2012 team bikes

Happy New Year!

The season is now just two weeks away with the Tour Down Under. Today marks the day when riders officially start their new jobs and are able to wear the colours of their new teams. With this in mind, here is the list of 2012 Pro Tour team bikes.

Ag2r-La Mondiale Kuota SRAM
Astana Specialized SRAM
BMC BMC Shimano
Euskaltel-Euskadi Orbea Shimano
FDJ-Big Mat Lapierre Shimano
Garmin-Cervélo Cervélo Shimano
Greenedge Scott Shimano
Katusha Canyon Shimano
Lampre-ISD Wilier Triestina Campagnolo
Liquigas-Cannondale Cannondale SRAM
Lotto-Belisol Ridley Campagnolo
Movistar Pinarello Campagnolo
Omega Pharma-Quick Step Specialized SRAM
Rabobank Giant Shimano
Radioshack-Nissan Trek Shimano
Saxo Bank Specialized SRAM
Sky Pinarello Shimano
Vacansoleil Bianchi Shimano

For many bike manufacturers sponsoring a top team is an expensive option, both in terms of the cash outlay but also because of the sheer volume of material needed. Each rider will go through at least two road frames during the season, possibly four and even more if there is crash damage and in addition there are time trial frames. This volume is not a problem for Specialized, they sponsor three teams. This was the case last year and if Highroad has gone, the US firm has returned to sponsorship of Quick Step again.

Last year I noted the declining presence of Campagnolo with only four teams in the top level, now there are just three. I know there are devoted owners out there but all top groupsets are excellent these days, there’s less point being partisan. But it’s a small worry if the Italian firm retreats any further, whether you look at it from the perspective of heritage or consumer choice.

Component sponsorship varies, some teams are sponsored directly by the parent company but others rely on deals with their national distributor and a few squads buy their components, albeit at very preferential rates. Last year Quick Step was purchasing its Campagnolo, this time I believe Garmin-Cervélo are buying their Shimano parts.

72 thoughts on “2012 team bikes”

  1. “Less point in being partisan”? The stuff used by the pro teams has to be excellent, no team will use products that might cost them a victory (unless really badly managed) no matter how much money a supplier throws at them. So I see no logic there – so I’ll continue to be partisan. Though I must admit Campagnolo is an official supplier to CycleItalia, at the risk of winding folks up as in the Cervelo debate, my partisanship is based on how and where and by whom the stuff is made. It should be no surprise companies like Specialized and SRAM have plenty of dough to spend on pro teams…I’d bet the profit margin on their respective products is among the highest in the industry. Cheap labor, high markup, etc. The smaller firms, many more concerned with passion than simply profit, easily get squeezed out when pro cycling sponsorship gets into the stratosphere with costs. I would love to know how much $$ those two “S” companies dole out beyond the products to the pro teams? And despite that, didn’t Garmin opt to buy their own Shimano stuff vs what was assumed to be a fat sponsorship package from SRAM? Hard to believe that Shimano isn’t at least giving them the stuff – does anyone know the real story there?
    In the end it’s all marketing anyway as any pro could win any race on any bike on any given day – it’s the legs, lungs, heart and brain that make the difference, which is why bicycle racing is the best sport on wheels! Best wishes for a great 2012 to all.

  2. Campagnolo has itself squeezed rivals out of the way, that is business and the company builds a low cost countries like Romania too.

    As for the Garmin story on Shimano-SRAM, there is a story there but for now note they have long used Rotor parts and with the new Garmin power measurement pedals there’s a conflict of interest with SRAM and its new acquisition, Quarq power meters.

    And I’ll update the table for future reference with more details once all the info is available.

  3. You’re right, there is no point in being partisan, but I’m a Campagnolo man; it looks and feels better, in my opinion.
    I do worry that their decreasing presence in the pro peloton will reduce the company to a niche brand (if it isn’t already.)
    I’m no business man, but surely they need to invest in sponsorship to maintain market share. People won’t buy it if they don’t see it in big races. The riders will use what they’re given and, as has already been said here, all the groups are efficient and reliable.

    What was Andy Schleck using when he dropped his chain during the 2010 Tour?

  4. interesting points about campagnolo becoming a niche brand. As a Colnago lover I see they are again out of the pro-tour (Since Rabo switched to Giant a few years back? They still have Europcar though, i think) but they seem to have taken a different direction in their marketing – focusing on their prestige and “made in Italy”. I wonder what the results have been from a sales point of view.

    And Biachi back for the first time since Liquigas Bianchi of a few years back….Deluca’s giro win in 2007?

