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Technical FAQ with Lennard Zinn: Using Campagnolo Ergo shifters with a Shimano rear mech and cassette

VeloNews technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder, a former U.S. national team rider and author of several books on bikes and bike maintenance. Zinn's column is devoted to addressing readers' technical questions about bikes, their care and feeding and how we as riders can use them as comfortably and efficiently as possible. Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn. Zinn’s column appears regularly on -- Recently you wrote about a chain lube thatvirtually stopped chain wear. I can't remember the name of the lube.--Dave Answer --

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Check the allignment

Check the allignment

Photo: Campagnolo

Question — Recently you wrote about a chain lube that virtually stopped chain wear. I can’t remember the name of the lube.–Dave

Answer — ProGold

Question — Is it possible to use Campagnolo Ergo shifters with a Shimano rear mech and cassette? Will they work okay?
I ask this with a view to using my existing Veloce shifters on a touring bike with lower Shimano gears. I would go for Shimano so I can get a wider range of gears (high & low). –Dave

Answer — Yes. VeloParts ( makes an adapter to make Campagnolo ErgoPower levers work with a ShimanoXT or XTR rear derailleur and cogs. –Lennard

Question: I have a Record 10 speed triple setup on my bike and I need some help. I built the bike from the ground up and the frame is a Giant TCR. As you know this frame has very short chainstays.The problem I’m having is noise in the drive train. I have used Campy before(Veloce) and it wasn’t noisy. There are certain combinations on my triple that make noise. I am a little disappointed after spending so much money on this thing.

I used to have a Shimano 105 triple setup and even though I hated the shifting and don’t recall it being noisy. I could leave the chain on the 42 and go all over the cogset without problem. The thing is that the setup was on a bike with longer chainstays.
Could that be my problem? The short chainstays? Did I just make an expensive mistake by buying the wrong frame to use with a triple?

I have less than 100 miles on the bike. Could it be that everything needs to break in? The gears seem to be adjusted right. Everything shifts fast but things are noisy.

I took the bike to my lbs (Local Bike Shop) and they said the set up would simply make noise in some combinations. The noisiest one is 42-25. The cassette is a 13-25.

I was having trouble with the bike shifting correctly in the middle cogs and overshifting in the bigger cogs. I again took it to the bike shop but they couldn’t adjust it any better than I had. So I took the whole rear derailleur cable and housing apart and put grease with a Speedplay grease gun in the housings and got much better shifting. What I have noticed now though is that when going from the smallest cog to the biggest everything is relatively quiet in all combinations (excluding the extra noise in the 42-25), but when I start going from the biggest cogs to the smallest I start getting quite a bit of noise especially around the fifth and fourth cog counting from the smallest.

After a search on the Internet, I found this article on the site and found it to be very similar to the kind of noise that I’m gettingnow: It seems when they tested 9-speed they were having the same problem I’m having with the triple 10 speed. I don’t know if you are familiar with this problem. Again, I’m quite disappointed with all this noise and difficulties considering that I’m supposed to have bought a high end gruppo. I’m almost thinking of selling the whole thing and getting a Shimano triple. I don’t like Shimano shifting but do remember it being quiet in any combination and the whole thing is a breeze to adjust.

Maybe the noise when going from the bigger cogs to the smallest is a Campy flaw that I had not noticed before. If you can help me in any way with these concerns I would greatly appreciate it. By the way, I called Giant tech support and the guy I talked to told me that they don’t recommend triple set ups on the TCRs. He claimed it wouldn’t work correctly. Of course, they sell a frameset that is, according to them, triple compatible. From what I can see it just has longer chainstays. It’s the TCR Elite. –Manuel

Answer — I don’t think it is necessarily the short chainstays, although that will obviously increase the chain angle. I have one road bike with super-short chainstays (39.5cm) and have used Record 10 on it with no problem, albeit only a double. Now, let’s see what Campagnolo has to say about it. — Lennard

Answer from Campagnolo — Thanks for allowing us to address Manual’s comments. I’m very sorry about and can understand his disappointment considering he bought a high-end bicycle and group that don’t work as well as they should. I’m a little bit upset because I cannot find out what could be the origin of your problem, but I’ll try to help you in order to resolve this inconvenience. We haven’t received any complaints concerning triple drive train performance, so that in my opinion you should follow some verifications of your bicycle components and discard problems which probably could be the origin. Let’s start.

First of all, you have to verify the dropout alignment and realignit if necessary. Components of the drivetrain could work perfectly, but if the dropout alignment is not correct, drivetrain components cannot work perfectly.

