Once-elu­sive Ro­tors and a Myth­i­cal Crea­ture Re­vealed

Cam­pag­nolo builds on tra­di­tion with hy­draulic disc brakes and a new al­loy gruppo

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - By Philippe Trem­blay

Cam­pag­nolo builds on tra­di­tion with hy­draulic disc brakes and a new al­loy gruppo

With pre­ci­sion and con­fi­dence, I mod­u­lated the levers on Cam­pag­nolo’s new hy­draulic disc-brake sys­tem. It was one of the most re­fined speed-scrub­bing ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve had as I nav­i­gated the many hair­pin turns on the long de­scent. In Gran Ca­naria, the moun­tains seem to rise out of the At­lantic Ocean. It’s a great place for a first ride with a new set of com­po­nents.

Cam­pag­nolo is steeped in tra­di­tion. Its el­e­gant com­po­nents have com­fort­able er­gonomics and pre­cise ac­tion. These traits also fea­ture in the H11 hy­draulic disc-brake parts, which can add ro­tors to Su­per Record, Record and Cho­rus me­chan­i­cal shift­ing sys­tems and Su­per Record eps and Record eps elec­tronic groupsets. Potenza, Campy’s alu­minum group re­leased in 2016, also gets a set of hy­draulic disc levers and uses the same calipers, ro­tors (avail­able in 160-mm front and 160- or 140-mm rear) and or­ganic brake pads as the H11. The hy­draulic setup has its own H11 crankset, which has an ad­justed chain­line. It’s op­ti­mized for the 142-mm rear spac­ing on disc bikes and doesn’t change the crank’s Q-fac­tor. On the H11, shift­ing per­for­mance, feed­back and feel are the same as its rim-brake coun­ter­parts, but it of­fers in­creased brak­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The com­pany has been de­vel­op­ing its disc brakes for three years. In 2016, it re­vealed that the brakes were in the works, but not ready for the pub­lic. Campy con­sulted with Magura in the de­sign of the mas­ter cylin­der, pis­tons and hy­draulics, which use min­eral oil. The forged-alu­minum matte-black calipers are sub­tle on the bike. Cam­pag­nolo has used phe­no­lic resin for the pis­tons and a stain­less-steel brake track on the ro­tors to re­duce heat buildup in the sys­tem. The levers get 8 mm of ex­tra height com­pared with rim-brake Er­gopower levers. I found that height and the in­ward curve at the tops of the hoods make for a com­fort­able hand­hold when I’m in an ag­gres­sive po­si­tion.

Cam­pag­nolo didn’t rush the re­lease its disc brakes. It took its time di­al­ing in the per­for­mance with the help of pro­fes­sional rid­ers and tests in the Campy lab. “Our mis­sion state­ment is to be the pin­na­cle, not the first,” ex­plained Joshua Rid­dle, Cam­pag­nolo’s press man­ager. The com­pany’s mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Lorenzo Taxis echoed that sen­ti­ment when he said, “By reach­ing the

mar­ket the last, we need to be at the top level.”

My ride not only had the H11 disc brakes and Su­per Record de­railleurs, but the new Bora One DB wheelset. Fea­tur­ing the G3 spoke pat­tern on both front and rear to deal with the asym­met­ric forces ap­plied by the disc brakes, a 24.2-mm ex­ter­nal rim width, usb hy­brid ce­ramic bear­ings, al­loy hubs and 12-mm thru axles, the wheels climbed and de­scended beau­ti­fully, re­ally pulling the build on the Sarto frame to­gether. Dur­ing that ses­sion, Cam­pag­nolo also an­nounced the Shamal Ul­tra DB disc-spe­cific al­loy wheelset.

In early spring when Campy made its disc-brake sys­tems avail­able for first-ride im­pres­sion, the com­pany also de­buted some­thing slightly myth­i­cal. Cen­taur is Cam­pag­nolo’s new gruppo, which, like Potenza, is al­loy. To com­pare it with Shi­mano’s lineup, Cen­taur has a role sim­i­lar to 105. The Cen­taur front and rear de­railleur, levers, cas­sette, chain, crank, bot­tom bracket and brakes will cost $970, roughly $300 more than an equiv­a­lent Shi­mano 105 bun­dle.

The new group borrows heav­ily from Cam­pag­nolo’s other Revo­lu­tion 11 groupsets in it fea­tures. The Er­gopower shifters have the same “one lever, one ac­tion” func­tion­al­ity (one for up­shift­ing and one for down­shift­ing). The ex­cel­lent er­gonomics on the hoods and levers al­ways made me think, “My hands just be­long here,” more so than any other hoods I have rid­den.

“Cam­pag­nolo is not in the busi­ness of dumb­ing down any prod­uct,” Rid­dle said. “The Cen­taur groupset ran through the ex­act same paces as the top-end groupsets. The only thing that is chang­ing is the ma­te­rial used and its em­ploy­ment. We wanted to of­fer an ac­ces­si­ble groupset with­out of­fer­ing en­try-level per­for­mance.”

As with the com­pany’s hopes with Potenza, Campy aims to place Cen­taur on com­plete bikes in shops. “When peo­ple would hand-pick ev­ery com­po­nent on their bikes, more times than not, they’d pick Cam­pag­nolo,” Rid­dle said. “How­ever, nowa­days peo­ple pick bikes by the frame and the groupset be­comes kind of an af­ter­thought.” Cen­taur, as well as the H11, is set to ar­rive in Canada in Au­gust.

Af­ter rid­ing the new groupset equipped with the new Scirocco wheels, which paired per­fectly with Cen­taur, I ap­pre­ci­ated how nicely Cam­pag­nolo’s top-end fea­tures car­ried over onto the more ac­ces­si­ble com­po­nen­try. The shift ac­tion on Cen­taur feels fast and pre­cise, much like Cam­pag­nolo’s higher-end of­fer­ings. A key fea­ture that was wel­come on the long climbs of Gran Ca­naria is the Cen­taur’s rear de­railleur, which can ac­com­mo­date a cas­sette with a 32-tooth cog. It’s a fine sys­tem not only for en­try-level rid­ers, but for any­one af­ter qual­ity per­for­mance parts.

“By reach­ing the mar­ket the last, we need to be at the top level.”

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