  5. For anyone who cares and has yet to see this, here’s the link to an excellent article about Campagnolo
    Campagnolo’s been on the other end of the squeeze as you say, back-in-the-day. I think Valentino Campagnolo explains his situation regarding lower-wage production better than I can paraphrase it here. I wonder, how many teams does a component maker need to sponsor? Of course the more you have the better chances of being able to boast (and advertise) of wins but as most of us will acknowledge the bike or components really make no difference. So the sponsorship end is important as being involved at the highest level and getting feedback from the top riders to develop the best stuff. Everyone knows the best stuff is not chosen by pro teams, pro teams use stuff that’s as good as the rest and choose based on who pays ’em the most. So maybe two or three teams at the top level is enough? That would leave (vs their competition) some funds to do other things (like helping CycleItalia for example) at lower levels which may more directly effect those who actually BUY the stuff – which of course is the goal for all these folks. Campagnolo has lost a lot of OEM spec but Tom Kattus of Campagnolo NA has taken steps to improve this situation. Until someone tries Campagnolo they can’t really know why they might like it better. Advertising can only go so far, but with our rental program we’ve had many folks who end up trying Campagnolo for the first-time. Some of them say the next bike they buy will be Campy-equipped after a week with us! For us it’s all part of falling in love with everything Italian.

  6. I totally agree with Larry. Smart manufacturers are looking for opportunities beyond sponsoring pro teams. E.g., the ambassador team of Gran Fondo New York consists of cycling enthusiasts like you and I. The “Gruppo Sportivo GFNY” is fully sponsored by Pinarello, Campagnolo, Giordana, Diadora, Limar and others (www.granfondony.com/grupposportivo). Team members lead group rides and represent the event and team sponsors on the streets of and around NYC as well as at Gran Fondos worldwide. They have direct access to the people who buy the high end products. Potential costumers can directly see and feel (test) the product. We’ve had a amazing growth in interest in the products we ride in only a few weeks.

    Yes, pro team sponsorship is essential for our sport. But don’t be surprised if some companies massively cut their pro team sponsorship and thrive on a different marketing strategy.

  7. It’s interesting to see the leaning towards Campagnolo kit by posters here.
    As someone who experimented with nearly all marques and stopped using Campag gear as soon as there were better alternatives (yes back in the early 80s), I am surprised that the company still survives.
    I’m sure that everyone has long-since noticed that it is predominantly Italian teams that use Campag parts. I suspect that there is both national pride and “we’ll give you the stuff for free and even pay you to use it too” at play in this effect.
    Obviously teams that have the choice just don’t use the Campagnolo.
    As to other marketing ploys, they amount to nothing if people don’t win races on the stuff, you just create a shrinking niche market for people who aren’t willing to pay for stuff the pros use.
    I’m ashamed to say that my view of most things Italian (apart from the food and scenery) is mainly from the “looks great, falls apart” school of thought, whether it’s cheap or expensive.
    Perhaps I am becoming bigoted in my old age but a lot of it is grounded in my experience of Italian products bought in the past, from cars to coffee machines (and bike components), through bitter experience “Made in Italy” equates to “don’t buy this”.

    Campag’s stuff does look quite nice though…

  8. Igam

    Try it. Every pro team would love to be sponsored by Campa. There is no team who had the choice and declined. Campagnolo sticks to Italian teams because, as you say, it’s some “national pride”. IMHO and experience, Campagnolo would never throw money at someone in order for them to use it. They don’t care if you’re the pope (unless he’s Italian. Maybe.). I’ve heard other companies who have to do it in order to have any pro team ride it but I won’t name names unless I would know for sure.

  9. I’m curious about what Fausto asked, as well. I haven’t seen or read anything about what components will be on the bike next year. I would guess it’ll be SRAM because on the Radioshack/Lance/SRAM link, but I also recall that Leopard specifically requested Shimano last season.

    @Igam, I think it’s totally illogical to conclude that “teams that have the choice just don’t use the Campagnolo.” I have no dog in this fight, and in fact, have a huge boner for Shimano, but there’s no question that Campagnolo’s stuff works as effectively, and weighs as much or less, as anything from the other makers. The primary difference is that Campagnolo clearly doesn’t have the money, the will, or the want to give away product left and right. I know that they operate in Romania, and that they’re in the process of opening a second factory there, but you just can’t compare the model of Shimano, with their vast OEM business and all those proceeds, and SRAM, with their outsourced/globalized profit margins, to the handy-work of Italian or even Romanian workers; the economies of scale are way out of proportion. Also, a minor point, but based on that list, only one Italian team is using Campagnolo.

    Frankly, I think that Campagnolo’s biggest problem with its brand isn’t in its lack of sponsorship of pro teams, it’s in its outdated and ineffective advertising, or “brand communication,” or whatever euphemism you want to use for marketing. Pro team sponsorships are a small part of that, while full-color two page spreads in Bicycling are a much bigger one.

  10. Shimano has a “All or nothing policy” meaning if you want to run Shimano you run everything from them. Also Garmin Broke their contract with Pearl Izumi to switch to Castelli. Shimano owns Pearl and is suing Slipstream sports for breach of contract.

  11. Larry T., many thanks for the “bicycling” link. I think the article is spot on.

    I can think of a local manufacturer (nothing to do with cycling) who out-sourced production to China. After enjoying the initial benefits of cheap production, the owner got fed up of the long haul flights, and even more fed up of rejecting containers full of faulty product and waiting weeks for the replacements (mainly because of the shipping time). So he moved production to Morocco. A bit more expensive, but shorter flights and transport times, yet still hampered by the language barrier and the lack of hands-on control. Finally he tried the UK again. He is now twenty minutes from the factory. He visits every day, so quality problems are nipped in the bud. Result: almost zero faults, quick delivery, and a (relatively short) list of customers willing to pay a premium for that assurance. He’s still in business though . . .

