SRAM Rival AXS or Campagnolo Chorus 12 Speed (mechanical)?

Here’s a twist on the electronic vs mechanical debate. Working on a build for a new road frame with rim brakes. Currently running SRAM Force 22 mechanical on my road bike, and have had Campy Athena / Chorus 11 speed on it in the past. (Still have that groupset on-hand.) I switched from Campy to SRAM as a bit of an experiment. I do like SRAM mechanical, but could be convinced to go back to Campy. My plan is to keep the current bike as my #2 and build up a new frame with a new groupset. I have a set of wheels with Campagnolo Record hubs on current bike.

I’m interested in electronic shifting, but the only viable option would be SRAM Rival AXS, with Force AXS shifters. (Still need keep to a reasonable budget.) Or I could go with Chorus Mechanical. AXS would cost maybe $200 more than a Chorus build. The AXS build would require a new wheelset, but I could use my current Campy wheels with Chorus 12 speed. New wheels are part of the long-term vision, anyway. Could get them now or wait.

So I guess the question is this - is entry-level SRAM electronic an acceptable choice over new Chorus 12 speed? How is SRAM’s quality? Do Campy’s build quality and precision (and “mystique”) outweigh the buzz of AXS electronic shifting? I’m not overly concerned with weight here.

(Also - regarding Shimano mechanical or Di2. I’ve ridden Shimano mechanical in the past - it’s good, I’m just really considering it for this. But open to suggestions here if someone has strong feeling about it.)

I could also bag the new groupset and just stick with Athena 11 sp on one bike and Force mechanical on the other.

Thanks!

Good question; quickly though are you talking full groupsets (Shifters, derailleurs, brakes, crank, Casette) or just shift sets (Shifters, derailleurs, brakes)? Just curious because there is a pretty big price gap between these two groups as complete groupsets but the SRAM shift set alone is priced very close to the Chorus full group. Also what is your total budget for your build?

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Taking full groupset. Would like to stay in neighborhood of $1,500. Here’s what I’m seeing price-wise (USD):

SRAM RIVAL/FORCE AXS (using Force levers to make rim bakes work):

  • Shifters (Force) = $460
  • Crankset (Rival) = $130
  • BB (SRAM DUB BSA) = $40
  • RD (Rival) = $255
  • FD (Rival) = $175
  • Chain (Force) = $35
  • Cassette (Force) = $185
  • Brakes (Force) = $175
  • Charger = $100
    TOTAL = $1,555

CHORUS 12 SPEED

  • Shifters = $280
  • Crankset = $410
  • BB = $40
  • RD = $170
  • FD = $120
  • Chain = $50
  • Cassette = $210
  • Cables = $100
  • Brakes = $110
    TOTAL = $1,490

I have Chorus 12 on one of my bikes and I’m very happy with it.

The only issue I had was the brake hardware (rim) kept rusting, the springs and bolts would rust at the mention of rain. They worked fantastic but I struggled with the rust so I upgraded to Record brakes and no issues moving forward.

I like the finish on the carbon crankset, it seems more durable than other’s I’ve experienced. Other than cleaning the cassette, chain etc I’ve done little maintenance. It just keeps going great…

In my opinion the SRAM Force aesthetically looks cheaper in quality but I have not used it so can not really offer a valid opinion.

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Value to dollar, given the choices you are considering, I’d go with Campy–they work great, reliable, and a whole lot cheaper than your middling alternative.

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If weight is a consideration then the Chorus will be a fair bit lighter than the AXS set up. The Rival crank in particular is pretty heavy.

I own bikes with both AXS (Force, disc) and Chorus (rim). Long post warning: TL/DR - probably go with Chorus.

AXS is great under the gun. Exactly why is hard to say, but I at least (and others have said the same) am more willing to make lots of little shifts with electronic to maintain the best cadence, rather than forcing a gear or over-spinning. It’s also great when tired at the end of a long ride. The AXS gear ratios make a lot of sense for most of us, too. 46/33 and 10-33 is pretty much perfect for anyone who isn’t appreciably north of 4w/kg. The shift ergonomics are idiot-proof, and great in gloves. Rival offers a great value PM option, and the app gives you some very cool data if that’s your thing. Electronic also gives you access to compensating and sequential modes, which I don’t like, but some people do.

On the other hand, the front shifting is not 100% reliable; I still get chain drop every 250-300km and no amount of fettling (by me or other mechanics) has ever totally resolved it. This is a topic of great debate on various forums: there are those who will swear blind it’s all in the setup, while others maintain it’s just pot luck and some units just suck. I’m in the latter camp, but don’t want to debate it in this thread. The disc brakes are also very fragile, in the sense that if you so much as look at them wrong, they will need a rebleed. The rim brakes lacked power when I tried them a few years back. Finally, it’s heavy (though weight is an overrated metric).

