SRAM, Shimano or Campagnolo? Here's what our staff prefers and why

Opinion is divided among cyclists at large as to which is the better groupset. In our office, though, there's a clear favorite

CW Asks
(Image credit: Ben Delaney)

"CW asks" is a feature series where our seasoned staff answers a range of questions. The series isn't just about delivering knowledge; it's a chance for us to share a bit of our personality and our passion with you. As we dive into some questions, please feel free to send in some questions of your own to

Previous Questions:

Question 9:  SRAM, Shimano or Campagnolo - which do you prefer?

Vern Pitt, News and Features Editor

The all-new 12-speed SRAM Apex AXSVern Pitt

(Image credit: SRAM)

First off, I've never actually ridden Campagnolo and have always been put off by the thumb shifters as I have the hands of a watchmaker and fear I'd not be able to shift up from the drops. I'm very partial to the double tap system of SRAM and I've had it on several bikes over the years but I've also found that the gears tend to go out more easily than Shimano — a product I assume of the pull ratio of one to one while Shimano's is two to one. 

So on balance I'd go with Shimano (all my bikes are mechanical) as it's just so supremely reliable and its ubiquity make any fixes in far flung locations more do-able as the bike shop probably has the spares you need. 

Hannah Bussey, Technical Writer

Shimano Ultegra R8100hannah hussey

(Image credit: Shimano)

Shimano for me. Campagnolo was always ruled out of my life sort of due to the price, but also because of the thumb shift. My small hands never could comfortably reach the little leaver when in the drops, which is normally where you are when banging back down a cassette. 

In my opinion, SRAM road has never nailed the mid- or lower-end range groupsets, and I’ve always been frustrated with the pregnant pause shifting on either Force or Rival. That said, SRAM has often been my go-to for my mountain bikes, finding that the mid-range versions fare well in the mud. 

Anna Abram, Fitness Features Editor

Gravel Groupset Review: AXS v GRX v EkarAnna Abram Fitness Features

(Image credit: Ben Delaney)

To be honest, I’m pretty torn between them all! I really like how simple SRAM’s AXS electronic shifting is: one paddle for up, one for down, together to switch rings —super simple and very easy even with thick gloves. Going back a bit now, I also really liked SRAM’s mechanical groupsets, the DoubleTap shifting was really punchy and satisfying. 

Then again, as I do spend most of my time on Shimano, shifting on those mechanical groupsets does just feel the most simple and natural way to shift. The shifts also feel buttery smooth, both at the front and at the rear. Di2 is yet another step up in crispness, but it’s the mechanical shifting I have the greatest affiliation for — as I use it the most.

And Campagnolo. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used Campagnolo’s road groupsets, but I spent a reasonable amount of time on Ekar. I was really impressed by the spread of the gears and the ‘definite’ feeling shifts — very satisfying and quite similar to what I like about SRAM DoubleTap. I did have some issues with the setup and getting the cable tension ‘just-so’ - I very much think it’s best for performance or a deep enthusiast than an ‘everyday’ groupset.

So Shimano is my ultimate preference — those thousands of hours spent on the groupsets have hard-baked them into my muscle memory! But I am very fond of the others too!

Joe Baker, Tech Writer

Shimano UltegraJoe Baker

(Image credit: Shimano)

When it comes to groupsets, there is one clear winner, and it's Shimano. While in recent years a 'bad' groupset has become increasingly harder to find, I still think the Japanese component giant sits well and truly on top of the pile when it comes to quality. 

Shimano Di2 shifting is more crisp than SRAM's AXS alternatives, even if it is slightly more expensive. Then there is the braking performance: Shimano brakes provide more modulation. If that isn't enough, Shimano uses mineral oil as opposed to DOT fluid, which can be pretty nasty to handle if you are bleeding your own brakes. 

Campagnolo does provide great build quality as well as a level of bling that Shimano struggles to offer, but for reliable crisp shifting, it has to be Shimano.

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