Tech News – Campagnolo overhauls Centaur and Veloce groups for 2011, updates Khamsin wheelset

Campy overhauls its Centaur and Veloce groups. They are still 10-speed, but share features with the company's higher end groups.

2011 Campagnolo Centaur cogs
Yes, there are only ten cogs here, but that doesn’t mean a new Centaur group is sub-par in performance.

A few years after winning the ”Big Three“ cogset count with premium 11-speed groups, Campagnolo’s iconic brand is almost synonymous with dialing elite drivetrains up to eleven.

But while Super Record’s little 10-speed cousins Centaur and Veloce might have been forgotten, they’re not gone – far from it. In fact, for 2011 they’ve been completely overhauled to mimic the performance and ergonomics native to more expensive 11-speed parts.

Campy says the new-look 10-speed levers offer the same smooth shifting and comfortable grip as upper echelon 11-speed units. Plus, the brakes and derailleurs recieved similar upgrades to shave weight while maintaining afforadability. Finally, the new Power Torque crankset and bottom bracket system achieves the advantages of Campy‘s 11-speed Ultra Torque design, but with easy installation and a lower price.

A 2,241-gram Centaur group in carbon trim costs $1275 (going with alloy levers and cranks pares the price even further to $1,085 but bumps the weight to 2331 grams). A standard eight-piece Veloce group sells for just $890 and weighs 2379 grams. Veloce costs $970 with the optional upgrade to lighter Skeleton brakes.

And with a final nod to building your bike without breaking the bank, Campagnolo’s $260 Khamsin wheels are designed to complement your ride with both reasonable weight and potent aerodynamics.

Power Shift …

Campy’s signature Ergopower moniker still adorns new Centaur and Veloce shifter/brake levers, but the redesigned mechanism is called Power Shift. In addition to the updated lever and hood shapes, the internals are revised to bring the same light-but-positive shifting performance as that found in the high-end groups. The index lever behind the brake lever now permits shifting across three cogs, and the thumb lever will drop to smaller cogs, one at a time.

Centaur Ergopower levers will be available in black aluminum and in an optional upgrade aluminum-carbon version. Veloce levers maintain the same shapes and mechanisms, but with less expensive materials to keep their price reasonable. They’re available in black or polished aluminum.

2011 Campagnolo Centaur lever
The index lever marked “2” moves the chain to larger cogs, across a three-gear spread, while the lever marked “3” drops the chain to smaller cogs, in increments of one cog at a time.

Campy’s 10-speed shifting is aided in both groups by updates to the derailleurs, cogs, and chain. The front derailleurs are built for either compact or standard cranksets and sport wider, stiffer cages and parallelogram bodies. Likewise, Campy says the rear derailleurs are lighter and stiffer, by way of improved geometry and oversized cage plates. Finally, the cogs get revised tooth profiles for faster shifting.

…and Power Torque

The new Power Torque crankset is the other major upgrade for Campy’s 10-speed groups. It brings the familiar simplicity of Campy’s 11-speed Ultra Torque crank and BB installation, with threaded external cups and an oversized spindle joining the crankarms. Additionally, Centaur and Veloce cranks benefit from the same, narrow Q-factor and U-factor dimensions as 11-speed Ultra Torque cranks. Campy says the new crank system is lighter yet less expensive than its predecessors.

Rather than using a split spindle anchored in both crankarms and joined in the middle (like Ultra Torque), the Power Torque system resembles Shimano and SRAM units, with a bottom bracket spindle originating in the drive side crankarm. The non-drive crankarm presses onto the spindle’s splined end with an oversized bolt. Campy uses threaded cups to hold the bearings in similar fashion to Ultra Torque, but as with Ultra Torque, the drive-side bearing remains in place on the spindle against the drive-side crankarm.

Campy also redesigned the chainring tooth profiles to improve shifting performance. Eight shift points with precisely machined ramps and pins help lift and lower the chain for shifting under pedaling load. The wide external bearing placement and the crank spider are both meant to improve stiffness in the system to help maintain shifting accuracy.

Centaur and Veloce cranks are both available in three chainring combinations: 53/39, 52/39, and 50/34. Centaur comes in black aluminum or carbon fiber, and Veloce is available in either silver or black aluminum.

Entry-level Khamsin wheels complete the parts package

As with the updated 10-speed groups, the Khamsin mid-depth wheels earned Campy’s attention with the aim of improving performance and value. The 2011 Khamsin wheelset is lighter and tougher, but retains a reasonable price. Khamsin wheels weigh 1,873 grams per pair and cost $260.

Campy says the lighter weight is achieved by way of a new production process which saves weight in the rims. Also new are the straight-pull spokes and sealed cartridge bearings, both of which should improve durability.

The 828-gram front wheel wears 20 radially-laced spokes, and the 1045-gram rear wheel features Campy’s distinctive G3 lacing pattern, with 18, 3-cross drive-side spokes and 9 radial non-drive spokes.