Working on Campagnolo Power Torque cranks

11

by Mark V on Aug 19, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Athena "Power Torque" crankset

Once upon a time, I was an Italia-phile… I had an Italian bike with Italian saddle (Selle San Marco), Italian pedals (Diadora), Italian shoes (of course), a Northern Italian/Romanian girlfriend (gorgeous), and I had cycling components from one of the most revered names in the industry, Campagnolo. I could go on and on about the history and the mystique of the company founded by Tullio Campagnolo, but soooooo many others have already done it……. and I’m tired of drinking KoolAid.

I’m going to come right out and say that this is a ridiculous design. Essentially, Campagnolo tried to keep the aesthetics and bearings of their UltraTorque cranks (Record, SR, Centaur, etc) while ditching the UltraTorque’s central Hirth joint connection. The only plausible reason would be to lower the cost. On the other hand, using the same bearings and similar seals as the more expensive cranks is probably the worst decision, as the UltraTorue cranksets are prone to short bearing life. Much like the UltraTorque cranks, the PowerTorque cranks use a spring washer to preload the bearings, though the PowerTorque cranks use a much more substantial spring. Though the bearings seem to be identical to the more expensive cranks, they mount differently. UT cranks have a bearing press fit onto each half of the spindle between the Hirth joint and the crankarm. For both PT and UT cranks, a C-clip catches the drive side bearing into the cup, but the PT nondrive bearing is pressed into the cup instead of onto the spindle. Thus PT and UT bottom brackets are not interchangeable.

The left crankarm fits onto the splined spindle with a large fixing bolt. How large? It takes a 12mm allen wrench…..cause that’s convenient (for those of you who don’t touch bike tools, this statement is sarcasm). Oh, but the real fun is trying to remove the crankarm. That’s because the bolt is not self-extracting. Since the PT arm mimics the UT arm, there just isn’t enough room to contain a self-extractor like on SRAM road cranks. Instead, the Campagnolo instructs you to use their PowerTorque tool kit and a gear puller. I’m a bike mechanic, and I didn’t even know what a gear puller is….that’s because it’s a fucking automotive tool. And the so-called “tool kit” consists of a plug to insert into the end of the bb spindle (so to give the gear puller something to push against) and a thin cardboard pad so you don’t scratch your precious cranks where the gear puller grabs onto the back side of the arm. Except that the thin pad is still thick enough to prevent the claw of the gear puller to fit between the arm and cup. In fact, I had to sculpt/grind the gear puller to fit even without the pad.

It’s ironic that in the good ol’ days, Campagnolo used to make THE professional bicycle tool kit and now they make tools out of cardboard and crankarms that make cotter pins look sophisticated. The new Athena PT crankset is shiny silver alloy, which means that unsuspecting consumers will buy it because it looks retro compared to all the carbon cranks currently on the market. I would say that is a mistake on their part.

Campagnolo PowerTorque tool kit

Above is the so-called “tool kit” sold by Campagnolo for the PowerTorque cranks. Expensive and almost useless. I modified the plug with a central hole to catch the driver on the gear puller, prevent the puller from sliding off as I tensioned it.

Athena "Power Torque" crankset

Above you can see the C-clip that holds the drive side bearing in the cup and the spring washer that provides the bearing preload. Also, you can see the fixing bolt that requires a huge 12mm allen wrench to tighten.

Athena "Power Torque" crankset

The drive side bearing is pressed onto the crankarm spindle and further secured with a thin C-clip like the UltraTorque cranks. Also like the UT cranks, consumers who own PT cranks are likely not going to be able to change the bearings at home.

Athena "Power Torque" crankset

Athena "Power Torque" crankset

The bolt doesn’t self-extract the crankarm. Who the hell designed this? I had to buy automotive tools and then heavily modify them just to service the crank. Your typical home mechanic is just completely screwed.

Gear puller

modified gear puller for Campagnolo PowerTorque

Notice in the above shot how I’ve ground and then pseudo-polished the claw of the gear puller. I had to thin out the claw just get it on the crank.

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Comments: 11

Ha! Have you seen their video on Youtube?
http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=DvTM9tdS5tg

I wish others would pick up on how ridiculous Campagnolo has become.
I immediately double my labor prices when working on a modern Campy-equipped bicycle.

Not excited about their electronic shifting either and I was a Campy diehard for years. To me they were like Mac v. the PC with Shimano being the PC.

I do all my own wrenching but usually stick with mid-range components, aluminum and steel; however, in the next year or so I was planning to upgrade everything.

That being said, for the home mechanic, is Shimano the way to go? I’ve heard some things about SRAM that doesn’t make me want to go that direction either.

