying groupset Potenza 11 Speed

Campagnolo's new Ultegra-worrying groupset Potenza 11 Speed (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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If you really want to know how many parts make up one Ergopower shifter…

If you really want to know how many parts make up one Ergopower shifter… (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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Feeling thankful for the 34x32 ratio on a steep section

Feeling thankful for the 34x32 ratio on a steep section (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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Potenza is available in anodised black or aluminium finish

Potenza is available in anodised black or aluminium finish (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The shift levers remain black beneath the aluminium brake lever

The shift levers remain black beneath the aluminium brake lever (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The crankset's silver finish has a more classical look to it

The crankset's silver finish has a more classical look to it (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The non-anodised finish should resist showing scratches for longer and offers a handsome alternative option

The non-anodised finish should resist showing scratches for longer and offers a handsome alternative option (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The silver finish can add an air of class

The silver finish can add an air of class (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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Contrasting black and silver parts on the rear mech

Contrasting black and silver parts on the rear mech (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The medium cage rear mech is necessary for any cassettes with a largest sprocket greater than 29 teeth

The medium cage rear mech is necessary for any cassettes with a largest sprocket greater than 29 teeth (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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Silver skeleton brakes work for us

Silver skeleton brakes work for us (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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Weight table for Potenza 11 Speed

Weight table for Potenza 11 Speed (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The new Shamal Ultra C17 front wheel

The new Shamal Ultra C17 front wheel (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The 17mm wide aluminium rim bed is undrilled for great strength

The 17mm wide aluminium rim bed is undrilled for great strength (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The rear Shamal Ultra C17 has 21 spokes in Campagnolo's Mega G3 pattern

The rear Shamal Ultra C17 has 21 spokes in Campagnolo's Mega G3 pattern (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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This pattern opposes one radial spoke with a pair crossed twice

This pattern opposes one radial spoke with a pair crossed twice (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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Taking the Shamal Ultra C17s on another mountainous ride

Taking the Shamal Ultra C17s on another mountainous ride (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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Gran Canaria is a fantastic place to test some new wheels

Gran Canaria is a fantastic place to test some new wheels (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)
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The wider rim is intended to improve aerodynamics across rim and tyre when fitted with 25mm tyres (as here) or 28mm rubber

The wider rim is intended to improve aerodynamics across rim and tyre when fitted with 25mm tyres (as here) or 28mm rubber (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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An oversized drive side hub flange, and the adjustable bearing preload lock ring

An oversized drive side hub flange, and the adjustable bearing preload lock ring (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The front hub body is carbon fibre to reduce weight and both hubs spin on USB ceramic bearings

The front hub body is carbon fibre to reduce weight and both hubs spin on USB ceramic bearings (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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New Ergopwer levers maintain Campagnolo's excellent lever ergonomics

New Ergopwer levers maintain Campagnolo's excellent lever ergonomics (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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A more rounded hood makes the horn more accessible to riders looking for a stretched arms forward position

A more rounded hood makes the horn more accessible to riders looking for a stretched arms forward position (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The inner shift lever borrows from the EPS design and eases reach

The inner shift lever borrows from the EPS design and eases reach (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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You can still upshift three sprockets at once and downshift in single gears

You can still upshift three sprockets at once and downshift in single gears (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The Varicushion waffle-like structure makes for greater comfort and aids grip

The Varicushion waffle-like structure makes for greater comfort and aids grip (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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Potenza's new 4-arm aluminium crank design is modelled on Super Record

Potenza's new 4-arm aluminium crank design is modelled on Super Record (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The 8-bolt fixing system accepts the most common chainset combinations and increases chain ring rigidity

The 8-bolt fixing system accepts the most common chainset combinations and increases chain ring rigidity (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The new Power-Torque one-piece axle can be removed with just a 4-prong tool for the cap, and 10mm hex key thanks to an integrated extractor

The new Power-Torque one-piece axle can be removed with just a 4-prong tool for the cap, and 10mm hex key thanks to an integrated extractor (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The hollow forged aluminium cranks are straight for simplicity

The hollow forged aluminium cranks are straight for simplicity (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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Swift front shifts are helped by a longer rod, and reshaped steel cage

Swift front shifts are helped by a longer rod, and reshaped steel cage (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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Potenza's rear mech comes in short or medium cage lengths to cope with the new 32 tooth sprocket

Potenza's rear mech comes in short or medium cage lengths to cope with the new 32 tooth sprocket (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The mech body is lightened by the use of carbon-reinforced Technopolymer

The mech body is lightened by the use of carbon-reinforced Technopolymer (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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We used every one of the sprockets on the 11-32 cassette on a mountainous test ride

We used every one of the sprockets on the 11-32 cassette on a mountainous test ride (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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Familiar-looking skeleton brake calipers stop reliably

Familiar-looking skeleton brake calipers stop reliably (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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16 radial anodised aluminium aero spokes keep things light and stiff

16 radial anodised aluminium aero spokes keep things light and stiff (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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The Shamal Ultra C17 is available in Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM fit

