Campagnolo could be the first of the ‘big-three’ groupset brands — Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo — to launch a road-specific 12-speed groupset. BikeRadar found a Campagnolo patent filed in 2017 that includes a description of 12-speed road cassette.
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SRAM already has the XX1 Eagle 12-speed MTB groupset, and a wireless version of the group has been spotted.
The patent claims the cassette can be "housed in a conventional bicycle having wheels and frame of a standardised size".
The cassette is described as being made from an aluminium alloy and combined with the new structure design, claims to be ‘light and sufficiently strong’.
Despite the extra cog on the 12-speed cassette, the maximum gear range listed is only 11-27t, compared to 11-30t on Shimano’s latest Dura-Ace R9100 cassettes, or 11-29 on the current Campagnolo Super Record.
However, the patent has a focus on reducing the jumps in a cassette and improving the "linearity" of the increase in cog sizes. SRAM’s Eagle groupset is predominantly setup with a 1x crankset and although this setup has a similar gear range to a traditional 2x setup, the jumps between gears are noticeable and perhaps unsuitable for road conditions where gradient changes are generally gradual.
This experience is specifically mentioned in the patent, ‘the cyclist notices a great difference in teeth compared to the previous [gear]’ with large gear jumps and so the tighter gear ratios described in the patent make sense, especially in a road racing scenario.
The five 12-speed cassette options listed in the patent include the following ratios:
- 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23
- 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25
- 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27
- 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 25
- 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27
Professional Continental cycling team Aqua Blue Sport is racing the 1x, disc brake-only 3T Strada for the 2018 season and 3T’s 1x specific cassettes are available with tighter ratios at either the top or bottom of the cassette for climbing or flatter rides respectively. However, these 11-speed cassettes’ have jumps of up to six teeth at the extreme end of the cassette versus the 12-speed patent designs from Campagnolo, which has a maximum of a two teeth jump on any of the five cassette range options.
The Campagnolo patent appears broad in its scope and it's difficult to tell how much of its content is hypothetical and how much relates to actual products we can expect to see in production in the near future.
BikeRadar contacted Campagnolo for comment but has not yet received a response.