2016 CAMPAGNOLO EPS V3 – CONNECTIVITY WITH ITALIAN ELEGANCE
At the EuroBike industry exposition last fall, Campagnolo announced some changes to its EPS electronic shifting system. While the EPS system was, in my opinion, the industry leader when it was introduced in many categories, it lost ground to Shimano’s dominant latest generation of Di2 system. For example, second generation Shimano systems allow for customization of the system through a user interface and firmware updates, while Campagnolo’s second generation EPS V2 systems remained static in the interface and updates department. Will Campagnolo EPS V3 take back the lost ground?
Campagnolo EPS Progression
While Campagnolo EPS V2 was eclipsed by Shimano in some departments, it did see some nice progressions from the original Campagnolo EPS V1. For example, the power unit of EPS V1 was large and had to be mounted on the outside of the frame. It was not the most aesthetically pleasing solution. Campagnolo addressed this aesthetic point with the introduction of the V2 version and a power unit that could be mounted inside the frame. This looked better, but this still was not ideal as it could not be universally installed in all frames and was quite challenging to install in others. The Power Unit had to be bolted into place inside the frame, using bolts that went through the seat tube water bottle bosses on the bike’s frame. This required a custom tool from Campagnolo and often a strong portion of patience on the part of the installation technician. All in all, not a simple task. Well, for 2016, Campagnolo has addressed these shortcomings and more with its new Super Record and Record EPS V3 system.
First of all, Campagnolo has redesigned the battery pack/brains of the system in EPS V3. The new ultrasonically sealed, waterproof Power Unit is now slender and round, so it will fit inside a seatpost. It is also easier to fit inside an aero bike frame, if need be. These changes will make installation and, if ever needed, removal, easier than before and far more universal and simple to service if needed.
A New Cockpit Interface for Campagnolo EPS V3
Another big change is to the cockpit interface. The EPS V2 system, with the brain/battery pack inside the frame, required the bike manufacturer to provide a hole somewhere in the frame, in the vicinity of the bottom bracket, for mounting a charging port. This was never a great solution as installing the charging port receptacle firmly in the frame could be a real challenge and some bikes mounted the port on the underside of the bottom bracket, making charging without the use of a bike repair stand truly inconvenient. The new cockpit interface in Campagnolo EPS V3, designed to attach to the stem, now incorporates a charging port at the stem. Charging will now be easier for the bike owner and similar to charging the current Shimano Di2 system and it will work easily on most any frame. The lights on the interface, indicating the functional status of the system, are now also visible from three sides making checking battery levels easier.
Wireless Updating for Campagnolo EPS V3
Once installed, probably the greatest benefit is that the EPS V3 system will now communicate via Bluetooth or ANT+ with a computer, tablet, iPhone or Android, via a forthcoming “MyCampy” app. This wireless connectivity will allow the bike owner to make changes to the system, such as changing individual shift button and lever functions, and changing EPS settings. This is similar to what can be done with Shimano’s Di2 system, but without the need to plug the bike into a separate computer interface that must then be plugged into a laptop like Di2 currently requires (rumor has it Shimano will be offering a wireless interface very soon too). With the “MyCampy” app, the owner will be able to wirelessly download firmware updates to the system, and run component-by-component diagnostics as well. The “MyCampy” app will also perform a variety of other services, such as tracking mileage use of each component, so that you can better judge when replacement of items such as the chain is needed.
How Does Campagnolo EPS V3 Perform and Ride?
From a performance standpoint, little has changed. I have always liked the functionality of the Campagnolo system. Shifts are solid feeling, quick and precise and multi-shifts are very fast, especially going to harder gears. The functioning of the rear derailleur can take a bit of getting used to though as the derailleur is designed to momentarily slightly over shift, to be sure that the chain seats properly, and then it returns to the proper position. The result is that you may hear a slight chain noise for a split second when you shift. Nothing you can’t get used to, and it is a very functional feature when it comes to clean shifting. As for the front, the EPS front derailleur, as with all Campagnolo front derailleurs, has always been a bit finicky to set up, and it still is. However, once it is set up correctly, it provides quick, precise shifts as well. The increased chainring stiffness of the latest generation Campagnolo crankset also improves front shifting.
Campagnolo EPS3 Lever Ergonomics
Campagnolo has retained its traditional shifter feel and function. The shift lever and thumb paddle mimic the functioning of their mechanical brethren. Unlike Shimano, the electronic buttons even have a very similar feel to the mechanical units. Shimano’s two levers, mounted so close together, can sometimes result in misshifting, particularly if you are wearing full-fingered gloves. That won’t happen with Campy shifters as the thumb lever is placed far away from the shifter paddle. The shape and feel of the lever remains the same as the last generation Campagnolo, which I have always found very comfortable and functional.
Upgrade Campagnolo EPS V1 or V2 to Campagnolo EPS V3
The new Campagnolo EPS Power Unit and cockpit interface are compatible with previous generation Record and Super Record shifters and derailleurs. Thank you Campagnolo! Owners of bikes with Campagnolo EPS V1 and V2 will be able to upgrade, getting the new features, by replacement of these parts. This is not quite as easy as it sounds, particularly the Power Unit, and will require at least partial disassembly of the bike in order to run cables from the new EPS power pack to the various components. While it is better for most people to leave this upgrade to a shop familiar with the Campagnolo EPS system, it is great that Campagnolo allows for such upgrades.
Shimano Di2 eTube vs. Campagnolo EPS V3
Modern electronic shifting started in 2009 with Shimano’s original 7970 Di2 system. From a performance and feel standpoint, this was superseded by the original Campagnolo EPS system from my perspective. However, Shimano upped the stakes with the latest eTube versions of Ultegra and Dura Ace Di2 systems. Now it appears that Campagnolo may have arguably leap-frogged over Shimano again in at least a few departments, in that the new EPS has more communication features even a Di2 system equipped with the D-Fly module, and can be updated and tailored to your needs without the need for a separate interface. At the moment, there is no clearcut winner as both systems continue to show great progression and once again the winner for an individual will likely rest in personal preference or a singular feature that one system offers over the other. It is nice when there are multiple good options and SRAM’s forthcoming eTap should provide a third very valid electronic shift option as well.
Availability of Campagnolo EPS V3
At the time of this writing, availability of the Campagnolo V3 components is still very limited, but Campy should have their production up to speed in the near future. Let the battle continue, for you and I will be the beneficiaries of the improved technology. This stuff keeps getting better and better!
Contact us to talk more about upgrading to Campagnolo EPS V3 or getting a Rider Matched new bike with Campagnolo EPS V3.