Chorus, like all mechanical Campag, shifts wonderfully when it’s set up well. It cannot be beaten for sound and feel IMO. The shape of the levers and hoods is the best on the market for me. The thumb shifters are rather love-them-or-hate-them, but if you like them, together with the ability to drop down multiple cogs with a single movement, you will think twice about having any other groupset on the bike. It’s not heavy, either. Aesthetics are personal but I really like it. The standard dual pivot brakes offer decent power which is adequate for my use case, but they won’t match discs. Last, it has no battery to charge and has a very analogue feel, which I like, but I acknowledge it’s personal.

But 12sp Campag mechanical is notoriously finicky to set up; if you have a bike with complex internal routing, I’d possibly advise against; you may never quite dial it in. Likewise, your mech hanger had better be perfectly straight. Be prepared to fettle a bit more often than you might like if you put significant mileage in. Spares are expensive, too, as you probably know, and be aware that your wheel options will be a bit more limited, though as you already have Campag wheels, that’s less of an issue. Some smart trainers don’t like Campag 12 speed, so research that if you’re planning to use the bike on a trainer (though apparently AXS cassettes play nicely enough for it to work)

As for your alternatives, mechanical Ultegra is competent and easy to live with but dull, possibly now obsolete, and I don’t like my brake levers moving side to side. If you’re going down that route, I’d have 105; it’s 95% as good and 1/3 cheaper. Di2 is great: objectively speaking, it probably does its key jobs better than anything else, but it’s very much at a higher price point. I still think the buttons are too small and close together, though, and it lacks a bit of charisma/feel. SRAM mechanical is definitely obsolete so I wouldn’t put any money (beyond routine maintenance) into that in 2022, personally.

Overall, and speaking personally:

  • for a performance road bike or TT bike I’d go Di2, because it’s the most reliable and probably the best at its core job.
  • for a winter or crit bike I’d go 105. It’s perfectly competent and not expensive, so if it breaks it’s not as big a deal.
  • I’m reluctant to recommend Rival AXS because I don’t think you can totally trust the front shifting. But if yours stays dialled in, it’s ‘set and forget’, which is the biggest benefit of electronic outside of TTing.
  • for most general riding, I’d go with Chorus. It looks and feels great, and is fairly sensibly priced. Just be prepared for a little more maintenance and DON’T cheap out on cables! :slight_smile:
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It may be worth hanging on a few months to see if 105 R7200 does bring 12 speed and Di2 which it’s heavily rumoured to do so.

If it does it should be able to do so within your budget.

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You want a light climbing bike, go Campy 12.

You want an aero bike with a complex aero integrated handlebar it is easier to do that with e-shifting, be it AXS or di2.

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The OP said they had rim brakes … and the last rumor we heard here was that 12s 105 won’t have rim brakes. So that option is out, sadly.

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Both the new Dura Ace R9200 and Ultegra R8100 have shifters available for rim brake users. It appears that the brakes themselves have not changed from the previous generation. Given this is the case you’d assume the same will be with 105.

Even if you’re correct the OP could just buy the Ultegra R8100 shifters and the rest of the groupset would be the new 105.

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Both the new Dura Ace R9200 and Ultegra R8100 have shifters available for rim brake users. It appears that the brakes themselves have not changed from the previous generation. Given this is the case you’d assume the same will be with 105.

Even if you’re correct the OP could just buy the Ultegra R8100 shifters and the rest of the groupset would be the new 105.

Good point. I guess I also assumed that the OP has a frame that would otherwise need to be drilled. He did say:

I’m interested in electronic shifting, but the only viable option would be SRAM Rival AXS, with Force AXS shifters… Also - regarding Shimano mechanical or Di2. I’ve ridden Shimano mechanical in the past - it’s good, I’m just really considering it for this.

I assume he was not considering Shimano mech or Di2. That said, I’d consider drilling my steel frame - not myself, but by someone qualified.

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@weiwentg @joe_totale Thank you for the Di2 info. I was under the impressions that the rim brake option was going to be a one-off project for the pro teams. (But I read that when the 12 speed was first introduced.) I now see the rim brake shifters as real-world options on the Shimano site.

In my case, frame would be new. So I could have it drilled for Di2 if necessary. So I guess this puts 105 / Ultegra Di2 in the mix!

I just went through this exact process after usiing Campy for 40 years. Campy had been very reliable up until I got Record 12 mech and then I had constant problems.
I emailed often and called them here in Europe and never received any response either in Spain or Italy. I was so disgusted with their service I switched to Shimano D.Ace Di2…and I’m loving it.
My bike is super quiet and works like a swiss watch.
My lifelong love affair with Campy was a bitter pill to swallow.

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Perhaps another mechanical option:

SRAM 2x11-speed shifters, derailleurs & rim brakes
SRAM 2x12-speed crankset
SRAM 12 speed cassette & chain
Ratio Technology upgrade kit for the shifters

This may prove to be the least costly option. But it is far from the initial proposal.

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Interesting. Could be especially beneficial if I go AXS on new bike, and keep Force mech on existing bike. Allows for sharing of wheelset.