  12. Success in business depends very much on marketing.Personally compared to Shimano, Campagnolo manufactures a superior product, but their marketing is dismal.

    Come on Campagnolo it is 2012 not 1973!!

  13. I second Birillo, the Italian Job article is a great read, thanks for the link Larry T.

    On the subject of groupset switches, I believe both Garmin and Vaconsoleil have moved from Shimano to SRAM and back to Shimano. Garmin’s return to Shimano was due to rider feedback, a rare case of where the riders have called the shots. A number of websites commented on this late last year, including velonews:

    And to answer Owen’s question, Andy Schleck was riding SRAM in 2010. I suspect it more than likely lost him the Tour de France. Shimano and Campagnolo rear mechs are far less likely to jam in the way his SRAM rear mech did on the Port de Bales.

  14. I love my Campy Super Record on my Cervelo. Campy continues to make great stylish product. Can’t wait for electronic group. I’ve ridden so many Campy groupsets over the years that what is not mentioned often enough is how reliable and more durable over the years components have become.

  15. Interesting how the discussion is 99.97% groupsets! I wonder how much the choice of team will affect riders now that they will be on different bikes, such as Cav on a Pinarello or Hushovd on a BMC?! Look forward to seeing Renshaw on a Giant road rocket!

  16. I’d have to suspect that Garmin riders’ unspecified “rider feedback” (if that’s the real reason for the switch) is preference for Shimano’s electronic group. SRAM has obviously entered the group wars with great success, but the lack of electronic shifting in 2012 or earlier is really a huge stumble, especially considering how copycat Campy and Shimano have been. Not a big deal to me personally; I hope that means SRAM sticks with 10 speed for a while!

  17. On a day to day basis as a USA amateur racer, my observation has been that a roadside mechanical problem that is groupset related, is more likely to be Shimano … and I mean this on a percentage, not absolute, basis.

    SRAM seems pretty good, but Campy seems by far the most reliable, even after adjusting for their smaller volumes.

    Eg, I don’t know of anyone who rides frequently (say, >150 miles weekly) who hasn’t at some point suffered a jammed, FUBAR Shimano shifter (Dura-Ace or otherwise).

  18. It seems to me that, if Campy were to only supply a few teams, it should be the top tiered ones. Lampre isn’t the best Italian team. They let omega pharma -quick step go, picking Lotto instead and the have Movistar. Granted they do have a couple of top Pro-C teams, but come on. No North American presence at the top levels. I don’t care what the marketers say, I really believe Campy’s marketing strategy (even for a small company) is non-existent. No investment in the North American market whatsoever. Makes me sad.

  19. The pros can ride whatever they choose, but us regular non-racing cyclists have to think about things like value for money. And for me, right now, that means SRAM.

  20. @Tom, your experience is absolutely not what I see on a day-to-day basis working in a shop. SRAM’s components are of a demonstratively lower quality, from their Grip Shifts, to Avid brakes (which I begrudgingly use), to their road components. SRAM has a huge warranty department, and a no-questions-asked policy on just about everything. When I’ve talked with the SRAM reps about this, they acknowledge that their business model is basically to make everything as cheaply as possible, and worry about the defects (of which their are countless) when they come back as warranties.

    If you don’t believe me, track down your local SRAM rep and ask to see his or her box of broken Red/Force/Rival shifters. Around here, everyone pulls the guts out and uses them for their single speeds.

    On the other hand, in seven years of servicing bikes, I can count on two hands the number of warranty-able Shimano components I’ve encountered. This isn’t to say that I haven’t seen hundreds of roached Shimano products, but if your 9-speed Dura Ace lever stops working in 2012, can you really blame Shimano? Personally I’m not really wowed with the current generation of mechanical Shimano road stuff, but it still functions leap-years better, and holds up longer, than anything I’ve seen from SRAM. Di2 though, is another story. It’s the absolute best performance I’ve ever encountered, bar none, and the durability is astounding.

    My perspective as a mechanic is this, if you have a problem with a SRAM product, you call SRAM and you they immediately send you a replacement. If you have a problem with Shimano, you try to figure out what you did wrong.

  21. Re: Andy Schleck’s dropped chain:

    1. Remember, he was cross-chained.

    2. Also remember, he was not riding a standard SRAM red derailleur. He had one of those berner pulley assemblies retro-fitted.

    3. Some kid named Stetina rides for Garmin.

  22. Thanks to Richard’s comments; indeed I remember the lengthy discussion regarding Andy’s misfortune; that he tried to double shift out of a “cross-chain”. Peter Stetina rode SRAM last year (though I am sure it drove his uncle crazy). Although I find it interesting that Garmin has chosen to go with Shimano. My point about Campy is that exposure to the product through racing in North America is becoming scarce and support for the product will also become an issue during races. I just don’t understand Campy’s marketing logistics.

