Ultimate Campagnolo Groupset Guide And Hierarchy

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The oldest and most iconic manufacturer of road bike components, Campagnolo – often referred to as ‘Campag’ or ‘Campy’ – still produces some of the highest-regarded groupsets to this day.

They are renowned for the quality of their groupsets, with many bicycle manufacturers and professional cyclists remaining loyal to them for decades.

However, their flagship groupsets do not come cheap – they’re often the most expensive on the market.

Luckily, they do produce a whole range of different components, some of which are far more accessible to the average consumer. All this choice is definitely a good thing – but can make it a little more challenging for those in the market for a new Campag groupset.

So, what is the hierarchy of Campagnolo groupsets? And what are the differences between each range?

Never fear! We’ll answer these important questions and more in this guide to Campagnolo groupsets. In this article, we’ll be covering:

  • History Of Campagnolo
  • Campagnolo Mid-Range Groupsets
  • Campagnolo Pro-Standard Groupsets
  • Campagnolo Ekar Groupset

Let’s get going!

Campagnolo Groupset Guide: Title Image
Credit: Campagnolo

History of Campagnolo

The oldest, and arguably the most prestigious of the Big Three componentry brands, Campagnolo have been producing high-quality groupsets since they were founded by Tullio Campagnolo in 1933 in Vicenzo, Italy.

Tullio was a professional rider himself in the 1920s and accrued a significant amount of knowledge about the things that needed to improve with bike component technology.

One particular issue he had was exemplified during the Gran Premio della Vittoria race in 1927, when Tullio was riding over the infamous Croce D’Aune Pass in the Italian Dolomites.

He needed to change gears to get up the tricky climb, but in those days, the rider needed to dismount, remove and flip the rear wheel, re-position the chain onto a new sprocket, and finally re-secure the wheel to the bike in order to change gear.

However, due to it being a chilly November day in the Alps, the bolt that secured his rear wheel had frozen in place – preventing Tullio from changing gear, a fault that ultimately cost him the race.

A Campagnolo derailleur from the 1980s on a black background.
Credit: Campagnolo

Once his career as a cyclist came to a close, he decided to apply his knowledge to improve component technology for the next generation of cyclists.

He quickly made a name for himself by introducing the quick-release hub in 1930, prior to founding his company.

This invention was cutting-edge at the time and was largely motivated by his fruitless wheel-removal attempt on that snowy November day in the mountains.

The quick-release mechanism would function in any weather conditions – a major advantage when racing in the shoulder season.

He later made even more progress on this problem, inventing the ingenious “Cambio Corsa” (Change Course) mechanism in 1946. This was the precursor to the derailleur, allowing riders to change gears while remaining mounted on the bike.

However, it was still a definite bodge by today’s standards – consisting of a quick-release lever underneath the saddle that when pulled, engaged a rod that pulled on the chain to change gear.

These were just two of 135 successful patents filed by Campagnolo that contribute to his reputation as an inventor.

Throughout its long history, Campagnolo has consistently introduced innovative and cutting-edge technologies to the cycling world. This is likely the reason they have inspired the loyalty of some of the best cyclists and manufacturers of all time.

Many bike manufacturers, mainly those based in Italy, have exclusively fitted their bikes with Campag components, including Bianchi, Colnago, and Pinarello.

They have provided the componentry for more Grand Tour-winning bikes than any other brand and even curated direct agreements with some of the most successful riders in history, including Gino Bartali, Vincenzo Nibali, and even the great Eddy Merckx.

Merckx was a good friend of Tullio’s and exclusively sported Campag components on every bike he rode, including the famous steed he rode to set the hour record in 1972.

To this day, Campagnolo remains one of the highest-regarded manufacturers, creating consistently top-quality groupsets that continue to be used by some of the most successful in the sport.

Campagnolo Groupset Hierarchy: Mid-Range

You might be a little puzzled about why we have seemingly skipped the ‘entry-level’ Campag groupsets.

However, unlike their competitors Shimano and SRAM, Campagnolo exclusively tends to cater to the mid-upper market and above.

So, unfortunately, if you’re looking for a cheap, entry-level groupset, then Campagnolo is probably not your best bet. Luckily, Shimano and SRAM both have some excellent options for any budget.

Check out our articles on Shimano and SRAM‘s road bike groupset ranges here!

Campagnolo Centaur Groupset

Campagnolo Centaur derailleur on a black background.
Credit: Campagnolo
  • Cassette: 11-Speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical Only
  • Brake Type: Rim Brake Only

Campag’s most budget-friendly option, Centaur saves on the cash but not the quality.

A fantastic example of trickle-down tech, Centaur has features that would have been considered flagship not so long ago.

If you’re more used to Shimano’s range, you could consider this groupset equivalent to Shimano 105, but it does unfortunately come in a little more expensive, retailing at around $600.

However, for this price, you do get a lot of nice features and it retains Campy’s iconic aesthetic. Not overly weighty either, at a hair shy of 2.5 kg.

It’s an 11-speed group, which does prove handy if you live in a particularly hilly place, allowing you to fine-tune your gear specifically to the difficulty necessary at each gradient. You can also achieve relatively forgiving gearing with a maximum cassette sprocket of 32t.

Their shifters have a very on-brand aesthetic, and include Campagnolo’s ‘Ultra-Shift’ technology, allowing you to shift up to three gears at a time.

Campagnolo Chorus Groupset

Campagnolo Chorus component on a black background.
Credit: Campagnolo
  • Cassette: 12-Speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical Only
  • Brake Type: Rim or Disc Brake

Chorus provides a step-up from Centaur to the road bike component industry’s highest number of speeds – 12.

At a retail price of around $1000, you do pay a premium for the upgrade.

