Is there a future for Campag?

I’ll start this off by stating I’m a big Campag fan. But following a conversation at the LBS this afternoon, and some personal reflections, I’m not optimistic about their future. Let me explain.

The shop in question is (was) a Campag specialist, and (largely) builds up bikes from framesets, sometimes on spec, sometimes to order. Increasingly, there’s hardly any non-Shimano or SRAM on show. I asked why, and got the glum response ‘nobody buys Campag anymore’. The owner also made the point that SRAM (and now Shimano too, with the new Ultegra) are focusing on pushing electric drivetrains at lower and lower pricepoints, while Campag actually removed the EPS option from Chorus and Record in the current editions. Finally, he said that they (the shop) can sell Rival AXS as fast as they can get their hands on it, and they sold out of their first allocation of the new Ultegra Di2 within a few days of announcing it for pre-order. Meanwhile, they still have full Record and Chorus groupsets available to buy (admittedly in rim). Ekar has apparently been a bit of a flop, too.

So with all this, it did make me a bit gloomy. Personally, I love Campag stuff, and I like mechanical, but I do wonder if the tide has turned so far in the other direction that they just won’t keep up.

What do you think?

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I don’t know where your LBS is located, but as of March this year, Campagnolo were apparently struggling to meet demand, just like everyone in the bike industry.

If Ekar groups etc start coming down in price, though, I’m all for it.

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I think there is still room for Campagnolo in the market, but will remain a small player. This will be especially true if electronic groupsets don’t trickle back down to Record and Chorus. Even though I see no need for an electronic groupset, it’s clear people want them and that has nothing to do with being rational.

As a slight aside, after reading the article below, I have more reason to never purchase an electronic groupset. Electronic groupsets have a higher environmental cost.

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Vecchio’s in Boulder?

As to the subject, you have to remember that Campag has a worldwide following and it is much larger in some areas of the globe vs. say, the US. So overall, I don’t think they are going anywhere.

I do see a role for them in the market and I think they are heading in the right direction…a somewhat niche brand that has great mechanical options. Based on what I have seen, Ekar is ~$1K less than Ultegra Di2 (based on list pricing). I’d gladly pay that much less for an excellent mechanical group. (I’m not a huge fan of electronic shifting and think its benefits are somewhat overblown by most people.)

I am strongly looking at upgrading my gravel bike from Ultegra mechanical to Ekar sometime in the next year. I’d also gladly run mechanical on my road bike instead of my current electronic group and may swap that over to Chorus (huge fan of Campag hoods).

Will they ever regain the market size they once had? Nope…but that is OK. There will still be a role for them in the market moving forward, especially as electronic systems continue to skyrocket in price.

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No, it’s located in Hertfordshire, England (in a fairly leafy London commuter town)

How odd - I’m literally looking at doing exactly the same thing!

Totally agreed. They’re very nice, but outside of TT bikes (where the ability to shift from the base bars is a genuine advantage IMO) I don’t see them as a game changer. To be fair, the other exception might be for people with hand/finger/nerve conditions, where the ability to shift at the touch of a button must be great.

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As noted, Campagnolo is going nowhere–the fate of one shop in one part of town in one spot on the planet is not indicative of anything. Though I am located in “Shimano-land” (Japan), there are plenty of shops with Campy equipment which are doing great business, and used Campy stuff command premium prices, way over something similar from Shimano. Just about nobody except for very elite amateur “pros” or rich wannabes are using electronic groupsets–the majority of the riders here favor mechanicals for cost and maintenance efficiency. I use Chorus and Record mechanicals on my bikes and wouldn’t switch them out for anything.

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I think Campag has been dead in the US for several years already. It comes on almost no new bikes and you almost never see it on rides anymore. I meet people who’ve never even heard of Campy all the time. The same seems to be happening to Bianchi too.

I’ve owned and loved both, btw. I’m not a hater. Just what I see in the US unless I vacation in a place like Boulder.