Weird stumbling on this one. Just rebuilt last week a Caad8 with new 7800 DA, and it was so easy, obvious, painless (well, with a little help from Shimano’s tech docs). Now tried to upgrade bits and bobs on my beautiful 2010 Chorus Merckx bike, and was stopped in my tracks by the toolset requirements and the complete lack of clarity of instructions. Even the brake pad replacement is a pain in the butt. and, you know what, even if the finish looks nice at first sight, when you look closely, their current stuff is not “better” put together than anything produced by Shimano at same range point.

In fact the last couple of weeks of bike fiddling made me stop dreaming of Tulio, and ruined my Italian bike fantasies. I stopped grinning at the “made in Japan” stamp on Shimano’s corporate data or even at the “made in Malaysia” of some of their boxes, and cannot remember why I was smirking at their fishing pages….

@Jacob

Campagnolo is definitely not the way to go, especially midrange.  If it was between SRAM Force or Ultegra, it’d be a hard choice, but I’d take Rival over 105.

SRAM definitely has the best warrantee service of the three. 

The days of rebuilding Ergopower shifters are OVER…they do not sell springs, cams, etc separately for the new shifters.

@Alan

7800 is soooo easy to work on, and in some respects works smoother than 7900.  Shimano, especially with DA 7900, does the most beautiful cold-forging on cranks…hands down the best ever.  I don’t care about silver polished finishes…look at the back side of the drive side arm….so precise and intricate

I have 2004 centaur and veloce stuff on my cross bike (shop detritus & ebay), but when it came time to build my new road bike, reading stuff like this kept me from going with new Campy. My SRAM Force groupset went together very easily (and I’m a novice mechanic) and I’m very happy with the performance.

Thanks Mark V.

I’ve heard they’ve got great warranty service, but I’ve also heard you have to take advantage of it more than the others. Definitely keep that in mind.

I agree. This is a ridiculous design. I paid over £20 for two central plugs and £7.99 for a piece of shaped cardboard that self destructed. It took me three attempts to remove the crank arm, including snapping one of the arms on my puller. Park tool now sell the tools (£50 for the removal kit) but you also have to buy the bearing puller (another £50).

Agree with all of the above - Campy has completely hosed the home wrench.  My Athena 11-speed drive train required about $200 in new tools (chain peener, crank puller, 14mm hex bit (not 12mm as stated above), T20 torx for the shifters, etc, etc).  I improvised cheap alternatives for some but it was still expensive and all for NO DISCERNIBLE DESIGN ADVANTAGE.  I want to like this stuff but they’re losing me…

I have a bike with an UT crank that has done me well for over 12000 miles of which I’ve removed a few times for servicing with no problems. But boy I think this power torque on my new bike was a bad move as after 1000 miles I’m sure it’s the crank that is making a funny noise after inspecting and ruling out every thing else. So off I a go and spend about £100 of my hard earned cash on the park tool CBP-5 and CBP-3, then watch park tool and campagnolo’s cool videos on u-tube of which it looks very simple to remove, then attempt to carry out the removal my self. Well I’m sure it works fine on a brand new crank in their workshop but you try it on a crank that has been on the bike for some time and more than likely got wet a few times, well let’s just say on first attempt the arm bent on crank extractor and the plastic moulding split, crank movement zero. Then on the second attempt with the fibre boards for the carbon arms (would not recommend every trying to remove a carbon arm with these tools) the hole thing fell to pieces and marked the alloy arm, crank movement ZERO!

@Dean Rose
I’ve had the same creaking noise, so have a few other people.

Take a look at this
http://forums.roadbikereview.com/campagnolo/campagnolo-power-torque-crank-veloce-centaur-athena-creak-click-read-291170.html Also .the long thread linked to on there

also the thread linked to there. I think the fundamental problem is the weak wave washer. Interested to see that Mark V at the top here has the same wave washer as me, in late 2011. The washer is ridiculously weak, I can squash mine flat between finger and thumb.

I have spent 3 months trying to convince Campy there’s a problem!!!! My crank is now in Italy, the UK guy didn’t want to know, he kept telling me it was a frame problem. I have spent so much time and money.

Campag factory spec says it should take 17 kg to compress the spring to 1.9 mm tall. Mine takes 5 kg!

PS I totally agree about the crank removal, it sucks more than anything else I have ever done on my bike. I too have marked my cranks. I DEFINITELY would not remove a carbon arm. It gets a bit easier when you have done it a few times, I have probably done it 20-30 times during diagnosis of the creak :) :)

I am back on square taper cartridge - wonderful

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