  23. Don’t forget that in N America Campagnolo has, essentially, disappeared. They are trying to right their way back in..albeit slowly and under cover (seemingly). I’m glad someone pointed out the mediocrity of SRAM…I thought RED was it, til I rode it…especially into the 2nd year. The R Derr body is plastic. I switched to Ultegra on my CX bike this year and it’s been great (even though it’s heavier). On road..Campy all the way! I just got a 10 speed with – snickers aside – a square taper BB and you know what…I don’t really notice the difference much at all*. It shifts great, looks killer and paired with my TRP 960’s stops on a dime!

    *Then again with only 25 years of racing and riding experience maybe I’m not sa-fisticated enough :0)

  24. Campagnolo’s “marketing strategy” is no good? Do they really HAVE a marketing strategy beyond making the best stuff they know how, making it serviceable, durable and making only stuff for racing bikes instead of fishing equipment? It may not be the most modern of “marketing strategies” but in many ways it was the original one and may still end up being the best. If Shimano were to decide the bike biz is no longer profitable, they could bail out and work on fishing stuf,f where I bet the profits and sales dwarf the bike stuff. SRAM could get sold to some guy like Mitt Romney next week and be carved up into all kinds of bits and end up taking on the big S in the fishing equipment biz.
    Meanwhile, Campagnolo will still be doing what a family-run business does…trying to survive with some of their integrity intact in a sea of corporate competitors. That may be as much the reason I’ve always identified with them as any. I have a small amount of disposable income and I try to spend it on the products and services produced by companies that I admire. We’ve purchased far more of Campagnolo’s product than we’ve EVER received at no charge…and will continue to do so as long as they keep making it. I joked with Campagnolo’s Tom Kattus in my sponsorship pitch that CycleItalia was in some ways a terrible value as we weren’t switching from a competitor and wouldn’t go elsewhere even if they refused to help us. Our passion and loyalty can not be purchased or sold. For some crazy reason they decided to help us anyway – probably our best contribution is introducing Campagnolo to many who grew up using only Shimano. I consider the SRAM folks kind of a lost cause since I believe they’ve made a conscious choice to use products that (from my limited experience) seem to be truly inferior except when it comes to marketing. So Campagnolo is the reverse of SRAM I guess.

  25. I have road bikes with all three, for myself on limited income it has always been a question of seeing a particular bargain and buying it. Rode out the summer alternating between bikes with Dura Ace and Force/Rival. Winter is all Shimano, either Ultegra or 105. Campag is on my Dave Yates (steel) and does not get out very often. But if I was to be starting from scratch again and could afford it, Campag for sure for the same reasons as Larry. Having said that, never had any prob’s with SRAM or Shimano, 20yrs working in bike shops, malfunction was 90% down to misuse or maladjustment Hey when I started racing 5 sprockets and 2 chainrings was the max. We have come a long way, but the power source, oh dear I wish they could be renewed under warranty. 🙂

  26. I hear ya bikecellar! “Ultra 6” had just come out when I got into serious cycling. We were biased at the shops I worked in, Shimano was pretty much disposable stuff with no serviceability designed in while Campagnolo was the opposite. So we said “Campy wears in — Shimano wears out” and almost to a man we all used Campy. Another issue on marketing is that a LOT of bike shop guys and gals have been the beneficiaries of “bro deal” prices on Shimano for many, many years. When you consider purely by cost that’s an attractive situation….as racers know the best stuff is whatever is free! Campagnolo NA has been lobbying Vicenza for years for a similar plan and finally has one from what they told us recently. Bike shop rats can now get a “bro deal” on Campagnolo stuff for their own bikes. Now…about those power sources….well, at least I can still ride DOWNHILL fast! The skill part of it is still there though the watts (horsepower for us old farts) is lacking these days.

  27. Shimano didn’t win its first Tour de France until 1999, following an almost 30-year dominance by Campagnolo. Peppered among the victories were Simplex, with LeMond taking the ’89 Tour from Fignon using Mavic. Where Shimano and SRAM overpower Campagnolo is in the MTB market, a segment the Italian company chose to forgo after a failed attempt in the late ’80s. This is how the two S companies have built their war chests of cash.

  28. I understand where you are coming from, Larry T. However, it seems that product superiority doesn’t always win out in the marketing world. My fervent hope is that Campagnolo makes a concerted effort to resurrect their presence in the North American racing scene. I shudder at the thought of having to ride a Shimano equipped machine (although their stuff is well designed for riding, it is hard to fix when broken and, to my eye, lacks the aesthetic function) or a SRAM machine (love American but hate the GM quality that comes with it). Another point that should not be lost on the marketing arena is that two things happened in the late ’90s; 1) Campy lost the patent suit to Shimano – big hurt and 2) Lance Armstrong was sponsored by Shimano and he was THE dominant player in the American racing scene as far as marketing was concerned. That was the start of the dark ages for Campy.

