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Bike Component Guide – Groupsets

2013 buyer's guide component group sets.


Campagnolo EPS TT/Tri

The last time we wrote about the Campagnolo EPS TT/Tri components we were fresh off of testing it out at their product launch in California. We were impressed then, but, with the $5,140 price tag for the Super Record eps, it targeted a niche market of triathletes with deep pockets. In 2013 Campagnolo have made it more affordable to enjoy their Italian craftsmanship with the introduction of the Athena eps ($3,000). The 11-speed electronic groupset maintains the same functionality of the more expensive Super Record eps, but it utilizes aluminum instead of carbon to reduce costs. By using a less exotic material the Athena is heavier, but not by much. For example, the difference between the two gruppo’s bar end shifters and brake controls, the difference is only 11 grams. The total component weight comparison between the two is highly variable based on the choice of crankset. The newly available Bora Ultra Crankset weighs in at 780 g thanks to the unidirectional carbon fibre material, a titanium axle and cult bearings. The Bullet Ultra Crankset is a bit heavier at 815 g and uses usb ceramic ball bearings. Both are excellent carbon aero upgrades that are compatible with all of the Campagnolo eps systems (road or triathlon).


Shimano Ultegra Di2

During our long-term review of Shimano’s Dura Ace Di2 component group a few years ago we raved that the electronic shifting was a perfect option for triathletes. The system allows you to shift by simply pressing a button and, with controls set up next to your brake levers and also on your aero bars, you have the best of all possible worlds. The only downside of the Dura Ace Di2 system ($4,590) was the price, but Shimano alleviated some of that problem in late 2011 with the release of the Ultegra Di2 gruppo. That gruppo didn’t initially come with triathlon-friendly shifters, though, so we didn’t see a lot of tri bikes with the new system. That is likely to change in 2013, though, thanks to some new innovations Shimano has made to the Di2 system. The tri shifters are now universally compatible for both Dura Ace and Ultegra, which means you’ll be able to enjoy all the same shifting benefits on your aero bars regardless of the system you choose. So what do you get with the Ultegra Di2 components ($2,200)? Precise, super-easy shifting with automatic trimming (so you won’t have to listen to any annoying chain rub) and insanely long battery life thanks to the lithium-ion battery that powers the system. It all will be available in 10- and 11-speed configurations, too.



While SRAM doesn’t offer an electronic option, the top-ofthe- line Red gruppo remains the lightest component group available. With every iteration of its rock-solid shifting Red gruppo sram has managed to drop the overall weight. Things haven’t changed for the 2013 group set ($2,843), which regained its lightest on the market status after having been pipped by Campagnolo’s Super Record gruppo for a while. A lot of that weight loss comes through a new crankset design which, thanks to sram’s alligment with Quarq these days, is available with a Quarq power meter if you’re looking for that option. While our long-term review of the Red gruppo a few years ago left us as huge fans of these components, we would reluctantly have to admit that sometimes the front derailleur shifting wasn’t as precise as it could have been. The word is that has all changed now thanks to a stiffer steel front derailleur (versus the titanium version of years past). The revamped bar end shifters from a few years ago ensure that shifting is precise and quite a bit easier than the Red gruppos of former years, too. If reliable, solid shifting and light weight are what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the Red gruppo. sram, though, has fallen behind in the “cool” facets of the bike component world. While most triathletes probably won’t need an 11-speed cassette, offering one puts Campagnolo and Shimano a bit ahead on the latest buzz front. While that won’t make a lot of difference to many, equipment-loving tri-geeks are likely to look elsewhere until sram catches up.