I mentioned Campagnolo’s new electronic (EPS) groups briefly in a post on Tuesday, but I didn’t share my first impressions after seeing the components. I will preface my opinions by pointing out that I have not seen the groups in person, I am only going by the pictures I have seen on the web. Bike Radar/ Cyclingnews tech editor James Huang is one of the few people who have actually ridden a bike equipped with the new Super Record EPS group, so I encourage you to check out his ride review to learn more about how it performs from a functional standpoint.
It has been a while since I have posted specifically about Campy, but nothing they have done the past few years has changed my mind. I still just don’t understand the company’s design direction these days. In the past, Campy components were beautiful and elegant with jewelry-like finishes and amazing attention to detail. Today…well…I just don’t get it.
I left a comment (rant) about the new groups on a post at Byron DL’s Google + page earlier, and I will share that comment with you here:
“So…is anyone talking about how ugly this group is? I just don’t understand the aesthetic that Campy is going for these days. When C-Record was introduced back in the 80s, nothing else even came close from a visual standpoint. That aero crankset, the delta brakes, the beautifully sculpted rear derailleur…all were several steps above the competition in attention to detail and aesthetics in general.
Somewhere along the line though, Campy dropped the ball and started making functional, but ugly, components. I am sure that the hardcore Campyphiles will disagree, but I see Shimano and SRAM introducing visually pleasing grouppos, while everything from Campagnolo looks like a chunky, rough prototype wrapped in carbon. Seriously, I want someone to tell me with a straight face that is not the ugliest rear derailleur they have ever seen.
Beyond aesthetics though, I don’t see the same level of functional innovation from Campy anymore either. The components work well (and rebuildable brifters are nice), but Shimano has led the way in drivetrain innovations in the 20 years or so (with indexed shifting, STI, Cassette freehubs, etc.). There is no doubt that Tullio Campagnolo’s inventions changed the bicycle dramatically over the last 80 years, but what has the company that bears his name really done lately that is truly innovative? I still want to like Campy, but if they desire to continue commanding a premium for their products, they should work harder to set them apart from the competition…or they should at least try to make them look good.”
Maybe I was a bit harsh, and I certainly don’t except everyone to agree. I would love to hear your opinions about the design of these EPS groups and about Campagnolo design in general though. Have they lost their position as design leaders in the industry… or am I just missing something?