I think that USA has quite a consumistic approach to everything. Am I right?
So the NEW thing is always better.
Rival AXS is newer in terms of technology? Yes, it’s electric. So it’s better than a chorus that costs the same… But weighs 400g less!
I’m in Italy, so Campagnolo land. Also here Campagnolo has a small market share, because most people buy a pre-assembled bike of major brands… And now only Canyon seems to have good options based on Campagnolo.
Personally I have always used Shimano, because it WAS less expensive than Campagnolo, and it have always worked fine (mechanical and rim brakes, the only groupsets I’m interested in).
I’ve never considered Sram, because simply have never worked well…
My next groupset will be Campagnolo, because shimano abandoned the mechanical shifting, and became MORE EXPENSIVE than Campagnolo.

So, to answer the question: yes there will be a future for Campagnolo, a small but profitable business based on a niche market.

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It’s here, but you have to go looking for it. My LBS carries Campag. By which I mean, if you want Campag parts, they’ll order it in and if you need them to, they’ll install it.

And Campag seem happy with that. The parts sell out as quick as they can make ‘em, and their customers are, by and large, happy with what they paid for.

Potenza was supposed to be a push for the OEM market, but it’s gone off their lists now. I wish they would bring back Athena in a 12-speed silver version.

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That would be hot.

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This is a REALLY good point.

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I’m in the UK so can’t/shouldn’t comment, but I think there’s a cool/shiny/on trend aspect to most consumer goods in almost all developed countries!

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I’ve been on campy for years however, in the market for a gravel bike this year I bought a mechanical GRX equipped bike and have to admit that I find it excellent.

Campy’s version of innovation has been to lob on an additional sprocket every decade or so. I think they missed the boat on refining shifting action and found themselves patented out of that as an option by Shimano. Campy shifts beautifully but only after a couple of thousand Kms. In markets where consumers buy bikes and seldom ride them that’s not a good niche to be in. Also bike reviews of new kit leaves campy described as ‘notchy’ vs ‘buttery smooth’ for Shimano.

Also, Campy did not lose market share due to product quality. It seems that their distribution model let them down. They missed the boat on OEM in the Asian factories.

It is also true that they are victims of their own success. I have 4 Campy 10speed bikes from Record to Veloce in the shed still working perfectly despite years of use…. I’m sure if those had been Shimano I’d be on the 3rd or 4th Gruppo by now.

That said, their sales may well be higher now than ever and they have rationalised their formerly bloated line up so profitability may well be up.

I’d hate to see them go.

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To be fair, the other exception might be for people with hand/finger/nerve conditions, where the ability to shift at the touch of a button must be great.
I am considering doing this. Suffered a wrist injury after being side-swiped by a truck almost a year ago and still struggle to shift Chorus 10 speed.

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Seems silly to single out electronic groups in relation to sustainability. Sure, a battery gets tossed every now and then (for me it has been never since I got Di2 in 2012) but mechanical groups also yield a pile of worn out housing and cables over their lifetime.

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Campag will never be a player in the OEM field. They insist on producing in Italy, which makes OEM almost impossible. They decided long ago that they were willing to sacrifice OEM business in order to continue producing in Italy.

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Just out of curiosity, I just looked up the price of a Centaur group on eBay.

Campagnolo are going to be around for a long time to come, if that’s what their bottom-of-the-line gruppo fetches on the free market.

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They have lost their dominant status in the market surprisingly quickly. It’s not the best way to gauge, but the pro peleton is an easy way to indicate this.

First “win” for Shimano was 1999, 17 since then. Pogacar on campag equipped colnago might shift some product, but the mass market has forever moved Shimano/SRAM and campy will keep it’s niche status

Campy = Rolex.

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“The pros ride what they are paid to ride.” Since the 80s, Shimano have become the dominant player in the market, and since the late 90s/early 00s have been able to sponsor the most pro teams.

It would be more reflective of reality to show the breakdown throughout the whole peloton over the years. I suspect there weren’t many more teams riding Campagnolo in 1971 than in 2021, but it’s the other makers, the Simplexes and Hurets and Mavic and Champions, who’ve been spat out or swallowed up (SRAM took over the Sachs-Huret factories in Germany, so could arguably share credit for Bobet’s 3 Tour wins, as well as Contador and Schleck).

Campagnolo are doing fine.

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