The Shamal Ultra C17 is available in Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM fit (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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Self-locking nipples and toroidal milling between them to remove unnecessary metal

Self-locking nipples and toroidal milling between them to remove unnecessary metal (Image credit: Robin Wilmott/Immediate Media)
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If time trials are your thing, there's a compatible bar end shifter too

If time trials are your thing, there's a compatible bar end shifter too (Image credit: Courtesy of Campagnolo)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Including the three EPS electronic shifting versions, Campagnolo currently offers eight groupsets from Veloce up to Super Record EPS. In the way that we journos and the great cycling public like to compare different manufacturer's wares, we've always thought that Shimano's popular Ultegra groupset matches up somewhere between Chorus and Athena, but it never felt like a fair fight.

Well for all lovers of parity and equality, worry no more, because Campagnolo's new Potenza 11 Speed groupset is aiming to strike a direct hit on Ultegra, seemingly shuffling Athena out of the way in the process. Meaning power, intensity and strength in Italian, Campagnolo describe Potenza 11 Speed as an Ultegra rival (no SRAM pun intended), but with more soul. The Italians think they suffer a little in the marketplace from having too many groupsets (five mechanical options).

Sitting fourth in line beneath Campagnolo's other mechanical groupsets (Super Record, Record and Chorus), Potenza 11 Speed gains trickle-down technology from its loftier cousins. The groupset is mostly aluminium, and made entirely within the European Union, with production beginning in Campagnolo's Vicenza factory, then moving to Romania as it scales up.

The new Ergopower levers maintain their familiar family ergonomics, but the tops are a little more rounded to improve the grip of riders who prefer to rest their hands there. The rubber hoods have been redesigned to stay grippy at all times, with Varicushion technology to improve vibration absorption, and a new surface that ensures water drains away. The bar clamp is now said to better fit all current road bars, and the lever body is made from a material Campagnolo call Technopolymer, which is reinforced with carbon fibre.

The brake lever is alloy, while both shift levers are of composite construction, and the new power shift mechanism allows up to three upshifts (to inboard sprockets) at a time. Because an EPS-style thumb shift lever is fitted, down shifts are limited to one gear at a time, but ergonomics are improved. The left hand lever maintains its trim function, with an extra click between ring shifts to fine tune chain line when exceeding the front derailleur's ideal 8-sprocket range.

The front derailleur shares its design with the recent Rev11+ groupsets, with a similar structure to Super Record units, but exchanges carbon fibre for a die cast aluminium body, forged aluminium plates and steel cage, which is shaped to assist downshifts and repositioned to work with larger ratio cassettes. A new longer cable pull rod design reduces shift effort at the lever too, and Campagnolo claim upshifts are 10% more precise than the competition's mid range groupsets, and a surprising 52% more than their own previous incarnations.

Out back, the rear derailleur's Rev11+ inspired design promises the same shift performance as higher range groupsets. Its upper and lower body uses lightweight reinforced technopolymer, with forged aluminium inner and outer plates, and small hex screws for travel limit control. The new derailleur employs what Campagnolo call Embrace Technology, which reduces the spacing between the cassette and upper jockey wheel, engaging more teeth for improved power transfer and reducing wear. It comes in short or medium cage options, with the medium version capable of handling a 32 sprocket rather than the short cage's maximum of 29.

A new range of five cassettes called Campagnolo 11 has been created, consisting of 11-32, 11-25, 11-27, 11-29 and 12-27. Apart from the 11-32 cassette, all are built with a triplet of the largest sprockets, followed by eight single sprockets and aluminium spacers, which are compatible with each other.

There's an obvious family resemblance for the Potenza 11 Speed crankset, with the same claimed performance as Super Record, but different materials, construction and weight. The cranks are hollow forged aluminium, and that four-arm spider is stiff for better shifting, as well as having an 8 bolt fitting system that makes one crank compatible with all common road ring combinations – 50/34, 52/36 and 53/39. Its one-piece hollow steel axle uses a new Power Torque+ system that improves on the original Power Torque by incorporating an internal crank extractor that only requires a 10mm hex key, plus a 4-pronged tool to remove the outer cover. This is a huge improvement over Campagnolo's previous Power Torque design.

Potenza's skeleton brake calipers look very familiar, and are said to have been updated with new pads, and if that's the only change on top of renaming them, it's no bad thing, as Campagnolo's skeleton brakes work well across the board.

Claimed weights per component

  • Front derailleur: 94g
  • Rear derailleur: 211g
  • Shifters: 370g
  • Crankset: 754g
  • Chain: 235g
  • Bottom bracket cups: 69g
  • Brake calipers: 321g
  • Cassette: 249g
  • Total: 2,303g

Campagnolo have high hopes of breaching the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) market with Potenza 11 Speed, and the only pricing we have at present is in Euros. Potenza 11 Speed will be available in a choice of anodised black or polished aluminium. There's also no definite date for availability, but presumably following on from the examples we tested, production will ramp up, and it should be on sale relatively soon.

