If a US patent application is to be believed, then Campagnolo could be working on its first wireless electronic groupset, possibly developing a new version of its EPS electronic shifting system to rival SRAM Red eTap, which is currently the only wireless groupset on the market.
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The patent application, which was filed in October, is for a “Bicycle Control Device and Method for Manufacturing It” shows a number of different designs for a new shifter, with two having a design where “the communication of commands is wireless” and “cables and connectors are absent”.
However, this shifter is clearly still in the very early stages of developement, with the only wires being removed from the shifters being those that connect the shifting buttons with the circuit board, and the only reference to how this signal would then be passed on to the derailleurs being that the circuit board in the wireless system would “contain more sophisticated electronics” than its wired counterpart.
The end of the thumb shifter?
As well as the possibility of Campagnolo embracing wireless shifting, the patent application also shows that the Italian company could soon do away with its tried-and-tested thumb shifter in future electronic groupsets, replacing it with a second button on the inside of the brake lever that would be pushed inwards in order to shift.
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When designing its first electronic EPS groupset, which was released in 2011, Campagnolo used the same ergonomics as used for its mechanical groupsets, with down shifts controlled by the shift lever behind the brake lever, and up shifts controlled by the thumb shifter that sticks out from the inside of the hoods.
However, although Campagnolo has always stressed the important of ergonomics in designing its shifters, and the shifters were undoubtedly simple to use when riding on the hoods, some riders, particularly those with smaller hands, would find it difficult to reach the thumb shifter when riding in the drops.
This new design seems to be Campagnolo fully embracing the benefits of electronic shifing, as SRAM did with its new Red eTap groupset. The American company moved away from the DoubleTap shift system that it used for its mechanical groupsets, instead coming up with a new system whereby you shifted up at the rear with the right lever, down at the rear with the left lever, and shifted the front derailleur by pressing both levers simultaneously.
Although the shifting process will remain largely the same, Campagnolo has also made provision for the new button to act as more than just a shift lever, saying that it could be used to control a “cyclocomputer or other electronic/electromechanical device” and it can also be reshaped so that it can be used on flat bars.
We have contacted Campagnolo for comment on its new shifter design, but have yet to receive a response.