The entry level groupset from one of the oldest names in the business, but Campagnolo Veloce does a lot more than just trade on past glories

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Pros:

  • Beautifully constructed
  • Very impressive operation
  • Excellent value for money
  • Campagnolo quality

Cons:

  • No skeletal brakes or carbon highlights
  • Only a compact chainset
  • No 11-speed

Product:

Campagnolo Veloce groupset review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£432.99

Compared to the omnipresent Shimano groupsets, finding any Campagnolo components fitted to a mainstream road bicycle is something of a novelty. And if you do find it attached to an off-the-shelf bike, chances are that bike will be from an Italian brand.

There are a number of reasons why this situation has developed. Shimano’s quality and reputation is of course one. But, more practically, it’s because the vast majority of modern bikes are manufactured and built in the Far East. It costs a lot less and makes a lot more sense to use Shimano components — which are made on the bike factories’ doorsteps — than to bring Italian kit halfway around the world, only to send it back to Europe once it’s been attached to a bicycle.

The result for the consumer and Campagnolo is mixed. The relative scarcity of Campagnolo-shod bikes in a way helps to reinforce the almost artisan aura surrounding the company’s products. But it also means that, compared to Shimano, Campagnolo users are far fewer in number, and tend to be more experienced riders. However, none of this is necessarily a reflection on the performance or even the price of Campagnolo equipment itself, least of all in the case of Veloce.

Tale of the tape

Veloce is Campagnolo’s less expensive groupset and in relative terms, if you were to buy a Veloce groupset on its own, it’s only a little more expensive than Shimano Tiagra, and almost £100 less than SRAM Apex. When it comes to complete bikes, you can expect to see it on anything from sub-£1,000 machines to relatively exotic carbon wonders approaching £2,000.

Not surprisingly, considering Campagnolo’s reputation for producing very pretty products, it doesn’t actually look out of place on higher-end bikes. That said, unlike Campagnolo’s higher-end groupsets, which tend to go big on carbon components, Veloce doesn’t have even a hint of composite parts, although almost everything else lives up to Campagnolo standards. The rear derailleur is a beautifully sculpted bit of kit; the chainset’s appearance is classically simple; and the integrated Ergopower levers use Campagnolo’s typical PowerShift mechanism, where a thumb button clicks the chain down, while an inward sweep of a paddle behind the brake lever pushes the chain up.

Campagnolo Veloce lever

Campagnolo Veloce levers use the brand’s typical PowerShift mechanism

I said almost everything lives to Campagnolo’s standards; there are a few slight disappointments. All Campagnolo’s superior groupsets feature the Italian brand’s very sexy skeletal brakes with their lightweight calliper arms. Veloce’s aluminium calipers are very nice, but they don’t employ such notable design. And Campagnolo was the first major component manufacturer to offer 11 sprockets at the rear. Now all but one of its groupsets are 11-speed — and it’s Veloce that misses out.

Campagnolo Veloce brake calliper

Campagnolo Veloce brake calliper: different to higher end options

In gearing terms, at least at the back, Veloce keeps at least one eye on Campagnolo’s racing tradition and only offers a biggest possible sprocket of 29 teeth. That’s not terrible news on the last hard climb of a sportive, but it’s also not quite as easy to live with as the 32t options found on most Shimano and SRAM set-ups. Despite that relatively conservative approach, Veloce only comes with a compact chainset. A choice of a standard double would be nice for old-school racers on a budget.

Campagnolo Veloce gear sprockets

Campagnolo Veloce gear sprockets: 29t is your biggest option

Italian class

A lot of discourse about Campagnolo’s components tends to focus on the brand’s heritage and sympathy for aesthetic qualities, so it would be quite understandable for a new, modern rider to wonder if practical performance is overlooked. In operation, though, modern Campagnolo groupsets are far from being boutique nostalgia trips.

As a case in point, Veloce gears really do shift beautifully. Many riders appreciate the fact that Campagnolo utilises two distinct hand movements for gear changes — because of which muscle memory takes over particularly quickly when operating Campagnolo’s gear shift mechanism — and clicking the thumb button to drop into smaller cogs is a very satisfying, snappy experience. The general feel of the hoods is suitably pleasing, too. In your palm it all seems just a little more svelte — refined even — than Shimano or SRAM.

