Tension, Bearings and the Campy Feel To read part one click here
The shape of Super Record 11’s Ergopower Control levers has been left unchanged, and this is a very good thing. That melted butter peak at the top of the hood provides a very comfortable anchor when you hit the gas and need your forearms flat and out of the wind. The vibration dampening design and material of the hoods does its job admirably and is a great example of the attention to detail Campy has thrown at Super Record 11. This is not to say they have left the internals unchanged. New body material shaves a few grams while providing 250% more impact resistance. The levers are of course rebuild-able, as all Campy parts are, but with their enormous toughness it probably won’t be an issue.
One of the initial advances Campagnolo claimed with Super Record 11 was a shift 13% easier to make at the fingertips. While it was remarkable in its feel and smoothness it may have hurt Campagnolo on the front derailleur where tension is key. New Super Record 11 has a stiffer feel. They still pivot on bearings, so they are undeniably smooth, they just require slightly more force. Nothing to turn off even the lightest, smallest rider, in fact the feel is slightly more positive and choosing between a one, two or three gear shift is easier. And the shift is still vintage Campagnolo. Rather than simply activating teeth and pawls, Super Record 11 seems to let you feel what is happening at the end of that derailleur cable. With Campy you feel your chain, your derailleur and your cassette, so you never miss shift, no matter how much, or how fast, you need to throw the chain up and down those 11 cogs.
The high pivot point of the dedicated brake lever works with the unique hood shape to provide powerful one finger braking from the hoods, a feature no other group can match. The only ergonomic bone we have to pick is with the thumb shift lever. It requires a bit more wrist and hand movement than fingertip shifting, but to be fair, does provide advantages no fingertip shifter can. Push the right thumb lever all the way down and you can shift 5 gears in the blink of an eye, half way across your cassette. Well, half way if it was only 10 speed. You can also hit both thumb levers while riding cross-chained in your big ring and execute what is called the double dump. You will instantly find yourself in your little ring and right in the middle of your cassette, essentially the same gear, but with options and a clean chain line. The thumb lever is not yet out of tricks. Big riders will find they can shift the thumb lever with their ring finger while holding the tops. Climbing, or simply cruising in the group, this is a very nice feature. The longer we spend on Super Record 11, the more we begin to appreciate the thumb lever and the less we mind the extra movement.Cults, Spiders and Wattage to the Road
The Super Record 11 crank set got a lot of attention during this update: lighter, stiffer, a redesign of the shifting system. Dubbed XPSS, Extreme Performance Shifting System, Campagnolo rethought the way their pins engaged the chain during front shifts and created 8 up shift zones and 2 down shift zones. The chain rings teeth were also redesigned to allow a smoother path for the chain, on and off the rings. The result on the road is phenomenal. Previously, Super Record 11 offered average at best, shifts from big ring to little ring, now they have leapt to the head of the mechanical pack. Shifting into the big ring was always good, now it is lightening fast and absolutely bullet proof. The shift back, to the little ring is beyond improved. It happens so smoothly and progressively, even under power, that there is no slapping or lurching drop. XPSS turned the group’s one dark blotch on its record into perhaps its most impressive feature.
Campagnolo went lighter in two ways. A titanium axel replaces the old steel one, which is still available, along with a titanium fixing bolt. The result? 40 less grams. Campy also threaded the inner chain ring, doing away with a two piece chain ring bolt and a few more grams. It also makes for a faster build.
Carried over from the original Super Record 11 cranks are the unidirectional carbon crank arms. Those crank arms, and even the spider arms, are hollow giving the cranks an incredible stiffness to weight ratio. The central hirth joint in the axel ensures all that stiffness is equally spread between drive and non-drive side arms. That axel spins on Campy’s CULT bearings, a dramatic acronym for the clumsy name, Ceramic Ultimate Level Technology. Campagnolo has a cycling industry exclusive on the use of these bearings and claims they are the fastest spinning in all of cycling. The incredible performance, from stiffness to efficiency, we experienced during our long term test gives us no reason the question this claim. The Super Record 11 Ti Ultra Torque Cranks are a wonderful tool for putting your wattage to the road.The Man in Black and Derailluer Geometry
If Johnny Cash rode a bike it would have Super Record 11, if only because of the rear derailleur. While the previous version was black on black, the update cranks up the bad-ass factor considerably. Utilizing technology called 3D Carbon Molding, almost the entire structure of the derailleur is carbon fiber, parallelogram, outer-plate, lower and upper body. The process is so exacting and refined that the parts come out of the mold as you see them on the bike with very little finishing necessary. Even the titanium fixing bolt has been abandoned for a new aluminum bolt which is 22% lighter. To ensure no stone has been unturned in the pursuit of performance the jockey wheels are equipped with CULT bearings standard. The end result is a derailleur that is stronger and lighter than it’s predecessor while being totally immune to corrosion.
The front shift, as described previously, has received a lot of attention during this update. While aesthetically and materially almost unchanged from the original design, the front derailleur is in reality an entirely new item. The derailleur’s geometry has been changed as well as the cable pull itself. The entire package, the new stiffer shift lever, the revamped chain ring pins, and the front derailleur, conspire to create not only the fastest little ring to big ring shift we have ever experienced, but the quickest shift into the little ring under the most effort we have ever experienced with a mechanical system. It is that good. All this happens with a shorter throw of the front lever, upping the speed again.
The rear cassette is a combination of titanium and nickel-plated steel giving it a two-tone appearance. The top six cogs are grouped in threes and titanium, with the lower five getting the nickel-plated steel. The teeth themselves have been sculpted and carefully arranged to mesh seamlessly with the chain providing hesitation free, noiseless, smooth shifts. It is available in combinations from the absurdly racey 11-23, to 12 –29. Combine that 12-29 with a compact crank set and you will get the gear range of triple, and thanks to 11 speed, the close ratios necessary for smooth shifting.
The entire shifting system, from lever, to derailleurs, to cogs and chain rings improves on what was already incredible shifting. The average front shift is now the mechanical yardstick. The rear is so fast, smooth, and quiet that, properly adjusted, it will not miss fire. Do your best to confuse it, shift front and rear together, shift under extreme load, drop five gears at a time then race back up the cassette until you are cross chained. Every one of these scenarios is handled as if it where child’s play. Super Record 11 will not miss a beat, or a shift, ever. The closer ratios and narrow cog gaps of 11 speed have been tweaked to their limit, delivering performance that is so fast and smooth it is hard to believe it is mechanical.
To this shifting performance add the stiffness of the crank set, the efficiency of cult bearings and the perfectly tuned braking of the single/dual pivot combination, and Super Record 11 is a benchmark indeed. Consider all this comes at well under 2000 grams, 115 grams under to be exact, and the story gets even more compelling. Now, to top all of this off, throw 11 speed into the mix. In addition to shifting improvements the extra gear means you will be able to spend more time in precisely the right gear, no matter the terrain. This is efficiency to compound every other advantage of the system.
None of this comes cheap with retail at $2800. While only slightly more expensive than mechanical Dura Ace 7900, it is over $800 more than SRAM Red. The choice between Super Record 11 and Dura Ace is easy, we’ll pay the extra $200 every day of the week for Super Record 11. The upgrade from RED is considerably more and a choice not so easily made. Ask yourself how much is that Campy feel and those 11 speeds worth. If you prize a quiet drive train it is worth it. It you want a product that lives up to the iconic name that created and inspired it, your choice is made.
2011 Super Record 11
Weight: 1885 Grams with Ti Ultra Torque Crank Set
MSRP: $ 2800.00 www.campagnolo.com