The major upgrade from Centaur to Chorus is definitely the gearing. Not only do you get extra gear, but it is compatible with up to a 34-tooth cassette, and is available with a compact chainset, allowing for a minimum gear ratio of below 1:1 – suitable for even the toughest mountain days.

You also shave 200 grams off the weight of the groupset with the upgrade from Centaur.

Campagnolo Groupset Hierarchy: Pro-Standard

If you’re lucky enough to have the budget available to you, then Campagnolo’s pro-standard groupsets really are some of the best available for any road bike.

Campagnolo Record Groupset

Campagnolo Record crankset on a black background.
Credit: Campagnolo
  • Cassette: 12-Speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical Only
  • Brake Type: Rim or Disc Brake

Campagnolo Record is the first of the pro-standard groupsets engineered by Campag. This is a premium-quality 12-speed group that comes in at around $1800.

If you’re ready to jump on the disc brake bandwagon, then this is the first Campagnolo groupset tier at which this technology is available to you. The Record hydraulic disc brakes do provide fantastic braking power but come with a slight weight penalty.

For those who remain loyal to the old-school rim brakes, you can also get the Record group equipped with this familiar system.

Coming in at 2.3 kg, the Record groupset is very light, and achieves this weight with premium carbon cranks and shift levers.

It has also been said that the shifting quality on the Record group is a significant improvement on the Chorus, with smoother, faster shifting that results in a more streamlined overall experience on your ride.

Campagnolo Super Record Groupset

Campagnolo Super Record shifter on a black background.
Credit: Campagnolo
  • Cassette: 12-Speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical or Electronic (EPS)
  • Brake Type: Rim or Disc Brake

If you’re looking for the best of the best, look no further. The Campagnolo Super Record 12-speed group is arguably the best groupset money can buy.

This fact is reflected in the price, however – the Super Record EPS is officially the most expensive production groupset of all time.

This is also the first and only Campagnolo range available with electronic shifting, the so-called EPS technology that changes gear through electronic signaling, rather than mechanical cable movements.

This comes with the advantage of instant, perfectly tuned shifting. However, it’s not free of problems, the main one being that the drivetrain now requires charging.

Electronic shifting isn’t the only upgrade in this group, however.

The shifters are said to be some of the most ergonomic on the market, with full waterproofing to protect the electronics and a full carbon lever system.

In fact, almost every component comes with premium carbon fiber craftsmanship, including the front derailleur, cranks, rear derailleur, and even the brake calipers.

Just like Chorus and Record, the groupset is available with a maximum sprocket range of 11-34 on the cassette and can be used with a compact, sub-compact, or standard chainset to adjust your gear ratios to suit your riding.

To find out more about what sets this groupset apart from the rest, take a look at our article Campagnolo Super Record EPS: The World’s Most Expensive Groupset here!

Super Record groupsets are also available with mechanical shifting if you’re more budget-conscious or just prefer the old-school shifting feel.

Campagnolo Ekar Groupset

Campagnolo Ekar groupset on a collection of rocks.
Credit: Campagnolo
  • Drivetrain: 1 x 13-Speed
  • Shifting: Mechanical Only
  • Brake Type: Disc Brake Only

This is Campagnolo’s newest groupset, and is very different from the others on this list in one key aspect: it’s a groupset for gravel bikes.

Since Campagnolo’s brief and unsuccessful stint in the MTB component market, they have stuck to road bike groupsets, and have always retained their success amongst the roadies.

However, gravel biking is one of the most rapidly growing cycling disciplines, with many choosing to opt for the versatility of a gravel bike, attracting mountain bikers and road purists alike.

Campagnolo took the timely decision to jump into this market by producing their first-ever gravel bike groupset: Campagnolo Ekar.

This is Campag’s response to Shimano GRX and SRAM XPLR groupsets but has been argued to be even better than both of them (although it’s more expensive too).

One of the flagship features of this high-quality groupset is that it is the world’s first 13-speed groupset. This is perfect for gravel biking since it allows the rider to sport a 1x drivetrain whilst still retaining a huge gear range.

The groupset also features some gravel-specific features, such as a clutch to improve chain retention on rough terrain, it’s only available in a 1x drivetrain, and it has an incredibly wide gear range for the huge variation in off-road speeds.

The Ekar 13-speed cassette features the option for a tiny 9-speed sprocket, which makes up for the absence of a big ring on the chainset by providing high gear ratios to hit high speeds when you’re on the roads or descending.

The cassette is available with a 10-44T, 9-42T, or 9-36T gear range, which Campagnolo claims will “match or exceed the gear range of any 2x drivetrain on the market”.

If you want to know more about Ekar and its competition, check out our article Ultimate Gravel Bike Groupset Guide here!

Found this Campagnolo Groupset guide helpful? Check out more from the BikeTips experts below!

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Jack is an experienced cycling writer based in San Diego, California. Though he loves group rides on a road bike, his true passion is backcountry bikepacking trips. His greatest adventure so far has been cycling the length of the Carretera Austral in Chilean Patagonia, and the next bucket-list trip is already in the works. Jack has a collection of vintage steel racing bikes that he rides and painstakingly restores. The jewel in the crown is his Colnago Master X-Light.

1 thought on “Ultimate Campagnolo Groupset Guide And Hierarchy”

  1. I have grown old using Campy and am completely satisfied with the latest 12 speed though I would be just as satisfied with a 9 or 10 speed with the latest rear derailleur range. Even though I am a climber I get tired of stirring through all those gears. 12 speeds may be usable by Pro’s, but I am not a pro. Campy’s previous problem was insufficient range for the average rider. They fixed that. I have detected no difference in the shifting of Chorus and Record. But again the am not a pro. Only a 40 or 50 year rider.


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