Last summer Campagnolo finally came through with their long-rumored H11 disc brake project. And while a bit late to the party, the brakes themselves work as well or better than every other hydraulic road disc brake group on the market. Since the fall we’ve been riding a Chorus carbon gruppo with the H11 components and a not-talked-about longer medium cage rear derailleur for a fast gravel-friendly setup that has delivered excellent performance.

Campagnolo H11 mechanical, road bike disc brakes

What Campagnolo did where other hydraulic road disc brake competitors like Shimano, SRAM & even Rotor didn’t, was to deliver their new disc brake technology across a wide range of component group levels at its debut. And then they actually delivered the goods to consumers in a short amount of time. Following up on a review of SRAM Red’s group, I had personally been looking for a mechanical shift/hydraulic disc groupset with improved ergonomics for an all-road bike that would see regular asphalt, gravel and dirt road riding.

The mechanical Chorus version of Campy’s new disc brake series seemed like a perfect fit in a premium spec’ed group, sharing the same H11 levers that Record & Super Record would use, plus the same crankset. Plus, when I started looking at the detailed specs for the new group I realized that Campagnolo was now offering each of top mechanical rear derailleurs with a mid-length cage that would make them work with Campy’s newest 11-32 cassette.

Tech Details & Actual Weights

Adding disc brakes to a carbon road bike build still means adding a bit of weight overall. But since the heavier and more complicated components of the H11 group are shared with the two higher-spec component groups of Record & Super Record, opting for Chorus looked by far like the best value of grams per Euro.

Our test groupset can be essentially split into two categories – H11 and Chorus mechanical, and does include a few components heavier than Campy’s base measurements in the interest of stronger braking, a wider gear range, and improved chain retention.

H11 hydraulic disc brakes

Everything brake related is H11, and includes a pair of H11 brake/shifters with a carbon lever blade, a pair of flat mount disc brake calipers & their hydraulic hoses (left/front 411g, right/rear 417g), two 160mm H11 rotors (119g each), and a H11 carbon crankset (665g). We detailed the tech features of the levers at their launch, and besides using the same slim profile and comfortable ergonomics of rim brake Campy levers, the H11 Ergopower levers’ stand-out feature is unique independent reach adjust and a two-position leverage-adjust at the lever.

The H11 crankset’s key feature is a slightly wider chain line to accommodate the wider rear hub spacing of the road 12x142mm standard (much like you see with Boost cranks, but to a lesser degree. Our crankset features mid-compact 53/36 gearing that seemed a good compromise for a light road bike build that would still see plenty of time off the pavement.

A couple notes on Campy’s H11 calipers. The flat mount calipers are not your typical style that mount with an adapter and can be used for both 140 or 160mm rotors. Instead, on the frame you need a set of bolts of the specific length to match how deep your chainstays are. There can be a couple centimeters difference from a thin steel chainstay to a tall carbon one, but Campy offers a range of bolt options, for what results in a clean install. Also for the rear, you can pick either 140 or 160mm specific calipers and the matching rotors. Up front it is 160mm only. We chose 160mm at both ends for looks and ease of compatibility with the most wheelsets. (Just for reference, we got ahold of a 140mm rotor to see the difference. At 99g you could save just a real 20g on the rotor & 7g on the slightly smaller caliper.)

Chorus 2×11 mechanical drivetrain

The Chorus components are the medium cage mechanical rear derailleur (185g), which Campagnolo rates for up to 32T cogs, plus a standard mechanical front derailleur with an integrated CSD chain catcher (93g), a Chorus C11 chain (257g), a non-series Ultra-Torque press fit bottom bracket (40g), and the non-series C11 steel 11-32T cassette (329g).

The mid-cage rear derailleur was the standout here. Campy introduced lower end Potenza & Centaur groupsets with a 11-32 cassette options to appeal to more beginner riders, but they never really announced that the Chorus, Record & Super Record mechanical derailleurs were getting the bigger gear range option as well. Sure the steel 11-32 cassette is about 100g heavier than a smaller 11-27 Chorus or almost 130g more than a ti Super Record cassette, but it brings a lot more usable range also to the top-end groupsets.

