With a cult-like following, Campagnolo kits are well-loved by those who know, but mostly unavailable to the masses of bike buyers who just purchase bikes off-the-shelf. Campagnolo is aiming to change that and the new Potenza 11 kit is one they are counting on to lead that charge. I’ve been riding this new groupset aboard the Ridley Fenix SLX and it’s got a lot to love.
Campagnolo Potenza 11 Groupset Features:
- Part of Campagnolo’s H11 Disc Brake Project
- Mechanical shifting with either rim or hydraulic disc brakes (tested)
- Same Campy shifting pattern Campy fans are used to
- H11-specific crankset optimizes shifting performance with disc brakes and thru-axles
- Adjustable reach and lever pull
- Ergonomic alloy brake lever and shift paddle
- Bleed port that’s easily-accessed
- Available as dedicated 160mm flat mount front only and either 140 or 160mm rear
- MSRP: $1687.00
Affordable disc groupset from Campagnolo
While there are many storied brands in cycling, few carry the panache of Campagnolo. The script logo says it all and is unmistakably Italian. What makes Campagnolo great is their dedication to every detail and their painstaking process to deliver, what they believe, are the best products on the market. Road disc brakes are no longer a novelty, but it has taken Campagnolo a long time to enter the fray.
Their entry now includes the full line of disc brake groupsets from Super Record EPS down to Potenza as part of their Disc Brake Project. The full lineup goes by the H11 name and is optimized for both 135 and 142 mm rear axles with the same Q-Factor as their rim brake brethren. The carbon H11 crankset is intended for Super Record, Record and Chorus groups while the alloy Potenza 11 crankset is perfectly-matched to the full Potenza 11 groupset I’ve been testing.
According to Campagnolo’s tests, their H11 disc brake groupsets outperform both Shimano and SRAM in power, hand force required, heat dissipation, dry performance and wet performance. I’ll share my thoughts on that below, but something unique about Campagnolo’s disc brake solution is that they have tapped into Magura for their braking tech. Bringing two best-in-breed solutions together doesn’t always bring success, but I will say that overall performance is impressive.
Like the latest groupsets from the competition, Potenza 11 offers both reach adjustment and Adjustable Modulation System, which changes the free stroke from long to short for more or less lever throw. Calipers are only offered in flat mount 160mm (front) and flat mount 160/140mm rear. With the rear caliper, you have to specify one or the other — not both. The adapter-free look is compelling, but not being able to upsize to 160mm without changing the caliper could cause issues for those wanting to upsize at a later date.
Ergonomics and shifting pattern is all Campagnolo with the thumb trigger dropping into the small chainring or down the cassette and small levers used to traverse the range. The brake levers are not dual-purpose — they are just for braking.
Something that Campagnolo is known for is the ergonomics of their brake hoods. Those ergonomics are maintained here with the classic inward curve of the hood and subsequent comfortable hand positions.
Italian shifting meets the Wasatch
Along Utah’s Wasatch Front, there are mountain roads galore and I’m lucky enough to have these alpine roads as my testing grounds. Long ascents and curvaceous descents are common with bikes and gear in tow. Admittedly (do I dare?), this was my first rodeo with Campagnolo. I know, I know… shame, shame, but in all honesty, there are very few bikes equipped with Campy from the factory and I’ve never had a test bike come through the doors with Campy. That is a story in and of itself, but Campagnolo is aware of their lack of OEM appointments and that’s what the new Potenza 11 groupset is all about.
Each groupset on the market features unique shifting patterns that takes some adjustment time. For me, SRAM’s eTap is simply the most intuitive pattern on the market but I will say that Campy’s mechanical procedure became more and more comfortable as the miles racked up. It is particularly nice when your hands are placed deep in the drops where the brake levers feel like second-nature and the trigger shifters are easily-reached. The paddle shifter can get a little squirmy (it can move around on you as you push it). I did note that the alloy levers did get chilly to touch on cold morning descents.
In the hoods, the paddle shifter swings nice and straight and, unlike in the drops, it’s never squirmy. The trigger shifter is positioned backwards on the hoods, requiring double-jointed thumbs or a move backwards to reach it. While on the subject of the hoods, I noticed that they have developed a bit of a wrinkle with use. You can see in the photos a slight bump that can be felt with gloves on. Perhaps a little thicker rubber could remedy that?
Shifting was always on par with what I’d expect here. It’s about as good as Shimano 105/Ultegra with reliable shifting that’s just not as crisp as the best on the market (Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 nabs that mark).
I will also note that a few times, while moving moving rapidly from the drops to the hoods, I hit the thumb trigger while trying to wrap my hands around the hoods. When you’re in a hurry and dancing around the bars, that kind of stuff can easily happen.
My test period was aboard the fantastic Ridley Fenix SLX Disc and came with compact cranks and a 11-29T cassette. Gearing was certainly adequate for the myriad of climbs here in the Wasatch.
- Brake levers are the most natural-feeling levers on the market
- Brake power and modulation is also top-shelf
- Shifting was on par with expectations
- A variety of hand positions are available in and around the hoods
- Finally, a Campy group for the masses
- Trigger shifter in the drops was intuitive and natural (fast too)
- 160/140mm rotor combo felt mighty ample on steep, mountain descents
- Shifting pattern isn’t the most intuitive and varies in function from tops to drops
- Does require Campagnolo-specific freehub and cassette removal tool
The Bottom Line: Campagnolo Potenza 11 Disc
Italy and cycling go hand-in-hand. And, unfortunately, most Italian cycling gear is a touch more expensive than their non-Italian counterparts. Is it worth the extra coin? If you are a Campagnolo fan or if you’ve never dabbled in it due to the high cost, the Potenza 11 kit is worth a shot. I absolutely love the comfortable brake levers that helped deliver the smoothest, most powerful and well-modulated road disc braking I’ve experienced. I’m still mixed on the shifting pattern but found it to perform admirably during my tests.
Learn More: Visit Campagnolo.com