Off Road Campy drivetrains

Building a STEEP hill climbing bike? Interested in creating a modern gravel bike but love your Italian shifters? We’ve been playing with ways to fit larger cassettes onto our Campagnolo equipped bikes, to get those ultra-low gears desirable for eye-watering grades. Here are a few tricks needed to convert your road group into a do-it-all drivetrain.

  1. 11-speed cassettes are brand interchangeable, so an 11-speed 11-40 Shimano XT cassette will share nearly identical cog spacing to an 11-speed 12-25 Campy Chorus cassette. This was not the case for 10-, 9- or 8-speed cassettes, as cog spacing was different enough to cause shifting issues when mixing cassettes. The cassette will have to match the freehub body, which has its own particularities: 11-speed Shimano Dynasys mountain cassettes fit on SRAM/Shimano 9/10-speed freehubs, or 11-speed freehubs with a spacer. 11-speed SRAM wide-range road cassettes only fit on 11-speed SRAM/Shimano road freehubs. 11-speed SRAM XD mountain cassettes only fit on SRAM’s new XD hub body.
  2. You’ll likely need a long cage rear derailleur. Cage length is important when gear ranges are large, as extra chain length needs to be taken up by the derailleur. See our write up of chain wrap here: http://branfordbike.com/articles/rear-derailleurs-pg62.htm. Early 11-speed Campagnolo derailleurs used the exact same derailleur geometry as 10-speed, and the older 10-speed derailleurs handle 11-speed chains just fine. Thus, you’d be able to choose from pre-2008 Record and Chorus 10-speed medium and long cage rear derailleurs. We’ve found that the medium length cages work well up to 32 tooth cogs, and we’ve successfully tested long-cage derailleurs up to 40 tooth.
  3. In 2015, Campagnolo derailleur geometry and cable pull ratios changed for the Ultra-Torque line (SR, Record, Chorus), so if you own 2015+ UT shifters, your only option is to use concurrent short cage derailleurs, while being mindful of chain wrap requirements of desired gear combination. The Power-torque family has a compatible Athena triple rear derailleur still in production. 2015 is the same year Campy introduced the conspicuous four arm Ultra-torque cranksets (see here).
  4. In order to clear the larger cog sizes, the upper derailleur pulley wheel must be lowered beyond the capacity of the b-screw. Wolf Tooth Components makes an elegant solution for lowering the derailleur past large mountain cogs. The Road Link is seen here: http://branfordbike.com/product/wolf-tooth-components-road-link-1359.htm.

To recap, the specs you’ll need are:

  • 11-speed wide-range cassette, with compatible hub.
  • Medium- or long-cage rear derailleur.
  • Wolf Tooth Road Link.

With this, we can take our Campy-equipped bikes further than ever before. Maybe we’re getting tired of riding the same old roads, or just like having a bike capable of climbing that driveway without a knee-breaking grunt session. Versatility is a characteristic some may scoff at, but we are embracing it with open arms. See you on the trails!

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9 comments

  1. Dan R · February 17, 2016

    Thank you for a superb article for those of us riding cyclocross and gravel courses with Campy drivetrains. Branford Bikes once again demonstrates thst it remains THE source for Campy know-how and mix-and-match combinations. I do have one correction about point #3 on the compatibility of 2015 groupsets. In 2015, Campy redesigned the derailleurs and cable pull ratios on the UltraTorque family (Chorus, Record and Super Record), as you point out, and the new design is not backwards compatible with earlier models. Campy, however, did not redesign the PowerTorque family (11-speed Athena and 10-speed Veloce) for 2015; therefore, Athena and Veloce long cage derailleurs will not work with 2015 UltraTorque components. If I am wrong on this point, please post a reply. Otherwise, if you are using a 2015 UltraTorque groupset, your only option appears to be a Wolf’s Tooth with a 2015 short cage derailleur in order to fit a wide ratio cassette. Obviously, a 12-30 cassette should work with this option, chain wrap permitting. I plan to try a 12-32 and will report back.

