Technical FAQ: Rebuilding Campy shifters

Should I rebuild my Campy 8-speed shifter, or switch to 10-speed?

Courtesy of Campagnolo

Courtesy of Campagnolo


Dear Lennard,
My 1998 9-speed Campy Ergo levers have now reached the time for rebuilding.

The left lever won’t keep the chain on the big ring any more, it keeps clicking lower when I jump or hit a bigger bump ? very soft and touchy. I understand that 1998’s can’t be converted to 10-speed, although I’ve never seen an explanation of why and the innards seem to be the same from what I’ve read.

I could rebuild the levers but I’m considering springing for new shifters, derailleur and cassettes, converting to 10-speed, since 9-speed parts of this era are getting harder to get. I recall that you once wrote that a 9-speed Sachs chain worked well with 10-speed Ergo shifting, and Shimano 7700 9-speed cranks and chainrings worked with 10’s. I have a 7700 triple (one of the few at the time available in 180 mm) and I’d like not to leave that behind.

Is compatibility still reasonable, or have the newer 10-speed systems tightened up everything so much that they’re incompatible with the earlier stuff? I’m using Veloce loose cog cassettes, so are there spacers available to convert these to 10 or is there a problem there, also?

Dear Larry,
As you can see from the illustrations from my book posted in this column, there are subtle differences in the guts of 8-speed levers and 10-speed ones, and the 1998 9-speed levers are the only year that they had the same guts as 8-speed levers, yet within the more rounded, thinner lever body shape of 9-speed and 10-speed levers.

It’s been years now since I had an 8-speed lever apart, but it seems to me that the 10-speed index gear is smaller in diameter than that on the 8-speed. The fact that the G-spring carrier has a post on it to anchor the flat compensation spring, a spring that the 8-speed levers don’t have at all, should not be an issue.

Also probably irrelevant is that the central pivot post nut on 8-speed levers is double-ended and on 10-speed levers it only has a single end. I think I remember that it is simply the diameter of the index gear and possibly the G-spring carrier that is the feature preventing upgrading your 8-speed-style lever into a 10-speed one.

I think you’ll find that that 7700 triple crank will work fine with a triple shift lever from a recent 10-speed system.

As for your cogs, generally, Wheels Manufacturing makes spacers to adapt almost any cogset to another system.