Potenza 11 Speed (black or silver finish)

  • Ergopower shifters: €174.99
  • Power-Torque crankset (any combination): €227.01
  • Braze-on front derailleur: €65.62
  • Power-Torque BB cups BB386: €41.96
  • Power-Torque outboard BB cups: €23.54
  • Rear derailleur (either cage): €145.82
  • Brake calipers: €58.33
  • Chain: €41.01
  • Cassette 11-25, 11-27, 11-29: €154.94
  • Cassette 12-27: €116.20
  • Cassette 11-32: €167.85
  • Groupset with 11-32 cassette: €904.18
  • Groupset with 12-27 cassette: €852.53

First ride of Campagnolo Potenza 11 Speed - 4 1/2 stars

Our experience riding the new Potenza 11 Speed groupset offered the chance to try out the new ‘extreme' 11-32 cassette in the mountains of Gran Canaria. As a riding destination, there's something for everyone, unless you prefer straight, pan-flat highways, as you're seemingly going up or down much of the time.
Our initial impressions stemmed from the levers, as the new hoods feel well cushioned, and as ergonomic as ever. The more rounded tops are inviting for when there's a need to stretch out, and the grip available is excellent, whether you're wearing gloves or not, even on a hot climb.

Shift feel is very positive, with multiple upshifts carried out swiftly and accurately. Unlike the cheaper plastic versions, there is no obvious flex from the long shift lever. We've always preferred the EPS-style thumb shifter as it's too easy to over shift with the right-angled one, and even though this restricts down shifts to one at a time, that's really not a hardship, as the lever – even if you're sprinting – is ideally placed to flick repeatedly.

With the ever-changing roads, we explored every gear ratio available, and despite some ill-advised and ambitious operation, the drivetrain was never flustered, running relentlessly smoothly all day. Shifts elicit a satisfyingly accurate snick, and each one is so swift you'll never question its speed. As the road ramped up to 16% on a particularly gnarly section, we were more than glad of the 34x32 combination, and helped by the efficient crankset, it performed without fuss which is more than could be said of our lungs. The wide ratio cassette didn't throw up any big jumps between gears, and when it was time to barrel downhill again, we had an 11T sprocket.

Running on fairly middling Zonda wheels, we found the brakes to have ample power and great modulation, which is exactly what you want on roads that resemble spaghetti strewn across a steep hillside. The sculpted aluminium brake levers maintain Campy's tried and trusted shape, and they're easy to tease with two fingers and still gain plenty of purchase. In fact, one of the best plaudits we can level at the new groupset is that it never interfered with our ride, it just helped to make it better, and that counts. We're looking forward to seeing Potenza 11 Speed denting Shimano's dominance of the mid-range OEM market, as that would mean we get to ride it more often.

Our 4.5/5 star rating is based off of early impressions. We hope to have an in-depth and longer term review for this groupset in future.

Shamal Ultra wheels

Remember that image of Miguel Indurain speeding to another crushing time trial victory in more than one of his five early 90s Tour de France victories? Well those highly polished aluminium wheels he was riding were the original Shamals, which were ground breaking at the time for being one of the first assembled wheels whose component parts were all created specifically for them. Things have moved on a bit these days, but the Shamal continues, and offers similar weight to a mid-range carbon wheelset, making it truly race-worthy.

The new Shamal Ultra C17 can call on great pedigree, since the model has previously innovated differential rim heights, the G3 spoke pattern, oversized drive side flange, USB ceramic bearings, MoMag magnetic nipple fitting technology, oversized aluminium aero spokes, 2-Way Fit rim profiles and Rim Dynamic Balance.

But for 2016, there's a new 17mm internal width, up from 15mm, which is designed to create a more aerodynamic profile specifically with 25mm or 28mm tyres, as well as a larger tyre contact patch, more comfort thanks to greater air volume, and increased rigidity and reactivity. The front hub body is carbon fibre, and both hubs have USB ceramic bearings with an adjustable lock ring – first seen on the Bora wheelset – for preload adjustment.

The drive side rear flange is oversized, and there are 16 radial anodised aluminium spokes up front, with 21 behind in the Mega G3 pattern, and Campagnolo's anti-rotation system ensuring they don't turn in use. Chrome finished self-locking nipples look good and can be adjusted conventionally, while the rims are lightened through toroidal milling, which shaves away metal where it's not needed.

They'll be offered in clincher and 2-Way Fit (tubeless) versions, and claimed weights are 1,435g per pair for the clinchers, and 1,515g for the 2-Way Fit version.

Prices are only available in Euros at the moment.

  • Shamal Ultra C17 2-Way Fit, front & rear, Campagnolo freehub: €1250.37
  • Shamal Ultra C17 2-Way Fit, front & rear, Shimano/SRAM freehub: €1255.75
  • Shamal Ultra C17 clincher, front & rear, Campagnolo freehub: €1201.92
  • Shamal Ultra C17 clincher, front & rear, Shimano/SRAM freehub: €1208.08