At the beginning of March, Campagnolo flew journalists from around the world to the Canary Islands for a product launch. There were no details on what was about to be unveiled and speculation was rife amongst all those attending, including RIDE’s Jack Lynch. Disc brakes was a regular assumption as well as a few other possibilities… here’s an overview of what was revealed.
On the first morning, the media was presented with a brand new alloy groupset: Potenza.
Paling in comparison to the imagination of bike writers, its unveiling initially felt a little bit disappointing. On reflection it is a landmark moment for Campagnolo.
This ensemble has the potential to launch Campagnolo back into the mainstream. Riders can get a taste of Campag with Potenza and then make up their own mind whether to progress to lighter, more premium ensembles or try something else.
It is an exciting time for cyclists who are now presented with a realistic alternative to groupsets from companies that begin with the letter ‘S’.
Anyone who rides a road bike can clearly see that Campagnolo has dipped out of favour with recreational cyclists. There are three main reasons for this:
- Price: Its products are premium and they are priced accordingly.
Whether Campag is distinguishably better than the competition is a matter of opinion and people tend to follow the almighty dollar over a company that is steeped in tradition.
- Difficult to place in the market: Shimano-centric cyclists find it hard to compare Chorus, Record and Super Record with Dura-Ace and Ultegra.
Riders tend to opt for the second-tiered Ultegra before Chorus; Campag’s second runner up.
- No OEM: Very few bike companies release new products with Campag fitted to it. Due to this, it is not part of the conversation when a customer is buying a bike off the shop floor. Because it is something of a rarity, shops don’t carry as many spare parts and there’s a stigma that it is challenging and inefficient to service.
Campagnolo has identified these shortcomings and addressed them with Potenza.
It is, more or less, the same as the Revolution 11+ groupsets released for 2015 (updated Chorus, Record, Super Record) expect it is an aluminium finish rather than carbon of the top end Campag ensembles.
Potenza (Italian for ‘power’) counteracts the three primary forces working against Campagnolo:
- Price: Initial pricing is in euros with the final AUD cost coming soon. A Potenza ensemble costs 850-900 euros depending on cassette choice.
It’s slightly more than other near-premium groupsets but boasts the Campagnolo logo and with that comes a swag of performance benefits.
- Difficult to place in the market: Potenza is a direct competitor to Ultegra.
This allows Campag to position Chorus as close to Dura-Ace, Record to be better than Dura-Ace and Super Record to be in its own league.
- No OEM: Campagnolo is working with mainstream manufacturers to get Potenza on its stock bikes. This will mean a slight cost increase on these ‘off the peg’ bikes so we will wait to see which brands return to the technical roots of the sport and release Campagnolo equipped bikes.
Claimed weights of Potenza (grams)
The retrospective excitement of Potenza could not match the feeling when the latest project from Campy Tech Lab was wheeled out – disc brakes.
Campy Tech Lab is the name for Campagnolo’s development and testing lab of its latest innovations. At the Canary Islands, the media were told that the discs will be trialled by professional riders in the WorldTour this year. They could be seen as early as April!
It’s easy to speculate the system that Campag is using for these discs but it’s better to simply show a gallery and wait until the official details are released. Why make news if there’s nothing to report?
Click the image below to view the first images of Campagnolo’s disc brakes
Get RIDE Cycling Review #71 for more details on Potenza as well as the new Shamal wheels and the My Campy ‘app’.