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Everything you wanted to know about riding and setting up Campagnolo’s Electronic Power Shift group

Suggested Improvements:

Riding Campagnolo's electric group
The Super Record EPS drivetrain I rode. Photo: Lennard Zinn © VeloNews

Protect me from myself: On virtually any drivetrain, when you shift the front and rear derailleur at the same time, you can run into problems, and this one is no exception, but I don’t think it has to be that way.

You’ve probably learned when you’re climbing in the big chainring, not to shift to the inner chainring at exactly the same time as you shift to a smaller cog, because the rear derailleur cannot pull up the chain slack quickly enough, and you are likely to get chain suck.

I found that the EPS system has the same symptom, namely that if you perform a front downshift simultaneously with a rear upshift, it requires stopping pedaling for a second when you hear the chain slam into the underside of the chainstay to avoid jamming it between the stay and the chainring.

Now, I love that my Audi doesn’t pay much attention to me when I floor it starting up from a stop light on sheet ice. Even though I’m asking for full gas, it will only give me as much gas as I have traction for. I think that the EPS system could do something similar; it could choose to ignore the command for simultaneous shifts and could do one shift first and then the second one, saving the rider from chain suck and chain jam, just like my Audi saves me from fishtailing.

The EPS system prevents chain rub automatically on the front derailleur cage in crossed gears when seated, but it did not prevent it completely when standing. It’s probably just a symptom of being on a tall bike, which will generally have more bottom bracket flex, as others on the ride that I asked about this did not experience it.

But it would be nice if when sprinting uphill out of the saddle that the chain did not rub the inner front derailleur cage plate on each left downstroke when in the big-big combination, or rub the outer front derailleur cage plate on each right downstroke when on the big chainring-third largest cog. (When upshifting the rear derailleur when in the big ring, EPS automatically readjusts the front derailleur outward on the third largest cog.)

The Future:

Campagnolo will have four ProTeams riding EPS in 2012: Movistar, Lotto, Lampre, and Europcar. The entire Movistar and Lotto teams will be on EPS, while Lampre and Europcar will each have their top two riders only on EPS; the remainder of the riders will be on cable-actuated systems, as Wilier Triestina and Colnago had already supplied those teams with frames without internal routing for electronic systems.

Company president Valentino Campagnolo said, “It’s an entirely new direction for the company. We believe it is the future of cycling, and we have invested heavily in it for that reason, even during this economic downturn.” The company has built a second factory in Romania in anticipation of production of electronic groups.

Right now, Record EPS competes directly with Dura-Ace Di2 in both price and weight, while Super Record EPS is in a weight and price class by itself. We can be sure that, like Shimano, Campagnolo intends to push this technology down in price to make it available to more riders in the future.

Campagnolo press officer Lorenzo Taxis says, “It’s exceptional for a company our size to keep working on a product for 20 years as we have with the electronic drivetrain. It has cost us a fortune to do so, but it shows you how committed we are as a company to our vision for the future.”

Lastras says, “For me, it is very much worth the 200 grams of extra weight, because it is much easier to use and consequently safer, especially in the cold and with thick gloves on, than the cable system. And the faster shift speed is a big advantage, especially when coming over the tops of climbs and going quickly through the gears.”

Taxis added, “When the Movistar riders requested to keep the electronic systems on their personal bikes at the end of the season, we knew we had a system that met the test.” And it has met mine as well.

Next Page: Which is better, Shimano Di2 or Campagnolo EPS?

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