Campagnolo Athena EPS group announced recently trades just a few carbon fiber parts for aluminum to bring the price down, and, at first glance, that’s about it.
Truth be told, other changes are few and far between, but they are significant. Surprisingly (and thankfully), the composite knuckles on both front and rear derailleurs remain, so it’s really only the parallelogram mechanism that goes from carbon to alloy. We had a chance to shift it around at DealerCamp and it did seem just slightly slower to run through the cassette when holding down the button continuously. Campy’s North American reps said performance is the same, so it’s quite possible the battery was run down from three solid days of looky-loos fiddling with it. We’ve noticed the Super Record EPS group we’ve been testing does slow down as the battery gets low.
The rear derailleur also looks very similar to the higher end Record and Super Record groups save for the alloy outer plate.
Ever wonder how their “Ride Home” feature works? In the event you crash or the battery totally dies on a ride, Campy’s EPS system lets you decouple the rear derailleur and manually set it into the gear of your choice. Under normal operation, the servo pushes a the silver rod and the lower knuckle moves because it’s lodged in a bowl-shaped hole (arrow). Push the derailleur toward the spokes with enough force (or crash on your driveside) and it’ll pop out of that hole and move inward. This doubles as the safety feature to save the derailleur in the event of a wreck and to let you put it into gear.
If the derailleur is already too far inward (on the largest few cogs), it may not move enough to de-couple. In that case, you’ll have to muscle it down while pedaling to get it on a smaller cog, then pop it loose. Presumably, this means the safety feature isn’t as effective if you wreck while in an easier gear, but the derailleur tends to be more tucked in at that point, too.
The levers are virtually identical, just no carbon.
We asked why they skipped the Chorus group and, well, it’s basically because they wanted to drop it down to a primarily alloy group so they could offer a “budget” electronic shifting option. Campy’s reps said pricing wouldn’t be finalized until Eurobike (or at least not announced until then), but we’ve heard wholesale pricing should put retail around $2,900 for the group. That’s not official, but should be really close.
OK, ready for the big change? Plugs are slightly modified (new ones on the left, original on the right), but the polarity is reportedly changed. This means no cross-compatibility between Record/Super Record and Athena parts for now. It’s likely this running change will trickle through the line, much as Di2’s improved E-Tube wiring introduced on Ultegra Di2 is now coming on the new Dura-Ace Di2. No reason was given for the polarity swap.