With its Super Record EPS 12-speed groupset, Campagnolo has polished its design and created a groupset that works brilliantly, but is at its best when you're on the drops attacking
Looks and style
Disc brake feel and power
Tactile feel of the shifters and shifting
Thumb shifters can be difficult to reach
The Campagnolo Super Record groupset doesn't just occupy an alcove in the cycling hall of fame as much as have a whole antechamber named after it.
So it's no surprise that, while the EPS version on test here with its 12 gears and electronic shifting might add a modern twist on an otherwise Italian classic, it's still one of the most desired products available – and for good reason.
Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed: My setup
My test groupset came equipped with a 52/36 crankset and an 11-29 cassette. It is possible to get the groupset with a 50/34 and a 54/39 crankset as well as an 11-32 cassette if you want a greater range of gears.
I also opted for disc brakes as I prefer the more powerful stoppers and have been keen to give them a proper test – which you can read further down the page. Of course, a rim brake version is also available should you prefer a more classic feel.
Putting the groupset on to my Basso Diamante test bike wasn't as easy as setting up a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset. A couple of the more fiddly bits, for example plugging the EPS cables into the hoods required a couple of extra hands and lots of grunting.
Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed: Design
If Tulio Campagnolo were alive today he'd be slack-jawed at just how far Campagnolo's design expertise has come.
Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset's crankset has a beautiful, sleek uni-directional carbon finish, the same as the mechanical 12-speed groupset. According to the Italian brand the glossy shine is laid up in the carbon fibre to protect it from UV's rays. While it might assume we're all lucky enough to ride in the sun drenched hills of Italy, there's no denying it's a beautiful design, probably my favourite of all the groupset makers and it's a great modern take on the classic Campag look.
Whereas SRAM and Shimano position its gear levers all on the side of the lever, Campag's distinctive hood design places the up shifters as thumb paddles in the inside and the down shifters on the levers on the out. It's part of a 'one button one shift philosophy' that's distinct from other major groupset makers and, in my experience, is better for when riding aggressively.
The big news is the addition of the 12th gear and Campagnolo has incorporated it in the same way that it incorporated it on to its mechanical groupset: via a slimmed down chain, cassette and derailleurs. Previous Campag wheel owners (or those that use the Campy freehub standard) can rejoice as the brand has also slimmed down the cassette to fit the existing standard.
The front derailleur carries the motor and communication system on top which adds a lot of height to the unit whereas the rear derailleur accommodates it within the derailleur for a cleaner look. Both derailleurs are in constant communication and will re-centre the chain line with a re-assuring buzz.
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That's about the only time you'll hear an electronic noise with Campagnolo's EPS though, and for the best part the shifting has a very mechanical and tactile feel to it. It's different to, say, Shimano's Di2, which has very little lever movement, small clicks and more 'bzzts'.
Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed: Performance
Campagnolo was the first to sound the 12-speed cannon, but compared to SRAM's slightly off the wall approach to its eTAP AXS groupset - and the subsequent re-evaluation of gear ratios - Campagnolo trod a more moderate route.
By adding the 12th gear it has created smaller jumps between the sprockets on the cassette, and it's now single tooth jumps up to the seventh sprocket. There's no denying that that's an altogether less revolutionary approach to gearing than SRAM's, but having buried some decent kilometres into the new Italian groupset I firmly believe it's better to view Campag's 12-speed groupset as the perfection of what works for the brand and that's racing.
On the road, these single tooth jumps feel brilliant. The one tooth changes are buttery smooth and it feels like you always have the right gear at hand. It's especially true on long climbs or ascents of a more gentle gradient, with the changes taking far less of a toll on the legs and never interrupting your rhythm. The harder you ride, the more you appreciate the easing on the legs of a small gear change, or the ability to lay down more power without shifting too far.
The hood design encourages riders to spend time on the drops as the down shifter is more accessible from that position.
However, I'm not the most aggressive rider, I spend most of my time on a bike riding long distances with few changes of pace. For this reason, I spend little time on the drops and more time on the tops, making a hood design like Shimano's better suited to my riding style. That said, there's no denying that the groupset feels at its best when you're hammering along hunched over.
Furthermore, Campagnolo's multi-shift technology - the ability to shift five gears at a time up or down the cassette - carries over to the EPS version. Because of the electronics, dunking five gears at a time doesn't quite have the same rifle fire like sound to it but it is useful following descents into sharp rises.
Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed: Disc brakes
Personally, I prefer the hood size and style of Shimano's Di2 and hydraulic hoods. These are the same size as it's rim brake and Di2 equivalent and in comparison, Campagnolo's EPS hydraulic hoods are 8mm taller than its rim brake counterpart (it houses the master cylinder) and don't look as neat as Shimano's. I will admit, though, that 8mm does give a bit of extra hood room to use as an aero position.
However, where Campag challenge Shimano's disc brakes is in their performance. I think the lever feel certainly rival's Shimano's and in my experience is better than SRAM's. The double curve gives more leverage when descending on the drops and as a result, the ability to scrub speed going to corners is excellent.
The levers are also adjustable inwards and outwards with a 3mm Allen Key for a different reach and feel. It's rider preference, but the five minutes I spent getting my position just right was worth it for the extra comfort and confidence on descents.
On prolonged descents there was a juddering from the callipers but it never affected the brakes' performance. There was none of the squealing that I had experienced on previous outings in Gran Canaria (I suspect heat build played a part) or when riding with SRAM's brakes in the wet.
Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed: Weights and prices
The full RRP of Campagnolo's Super Record EPS 12-speed groupset is a whopping £4,108 making it the most expensive top end groupset on the market. If that's a bit too much to stomach, then the good news is that both Campagnolo's Record and even Centaur groupsets have now been endowed with a 12th gear.
Rear derailleur 234g
Ergopower shifters 381g
Front derailleur 132g
EPS external interface 33g
EPS internal interface 11g
Threaded BB cups 43g
Press-fit BB cups 40g
Caliper x 1 118g
Rotor x 1 99g
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