Campagnolo’s New Potenza Drivetrain
In Campagnolo’s lineup, Potenza sits below Super Record, Record, and Chorus. Those three groups are offered in both EPS electronic shift, or mechanical shift: Potenza, for now, is only offered in mechanical.
In a refrain we’ve often heard from all the drivetrain brands, Potenza’s root features and technologies are trickled down from the company’s more expensive groupsets. “It’s pretty much the same groupset [as Super Record],” said Campagnolo’s press manager Joshua Riddle, “but it’s made with different materials.” Potenza incorporates the latest updates to Campagnolo’s high-end groups, and is fully cross-compatible with them as well.
As far as its mission to compete against Shimano’s Ultegra, Potenza bests Ultegra on weight by about 87 grams (see table below). But price comparisons in the USA are complicated by Shimano’s recent price reduction here.
Campagnolo quoted a groupset price of €852.53, which is $946.35 ($1015.39 with 11-32 cassette). An Ultegra group, with Shimano’s recent price reduction, is $757.93. However, OE prices—what Trek, Specialized, and the like pay for groups—are very different from retail prices, so Potenza-equipped bikes on shop floors may be price competitive with Ultegra-equipped bikes.
Though there are similarities to Athena, Potenza inherits the updated features from Campagnolo’s higher-end groups like a four-arm crank, EMBRACE rear derailleur, and long pull-arm front derailleur. Two colors will be offered: black, and polished.
Potenza’s rear shifting allows multi-downshifts (up to three gears); but only single upshifts. That differs from Super Record/Record/Chorus rear shifting which can multi-shift in both directions: up to three downshifts and five upshifts.
The cranks have hollow forged aluminum arms with steel axle. Like the higher-end groups, a four-arm spider is used, compatible with all ring combinations: 53×39, 52×36, and 50×34 are offered for Potenza. Unlike Shimano which uses a single bolt circle for both rings, each of Campy’s rings has its own BCD. This, says Riddle, improves the stiffness of both rings by pushing the bolts as outboard as possible.
The brake calipers use Campagnolo’s familiar Skeleton design. The only real news here is a new pad compound. This is a huge upgrade—improved feel, more power, better modulation.
The rear derailleur is largely the same as Super Record/Record/Chorus, but made of less expensive materials. Like the higher end groups, Potenza uses Campy’s EMBRACE system, which keeps the chain closer to thecassette, and wraps the chain further around the cassette.
Potenza brings with it a new line of less-expensive cassettes. Offered in 12-27, 11-25, 11-27, 11-29, and 11-32, the top three cogs are grouped on a spider, while the remaining seven are loose. The 11-29 may be used with a short cage Potenza derailleur, but the 11-32 requires the mid-cage option.Cassette prices run from $130.49 for the 12-27 cassette to $188.50 for the 11-32. Previously, Campagnolo’s least-expensive 11-speed cassette was Chorus, which sold for $185 (12-27) to $245 (11-29).