There are three major manufacturers of bicycle components worldwide, and we are frequently asked “which one is best?” We can only reply that they are all good and we need to figure out what you want from your shifting performance before making a recommendation as part of the bike building process.
These pioneers from Italy have been at the forefront of cycling technology for over 75 years, and Campagnolo is responsible for most of the innovations that we now completely take for granted when we ride. Their drivetrains are smooth and fluid in their shifting, and the ergonomics of their shifters are at the very top of their design goals. Once you have ridden a Campagnolo-equipped bike fora length of time it will feel completely natural and intuitive, you won’t even think about shifting as it will come very naturally.
The latest innovation from Campagnolo is the EPS electronic shifting gruppo. Production has been very limited, but the ones that we have seen so far have been stellar (we sold the first EPS set in Washington State, and have received more EPS training from Campagnolo than any other shop in the area). This fall we are looking forward to seeing the new Athena-level EPS, should those rumors prove to be true.
Shimano is the largest bicycle component manufacturer in the world for good reasons. They have impeccable quality on systems that are designed with precision that is second to none. Shimano arguably has created perfection in their Dura-Ace 7900 front derailleur, and early reports of the new Dura-Ace 9000 groupset indicate that this perfection is flowing to other components in the set. Of course, the beautiful part of all of this is the trickle-down technology into the entry-level groups and there are people who believe that the current 105-level groupset is now comparable to the Dura-Ace level of five years ago (we’re not quite sure where we stand on that one).
Di2 is Shimano’s electronic shifting groupset, and is available in both Dura-Ace and Ultegra flavors. These ramp up the precision factor even further from the mechanical Shimano groupsets, making shifting effortless and error free.
The newest upstart is based out of Chicago, and SRAM has quickly expanded over the past decade thanks to rapid innovation. Their leading groupset, Red, has just seen another major overhaul for the upcoming season and is once again leading the lightweight battle, while their Force and Rival groupsets are great options for riders seeking a custom build that keeps a budget in mind. The double-tap shifters that SRAM use somewhere between the “feel” of Campagnolo and the “precision” of Shimano, but are very intuitive and have a lot of fans on the road now.