After two decades in development and many prototypes, Campagnolo’s EPS electronic component group has finally been made official, and they’ve launched not one but two complete groups.
UPDATE: Now with complete component weights and other details. This article has been completely rewritten upon receiving official materials from Campagnolo. See comments for full explanation.
Dubbed Record EPS and Super Record EPS, the acronym stands for Electronic Power Shift, and the brains of the operation gets another one: DTI for Digital Tech Intelligence.
The EPS system is fully electronic, with the brain sending and receiving signals to and from the components, particularly the rear derailleur, to monitor its position in real time and keep everything aligned for optimal performance. Given Shimano’s efforts in bringing electronic shifting to the mainstream conversation, what sets Campagnolo’s recent introduction apart? In a nutshell, weight and the way it shifts. Click through to get the details…
EPS SYSTEM OVERVIEW
The ErgoPower levers are very similar visually to the mechanical versions. Downshifts are handled by the larger finger lever behind the brake lever, upshifts by the thumb lever, which looks to be placed slightly lower on the inside of the hoods to make it easier to reach from the drops. The levers’ action is designed to mimic the feel of their mechanical siblings. Called “MultiDome” technology, Campy used multiple shaped layers of metal in the sensors to give the shift levers a “click” feeling.
With their mechanical levers, Campy’s “multi-shifting” lets you roll through a couple gears at a time, limited by the amount of cable that can be pulled within the range of the lever’s movement. With EPS, that limitation is gone, letting you run up or down the entire 11-speed cassette with a single push…and it’ll through the entire range of gears in a claimed 1.5 seconds! The number of gears shifted per press depends upon how long the shifter is depressed rather than how many times you press it. This is the most profound difference between EPS and Di2, relying on timing rather than clicks to shift multiple gears. It’s also likely to be the most controversial aspect of its performance.
As with Di2, the benefits of going to an electronic system are improved long term precision and better, quicker performance. Once the system is set up, it shouldn’t need any further adjustments. Both the front and rear derailleurs use an actuator-driven worm screw to move the derailleur. The actuator has sensors to monitor derailleur movement, sending signals back to the DTI, which monitors any movement and readjusts the derailleur as necessary. That, combined with a stiffer parallelogram structure on the electronic derailleurs, keeps things where they should be at all times.
The obvious benefit is precision shifting with no need to adjust cables for wear or temperature change. You also don’t have to worry about gummed up cable housings slowing things down.
The components look very similar to the late-stage prototypes we saw at Eurobike.
The complete groups weigh in at a claimed 2,184g for Record EPS and 2,098g for Super Record EPS. Compare that to the claimed weight for Shimano’s Dura-Ace Di2 (2,219g) and Ultegra Di2 (2,482), and Campy gets a slight weight advantage. Compared to the mechanical Record and Super Record groups, the EPS versions add about 200g…not a bad penalty, but more of a weight gain than with Shimano’s mech-to-electronic switch. What’s really interesting is that while SRAM was first to boast a sub-200g complete group, Campy’s first shot at electronic comes awfully close to the 2kg mark.
BATTERY AND BRAINS
Perhaps one of the contributing factors to the weight savings is because the brains and battery are consolidated into a single unit. With Di2, the battery disconnects from the port to simplify recharging. By contrast, Campagnolo’s EPS uses fixed wiring and a completely sealed unit. This means recharging has to be done with the complete bike in attendance. The upside is Campy says this design makes the unit more impervious to water, oil, dust and vibration.
The doodad on the left (above) is the initial interface control unit that:
- Shows the LEDs in different colors to communicate battery level and component status. Different color lights indicated either battery status or issues with specific components. Each component gets a unique color. Like Shimano’s Di2, though, the color only tells you there’s something wrong, there’s not much you can do to fix the parts on your own.
- Manages the set up and adjustment procedure.
- Translates electrical impulses from the levers and turns them into digital signals to send to the power unit.
Just inside the thumb shift lever is a small ‘Switch Mode’ button. Press it once quickly and it shows battery status on the DTI unit. Hold it down and the system enters set up mode. For the initial install, there’s Zero Mode, where the system is fully calibrated to your bike. Ride Mode, which is what you can do via the button, allows minor tweaks to, say, fine tune it if you’re just switching wheels or something.