  29. Ciao Rick, I know product superiority doesn’t always win. Microsoft’s a perfect example of marketing, brute force and “can’t beat ’em? buy ’em!” mentality winning in the marketplace. There’s no doubt Campy was caught sleeping once or twice along the way and has made some mistakes, but none of them were lack of quality, serviceability, reliability, etc. But when I think back to the first Dura Ace groupset and how it was little more than a knock-0ff of Super Record, I don’t want to reward this type of behavior if I can avoid it. As for SRAM, while it’s an American company, the manufacturing is all done in low-wage countries as far as I know.

  30. on our usual ride, the only one who always has a mechanical issues is the Sh!tmano guy. Camp rules. it is so reliable and last forever if you know how to look after your bike. does it really matter if they do advertise , i’d rather spend the money on research.

    SRAM, are you joking, lets get serious, since when. just a brand with lots of dosh for marketing .

    I know countless of people who tried red and they deeply regret it.

  31. Yeah! @darren Freire could only knock a few wins out of his TCR with his ageing legs but Renshaw can rip it up this year while T Bos can look and learn.
    Screw Shimano and Campy, bring back Suntour!

  32. The amount of Campy nostalgia here is pretty funny. Bottom line, all three companies make good products. Choose what you want, and don’t stupidly diss the others (like many are doing is this thread). I went from Dura Ace to SRAM Red and I love it. I actually switched to SRAM on all my bikes now.

  33. I rate Campagnolo Super Record very highly and the same for Shimano Dura-Ace, both are excellent in terms of performance, service and durability. Expensive of course. SRAM Red, I’ve never tried meaningfully to comment.

    But the best groupset going? What about Shimano’s XTR, their top of the range mountain bike groupset. The R&D behind this is impressive, the tech is advanced and the performance under load and covered in mud is impressive.

  34. Don’t know (or care much) about MTB stuff, I’m sure it’s fine, if I was into playing in the dirt I don’t doubt I’d have their stuff and actually do on the now-ancient MTB’s we own and ride now and then.
    I finally found a link to photos of the original Dura Ace groupset -http://www.sheldonbrown.com/shimano1973/index.html
    change the colors of the boxes to blue/yellow, or mount this stuff on a bike and the lack of difference between it and Super Record of the era is amazing! The lack of originality is astounding.
    No argument from me though, all the top-line stuff works pretty well, otherwise no pro team managed by anyone with a brain would use it no matter how much they paid into the team – but for my money originality, passion, quality, serviceability and DURABILITY all count for something so from the start back in the 70’s Campagnolo’s been the stuff for me. I do attend tech seminars for SRAM and Shimano when I can to keep up on their stuff too, but my heart (and wallet) belong to the folks from Vicenza. No disrepect for folks who like the other stuff, it’s just like Barolo vs Bordeaux and I prefer Barolo!

  35. I agree with Wolber on this one. I race for and work occasionally in a small shop in midwest usa. Almost everyone on my team uses sram. Most use red, some, like me, use force. Everyone of us has had a shifter or rear derailer go bad. I was the latest victim. A month ago I was on a ride, went to upshift the rear derailer and the double tap lever just came right off into my hand. Got back to the shop, called sram and had a new one the next day. Every ‘issue’ has been like this, just call and they send a new one, no questions asked. I’ve worked in shops for a long time and never have I seen so many broken parts as I have this last year with sram. I’ve never seen a broken campy part. Funny thing is the shop owner, who convinced me to go sram, has been riding campy super record for the last year. I would ride it in a heartbeat…if I could aford it!

  36. It is about the cash – for good or for bad …

    Campagnolo plays with it’s own money. It is a matter of public record that Campagnolo basically don’t owe anyone anything – for sure they aren’t into the banks to the extent that SRAM are … and they prefer to keep as much manufacture in Europe as they can.

    They have some manufacturing now in the Far East, most notably with the entry-level Fulcrum (and therefore also Campagnolo) wheel sets, but this is logical as Fulcrum at the entry level is essentially designed as an OE brand, and a very high proportion of OE assembly takes place in the Far East.

    We should also understand that although brands align themselves with teams for the purpose of market visability, they also look for other forms of return from that sponsorship. R and D is an important function of a team, even if the UCI is doing it’s level best to kill that association with their strictures about how team equipment is (at least supposedly) commercially-available product.

    Input from teams like Movistar was essential to the final path to production of the EPS groups that will be hitting the shops in very limited numbers in 2012 – also in the development of the Bullet (aka Fulcrum Red Wind) range of wheels … such partneships are hard to find and take a lot of nurture but bring about the best long-term results for equipment at the level that Campagnolo have now chosed to settle.

  37. Also, I didn’t read every comment, but I didn’t see any mention of Campagnolo’s Fulcrum brand of wheels. I’ve never used them and hardly seen any in the flesh so what relevance it might have to the discussion I’ll leave to others.

    AND, just my 2-cents, but Campagnolo has always been the most user serviceable product of the three. To me that adds value that can’t be measured because it extends the life of the product well beyond most others. For this reason alone is why their products maintain value in the long term. It’s something I look for in any product I buy.

