|Campy vs Shimano in RoadBikeRider.com Newsletter||VW|
Aug 22, 2002 11:25 AM
Issue No. 57 -- 08/22/02
Published every Thursday by Ed Pavelka and Fred Matheny of
RBR Publishing Company. E-mailed without charge or
obligation to roadies around the world.
2. UNCLE AL'S RANT
DEAR UNCLE: C'mon, Al, Campy or Shimano? Okay, I know that
both are good. I do all the bike tuning around the house and
we've got some of each. But from the viewpoint of a
professional bicycle mechanic, is Campagnolo better or is
Shimano better? -- Scott S.
UNCLE AL FIRES BACK: This is an age-old question, Scott, and
one that's been answered differently in the past.
Campagnolo was the undisputed ruler of road stuff 20+ years
ago. But Shimano was breathing down Campy's neck even then.
With the advent of Dura-Ace, Shimano jumped to the fore.
(Of course, there was Shimano's short-term AX blunder -- an
interesting attempt at aerodynamic parts, but it was
terrible. I could not build a rear wheel that would stay
true across the street, let alone for a whole ride.)
Campy was slow to respond to the index shifting thing, which
I think was actually the work of Suntour first, not Shimano.
(Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Grant Petersen, are you
listening?) Regardless, Shimano perfected index shifting
while Campy kept coming out with attempts that worked really
poorly. And we mechanics got the blame for it.
Then came Shimano's Dual Control STI, a quantum leap in
shifting ease. Cool -- change gears with the brake levers!
Campy followed suit with Ergopower. And the rest, as they
say, is history.
Campy 9-speed stuff is great, but I personally think Shimano
9-speed shifts better and is more reliable. Campy Ergo levers
can be disassembled and rebuilt. You need to replace Shimano's
blade unit if it goes south (not the entire lever). That's
very easy to do.
Taking apart a Campy brake/shift lever is a task that
requires a couple of shots of your favorite poison, a manual
and a great deal of patience. Experience helps. I've done a
few, so I'm not afraid any more. The parts are available,
but you have to know which parts you need. It's like taking
apart a clock. It looks truly terrifying in there.
Campy 10-speed is the nicest shifting I've ever experienced.
But the chain looks like a necklace and it's pretty
expensive. I haven't had a customer break one, but I can't
help but wonder. Campy's $20 link is, to me, a weakness. It
takes a special pair of pliers to put it together. Clean
this chain on the bike. Remove it only to replace it!
I prefer Shimano for its workmanlike reliability. Campy is
beautiful to look at and it works well, but it requires more
attention. Shimano rarely fails and is more forgiving when
neglected. Shimano's vast experience in mountain bike
components trickles over to the road parts, making them
I have nothing but respect for both companies' work. They
want to make the best there is, and we're the beneficiaries.
In my shop, I call Campy and Shimano higher-end components
"the good stuff." It's a delight to work on.
How's that for a total cop-out answer?
o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o o^o
Uncle Al, a shop owner, shares his opinions each week about
bike care and mechanical matters.