Campagnolo EPS TT/Tri
Campagnolo’s new Super Record EPS TT/Tri is the gruppo I’d put on my ultimate dream tri bike. Make no mistake, this is the Ferrari of component groups and, as such, will cost you a pretty penny. Campagnolo has not officially released a price yet, but based upon their electronic road gruppo, you can expect this triathlon-specific offering to cost in the neighbourhood of $6,000. Especially when you add in their new carbon aero crankset. I did say this is the grouppo selection for my “ultimate” tri bike.
This set up is a later-to-the-game entry compared to Shimano’s Di2, but the folks at Campagnolo’s factory in Vicenza, Italy wanted to make sure everything was perfect before they made their electronic splash into the triathlon world. The result is an impressive, and exotic, ride that delivers Campagnolo’s signature craftsmanship, shift quality and precision.
Those that already ride Campagnolo can be assured that the integrity of the tactile feel is preserved. That means you will hear a discernable “click” sound and actually feel a shift occurring. In fact, each front derailleur shift from small to big ring exerts 52 nm of force. When you consider that most screws that require tightening on your bike only require 5-10 nm of force you realize just how much force that is. Shifting with this 11-speed gruppo is crisp, super quick (milliseconds faster their best non-electronic grouppo) and, once the shift is completed, the chain, cogs and cranks operate in silent, smooth perfection.
The ergonomic bar end shifters are supremely comfortable. They are half the length of typical bar end shifters and return to centre once you’ve shifted. They also don’t require much force to engage a shift and I felt comfortable on the aero bars for most of my ride. I would have stayed there even longer, but I also had to test out the shifters on the brake levers. There are two shifting buttons on the brake levers – one on top and one on the inside. While climbing these work great and require just enough pressure to initiate a shift, but not such a small amount of pressure so that you can make an accidental shift while climbing out of the saddle. The ergonomic and aerodynamic brake levers are quite comfy, too. You can also perform a rapid shift from the top of the rear cog to the bottom in one second by holding down the appropriate shift button at the brake levers or bar end shifters.
The brains of the system reside in the DTI (Digital Tech Intelligence) Power Unit and Interface, which is fully waterproof to one metre (as are all components that make the EPS operate). That means moisture issues will not be a problem. The DTI communicates with the rider using a RGB LED that lights up a variety of colours to indicate the status of the system. This indicates any possible problems – a red light and a beep signals low battery life, for example. Battery life should not be an issue for most riders, who will likely only need to recharge the system every three months. Even if you do a lot of shifting you’ll probably never need to charge the batter more than once a month.
Set up is also extremely easy. The entire adjustment process to set up a new rear wheel with the system takes just a few seconds and can be done while riding. The DTI remembers the exact spacing of the cogs and is constantly aware of what is going on. The rider no longer needs to worry about limit screws, cable adjustments or any other adjustments.
The EPS TT/Tri system is optimized by utilizing the new slick looking and stiff Bullet Ultra or Bora Ultra carbon aero cranks. The performance differences between the two cranks are negligible, but the Bora is lighter due to its hollow structure and titanium parts.
The Campagnolo EPS TT/Tri first saw race action at the Giro d’Italia and their sponsored pro triathletes will have them on their bikes this summer. If you are thinking about getting your hands on it for your bike, and they will be in high demand, you will have lots of time to save up because projected availability is expected to be in the fall.-RH