In the end our actual weights mostly hit  close to those quoted by Campagnolo, with a few notable exceptions. Our pair of levers were 92g heavier for the pair than claimed (perhaps because the base figure excluded hoses & shift wires? but we even forgot to weigh the housing which would add another 20g or so). In the same avenue our cranks were 37g heavier, although that is probably the result of 172.5 arms and 52/36 rings, not the lightest possible in the range. Calipers again add 44g for the pair, and 44g for the pair of rotors. (Looks like the group figures use two of the lighter, smaller rotor, even though that’s not a possible build.) All the overweight items are H11, which is curious since these components at the same weight are shared for Record & Super Record, where that weight addition will hurt more. For Chorus, it really isn’t a big deal. Our real complete group with the additions for more usability adds up to 2635g – a decent bit more than the total claimed group weight of 2352g (which itself was just 209g more than the rim brake Chorus group claims.)

Riding Impressions

Sure Campagnolo joined the ranks of companies offering hydraulic road disc brakes, but how does it perform? Out of the gates, it looks like Campy really nailed the execution of their disc brake debut. They match the best performance we’ve seen from both the current and previous generations of Shimano’s top Dura-Ace disc brake setups, offering an excellent combination of powerful braking and consistent, reliable modulation. I’ve ridden this group with the bike built to just under 7kg complete climbing with 28mm Vittoria Corsa tubulars glued to 35mm deep Bora One carbon wheels on smooth tarmac and then confidently descending twisty chicanes on the other side, both wet & dry.

Then, I’ve loaded the bike up with a full suite of Apidura bikepacking bags, swapped in a set of Hunt Carbon Aero Disc wheels and 35mm wide tubeless Schwalbe G-One tires, and headed out of multi-day, mixed surface adventures. Riding loaded through slick mud, down wet & rocky descents, and an unfortunately large amount of snow & ice this winter, power and modulation has been on point.

The adjustable leverage ratio and adjustable reach are something that while common on the mountain bike brake side, is slow to find adoption on the road. Reach adjust is simple, and like most riders, I was comfortable leaving in its default position. Changing leverage ratio is a bit more complicated in a compact road lever setup, but this will probably be a big boost for the comfort level of riders switching to road disc brakes. I come from a techy mountain biking background and prefer the more aggressive, higher leverage setting on both front & rear, much like I prefer 1-finger trail braking. I suspect most technical riders would do the same.

But for many roadies making the switch to discs, the lower leverage option has a noticeably calmer feel too it, delivering a bit more modulation. I feel like many new riders to disc brakes will prefer that setting, and it may even be a more appropriate setup for those racing in a mixed peloton with riders still sporting rim brakes.

Campagnolo was proud to talk to us about how they developed a unique brake pad backing material that was going to eliminate squeal. After a couple thousand kilometers riding the H11 disc brakes I can say that they make considerably less noise than road disc brakes I’ve ridden from the other main road groups. With that said, they are in fact not entirely squeal-free. Get them wet, get them dirty, and feather the lever and I could induce some vibration to make the pads get loud. But true enough, it isn’t ever continuous like I have on a couple other bikes at the moment. And perhaps if I take the pads out, carefully clean them and reinstall, it could be a case of that pad backing collecting brake dust and grime over time that have allowed the to vibrate and squeal after having been ridden through the winter.

Some may balk at my assertions that a 52/36 set of chainrings and an 11-32 cassette offers enough range to be a proper gravel or bikepacking bikes. That’s surely a fair argument. I did build this up to be my regular road bike, and that was always going to include at least 28mm tires for the rough roads (and plethora of cobbles) that we have surrounding our EU base in Prague. Relatively smooth dirt & gravel roads were always going to be on the table as well, as I don’t have the self-control to ride past a nice buff dirt road.

