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It’s official: The future is 12 speeds. Campagnolo was the first major manufacturer to add an extra cog, as it was with nine-, 10- and 11-speed derailleurs. The Italians have a long history of leading when it comes to drivetrains, and with SRAM following their lead, Shimano is surely not far behind, as the trend continues. This spring saw the official unveiling of what we’d seen Campy’s pros already using: a 12-speed EPS group to follow the 12-speed mechanical groups launched last year.
The new 12-speed Super Record EPS group leans heavily on the foundation built with the 12-speed mechanical groups, and this is a very good thing. It’s slightly faster, smoother and more precise than the 11-speed version, which is an impressive feat considering how good that group already is. The front mechanism features the same stiff front alloy inner cage and carbon outer cage, while the rear uses the updated “embrace” architecture to keep the big 12-tooth pulley wheel closer to the cassette and return spring to manage chain tension on rough surfaces. The rear has a 72.5mm cage, which shifts both available cassettes, 11–29 and 11–32, and like mechanical 12-speed, the first seven shifts feature single-tooth jumps on the sprockets, for lightning-fast shifts and incredible efficiency.
The new levers use the same inputs, and while immediately recognizable as Campy they have been redesigned with new hoods for improved vibration damping, a new curve to the brake lever, larger shift inputs, new pivot point for better brake leverage and reach-adjustable brake levers. Like 11-speed EPS, the MyCampy app can be used to customize input functions and shift patterns. A new longer, thinner battery offers 10-percent-more life and the junction box can now be placed in the frame or the bar ends.
We’ll take 12 electronic speeds over 11 every giorno of the week. It’s not just the ability to always find the right gear for our legs, or always having a bail-out climbing gear, it’s about faster, smoother shifts, it’s about a system that’s more efficient in every way. Yes, some riders seem to think 12 speeds is too many. But these same riders said the same thing about the move from five to six, and six to seven, and seven to…. Well, you get the picture. How many sprockets is enough? We’ll take as many as we can get, but 12 is a good start! 2,505g; $4,636 (Super Record EPS 12-speed disc brake); 2,255g; $4,292 (Super Record EPS 12-speed rim brake); campagnolo.com