Why do you hate me, Valentino?

Dear Valentino Campagnolo,

I know it’s been a while since I loved you, when I had all Campagnolo on my bike, but why do you hate me now? I’ve heard ugly rumours that you’re planning on introducing 11 speed cassettes and shifters for 2009!

My first road bike was a 1994 Specialized Allez with Veloce components, but I scrimped up enough cash to upgrade the Ergopowers to Record. Eventually I had a Bianchi EL/OS with full Record two years later. But then everyone went 9sp and you abandoned me. Suddenly my shifters, derailleurs, and hubs were obsolete with the new 9 speed systems.

That’s when I turned to Dura Ace 7700…sleeker, more daring. Don’t say it’s because I like Asians! The cranks were stunning and the new STI just fit in my hands better. And not nearly so expensive to get replacement parts. Hell, Dura Ace didn’t mind if I used a 8 speed Ultegra derailleur as a back up.

Then you, Campagnolo…you came out with 10 speed. Okay, I’ll give it to you: I didn’t think it could be done and you proved me wrong. And yes, when Dura Ace went 10 sp, I decided to follow. But you gotta admit, cassette and chain lifespans are WAY down from previously. I still don’t think that anyone has yet made a truly satisfactory 10 sp chain, though my Dura Ace 7900 might be ready to nail it.

Now I work at a bike shop, and for the last five years you have been making my life hell with your never-ending revisions to your derailleurs and cranks. I really don’t want to have to stock your $600 cranks because they could go out-of-style without a moment’s notice. And front derailleurs? I can’t even begin to keep track. Why do you do this to me?

And now I hear that you’re gonna wedge one more cog onto the current cassette body? Alright, I’ll hold off from saying it can’t be done, but you can’t keep doing this. Every time you need attention, you can’t just keep adding cogs. I’d even be open to your electronic shifter set-up….of course, I suspect that my Dura Ace will beat ya.

No doubt you’ll demand that I sell only the newly revised Record 11 derailleurs, chainrings, shifters, and probably those $600 cranks. Well, if it wasn’t 11 sp I’m sure it would have been something else to make my inventory prematurely obsolete.

But a 5.5mm wide chain… I just don’t feel good about this.

still not yours after 11 years,

Mark V


word—one of my SRAM tests was to swap cassettes in and out with DA. I didn’t believe any of my homies that said it could be done, until I did it myself. Yes, yes, you could switch between DA/Campy cassettes but with some issues.

Now, these manufactures just need to get it together with interoperability and standards. SRAM did it and even a mechanical idiot like me can swap out wheels and cassettes all day long. Using the old Mac/PC comparison, I’m running XP on my Mac right now and it works nearly flawlessly . . . Bike Industry, let’s do the f’ing same. If Time can accept a three-hole look pattern, I think Campy can go with a universal cassette body and save us all a lot of hassle.

A 5.5mm chain? You’ve got to be kidding! Just say no unless you want to do a David Millar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqTKaDmUr1w)...

I’ve never ran a Shimano chain—always a wipperman or sachs with a masterlink.

Miller’s performance was almost as good as the time he laid his number on the finish line in the Veulta and refused to cross it.

Since they don’t seem to care for standards anyhow, why not just increase the o.l.d. to 135 and cram 12 or 13 cogs in, keeping the current chain?

No, wait. Go to 144 or 151 o.ld. frames and hubs for added confusion and proprietary-ness!

Shimano’s got patents out to 14.  The insanity continues.

Upping the OLD will leave most riders SOL.  Campy would be happy to sell you the new wheel, or at least a new hub, but they don’t make frames, and you’ll need a new one because the only existing bikes that would work are the handful of CX bikes with mountain spacing, and the small sliver of roadies on steel bikes who don’t sneer at integrated levers, nine speed systems and outboard bearings.

Since there’s a lot of inertia around 130mm, you could try making a wider cassette and wiggle 12 or more gears on, but that would require new freehubs and kludgy spacers for 10 speed systems, if the system was even compatible.  You’d have new chainline issues, the hub flanges would have to be spaced more tightly, and you would end up sacrificing weight and/or stiffness in the wheel to make up for it.

Nobody is proclaiming 10s chains and cassettes to be the pinnacle of durability, but Campy’s way of making this upgrade is the only way to do it.  Nobody will tolerate more radical changes for one stupid gear, and I’m not entirely sure you can sell me on 11s for even the limited sacrifice it demands.

... but now who’s being a retrogrouch?

“the new STI just fit in my hands better. And not nearly so expensive to get replacement parts.”

Where do you get replacement parts for those door knob brifters?


i meant parts in general rather than the STI specifically.  have you seen the price of campy cassettes? do you know how much a barrel adjuster for a chorus rear derailleur is? Shimano costs way less for parts and there are a lot more distribution routes too.

i have to say, at the 10sp generation, i don’t see a whole lot of STI failure that doesn’t involve a roof rack and a car park, whereas Ergopowers (non-Escape) definitely wear out and need those replacement parts. 

as for the new Escape-style Ergopower (Centaur and below), the shifting may be competent but the speed and ergonomics are a big step back.  still, i haven’t seen any in need of replacement parts yet, but they’ve only been on the market for a short time.

Champs, I was mostly kidding, for the reasons you cite. However, we somehow went from 1” to 1-1/8” headsets, and from 120 to 126 to 130 (or something like that, I might be missing some steps). When I consider mountain bikes and various through-axles(plus adapters to make those wheels QR if you want) for the front, plus the 150mm through axle standard for the rear, plus various tandem standards, I wouldn’t be surprised for campy to start sellin 11 speed 151 OLD wheelsets.

Frames could be standard 151 spacing, and a whole new slew of adapters would be created to make old 130mm wheelsets work with all the new frames, until 151 OLD trickles down to tiagra, etc. Hell, tourers and those with 29ers would probably welcome the change. Or not.

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