By now you have surely already heard the big news (if not read about it here or here). Campagnolo’s 2007 cranks will be 2-piece designs that finally dispense with the square taper bottom bracket. Huh? That’s it. So what? Blatantly leaked information about a product that the company is not officially unveiling until June 1st should be a lot more exciting than that, right? I mean big deal; it’s way past time to bail on the old square taper bottom bracket. Seriously, who is paying 450 bucks for those carbon Record cranksets anyway? But wait there is more. The two-piece Campy design called the “Ultra Torque” is different than Shimano’s 2 piece cranks (and all other cranks for that matter). Campy’s design has an integrated hollow bottom bracket that is split in the middle and fastened from one side with a single bolt. OK, I admit, actually that is kind of interesting. Campy also claims that the crank will have a lower Q factor than other 2 piece designs on the market with no increase in width from their current Record cranks. That sounds good too, but I still won’t be ditching my Dura-Ace cranks for Campy anytime soon. In my opinion, Campagnolo still has a really long way to go to catch up with Shimano on design.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-Campy. In fact, I am glad to see them coming out with something new and different. As a teenager in the late 80’s, I dreamed of owning a bike decked out with the brand new C-Record grouppo (I think it replaced Super Record in ’87). If I could have afforded it, I would have gladly ditched my Shimano 600 components for sleek looking Campy parts. My preference for Shimano didn’t happen overnight. Throughout the nineties, Shimano just kept innovating while Campy seemed to be resting on tradition, and occasionally following along. I know that some of you will disagree with me, but you have to admit that Shimano came up with some great improvements to the bicycle’s drivetrain in the last 15 years or so. I, for one, am certainly not interested in going back to friction downtube shifters and 6 speed freewheels anytime soon. Of course, to be fair, I should point out that Campagnolo also has a history of innovation. I like quick release hubs as much as the next guy, but really, how long can you rest on that one?
I’m digressing a bit so I should get back to the present day. I am sure that some retro grouches will not like this latest move by Campagnolo to update their crank designs. Some will claim that Campy is being pressured away from providing interchangeable parts to a more proprietary system like Shimano’s. If you happen to be one of those people, I would love to hear your take on the new crank/bb designs. Like I said, I am glad to see this move by Campy and I hope they will continue to come out with new designs of their own (Italy is known for design after all). Who knows, in another ten years or so, they may win me over again. Stranger things have happened.