Then if the dropout is correct, we can start thinking that some of the components of the drivetrain don’t work. Follow the next instruction:

1. Verification of the bottom bracket length. It has to be a Campagnolo Record 111 mm (asymmetric) bottom bracket. Longer length of bottom bracket compromises the correct chain line. The clearance between the frame and chainring would be too much and it could be the origin of the noise in your drivetrain especially when crossing the chain (for example 42×25). I don’t have any specifications of Giant’s bottom bracket shell length, but Giant is providing us with a frame to verify the compatibility with Record Triple items. It could be possible that the shell could be too large, but let me verify this point.

2. Verification of the cable and casings set. Are you sure that your bicycle’s cables and casings are Campagnolo? Unfortunately Giant used to assemble not original Campagnolo cable and casings set. I recommend you to use ours, but in any case, verify that there is no point where the cable doesn’t run as well as it should, like under the handlebar tape entering the Ergopower or under the bottom bracket cage.

3. Verify the cog spacers. It could happen that the spacers of the sprocket set have been mixed. Verify if they are in correct position and the clearance between all of them corresponds to the ten speed specs. Use a single ten speed sprocket spacer and insert it between all the sprockets. Maybe somewhere the spacers cannot enter between sprockets or the clearance is too much.

4. Verify the chain. Is a Campagnolo 10 speed chain?

5. Verify the rear derailleur alignment. May be it doesn’t work because of a production flaw or because it has been banged during transport. Have you the chance to try a different 10-speed derailleur? Is it mid or longcage rear derailleur?

6. Verify the Ergopower. That is the last thing you should check and probably you have already resolved the problem. I just have mentioned it because of your comment about something you read in an unofficial Campagnolo web site. Reject unofficial solutions, which very often are unfounded and can compromise our warranty. You especially mentioned problems in 9-speed Ergopower. Well, just to satisfy your curiosity and our reliability I’ll explain the situation to you. The origin of the problem was a flaw in some Ergopower return spring carrier rods, which broke and made the adjustment of the shifting impossible. The problem was resolved immediately and Campagnolo has always faced these situations by providing reliable and professional service to our customers. Unfortunately some unqualified mechanics are not able to identify this problem, so that they are not able to satisfy the customer. It doesn’t mean that this sort of information is confidential, but used by some unofficial and incorrect source could be origin of unnecessary alarmism and confusion.

I think that if you follow all these instruction you’ll resolve your problem. Our Web site question & answer section is complete enough to answer many of the doubts people have.

Concerning Manual’s e-mail, we notice that Giant is commercializing mid- and low- range bikes equipped with Campagnolo but is not assembling them with original Campagnolo bottom brackets. I’m not sure that it could also happen in high-end bicycles. I will keep you informed. Please let me know how things are going.
Yours sincerely,
Joseba Arizaga
Campagnolo Srl
Via della Chimica, 4
36100 Vicenza (VI) – Italy

Question — What are the advantages of hydraulic systems that make them so prevalent on disc brakes? The cable-and-housing system is an established part of bicycling mechanics, so there must besome significant advantage to hydraulic systems that is particularly useful to disc brakes. –Mark

Answer 1, from Hayes — Most hydraulic disc brake systems are more responsive, more consistent, and smoother than a mechanical brake system that uses standard cable and housing. Standard cable and housing will stretch and flex before the pads contact the disc requiring higher lever input and a longer response time. With use, cable and housing will become dirty which creates more friction. Therefore, ever-higher lever input will be required to achieve full braking power. Mechanical brake systems do require you to adjust for pad wear and maintain the cable and housing.

With the use of hydraulic brake fluid, a full hydraulic system will require less lever input and immediately actuates the pads without stretchor flex.This gives you an instant response with the ability to modulate the brake effectively. With use, the lever input will remain smooth and consistent.

Also, most hydraulic systems will adjust for pad wear automatically. That means that there is less maintenance for a full hydraulic system when set-up properly. The only recommendation is to change the fluid once a year and watch for pad wear.
Scott Boyd
Technical Support Manager
Hayes Disc Brake

Answer 2, from Formula — Hydraulic brakes do have advantages for sure. No cable stretch, no cable outer housing decompression, no fouled and dirty cables.

One has to understand that the tolerances on bicycle disc brakes are much closer than car or Motorcycle units, sloppy cables don’twork. With hydraulics you can custom design the brakes exactly to the intended use.Tubing is meanwhile so strong, you can lift the bike up on it, and even crashes don’t usually harm the tubing.

With the different sizes of pistons, you can make a lot of power in order to slow you down without sacrificing modulation (control you have to slow you down). There are ways to make mechanical brakes work pretty well (Avid), but the feel will never be as good as a good hydraulic brake.
Thorsten Schaette
Formula Disc Brake

VeloNews technical writer Lennard Zinn is a frame builder, a former U.S. national team rider and author of several books including the pair of successful maintenance guides “Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance” and “Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance,” and “Zinn & the Art of Triathalon Bikes.” Readers can send brief technical questions directly to Zinn.