Slightly less impressive, the up-shift paddle feels a bit floppy in relation to regimented Shimano levers, although you soon get used to it. Compared to Shimano Tiagra, Veloce might be just a tad less enthusiastic to move to an easier gear when you ask it to change under load — ie, when you’re climbing — but it’s only a slight difference. Both front and rear derailleurs are otherwise very impressive considering the price, and their crisp changes actually add a small sense of sportiness to the rest of a bike’s performance.

Finally one small advantage of Campagnolo’s system is that the brake lever itself cannot pivot laterally. In truth, the fact that Shimano levers can move laterally is rarely an annoyance, but when your concentration is at its limits on very tricky descents, knowing the controls you have in a death grip are completely secure seems just a little more reassuring.

Verdict

Veloce might not offer all the refinements and exotic ingredients you’d normally find on Campagnolo products, but don’t let that put you off. In simple usability terms it can mount a very strong challenge against its closest rival groupsets from Shimano and SRAM. It works well, it looks great, it’s surprisingly good value considering it’s a European-made product, and even at this end of the market the Campagnolo name still conjures a little magic.

  • Lars Uellendahl

    To the contrary, I think the brakes are a highlight. They are lighter and HALF the price of 105, and seem to be even better quality as well! And I thought 105 was meant to be the best value group kicking ’round.
    The finish and bolts, etc. are absolutely top notch.
    Compared to the skeleton brake models, which are many times more expensive, only save a bit of weight, fill up with crap, and probably represent the biggest the biggest step back in terms of aerodynamics of a single component ever!
    Verdict: best value brakes. No need to bother with Tektro or other budget offerings when you can get Veloce at these prices.

  • Adrian Warren

    1 plus side of non skeletal brakes is they don’t fill with road rubbish and followed by cleaning them out with a tiny brush. For the carbon side of things you got to weigh up the extra cost and only a few grams saving here and there, I’m not saying the carbon looks bad but at £499.99 and 2.454kg to £934.99 2.353kg About £350 for around 100g (according to the review, and prices have changed).

  • ron draycott

    I’ve done around 6,000 miles on a Veloce groupset now and it has been faultless. Why would you buy Shimano? But what a shame Chorus 2015 is so hideous. It looks like Duraace.

  • NitroFan

    I agree wholeheartedly!

    I am currently saving up for my new ride and was going to go for Campag Chorus but have now decided to go for the 220 grm heavier Athena because I can have it all in polished metal and it’s STILL lighted than an Ultegra group set!

  • NitroFan

    I think the original poster might have intended it as back handed sarcasm!

  • Terence Butt

    Not mentioned, is, if you pull the up shift paddle backwards and across at same time it will up shift 3 gears at once. Ideal for that hill approaching and works well.

  • Rich Garland

    Using Veloce shifters with SRAM rival 22 wifli rear mech and SRAM red front .
    I really like the action and are very comfortable on the hoods .
    Got mine from Ribble for £60 with discount and at that price its a no brainer!

  • Atle K

    How can it be cons for zero “carbon highlights” and “skeletal brakes” ?
    I like these brakes, looks smooth and classic.

    I absolute despite carbon, looks ugly, inflates the price and when it breaks it’ll be ridiculous expensive. All that just to save few grams?

    I am waiting for the day when Campagnolo realize that the silverized/polished aluminium can be gorgeous, taking the past into the future.

    Say NO to carbon! 🙂

  • Brian Sutton

    I meant it’s a pro as in “pros and cons”. A pro is an ADvantage, a con is a DISadvantage. I think the guest writing the post got it mixed up judging by the content of the comment.

  • István Fedor

    That’s a pro. mostly due to the lightweight ergos-calipers-crankset.

  • Brian Sutton

    Ditto, that is a pro, not a con!!

  • Brian Sutton

    That’s a pro, you mean!!

  • Cyclo

    Another con of the Veloce groupset worth mentioning is the weight, at 2,454 grams it is lighter than the 105 5700 (10 speed) and 5800 (11 speed) groupsets that weigh 2,624 and 2,682 grams respectively.