Cyclists are generally friendly and affable folks, willing to stop their ride to assist a stranded cyclist and happy to share a spot at the café for a coffee and a chat. But if you want to spark a heated debate amongst your mates, just pose the simple question: which is better, Campagnolo components or Shimano?
Campagnolo is hyper-focused on a smaller, high-end niche of bike parts, and they fill their demand with hand-crafted, high-quality, expensive, and durable bike parts. Shimano, prides itself on its mass-produced, wide range of components that are accessible, affordable, and precision-focused.
In this article, we’ll give a brief outline of what makes each brand stand out. We’ll also talk about whether Campagnolo and Shimano components are compatible with each other and give you our opinion on whether or not you should mix the two. Let’s get started.
Campagnolo has a reputation for being hard to find, old-fashioned, and very expensive. But it maintains a very loyal and serious fan base and can be seen on pro cycling teams such as Cofidis and UAE Team Emirates bikes.
So what is it about Campagnolo that’s so great? There are plenty of reasons for their loyal fan base.
- Fast mechanical shifting.
- Dedicated shift and brake levers.
- Seamless integration from 9-11 to 12 speed
- Handmade in Italy with excellent quality control
Campagnolo provides five levels of groupsets. Their groupsets are focused on road and gravel and include the mid-priced Centaur and go up from there all the way to the top-notch Super Record.
The top three groupsets, Super Record, Record, and Chorus, are available in both mechanical and electronic shift versions. Campy doesn’t use the term Di2; instead, its version of electronic shifting is called Electronic Power Shift.
Campagnolo makes its parts out of carbon fiber and titanium wherever possible in order to make your bike lighter and faster. They’ve had over 100 years of bike-making to perfect their process, which means well-refined, high-quality bikes. Campy fans say their groupsets are worth the investment for their trouble-free shifting and long life.
Example Campagnolo Pricing
|12 Speed Chain||$56|
|Super Record 12 Speed Derailleur||$500|
|Centaur 12 Speed Chain Set||$600|
|Super Record 12 Speed Levers||$500|
However, your average bike shop isn’t going to carry a lot of Campagnolo bike parts. Replacement parts can be difficult to find since the niche is considerably smaller than other major bike part brands. In addition, you might have trouble finding a mechanic that can work on your bike, and you’ll probably need specialized tools if you do the work yourself.
Campy shifting is a bit finicky to work on, but once adjusted, it is fast and incredibly smooth, especially in fast races when it really counts.
Shimano has also been around for over 100 years and is by far one of the largest manufacturers of bike parts. Their entry-level group set, Shimano 105, is known as the group set of the people because it’s easy to find, reasonably priced, and works amazingly well. In addition, Shimano considers itself to be at the forefront of innovation, aerodynamics, and precision.
- Easy to find parts
- Parts are easier to work on with typical bike tools
- Reasonably priced
- Precise shifting
- Can mix and match many of the components within the brand
Shimano offers a variety of mountain, gravel, and road bike group sets at a range of price points. Pro cycling teams such as EF-Education-Easy Post and INEOS Grenadiers boast Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 group sets on their winning bikes.
For example, Shimano Road group sets include:
- Claris R2000: 8-speed.
- Sora R3000: 9-speed.
- Tiagra 4700: 10-speed.
- 105 R7000: 11-speed.
- 105 Di2 R7150: 12-speed, DI2 only.
- Ultegra Di2 R8100: 12-speed, Di2 only.
- Dura-Ace Di2 R9200: 12-speed, Di2 only.
Shimano’s ability to mass-produce their groupsets means their products are easy to find, and it’s easy to find a mechanic who can work on your Shimano bike. But, of course, typical bike tools will work, too, if you do your own bike work.
Shimano components all work well, even the entry-level 105 components. As the groupsets go up in price, you really see the difference is in the weight of the component. The higher the price, the lighter the weight.
Shimano Pricing Examples
|Ultegra 12 Speed Derailleur||$100|
|Ultegra 12 Speed Chain||$45|
|Ultegra Di2 Levers||$400|
Are Campagnolo and Shimano compatible? Where can you check?
Some Shimano and Campagnolo parts are compatible with each other, but it depends on what parts you are using together, according to bikefaff.com. For example, Campagnolo wheelsets are compatible with Shimano if they have a compatible freehub body.
However, Shimano cassettes are generally not compatible with Campagnolo freehubs. Cabling isn’t the same either; Campagnolo cables are thicker than Shimano and pull differently, and Campy cables won’t fit into Shimano shifters. Finally, of course, you can’t mix a Shimano derailleur with a Campagnolo cassette because the spacing between gears isn’t the same.
You can find out more about what specific components are compatible by checking bike.bikegremlin.com.
Is it a good idea to mix groupset components?
It isn’t a great idea to mix groupset components. Even if you could get them to work together, for example, combining one brand of chain with another drivetrain, the shifting would be compromised if it worked at all.
On top of that, you’ll probably have extra wear and tear on your bike because the components don’t work perfectly together, and you might even void the warranty.
Can you mix groupset components of the same brand but different types?
Shimano components have been carefully engineered so that you can mix and match the parts as long as the transmission type is the same.
For example, you can mix a 12-speed Ultegra Crankset with a 12 Speed Dura-ace cassette. Likewise, you can mix Tiagra STI levers are still compatible with Dura-Ace levers.
For more information on which Shimano parts are compatible with themselves, you can check out www.cyclablo.com.
Final Thoughts on Campagnolo Versus Shimano
In an epic battle between Campagnolo and Shimano, who would win? It just depends.
The best choice for you is the one that fits your budget, technical skills, ride-style, and bicycle.