  38. I am really enjoying this conversation. For what it is worth, I think all the manufacturers are able to put adequate products up for teams to use. It becomes a matter (especially for cash strapped teams) to chose what is the most economically viable solution for them. I think Campy is more into racing only for research whereas the other two have evolved their roles in the sport as a marketing (very effectively I might add) tool. I just hope that this is not Campy’s undoing. If there is a revolution as to how money, sponsorship and teams interplay, Campy may have more support in the peleton. I look at the component manufacturers like the auto industry. SRAM seems to be like GM, Shimano like Honda, and Campy like BMW. All produce autos (all 3 have really good innovative products) but take different approaches. For me, I will take Campy.

  39. I am really enjoying this conversation. For what it is worth, I think all the manufacturers are able to put adequate products up for teams to use. It becomes a matter (especially for cash strapped teams) to chose what is the most economically viable solution for them. I think Campy is more into racing only for research whereas the other two have evolved their roles in the sport as a marketing (very effectively I might add) tool. If there is a revolution as to how money, sponsorship and teams interplay, Campy may have more support in the peleton. I look at the component manufacturers like the auto industry. SRAM seems to be like GM, Shimano like Honda, and Campy like BMW. All produce autos (all 3 have really good innovative products) but take different approaches. For me, I will take Campy.

  40. Honestly,
    the only reason I switched to SRAM was because as a smaller rider, with small hands, I needed less reach when in the drops. SRAM let’s me do this in the lower level models (APEX for my cross, mix of Rival/Force/Red on road). Shimano in the 105 shifters use a shim system which quite frankly, a pain in the rear.

    I would love a full CAMPY gruppo. And if I were not racing in Crits, where crashes happen all the time, I would. But as they say, do not race what you cannot afford to replace.

  41. It’s a shame that the lower-priced Campagnolo groupsets get no interest in North America. Someone once told me the number 1 groupset in sales in Italy was VELOCE, something that’s almost impossible to buy in the USA these days, it’s Super Record, Record and maybe Chorus. One of the features of Campagnolo has been (especially in the past, perhaps not quite so much these days) was the internal guts were all high-quality pieces, built to last. Spending more money on the higher-end groups got you more expensive and better finished materials but the function and longevity was pretty much the same. Our standard rental bikes, put in service back in 2005 have Mirage 9-speed triple groups (yep, with those plastic brake levers – but unless I look at ’em I can tell when using the brakes) and with little more than regular servicing and chain replacements, they’re still going strong – I’m riding one these days in Sicily in fact. The premium bikes have Veloce 10 speed compact systems which also work just fine. We’re using Veloce 10 speed triple setups on our Mondonico-built Torelli personal bikes – while I love the look of the expensive groups I’d rather have more bikes in more places available to me and with the cheaper stuff I get the great function and longevity without spending a fortune. We even have a couple of old 8-speed Ergopower bikes stashed at the wife’s folks place in CA…they work just great despite their age and 8 speed cassettes can still be found when needed. Campagnolo’s OEM plans are based on 10-speed groupsets so I hope they make spares available for these bikes so the owners can keep them going — and the importers/distributors actually stock them for the same reason.

  42. @Gillis – the relevence of Fulcrum is that one of the earlier posters referred to the fact that SRAM and Shimano have opted for a Far Eastern production route, with the attendant increases in available margin helping them to fund their marketing strategy. Campagnolo have generally tried to keep their production in Europe – the mention of Fulcrum (the brand is owned by Campagnolo) was just so that I didn’t get flamed for not mentioning the fact that Campagnolo do have a limited amount of production based where OE needs to be based these days.

    In the case of SRAM, alongside the issue of margin being available to fund marketing, there may be an element, too, of funding of the company’s marketing being part of the development curve of what is still basically a new entrant into the road market.

    Here I am making an assumption – and that is that SRAM re still largely in effect owned by the VCs who have helped fund their development & expansion to date (I have seen no analysis of this so I may be way off-beam, this is just an educated guess). If this is the case, then in all probability, the extremely low prices that they are asking at OE for their groups, coupled to the high level of exposure that they have successfully gained in the pro peloton, isn’t being funded from cashflow as will be the case with Shimano and Campagnolo – it’ll still be, at least to some extent, from external sources.

    One shouldn’t discount, either, the partisan nature of the industry – Italian-based teams may be inclined towards Campag, teams with an American base may favour an association with SRAM (especially if their frame sponsors are American or American-based).

    Last on this point, and in some aspects coupled to both the points immediately above, one has to also look at the OE – because as a bike or frame sponsor, a company like, say, Specialized or Pinarello may have to look at the markets it sells into (or wishes to target), it may have to look at the groupsets predominant or preferred in those markets, what component suppliers it can gain a good price / delivery matrix from, and bring influence to bear on a team in terms of equipment choice on that basis too.

    @Rick R, you are right – Campagnolo had challenges with some early 11s kit, but they are now completely sorted and all the 11s groups perform very well, as do the two 10s groups left still in production, in modified form, to match the look and feel of the 11s groups.