When I started riding the bike I just loved the precise & responsive shifting of the Chorus group, and kept riding further and further from the asphalt, until I found myself climbing wet forest roads with an overnight bag hung under my saddle. This bike is so light at 7.2kg rolling, that the slightly taller gear just make me go up the hills a bit faster. For sure the 50/34 option would make more sense for most riders paired to the 11-32 cassette.

If bikepacking or gravel biking is your focus, it would be nice to get a bit more gearing range out of the setup. Campagnolo doesn’t make a set of rings smaller than 50/34 for their proprietary 4-bolt cranks, although TA Specialites does. But anything smaller that 34 and you likely need to look at another crankset option. As for the back, I’m pretty confident that an 11-34 would work perfectly fine as would an 11-36 in many cases. And thanks to the (long overdue) universality of 11 speed road cassette spacing, even though Campagnolo doesn’t offer a larger cassette, there are plenty of other possibilities open to you.

As for me, I’m perfectly happy with my light bike and the mid-compact + 11-32 setup. The disc brake performance is second to none, and the Chorus level spec – while still fancy and imbued with a lot of pretty carbon – isn’t as stratospherically expensive as Campy’s higher offerings. I’ve got a set of tubular road wheels for asphalt and a tubeless gravel wheelset at the ready for when I can sneak out on any type of road ride. And whenever I get back from some tradeshow or bike test somewhere, it’s nice to not worry whether my bike needs to be charged or my brakes need to be adjusted. I just hop on the bike and ride.

Campagnolo.com

33 comments

    • Loza Lara Constant on

      Chainline specific to the 142mm rear spacing that is becoming the standard on disc brake hubs. A crankset optimized for the 135mm spacing would result in shifting issues when using the smaller cogs in the rear, Exactly like trying to use a road bike crankset designed for 135mm spacing on a 142mm spacing mountain bike.

      Reply
  1. Volsung on

    I’ve been running Chorus 11 on my gravel commuter for about 6 months/2k miles in MN.

    The jockey wheels completely died. I couldn’t spin them with my fingers because the bearings were wrecked. Also, they have too many little holes (you can see them in the bottom pic) which just get gunked up. I replaced them with Hopes but haven’t tried them out yet.

    Carbon and plastic levers are great sub zero and they play better with fat mittens than Shimano.

    The long swing arm thing on the front derailleur doesn’t play well with fenders so I took it off. A 40T narrow wide and 11-32 cassette works for me around these parts. It might not work well with big tires and short stays, either.

    Reply
  2. Kernel Flickitov on

    I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the R&D room when they were trying to figure out what rotor mount to go with. Now only if Shimano would return the favor and ditch their crappy notch prone freehub body design for Campy.

    Reply
    • Dirka on

      You have a point, though personally I prefer XD freehubs.

      However, Shimano-type freehubs wouldn’t be nearly so notch-prone if manufacturers just stuck with steel instead of alloy. But we couldn’t have that, could we, since it would add 20-50 g to a part of the wheel that absolutely doesn’t matter in terms of ride characteristics.

      But hey, I’ve had a customer refuse to ride a set of Zipp wheels, because the measured weight was 20g off the manufacturer’s claim. Which is well within the tolerances of pretty much any scale except precision-calibrated lab setups.

      Reply
      • Morten Reippuert on

        Thing is: Campy alluminum freehub bodies has zero problems, the spline desigb of the campagnolo designed 9-speed 1997 body (debuted in the 1996 TDF) is just supirior to anything Shimano has attempted to come up with in past 21 years.
        Based on recently revealed Campy 12 speed road patent that body will continue unchanged. (Campys’s OS hub design was introduced in 1998… and is still the best and out there as well – Shimano finaly managed to copy it in 2016-2017…)

        Reply
  3. Ian on

    Really interested in this, personally don’t have a need for discs, but since all the frames I like are now disc only I guess I need to consider them!