The Li-Ion battery is charged via a covered port, and the system uses a small magnetic plug “key” to turn it on or off. Removing the key turns it on, which sounds counterintuitive
until you realize you can just pull it out and leave it in the garage or car while you ride and not risk losing it. Then just plug it in to turn everything off and save power. Actually, Campagnolo recommends leaving the plug removed most of the time, and here’s why: When not in use, the system automatically enters standby mode. This allows it to draw minimal power while still monitoring the derailleurs’ positions. This means if the bike falls over or gets bumped, things are able to be kept aligned. The diagnostics system also monitors the battery’s charge, showing green through yellow through red as it drops during riding or standby. If it gets too low, it will flash red and sound a buzzer to remind you to charge it. The system has protections built in to preserve both the electronics’ and battery’s integrity should power drop too low. At a minimum, it should be recharged fully once every six months.
This chart shows expected battery life per full charge based on an average monthly riding distance (top row). To put that into miles, you can get about 964 miles per charge if you typically ride 310 miles per month. At the top end of the range, you’ll get about 1,260 miles per charge if you’re riding about 1,240 miles per month. It’ll hold a charge in standby mode (“autonomy”) for approximately six months without any use.
The system uses a dedicated, proprietary battery charger, and a car charger cable is available separately. It can be charged with or without the pin inserted, and the motors are deactivated during charging, which means you can’t really use the bike on the trainer while simultaneously charging it.
The wiring and ports look about the same size as Di2 cables, which means they should work on existing frames. The port on the battery/brain doubles as a diagnostic port and can be used to update the system in the future.
2012 CAMPAGNOLO RECORD EPS vs. SUPER RECORD EPS
This chart spells out the key differences. The brake lever is “Lever 1” and the main shift lever behind it is “Lever 2”. (Lever 3 is the thumb shift lever on the inside of each Ergopower unit). “Derailleur” refers to the front derailleur.
The Super Record EPS ErgoPower levers (above) get the vented brake and shift levers and a few lighter materials, the Record’s are solid (below). Brake levers are carbon and shift levers are composite.
The rear derailleurs are also quite similar at first glance, but the devil’s in the details.
The Super Record EPS has a knocked out outer plate, and the pulleys are rolling on Campy’s CULT ceramic bearings. The Record EPS has standard ball bearings for the pulleys.
There’s only one limit screw, placed to keep the rear derailleur from diving into the spokes. The B-spring screw is the only other mechanical adjustment on the entire range of electric parts, letting you set the “zero” position for the rear derailleur prior to initial set up. From there on, everything is set electronically.
An actuator rotates a worm gear to move the rear derailleur. The female thread (bronze part sticking out) has been rounded off from earlier versions for a much cleaner look. Super Record (left) gets treated pivot bolts and black alloy motor housing. Record’s motor housing is silver and steel.
Both versions have a carbon fiber outer plate and alloy inner plate. Shown here are the SR’s ceramic bearing pulleys.
Like Di2, the EPS front derailleur automatically trims (two positions up and down) to eliminate chain rub. Campy says this allows cross chain gear combos not really possible with their mechanical setup. When necessary, the system will slightly overshift to help force a quick shift under pressure (like when climbing), then quickly move to a normal position.
The Record EPS front derailleur has alloy chainguide plates and steel motor mounts. The Super Record EPS (right) gets a carbon fiber outer plate and alloy motor mounts. Both derailleurs use primarily high-strength polymer bodies for their main housing.
Their non-electronic components carry over for 2012, with materials differences and weights being the key differentiators between Record and Super Record. The new electronic drivetain will work with both regular and compact chainring configurations.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU CRASH?
The rear derailleur has a bit of crashproofing built in. In the event of a fall or extreme shock, the mechanical part of the rear derailleur will uncouple from the actuator to protect the electronics. Assuming you didn’t totally trash it, you can shift all the way down to the first cog and manually recouple it to resume riding as normal. The flip side is if the battery dies while you’re out riding, you can also manually de-couple the actuator and put it in a good gear to get home. Conveniently, Campy calls this the “Ride Back Home” feature and advises you to charge your battery upon your return.
AVAILABILITY & PRICING
Bicycling Magazine is reporting pricing is not finalized but should be in line with Dura-Ace Di2 for the Record EPS group, that Super Record EPS will be more and that you should be able to get your hands on a system aftermarket early next year.
For those on the fence between mechanical and electronic, it’s worth considering what it would cost for cable and housing replacements and tuneups over the life of the system. If you’re buying high-end cables and housing, a few changes narrows the lifetime cost difference between mechanical and electronic. Sadly, it does nothing to mitigate sticker shock.
All photos ©Campagnolo.