    I’ve assembled and ridden the new EPS system and have three systems in the UK at present for dealer training (that’s part of what my business does), one of which is on my own race bike (Bianchi Otero 2012 – thanks, Bianchi!) for ongoing evaluation (and familiarisation) … and I have ridden EPS back-to-back alongside Di2 and Ui2 – OK, I’m biased, but I also know which I prefer – the nearly 25-year lead up to the launch of EPS has been worth it! Both Di2 and Ui2 work extremey well, BTW, and there are pros and cons on both sides, but I think that Campagnolo have again benefitted technically from coming second to the market. It remains to be seen how that will play out commercially, but it looks very positive at the moment.

    So yes, Campagnolo have product that stands up alongside the offerings of Shimano and SRAM and the question of sponsorship is always a vexed one – the costs are high, both in materials, cash and time, the benefits are sometimes etherial – you have, after all, to have riders winning big races to benefit in marketing terms & as that “Schleck moment” proves, you can have a superb rider doing everything right athletically & still end up being remembered for a technical “fail” that might not even, strictly speaking, be the the fault of the standard equipment, but of a change made in response to pressure from the rider, a secondary sponsor, or other external influence.

    Good discussion!

  43. Campy claims they assemble Fulcrum wheels in Asia along with some of the lower-end Campagnolo-branded wheels BUT all the parts are made in their own factories (I assume that’s either Italy or Romania) so they control the quality of materials and the processes used to make them. When you read about all the Chinarello’s and other knock-off parts coming out of Asia this would make sense, but assembly near where most of the bikes are actually made these days makes sense, especially when you think of the large volume packaging wheelsets require. Personally, I’d rather they go back to making more hubsets and let us wheelbuilders create what we like…but what do I know? Our premium rental bikes have Khamsin wheels which seem to work OK though I think I’ll always prefer my own, hand laced, tensioned and trued wheels with 32, 3 cross spoking.

  44. Amazing reading all the Campy excuses. Certainly a fine brand, a historic brand. But so is (was?) Sears and Kodak. Unless you adapt and meet the market expectations you die off…regardless of how unbelievable that may be to consider. Bottom line, Campy must play in the grandest of tours with the big boys…at any cost. This idea that they’re focusing there marketing efforts elsewhere for purpose is nonsense. The fat lady is walking toward the stage…

  45. I think it is funny how much time the recreational and amateur cyclists can waste discussing what the choices of pro teams. Head to weight weenies forum for more of this!

    The reality is that pro teams for the most part ride the bikes and componentry for monetary reasons first and foremost. There are obviously some teams with strong heritage, Movistar back through Caisse D’Epargne, Iles Baleares, Banesto, and Reynolds has always ridden Pinarellos with Campagnolo groups. And Rabobank has been a Shimano team through and through going back to at least WordPerfect, if not Buckler. Euskatel has ridden Orbea forever because they are in effect the national bike company of the Basque region. But otherwise, bikes and groups come and go.

    FWIW, Garmin was a Shimano team until they merged with Cervelo. They broke their contract with Pearl Izumi as mentioned above, and I believe that Cervelo Test Team had a deal with SRAM/Rotor for 2011 so this carried over in the merger. But Zipp, who sponsored Cervelo TT in 2009 and 2010, and Garmin in 2008-2009 did not come across and Garmin stayed on Mavic wheels. For 2012, if you believe everything you read(?) then Garmin is buying Shimano groups because that is what the riders want. They are staying with Rotor cranks, partly because they need them for the stupid BBright on the Cervelo R5Ca.

    Finally, I know a couple of Pro Tour riders from my area pretty well. The one guy could honestly care very little about what brand of bike he is riding and even less about what group he is riding. They are just tools to him and nothing more. He knows he does not have any choice other than products within the team sponsor lines, so he just gets on with it. I suspect this is the attitude of the majority of pro riders. The other guy is the ultimate sponsor rep, in 2009-2010 he was on Shimano and raved about it, then in 2011 he was on SRAM and said it was the best, now he’s back on Shimano for 2012 and I’m sure the next time I ride with him he’ll tell me how awesome Shimano is (again).

  46. finally it took a sandwich to talk some sense here. Look, some riders are anal retentive about equipment and others superstitious about shaving but after bouncing around a few teams most realise it’s the mechanic that hooks them up, after all, they are the ones who have to build bikes till 3 am. So ask them which gruppo they would rather work with. Breaking and shifting are important but not nearly as critical on the road as in Cross. That’s really where equipment matters and getting dialled in is NB every damn day. (oh yeah, I forgot, Cross is just a winter side show in ikki eucky mud) Bla bla Campy, bla bla Shimano….that is going on for yeeeears. They both work i.e shift/break and it’s great to have a choice between 11, 12, 13, 14… and a fly reel eventually if cycling gets too boring. Now we have Sram bla bla Sram…..

  47. @hamncheeze
    In response to your well-made point:
    “The reality is that pro teams for the most part ride the bikes and componentry
    for monetary reasons first and foremost.”

