Building a Bike, One Pound of Flesh at a Time: Groupset

Interestingly, I went through this exact same thought process when I bought my Campagnolo Chorus groupset a few years ago. What’s more ‘interesting’, to me anyway, is that I have come to the same conclusion.

20b

Going into this bike build I had just assumed that I would need to have the best transmission I could buy, which to me meant Record. I didn’t question this decision till the rubber hit the road and I actually began to think about clicking ‘buy’ (I will get this online for sure – the difference in price is just too large). What I did was this:

1. Scoured the internet fora (thanks Chikashi for teaching me this new plural!) for people who’ve had the same question as I have.

2. Compared each component of Chorus and Record, from derailleur to brake levers.

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What I discovered from #1 was that you tended to have two different camps; lets call one the ‘heart’ and the other the ‘head’. The ‘heart’ people tended to focus on ‘tradition’ (Record is THE classic Campy groupset), ‘looks’ (‘those holes in the levers are awesome!’) and materials (titanium tends to set hearts a-flutterin’). The ‘head’ folks, on the other hand, went with ‘mechanics’ (see #2 below), ‘price-to-weight’ (the 100 grams you save by buying Record will cost you at least €600) and ‘bucking tradition’ (some stated that they had great respect for riders who have expensive frames and Chorus components, seeing this type of rider as one who is a free thinker and unswayed by emotion).

After doing a bit of research into #2 I found that there is no fundamental difference between Chorus and Record (or even Super Record for that matter) in ‘performance’, i.e. all shift the same. The differences come in weight (more titanium and carbon) and things like improved modulation (maybe) on the upper end brakes (bearings vs bushings). It appears to me that I would be forking out a heck of a lot of money on bling – along with those 100 grams or so in weight savings.

20b

So I think I’ll go for Chorus this time around, too. I may do some mixing and matching, though, like upgrade the brakes if I can determine they are going to be worth it. The cassette was another bit recommended by some to consider switching, since it is ‘rotational weight’ (or something). If any of you have any bright ideas I’m all ears, as usual.

Now I need to find something to spend that €600 on…

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17 thoughts on “Building a Bike, One Pound of Flesh at a Time: Groupset

  1. I like your style: ‘right 600 Euros saved…what’s next!’

    I have a Chorus groupset currently winging it’s way to me after putting up with SRAM for 4 years now (not a fan!). I too felt that the extra spend on Record didn’t really stack up for me; each to their own though.

  2. I built my Bianchi CV this year in Spring albeit with Shimano Ultegra 11speed DI2 and I went through the same process as you Gerry. A lot of people will buy the Dura Ace (DA) stuff without thinking but do not realise that Shimano actually recommend DA for professional use only and Ultegra for “mere mortals (read Ultegra/DA as Chorus/Record). Also DA does not last as long as Ultegra as the parts are made out of Ti and that includes the rear cassette. Only one of my bikes is DI2 but the difference is “out of the World” in shifting over manual and if I could afford it, I would change them all it is that good. If I were you I would consider electronic shifting if you can find the money. If you have not tried it yet I recommend it before you buy the manual stuff.

    • Bryan, you aren’t helping. I’ve just saved €600, now I have to look at something even more expensive than Record Mech! Seriously though, I have purposely not let myself think about electronic simply because if I did, I might buy one. I have tried them and they are amazing, agreed. This will have to wait till I get my wife working, however 😉

  3. I think you characterised the 2 approaches very well, heart and head. I think the head will lead you to Chorus every time. The heart will guide you to Record or Super Record. I think neither approach is wrong.

    On the rear cassette, I suggest you don’t actually look at a Record or, worse, a Super Record, version. The difference is not just in the material used but also in the finish, which I am guessing is where most of the cost difference can be attributed. It will make the Chorus version seem crude in comparison. I regret seeing the SR cassette…

    If you’re concerned about the rotational weight, you can always get 11-23 Chorus :-). Joking aside, I think the effect of the difference is probably marginal. Saving fewer grams on the outside of the wheel (lighter tyre, latex inner tube, rim…) probably has the same or greater effect, but I might be completely wrong there.

    Is the 2015 model already being discounted by e-tailers?

    • I am actually worrying over the cassette choice. These new groupsets have amazing ranges. You can get an 11-29 now, which is pretty tempting if I do Haute Route again. Part of me, though, tells me to harden the **** up and get the standard 11-23 or 12-25.

      Yes, they all seem to be discounted already online. It’s pretty depressing for my LBS, I’m sure because the best they could quote me for the Chorus was about the price I’d pay for Record online. Ridiculous. I’m just glad I could give them some business with the frameset – it might be the last they get!

      • Gerry, Why do you want to make your life (cycling) any more difficult then it is and go for a standard cassette or a 12-25? You just posted a blog on “head over heart” issues and now you are worrying about ” not conforming”. With your past knee problems why tempt it looking “Hard” on a standard!!! Even pros use compact gearing and BIG rear cassettes now a days. Be true to your knees not how other think!!

        • Bryan, don’t worry. I wasn’t thinking ‘standard’ crankset, only cassette. Still, I know that Ventoux will demand that pesky 27 once in a while, so I’m sure I’ll be going cautious (and giving my knee a break)!

  4. Gerry, good choice. PLs no shimano or SRAM in an Italien bike! Its easier to save Wright in other parts. Have a look at AX lightness or schmolke parts for your 600;-

    • Never heard of those two, but their stuff looks pretty nice…and light…and expensive! I will keep them in mind for the ‘small bits’ of the bike.

  5. Big dump in the morning, weight issue solved. As for gearing, you already know the right answer.

    As you know, I’ve been a long time Super Record fan (no, I can’t justify the extra cost, who can), which I have on my bike at my place in Arizona and rode in Haute Route; and to accommodate the power meter craze, my latest bike has SRAM RED 22 with a QUARQ Power Meter (it took a little while to get used to shifting up). My TT bike has DuraAce, and honestly, all three of these vendor’s high end products perform very well and have never let me down. I know there are lots of people that have “Religion” when it comes to their Group selection, but it simply comes down to personal preferences and what you’re most comfortable with; one isn’t really better than the other. All that said, you better go with Campy on that fine Italian machine. I’m sure there’s a law about that.

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