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    • rorycj · February 19, 2016

      Dan,

      Thank you for pointing that out. In order to use current Athena triple rear derailleur, you will need to use matching Powertorque shifters (Athena and Veloce, as you mentioned). I will update the post to specify this. Please let us know if your experiment works!

      Cheers!

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  2. Sonneur · June 23, 2016

    Am I correct in understanding your post to mean that my 2014 Chorus shifters should work with my 10 speed long cage Record rear derailleur and an 11 speed cassette?

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    • rorycj · July 7, 2016

      Yes this combination would work. However, you must be certain that the shifters are from 2014 and not 2015. Sometimes model years are a little fuzzy with early product releases, etc. One give away is the rubber hood: early Chorus has long ridges running fore/aft (seen here) whereas 2015 shifters received a newly textured hood (seen here).

      Happy riding!

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  3. Jack · July 11, 2016

    I’m a middle aged (over 50) overweight (90 kg) cycling enthusiast. I’m always out of gears on long Alpine climbs. I did Stelvio, Kaunertal and Grossglockner last year on 30×29 but wished to have at least 32 ring. I’m wondering how to rebuid my current bike. It is Roubaix SL2 with full Campy Centaur (around 2013) triple. 52-39-30 front and 13-29 cassette. Long cage der, triple cage front der. I came across info on Woolf Tooh RoadLink recently. I thought I could buy Chorus 11 shifters and new Potenza mid cage rear der. LBS service neraby already informed me of incompatibilites. They said this setup might not work. So maybe it’s better to buy Athena pre 2015 shifters and rear der? And much cheaper than Campy, Shimano cassettes. I would only have to change freehub body on my Zonda wheels. 11-40 cassette doesn’t likely seem to fit as long cage der capacity is 39 if I’m correct. But maybe 11-36 would do. I wonder what kind of cranks should I choose? I have BSA threaded Campy Power Torque cups currently in my frame. But I also have complete Veloce compact gruppo lying around with 50-34 Power Torque Crank. It didn’t work for me in the mountains. 34×29 was completety useless. Info on the net says 10-speed cranks will work with 11-speed chain. I’ve seen one guy’s setup where he had Campagnolo Record 10-speed shifters, 52-34 Ultegra cranks, Ultegra front der, 10-speed Campy record rear der with WolfTooth and Shimano casettte. Some say it can’t work. But he rides it without problems.

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  4. Andrew · September 17, 2016

    Awesome article!

    Sorry cycling noob here. If I read it right and I’m running a 2015 Chorus group, I can just buy a 11-36 cassette and a RoadLink and I’ll be good?

    Will the shifts be less smooth/snappy?

    Thank you!

    Like

  5. Jambee · October 6

    Guys,
    this article is fantastic. I absolutely love campy’s shifters and would love to use them on my bikes with larger gear ranges.

    If one was to focus on the Chorus shifters (recent ones, i.e. post 2015), what derailleur will you recommend? I’m specifically interested in the ability to click down a large number of gears.

    Thanks!

    Like

  6. DPK · January 15

    My understanding is that newer Campagnolo (The 11 speed “revolution”) derailleurs could be modified with the medium cage available from the Potenza group. Thus, you could have a Campy Chorus, Record or SR 11+ (so, 2015 model) rear derailleur, swap out the cage for the bigger cage from the Potenza RD and use it with their new 11 – 32 cassette. You may not even need the RoadLink or anything else. What would be very interesting is if we could then use the RoadLink to use even bigger cogs. At any rate, if anyone can triple confirm this, would be great.

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  7. Darren Austin · April 10

    In my experience you run 50×34 and 12-30 with most campag short rear mechs, I have used Chorus 2014, Centaur 2011 and Veloce 2012 spec, with both campag and Miche cassettes. Campag did do the 12-30 10-speed cassette for a while, but now only seem to do 29’s, but Miche still do the 12-30. I also run 12-32 (Miche) with 46×34 with a 2015 Athene short cage – again all works fine.

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