    I think I opened my 1st post with
    “It is about the cash – for good or for bad …”

    It’s not really about excuses, it’s about how you focus your effort and where you want to be, as well as what you can do – after all, there are desirable, high-end bike and frame brands and component brands out there that don’t sponsor anyone or anything in cycle sport. Relatively small brands they may be, but they are there, vibrant, doing interesting things and keeping themselves head-above-water.
    “This idea that they’re focusing there marketing efforts elsewhere for purpose is nonsense” is actually not a statement that you can support … because *if* they can’t afford to sponsor at the same level as Shimano or SRAM, then clearly they *have* to focus any sponsorship efforts they do choose to make more finely and toward the areas that will allow them to achieve primary objectives.

    @Larry T
    Re. Fulcrum & Campag entry level wheels – so far as I am aware, you are correct – rims and hubs are still made in Italy, spokes are from Europe for the most part as far as I am aware, so QC is still European-based on this small sector of production.

  48. REALLY?
    I t BLOWS my mind that all these wanna bees can talk sooooo much SMACK about Campagnolo.
    marty quote “I’m surprised Shimano hasn’t bought Campy.
    Long live Dura-Ace.”
    you need to have your perscription checked..
    I doubt any of you wise crackers ever rode a campagnolo equiped bicycle.
    If you had you would
    KNOW why the ITALIANS have been the standard bearer for DECADES.
    Other manufacurers come and go ( copycats & inovators some sure,) .

  49. I’m loving this debate! As a non-participant (due to a cancer knocking out my spine) and only a Giant rider at my peak I am a bit loathe to jump in. However.

    Having helped run two sporting organisations (in Bushwalking and Birdwatching) I can tell you that the debate that is raging here goes on all the time in both of these fields (and one assumes in all other hobbies).

    Wherever one can buy super-premium products that ‘legitimise’ a hobby through their expense you have this argument. For birdwatchers German Leica spotting telescopes are the only brand to buy, even at AUD 5,000+. For bushwalkers it is ultra-expensive waterproofs, poles etc.

    The point of super-premium brands is that they have to hurt to buy, otherwise the Hoi Poloi would be buying them. They become a badge that says to all who know: “I count, I am somebody special, because I am serious about this sport”.

    Quality does enter into it; Leica have to innovate to stay on top, as does Campagnolo. And perhaps that is the point, in a mature sport like cycle racing innovation is not easy. At some stage the British Sports Car industry went from being ultra cool to nowhere, because they failed to innovate and keep their quality up, justifying their premium pricing.

    I hope Campagnolo can.

  50. It’s your bike ride what makes you happy. Just try not to be annoyingly snobby about it. Campy lovers can sometimes come off as the Jehovah’s Witnesses of the bike world.

  51. Amen to that Brother Truman! At the end of the day, it’s the ride that exalts the soul and all this Campy BS extoll nothing but the ego!

  52. Larry, you are bang on about Veloce being damn good stuff. I had it on a bike for five years, never needed to touch the adjustment screws once. I just changed the cables, changed the chain, and that was it – it worked, felt bombproof, and even managed to feel just a little bit special. But I cannot find a recent / current review of Veloce or Centaur online anywhere – if anyone can, please share it – the point being that if Campag don’t have mags / websites reviewing their stuff, how are customers supposed to take it into informed consideration? I think they’ve got much more basic marketing building blocks to put in place before throwing more product at the pro tour becomes a worthwhile exercise.

  53. Never again will i go by what a review in a mag says( just ad money talking), went with sram rival never again, how anyone buys sram after using it is beyond me. from my experience and im new to cycling but have used all of them campag or shimano are much better quality, have campag now on my new bike simply because of the qaulity, but yes there marketing is not good at all, but then again the americans are in a league of there own when it comes to maketing rubbish;) by the way three people from my club went with sram red three of them have regreted it now. I cant see any of the pro teams asking for sram red if they could im sure they wold go with campag shimano

  54. Pingback: FLAHUTES PYJAMAS
  55. Shave my legs and call me smooth! I agree with Nick, but I’m a pragmatist. I prefer Campy purely on reliability, and to some extent, aesthetics. I’ve just bought a used pair of GP4’s with Record hubs for my 91 Gazelle Mondial, and they’re slicker than oiled glass so I indulged myself with a NOS set of Victory Strada rims, rolling on Conti Giro’s. For a twentysomething setup they are awwwsum!!!

  56. Simon – its one of those “chicken or egg” things but maybe if Campagnolo is successful with their OEM project, the 10-speed groupsets will get spec’d on some reasonably priced bicycles. Then they get reviewed (one hopes) by the various media and the testers get to comment on how surprisingly well the groupsets worked. Then the importer/distributors in North American might start stocking groupsets and replacement parts which then can go onto bikes built up in the shop. Pretty basic marketing strategy in the end. Lots of folks criticize Campagnolo for lack of strategy but what should they do? Throw zillions of euros at Andy Schleck? And when he fumbles around and drops his chain, who gets the blame?

  57. Pingback: How to Choose

Comments are closed.