Since 11-speed launched in 2009 it has become an accepted standard and, while you don’t have to splash out on a 12-speed transmission, progress is inevitable, and Campagnolo’s Super Record 12-Speed Disc is up there with the best.
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All-new mechanical shifters operate the new drivetrain with customisable reach, curvier, flared brake levers and increased leverage. The larger upshift lever integrates better with the brake lever, while the enlarged thumb lever extends further forwards and there’s now no free stroke before shifting begins.
Ultra Shift allows five sprocket downshifts and three upshifts with one movement, while new cables and housings are said to offer industry-leading smoothness.
Redesigned mechs permit immediate operation and a wider range of chainlines helped by the front mech’s trim function. Larger 12-tooth jockey wheels and a single-length cage can handle an 11-32 cassette. The specific R12 chain is narrower and lighter, said to engage faster but is just as durable as Campag’s 11-speed chains.
I love the lever ergonomics. They’re comfortable in every position and, when fighting headwinds, gripping the inward-facing ‘horns’ with horizontal forearms is efficient and relatively relaxing.
After riding competing gear systems, hopping on to Super Record almost catches you out with its shift speed; although I still prefer the EPS-shape inner lever to this mechanical one for its easier reach and control.
Campagnolo’s hydraulic discs are the most consistent for reliable stopping power and pad return without rubbing and they rarely emit any noise.
Having 12 sprockets isn’t revelatory, but it allows a greater range of road gears with smaller jumps between them maximising efficiency. It also does away with the need to swap cassettes for different terrain.
Super Record 12 is an extravagance for the well-heeled, the sponsored or the very keen, but if absolute mechanical precision and performance matter, there’s no better.
- Cassettes: There are 11-29 and 11-32 options, with single-tooth jumps for the first seven sprockets.
- Chainset: The Super Record four-arm hollow carbon chainset has four bolts for each chainring.
- Levers: Only 8mm taller than the rim brake cousins with two brake bite-point settings.
- Calipers: Campag’s disc calipers are specific to each rotor size, and are tested to over 350°C.