Vive le Tour! Ahhh, how we love the Tour de France -- it’s the not-so-quiet quiet before the storm for next year’s new product introductions. Who hasn’t salivated over the carbon fiber version of the Shimano Dura Ace cranksets seen on the Gerolsteiner bikes or the Cosmic Carbone Ultimates on the Cofidis bikes? We’ve even spotted a glimpse or two of electronic Campagnolo Record.
Naturally, everyone wants to know if electronic Record (and electronic Dura Ace, for that matter) will be available in the 2008 season. The answer, we’re sad to report, is no for both companies. We’ll all have to suffer with fly-by-wire shifting for another year…Nevertheless, there are a few changes impending for Campagnolo in 2008, and what follows here is a brief of what you’ll see:
As we all know, compact cranksets have become mainstream in the last couple of years. One noteworthy point of distinction between Campagnolo and Shimano in terms of compact has always been that Campy requires the use of a ‘CT’ front derailleur for their 50/34 cranksets. ‘CT’ is Campy shorthand for a compact-specific front derailleur. CT front derailleurs don’t work with 53/39 cranksets, and likewise non-CT front derailleurs don’t work with 50/34 cranksets.
By comparison, Shimano front derailleurs have always been compatible with both Shimano 53/39 and 50/34 cranksets. That added flexibility means you get a cost savings and a time savings if you ride a Shimano-equipped bike and are keen to switch back & forth between a standard and a compact crank.
Given the clear superiority owned by Shimano in this small-but-not-unimportant detail, it probably comes as no surprise that the most noteworthy 2008 Campgnolo innovation comes in the form of a total redesign of their Record and Chorus front derailleurs. They get a standardized cage -- compatible with both 53/39 and 50/34 Campy cranksets. In addition, they get a new body and a new inner plate design to improve shifting performance.
The body of the ’08 Record and Chorus front derailleurs now ’embrace’ both the inner and the outer plates. As a result, the derailleur as a whole is more rigid, which gives notably superior shifting when you go from the small ring to the big ring. The front derailleur cage retains the front part of the CT model -- exactly where the chain touches when you shift from small to big ring. But the curvature and height of the rest of the cage is new, which is what makes it compatible with both standard and compact cranksets. Lastly, the inner plate has a new shape that gives the derailleur more oomph when you shift from small to big rings, again improving these upshifts.
Another change for 2008 comes in the form of a new color for the fantastic Shamal Ultra wheelset. The Shamal Ultras are, in our mind, Campy’s answer to the Mavic Ksyrium ES wheelset. Not unlike the Ksyrium ES, they’re light enough for serious climbing, but aero enough for flatlanders. One advantage of the Shamal Ultra comes in the form of their amazing hub internals. Their Record-quality bearings deliver minimal drag -- a timely topic given that 2007 was the year of ceramic bearings. In addition, the Shamal Ultra is a bit more aero than the Ksyrium, due to its deeper cross-section rims. The only liability of the Shamal Ultra, in fact, has been the fact that in 2007 they were only available in a noxious gold color. Beginning in 2008, we’ll have them in a beautiful ‘Titanium’ color. Call it Titanium, call it Pewter, call it Silver, call it whatever you want. What we call it though, is the ONLY choice when you put it alongside Gold!
And, lastly, for folks who like to extract maximum bang-for-the-buck, in 2008 Centaur cranksets will be available in aluminum and in carbon. In 2007, we saw aluminum only. The Centaur carbon option will be nice for folks who love the performance that comes from Campy’s Ultra-Torque design, who love the look and the stiffness/lightness of carbon, but need to squeeze every last penny of value. It’s a nice addition to a fantastic line of components.
Keep your eyes peeled for a 2008 Shimano update from us. Ultegra SL is already available -- which caught us a bit off guard. We’ll have full info here & have it for sale very soon.