January: time to start thinking about the upcoming race season. More importantly, time to start thinking about ways to spend my upcoming tax returns!
As I’ve shared before here, this is my little yellow bike. When I received the frame last spring, I had all the best intentions of dressing it up in some brand new build kit, but the money for that sadly slipped through my fingers, and my only option was to transfer parts from old bike to new. It’s not a bad way to do things, obviously, but it held the bike back from feeling as special as it could have.
In 2013, though, my ‘vagen is finally getting the parts it deserves!
Campy parts. Obviously.
Now I’ve got plenty of engineering respect for the durability and reliability that Shimano builds into their parts, and a fascination with their fancy forging tech, but the aesthetics don’t sit well with me, and the ubiquity of Ultegra and Dura Ace is a bit of a turnoff. SRAM impresses me by offering very light groupset weights across all tiers, and that new front derailleur yaw thingy is the kind of clever that makes my wallet stiffen, but in the end, their stuff just doesn’t quite light my fire (turn down the graphics a few notches, maybe?).
If I’m honest though, I’m completely pretending that I actually spent time considering either of those two at all. No, my heart was spoken for before I even owned my first real road bike; the second I laid eyes on the campy pista crankset, I knew my destiny. In the immortal words of the O.C.’s Seth Cohen, “It’s always been you,
Summer Campy. It’s just always been you.”
If choosing a manufacturer was easy, however, choosing an exact gruppo was not. Indulge me, if you will, on a short rant.
I don’t think Super Record was a good idea. Or at least I don’t get the impression it was an idea well executed. I’m not old enough to remember the last time SR was around – Wikipedia says 1987, so I would have been ’bout three years old – but since I started riding bikes and making it rain on QBP orders, it seems like there’s been a general agreement that a three tier system works nicely for upper level groupsets. Three component levels works great, and it makes sense to me. You’ve got your pro level race stuff that will also find its way onto any bike that wants to be light and/or baller; you’ve got your blue collar, functional and (mostly) affordable stuff that has a home on sensible race bikes and serious enthusiast bikes; and you’ve got your pretty-much-just-as-good-only-heavier stuff that you can ride without shame, while keeping costs down. I’ve had groupsets of all three types, and I’ve never found the decisions involved difficult to make.
And now we’ve got Super Record. I think, with some extra emphasis on “think,” that what Campy likely had in mind was a continuation of their three tier system, but with an extra rapper-level option floating above the rest. Record still battles DA and Red, while Super Record drinks its own vodka brand in a VIP booth at a club that us normals don’t get to know about. Record, DA, and Red step off the team bus to sign autographs for cycling fans, while Super Record crashes a Lamborghini on a high mountain pass, and pops for a helicopter ride back to the dealer to buy another. Budget, Race, Pro, and now Exclusive. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, but that hierarchy scenario makes some sense to me, and I would agree to it.
But then SR started showing up on pro bikes, and not just super star pros, but regular-ass pros too. And pricing, while very expensive, wasn’t that big of a jump up from Record. So is it exclusive, or is it just the new pro race standard? Does Super Record make a bike totally bananas special, or is it now what you’ve just got to get, making Record old news? Chorus still plays somewhere in the middle, but while I think of it as floating somewhere between Ultegra/Force and DA/Red, it’s tough to not just mindlessly order the manufacturers’ gruppos numerically and compare straight across, leaving Athena off the list, and putting Chorus up against 105 and Rival, which I’m sure was not Campagnolo’s intent.
Campy, we had the sets of three thing all figured out, and then you went and messed with out maths! I’m not angry, just disappointed .. Ahh, who am I kidding, I can’t stay mad at you.
So, you know, UGH. For this label conscious Campy lover, Super Record is a real frame pump in the spokes.
After much soul searching, combined with spreadsheets containing prices and weights of every part combination, my solution, and one I would recommend to anybody looking to make a light Campy bike, is this:
- Front Derailleur – Chorus (within a few grams of the other two, cheaper, and a full metal cage)
- Rear Derailleur – Super Record (there’s a real weight difference here, due to the almost full carbon/plastic design)
- Crankset – Super Record (this is another part where SR has a genuine weight advantage, with a Ti spindle)
- Brakes – Record (Record is about 30g lighter than Chorus, while SR seems to be nearly identical to Record)
- Cassette – Chorus for training, Record for racing (and Super Record if I find a bag of drug money)
- Chain – KMC (no special tool needed, and a reusable master link)
- Shifters – My logic tells me Chorus, because all 3 options are almost exactly the same in weight, function, and aesthetics. I need my shifters to say “Record” on them though, because I am shallow, so Record
I have plopped down a big fat verbal agreement to pay for the above when it all arrives, and with any luck there should be lots of boxes with lots of fancy bike parts and lots of instruction booklets with cool sounding Italian words inside arriving soon. I will photograph and weigh things, and share the results here, because I am operating on the assumption that at least some of y’all here are as dorky as me, and equipment obsession is what gets people like you and me through the winter.
Until then, I hope you enjoy your own dreams of bike parts to come!
PS: Next month I need to build a new set of training wheels, as my old go-to pair is headed off to CO along with the rest of a bike, so that I won’t have to fly with a silly bike case ever again. These wheels shall be either 24 or 28 spokes, and probably use White Industries hubs. What I’m stumped on is the rims… Legend has it Velocity is phasing my beloved Aerohead and Aerohead O/C (true?) for the A23 and A23 O/C, and it seems like a good excuse to try out something different. Anybody tried out the H Plus Son TB14? What else is out there in terms of kind of classic looking low profile rims, available with 28 holes or fewer?