Campagnolo has taken direct aim at Shimano Ultegra with the new Campagnolo Potenza groupset, a groupset that it says offers all the performance of the highly-impressive Ultegra offering, but with “a little added soul”.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
To do this, Campagnolo Potenza has been given many of the same technologies as the higher end Super Record, Record, and Chorus groupsets, but with the aluminium construction of Athena and Veloce in order to keep the cost down. This will mean that it will sit below Chorus and above Athena, providing the mid-point of Campagnolo’s six-tier groupset range.
Campagnolo Potenza inherits the Revolution 11+ technology that was introduced into the Super Record, Record, and Chorus groupsets back in 2014, although what this means in practice varies from component to component. However, it is also the first Campagnolo groupset to be made available with a 32 tooth sprocket and a long cage derailleur, with the Italian brand previously offering 29 tooth as the biggest option.
Pricing for the whole groupset is yet to be announced (although Campagnolo told us that it will be similar to Shimano Ultegra, but with a small premium “for its soul”). However, the main intention of this groupset is to allow Campagnolo to regain ground in the OEM market (i.e. the groupset that you get when you buy a complete bike), an area which SRAM and, in particular, Shimano have dominated.
The star of the show on any groupset is the rear derailleur, so we’ll start there. Like many of the other components on Campagnolo Potenza, the rear derailleur looks very similar to those on higher end Campagnolo groupsets. It doesn’t have the red flashes on the graphics like Super Record or Record, but the basic shape is the same.
Up close and despite the black anodising, its clear that the rear derailleur is made from aluminium rather than the carbon of Super Record, Record, and Chorus, but the construction and technologies are the same.
Buyer’s guide to road bike groupsets
The rear derailleur uses what Campagnolo calls “embrace technology”, which limits the rotation of the rear derailleur and moves it closer to the cassette, meaning that the chain is engaged with one or two more teeth on the cassette. According to Campagnolo, this means better power transfer and less wear on the chain and cassette.
However, the big story with the Campagnolo Potenza rear derailleur is that it is has been optimised for larger cassettes and is available with either a short or long cage. The long cage will still work with cassettes with a largest sprocket of 32t, while the limit for the short cage is 29t.
The Campagnolo Potenza front derailleur also has a similar shape to those on higher end Campagnolo groupsets, although with a different construction. Unlike the rear derailleur, it is not predominantly aluminium, coming with a one piece steel cage.
However, aesthetics aside, Campagnolo says that the front derailleur will offer the same shifting performance as its more expensive offerings, and offers “10 per cent smoother shifting fluidity” compared to Shimano Ultegra.
As you can probably guess by now, the Campagnolo Potenza shifters are rather similar to those on the company’s higher-end groupsets, but with an aluminium brake lever and composite shift levers
The lever ergonomics, that have been so lauded on other Campagnolo groupsets over the years, are the unchanged from the Italian company’s existing groupsets. However there has been a small alteration to the hoods, which are slightly rounder on the tops to improve comfort for those who ride with their hands on the very tops of the hoods.
The internal mechanism has received more of an overhaul, which Campagnolo says reduces the effort to move from the small ring to the big ring with the front derailleur. The system also inherits the multi shift function of higher Campagnolo groupsets, allowing it to shift up to three gears at a time.
Aesthetically, there’s little to tell the crankset apart from its more expensive cousins. The four-arm spider design that was introduced into Super Record, Record, and Chorus in 2014 has made its way down to this aluminium groupset. According to Campagnolo, this design makes the Campagnolo Potenza crankset the stiffest aluminium crankset on the market, and must also make it the best-looking too.
The crankset is compatible with 53/39t, 52/36t and 50/34t chainrings, all of which are made from aluminium, with the only part of the system that isn’t aluminium being the steel Power Torque + axle. Campagnolo has also come up with a new internal mechanism that should make removing the crankset much easier.
The Campagnolo Potenza cassette is not intended to be used solely with Potenza, but is actually an entirely new “Campagnolo 11” cassette range. This means that it can be used with any of Campagnolo’s other 11-speed groupsets.
There are five different gear combinations available – 11-32t, 11-25t, 11-27t, 11-29t, and 12-27t – with the 11-32t being the only cassette that will currently only work with Campagnolo Potenza due to the lack of long arm rear derailleur’s in the company’s other groupsets.
Finally, the brakes have the same skeleton structure that is present throughout the Campagnolo range. However Campagnolo has also developed a new brake compound for better braking performance and decreased rim and pad wear.
Pricing and Availability
At its launch in early March, Campagnolo was not able to give precise details of either UK pricing or availability of Campagnolo Potenza. The only details the company were willing to give were that the pricing would be similar to Shimano Ultegra which costs but with a small premium “for being Campagnolo”. However a complete Shimano Ultegra groupset has an RRP of £750 in the UK, while the European pricing of Campagnolo Potenza is €904 (roughly £705), so we’ll have to see if such a premium makes it into the final pricing.
Availibility is just as up in the air, with Campagnolo only saying that Potenza would be available “fairly soon”. We’ll report back with further details as soon as we get them.