Tech FAQ: Fixing Campy shifters and converting drivetrains
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Repairing Campy shifters
I read in your well-known repair manual (which I own) that some Campagnolo shifters may be repaired by replacing the G spring and its retainer. As I understand, this does not, however, apply to models from 2009 onward, as the design of the shifter is different. My Campagnolo Veloce right shifter skips over the lower cogs, often going right to the smallest when I downshift. I believe there’s a problem with a return spring.
Is it at all possible to replace a broken spring or other components within the shifter itself, in order to repair it? I have experience repairing laptop computers, so I’m not concerned about taking the device apart and re-assembling it. Rather, I have not been able to find any replacement parts and few if any published procedures. Everything seems to apply to the older, pre-2009 models.
The only option I see is to replace the shifter body (and transfer the brake lever and hoods), or buy a matched set of the newer version which has a more ergonomic shifter button. I do wonder whether this later (2015?) model will be even less durable than my original one, however, as I’ve read complaints of them failing prematurely.
The mechanism in your Veloce shifter is called Power-Shift. That lever body incorporates neither the older G springs clicking into an indexing ratchet nor the more recent Ultra Shift technology (a spring-loaded detent ball dropping into tabs on the face of a disc). Most likely, the pawl inside your shift lever body that is actuated by the thumb lever is damaged or has failed. This is not repairable, as the pawl is riveted into position in the body.
The possible solutions are just as you suggest. One is to replace your single lever body with a new Campagnolo EC-CE300. Or, as you said, you can replace both levers with new Veloce Ergopowers. The current model has the same internals as your model. Externally, the newer Ergopowers have a longer, lower thumb lever for ease of reach while in the drops.
Cyclocross drivetrain choices
I have a small quiver of wheels forming for CX season, and just as I was getting everything to wider, 23mm internal rims, I’ve run into the 10- vs. 11-speed conundrum. I began wondering if you’d tried yet, with or without success, installing an 11-speed cassette on a Shimano/SRAM 10-speed style FH body by sliding on 10 cogs from an 11-speed cassette. I’m thinking (much like some downhiller guys who run 9- or 10-speed spacing on short BMX or SS style freehubs — Chris King or Industry Nine SS hubs — by using 5 or 6 cogs/spacers) I could get away with using an 11-speed cassette (with one cog and spacer left out) on a 9/10 FH equipped wheel on an otherwise 11-speed bike. I was thinking:
1. You’d have to have the small cog so the lockring interfaces well.
2. Once you get to spidered cogs, those will have to be there.
3. Do you know which cogs are separate and which are spidered?
4. would Shimano or SRAM 11-speed cassettes work better in this instance? Obviously, the low limit would need to be adjusted to not throw into the spokes, but other than that what am I forgetting? Or is it the high screw as well?
I have not tried that, but if you were to take out the second-smallest cog and its spacer, it would, in theory, work. It would require a cassette in which at least one of the small cogs other than the first cog is separate, which eliminates high-end SRAM cassettes from consideration.
When installing this wheel into an 11-speed bike, yes, you would need to tighten the low-gear limit screw to avoid the derailleur touching the spokes and the chain jamming between the cassette and the spokes. The high-gear limit screw will probably need to be tightened in a bit too.
Feedback on cycling and aging
I’ve followed your writing for years (you even answered a question of mine about 14 years ago about ceramic bearings before they were really a thing), and I have always appreciated your willingness to share information with us! Helpful, clear and practical, you are a go-to for tech questions, especially those that relate to special circumstances like mixing parts groups, etc.
I am writing in regards to your column about getting older as a rider. Frankly, it might be the most helpful thing I’ve read this year. As a 44-year-old cyclist, I’ve had significant health issues (unrelated to cycling) in past years which have lifted, and so my riding has increased significantly in the past two years. I’m a former competitive runner and coach, so I KNOW how to train, particularly regarding intensity and periodization. The problem I’m finding is that Zwift (a great tool for those of us in the Canadian snow belt!) tends to have me riding hard all the time. Your article was extremely timely, as I’ve been warring with myself; as my training hours are up, my fitness is up now that I am healthy. The tendency is “if some is good, more is better,” but your column was a good reminder me to stick to my program, both with myself and my athletes, and not get sucked into the Zwift/Strava trap of riding hard always.
Thank you so much for what you wrote. I will be sharing this with some of my athlete friends, because I think our current online tech world is going to precipitate a crisis in the next few years as the 40- and 50-year-olds inadvertently overtrain to the point of doing lasting damage. I’m concerned that we are going to see a sharp spike in cardiac issues in the next few years as too many of us chase records, stats, and social comments at the expense of healthy and wise patterns of training. The irony of fitness making us seriously ill …
I am concerned about that as well; it stimulated me to embark on co-writing The Haywire Heart. We are the guinea pigs — the first generation to be pursuing these kind of athletic goals so late in life, and it is possible that we may so far only be seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of cardiac issues among competitive masters endurance athletes.
I just read your interesting discussion of athletic activity that compromised your health later in life. For most cyclists, especially those who are lightly built, I would add the recommendation to do some running almost every week to maintain bone strength. Research has shown that those of us who ride bikes more than 10 hours/week at the exclusion of weight-bearing exercise are more likely to have osteoporosis than if we sat on a couch instead. You can be comfortable and competitive on the bike if you have osteoporosis, but a seemingly minor fall will result in a broken bone.
Thanks for that. I should note that walking and skiing also fall into that category of weight-bearing exercise, for those of us whose joints don’t allow for running.