Few companies in the cycling industry can lay claim to being venerable with Campagnolo's authority. Some of contemporary cycling's foundational innovations were conceived in the brain and born in the workshop of Tullio Campagnolo, including the obsolete rod-operated derailleur, the standard cable-pull parallelogram derailleur, and even the still-ubiquitous quick-release. Current Japanese and American/German outfits may outpace the Italian brand with constantly refreshed generations, but Campy doesn't worry about chasing the market, and the production, testing, and release schedule of the H11 EPS Ergo+ Hydraulic Lever and Disc Brake Caliper proves why. All of that history comes with a certain burden. Namely, Campy can't afford the bug-riddled roll-outs that so often plague the disc brakes of other brands. The brand's components are still often the benchmark of form, function, and innovation, but it insists on ensuring that innovation is equal to its exacting standards—the same standards that have ensured the company defines so much of cycling's history.
Despite that history, though, Campy was beaten to the punch for hydraulic road discs. "Beaten to the punch" is a rare thing for the Italian brand; however, it also means there's a healthy body of existing competition to compare the H11 system to, and Campy does just that. The brand claims increased stopping power compared to the current crop of road disc brakes, and it does so without sacrificing its penchant for ergonomics and aesthetics. The hoods remain relatively unchanged, gaining just 8mm in height in order to accommodate the hydraulic reservoir. That extra real estate is hardly noticeable largely because the proper hoods are virtually unchanged. If anything, those 8mm only serve to further increase hand-to-hood security during long miles in the wind spent on the hoods' horns.
The shifting is Campagnolo's EPS system, which has already been proven throughout the racing calendar by the likes of Quintana and the evergreen Valverde. The brakes themselves start in a surprising place: Germany. Campagnolo turned to Magura for consultation, but only for designing the cylinder and hydraulic system. The rest of the brakes are pure Campy, and the fact that there isn't a recent body of Italian mountain kit to draw inspiration from may be partially responsible for the extra time it took to develop. (We do remember Campy's short-lived adventure in mountain bike components, though. Those Bullet grip shifters.) The German-inspired Italian engineering ultimately produced a master cylinder with a bleed port atop the vertical center for easier servicing, meaning you won't have to move the levers back and forth to shake out air bubbles. It uses a blue mineral oil similar to Magura's, so it doesn't absorb water and lubricates the entire system for reliable stopping without requiring regular bleeding of old fluid.
Besides the addition of a reservoir, the levers themselves are similar to a pair of Record or Super Record EPS units with one exception: carbon brake lever blades flare slightly more at the bottom, providing a more comfortable platform to take advantage of disc brakes' increased modulation while you're in the drops. Campagnolo's Adjustable Modulation System (AMS) provides long and short travel position settings for adjusting the brake's leverage ratio to your particular liking. This adjustable modulation gives you the ability to fine-tune how quickly the brake moves from open to fully locked. Moreover, 16-millimeters of reach adjustment give you additional control over where your brake levers sit in relationship to your hand.
As for the brake calipers, they're designed exclusively for 160-millimeter rotors on the front, giving you the option of selecting between 140 and 160-millimeter rotor versions for the rear. Flat-mount compatibility (for both forks and frames) ditches the use of adapters, meaning you'll reap the benefits of a stiffer and cleaner attachment interface. True to form, Campy chose the Occam's razor approach to engineering: simple and effective instead of complex and prone to malfunctions because of a glut of moving parts. 22mm-wide pistons of phenolic resin reduce heat transfer during prolonged descents and racing scenarios where you'd normally experience a loss in braking performance. This final feature is especially important because that's exactly when less responsiveness can be most costly.
- The latest tech from Campagnolo in braking and EPS shifting
- Master cylinder and oil flow system co-developed with Magura
- Lever body is 8mm taller without compromising ergonomics
- Carbon brake lever revised for better control in the drops
- AMS adjusts brake leverage ratio with long and short settings
- 16-millimeters of reach adjustment for fine-tuning the feel
- 160mm front caliper only, rear is available as 140 or 160mm
- Each set includes one H11 EPS brake/shift lever and one H11 disc brake caliper