It's a tremendous honor to be able to bring you one of the first real ride reports for the new Campagnolo Super Record Wireless 12-speed groupset.
We've had the good fortune to work closely with Campagnolo on a few projects over the years, like launching the Super Record 11-speed Campagnolo group over a decade ago and, more recently, the EKAR group and the Levante and Bora WTO wheels. And while we did have the EKAR group and wheels in hand pre-launch, being able to hit the road ahead of press day with Campagnolo's highly anticipated hero product, the Super Record Wireless 12-speed groupset, sure does shift things up a few gears.
When I first saw the new Super Record Wireless group in person a few months ago, I thought the derailleurs were huge. I was also bummed about the lack of the thumb shifter (spoiler, that's history). And I didn't understand why the lights on the derailleur blinked so much.
My team can also tell you that when we got our test group at Above Category last week, direct from Campy in Italy, I was still upset by how large the derailleurs were when holding them in my hand. Very upset.
Now, if I left it at that, I'm sure you'd all be thinking this is the last launch we'd be working with Campagnolo on. But then I took the new Super Record Wireless system for a spin.
On test day, I came into the shop and, thanks to Robert and Dane, found my Sarto Seta ready to roll with the Super Record Wireless groupset. We couldn't get too picky with the spec of the group as there are not many available, so this is how we built things up.
OUR SUPER RECORD WIRELESS BUILD
172.5 cranks with a 48X32 combo for the rings
140mm rotors front and rear
Ceramicspeed BB (more on that in a bit)
Campagnolo Levante wheels
Challenge Strade Bianca tires, 700X33 in TLR
Garmin Rally RS200 pedals
SRM PC8 head unit
Looking at the bike after Dane put the finishing touches on it, I was pleasantly surprised that my fears about the derailleur's size were unfounded. Once on, everything looked right at home. Note: if you're curious about the differences between the outgoing Super Record EPS group and this new wireless one, I wrote a journal that should answer many of your questions. You can check that out here.
On the Road
Keyed up to get out and see what the new Super Record Wireless group could do, I set off for a good loop that would give me a lot of chances to try shifting under load, shifting multiple gears quickly, riding in the drops and on the hoods, and also putting the brakes through their paces on all kinds of descents, including our AC favorite 20+% drop that features a hard stop at the bottom.
While this report is about the new Super Record Wireless group, not the wheels we used, I must mention how good the Campagnolo Levante wheels felt as pure road performers. I was not expecting that, but I'm happy I tried them out on this bike.
Cockpit: The Super Record Wireless Brake and Shift Levers
Rolling away from the shop, I instantly felt good on the hoods. They felt smaller and narrower than Campagnolo's last model. And for those worried about the lack of a thumb shifter, my worries proved unfounded, as the buttons that replace it are intuitive and well-positioned. So perhaps I gave too much credence to the thumb shifter with the old EPS group. Frankly, it was not the easiest to hit from some positions, and after some miles on the new Super Record Wireless system, I would not want to go back (the thumb shifter on the mechanical group is another story, though).
My route took me to the foggy and very wet and cold top of Mt. Tam. Of course, I didn't think conditions would be so awful, but they proved perfect for testing the shifters. Even with my hands numb from the cold, it was easy to shift, and I had no issues with missing shifts. My only problem was holding the button a millisecond too long and getting two changes instead of one. However, that probably won't happen as I get more miles in and get used to the new system.
But my minor issue of switching too many gears at once nicely illustrates just how fast the rear derailleur shifts. You notice that right away. We didn't pull out the stopwatch, but it feels faster than any other group I've used. If you hold the button down, it will go up or down the entire cassette faster than you'd think possible. It will be fun getting used to it and figuring out how long to hold the button to get a quick 4-5 gear dump as you crest a hill and plunge down the other side.
Finding the buttons in the drops was also natural - a quick tap or two during the sprint to get more speed. I didn't miss a shift once. It's faster than doing it with the thumb shifters on the outgoing EPS group.
The new Super Record Wireless 12-speed group's ergonomics were superb, and the entire ride felt fabulous. However, we did find that the brake levers were a touch too far from the bar, but we fixed that after the first ride easily with a 2.5mm Allen key. The lever pull has a lot of adjustability and should work with most hand sizes.
The Super Record Wireless Derailleurs
When I was on the bike and looking down, the derailleurs looked as you would hope - neither too big nor too small. The front derailleur power pack is quite skinny and looks good from that position. Notably, the front shifting is much slower than the rear, but it didn't feel too slow. It seems slower than the older EPS front mech shifting, which I take as a good thing, as the older derailleur tended to throw the chain off the rings occasionally. Even when trying, I didn't drop the chain once on the new Super Record Wireless system. Of course, it's still early days, and I only have four rides with the group, but the front shifting seems rock solid.
As I said, the Super Record's rear derailleur was fast and accurate. Another thing I appreciate is that you can use the entire cassette in the big and small rings. Even though I know you shouldn't cross chain, I don't like that Shimano and SRAM lock you out of using the smallest cogs. With the new Super Record Wireless group, the system was silent even when I stayed in the 32T small ring at the front and shifted to the 10T at the rear. Shout out to Dane for the setup win on that one!
However, I still don't understand why the lights blink so much on the derailleurs and shifters. I don't notice it when riding, but I am still curious about its rationale.
Braking with the Super Record Wireless System
The brakes felt like Campagnolo disc brakes; to those who know, that usually means best in class. The Super Record Wireless brakes were quiet, both in braking and rubbing. During my ride test, I rode a lot of long descents on very wet roads and had much less squealing than on other brands' systems. I don't remember hearing any rub at any point in the ride, which is huge for me and something I greatly appreciated.
If I had one slight quibble, it would be that there was less overall power on tap than I get from Shimano brakes. That 20+% descent I mentioned earlier that ends with a T intersection and a stop sign at the bottom was a little tense, and I can't say that I could come to a complete stop there. I would attribute that to the fact that I ran a 140mm rotor front and rear on this bike and am pretty sure that with a 160 up front, that would not have happened. I'll check that out as we keep putting the miles on this group.
As we bring this ride report to a close, my gut feeling is that if asked, I would have difficulty choosing between the Campagnolo Super Record Wireless group and the Dura-Ace system. I would not have said that with the old EPS group.
I put the new Super Record Wireless system easily ahead of the SRAM AXS group that previously adorned my Sarto. But as an overall 'state of the industry comment', I'm looking forward to the day when battery technology allows for smaller form factors and more power, as my main complaint against any of the electronic groups, especially the wireless ones, is that the derailleurs are just too big.
But damn, were my first impressions off. The more I look at this group, the more I like how it looks, and it works so well: caps off to Campagnolo for being brave enough to ditch tradition and drop the thumb lever, as the new setup is easier to use from all hand positions.
Thanks again for reading our first rides report of the new Campagnolo Super Record Wireless system. Stay tuned: we'll have much more info coming out in the coming weeks and months as we get more and more miles on this new group. And, of course, a huge thank you to Campagnolo for making this happen. You all did a great job on this!