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Another long post. I rode Campy pretty well exclusively from 1995 until a few years ago. I did have a Di2 bike for a few months and liked it a lot better than non Di2 Shimano because I didn’t like the moving brake levers someone referred to above. I also thought the moving front derailleur was a neat trick. I’ve ridden everything Campy from 8 to 11 speed, Mirage to Super Record EPS. The only ones I wouldn’t try again are any 8 speed or EPS which bombed after about 700-800 km. I haven’t used 12 speed Campagnolo and have no personal experience with it.

One of my bikes is an S&S coupled travel bike, my second of those. Both my S&S bikes were built with Chorus, 10 speed on the first, 11 on the current one. I occasionally had trouble reconnecting the derailleur cable and four or five years ago, that took me something like 45 minutes on a trip to Maui. Building the rest of the bike was about 10 minutes from box to ready to ride. So, I started looking into SRAM eTap. Checked it out online and with my LBS and converted. So, that bike now has Red shifters, derailleurs, brakes and chain, Campy wheels and cassette, White Industries 46/30 crank (I’m 71 and until COVID was taking this bike to the mountains in Europe every year). Everything works well and I don’t remember ever dropping the chain on a front shift.

I also had an Open UP that was originally built with Di2 that I swapped to eTap 11 with an FSA crank. I had chain drop with that bike a couple of times and it was difficult to get the chain free. I had also had the drop problem with the Di2 so I suspect the real problem was that the derailleur hanger was too high for the 46/30 crank. I sold the Open and put the parts on a Specialized Diverge with 48/32 rings and had no problems with chain drop or anything else. I just picked up that bike from my LBS, having converted it to SRAM 12, Force except for Rival shifters and cassette. No experience with that yet. This will mainly be my winter and bad weather bike that I might take on light gravel occasionally.

Last year, for my 70th birthday, I treated myself to a Specialized Aethos with Red. 46/33 and 10-33. Love it and everything worked well for the 5-6,000 km I rode it last year. No chain drop, no shifting problems and I hauled my 70 year old overweight body with it up the highest paved road in Canada with no problems (and with my 90 year old friend on his Specialized Creo ebike beside me). Converting the Diverge means that I can swap wheels between the two bikes if I have a last minute flat (I have three sets of wheels with 12 speed SRAM now).

I still have two 11 speed Colnago C40s with mainly Record groups (Super Record rear derailleurs because that was all I could find in mid cage so I could put on an 11-32 and cheaper cassettes). I still love both the bikes and the groups.

Have you actually found the SRAM parts in stock anywhere at those prices? I paid quite a bit above list for many of the SRAM parts I found. Also, if I were cheaping out with some Rival parts, I’d consider shifters. I did that because of difficulty finding ANY Force shifters and was OK with the idea because several reviews have suggested that unless you want remote shifters (blips) the Rival shape is more friendly on the hands. One thing I found with the Aethos was that front shifting with the 13 tooth difference was better than with the 16 tooth difference I’ve had on most bike since the compact era started around 2005. One other thing to think about is gear ratios. SRAM 12 is quite different with the 13 tooth crank difference and the 10 tooth cog. I think the only time I used the 46-10 on the Aethos was coming down a couple of REALLY big mountain passes (I live about 50 miles from the Rockies). I don’t know when anyone would really want something like a 50-10 or even 48-10. The 46/33 and 10-33 (10-36 on the Diverge) work for me but you may not like the SRAM options.

If I were in your position, I’d probably go with Campy 11, making sure that I had a supply of disposable parts like chains and cassettes which are still available from UK mail order if nowhere else. If I were thinking of new with your financial constraints, I think I’d go Chorus. Let’s face it, Chorus is essentially Super Record with a few heavier parts like bolts and cassettes. Rival isn’t Red with aluminum instead of titanium, it’s a lot of cheaper bits and pieces. Personally, if I were looking at SRAM vs Shimano, I’d still go with SRAM, even if I had to go with Rival.

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I am digging my Campy Chorus 12 speed group and have yet to find any real flaws in it over 2+ years of using it. It was easy to set up and has been easy to maintain. The only real disadvantage to using it has been my limp-ish RD hanger (Look 595), but I’m having a couple of custom ones made that are a bit beefier. Oh, and I do wish Campy made a quick-link, but a SRAM Eagle 12 speed quick-link works just fine.

I can speak to the performance of Rival AXS other than to say that SRAM’s ergonomics don’t work so well for me.

I do love the mechanical feedback that I get from the Chorus group. Shifting up or down results in a well defined click that I love.

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I got my first chain drop ever on Chorus today!! Shocking stuff.

I’m looking forward to my 12sp Di2 test ride, but I honestly think it will take a lot to move me away from Campag. The new Di2 will have to be seriously good for that to happen.

I have some dura ace di2 parts gathering dust in the garage. Meanwhile I’ve used a Shiftmate to allow me to use 12spd Campy shifters with an Eagle rear derailleur and a 10-50 cassette. I put up with the minor hassles of all that so I can use the Campy shifters, which I unabashedly love.

Which is to say, I’d stick with Campy and skip the SRAM.