    Nice to see someone focussing on eliminating squeel, the disc brakes I’ve used up until now ((SRAM and TRP)) have been so loud in cold, wet conditions that I now just use my rim braked bike for wet commutes (so all through the winter in Scotland…).

    Reply
  4. bikermark on

    Some additional observations about H11: the lever feel is progressive — more SRAM than Shimano; and set-up is nicer than SRAM or Shimano. On the latter: clear syringes and blue fluid make spotting air bubbles much easier and because the syringes use stiff hoses and metal fittings they are a true one-person bleed. Can’t comment yet on performance; still bedding in the pads/rotors.

    Reply
  5. Tom in MN on

    “mid-length cage that would make them work with Campy’s newest 11-32 derailleur.” should end in cassette I’m guessing.

    Pictures of Campy components covered in mud, now that’s a first.

    Reply
    • Morten Reippuert on

      Campy does dirt very well – my rig since 2016:

      Chorus 2015 Ultratourqe 50/34 crank.
      Chorus 2015 s2 front derailure.
      Chorus 207 10 speed Ergo’s.
      SRAM X0 mid cage rear deraillure.
      XTR 11-36 10-speed casette.
      Wipperman 11 speed chain.
      TRP HY/RD disc brakes.

      Only reason i havent got the Chorus H11 ergo’s is that my gravel TI frame is built for post mount, not flat mount. Considering a new frame for that very reason.

      (my 2006 Merlin Works CR road frame started out with a Chorus 2007 10 speed groupset (1st gen ultra tourqe and skeleton brakes – replaced the groupset with Chorus 2015 in 2015 but kept the calipers – Ergo’s is now used in a bastard mix on the dirtroad frame).

      And my vintage Koga Miyata Full Pro with Camagnolo Athenea 1988 does gravel too: l’Eroica Gialoe 2015 & 2017… (brake caliper clearance for 28mm tubulars… and the short cage slant paralelogram derailure manages a 30t cassette)

      Reply
  6. ebbe on

    FYI: You can run a 11-32 cassette on a short cage Chorus derailler as well. They don’t recommend it, but I’ve had zero problems with it in 2+ years (you might need to adjust some screws, so make sure you know what you’re doing). As also stated in the article, this logically suggests the mid length derailler cage should be able to take more.

    Second the comments @bikermark makes about set up: I’ve installed the entire system myself, alone, and without prior experience in installing or bleeding hydraulic brakes. A professional will obviously do it quicker, but I managed just fine

    @Tom in MN. It works perfectly!

    Reply
    • lop on

      For whatever little it is worth, I was unable to get this combination to function correctly with my pre-2015 Record short cage. It *sort of* worked, but not well enough for my living. I ended up finding an older mid-cage Centaur carbon RD and then it worked flawlessly.

      Reply
    • Loza Lara Constant on

      It depends on the position of the rear derailleur jockey wheels which is partly determined by where the frame builder decides to position the derailleur hanger. If the combination doesn’t allow for enough vertical articulation when in the lowest gear, using a 32-tooth cassette won’t be possible.

      Reply
    • Morten Reippuert on

      That depends entirely on your gear hanger. My Merlin WOrks CR was not able to clear a 29t with Chorus 10 speed short cage, doubt my current gen Chorus 11 speed shor t cage will do more than 30 or 31t on that gear hanger.

      Reply
  7. JBikes on

    Campy isn’t a garage queen group. In the US it may seem that way because its rare and somewhat more expensive. People also seem to think it some voodoo, hard to work on kit (maybe a wrong assumption, but not based on people commenting on my bike). If you are a competent mechanic, Campy is as simple to work on as anything else. Sometimes more so as I tend to like their designs. Just wish more people would choose them so parts were more readily available.
    BTW – I ride mine in any and everything since its all my road bikes have.

    Reply
    • Robin on

      Yeah, I’ve never understood the claim that Campy is harder to adjust/work on than SRAM or Shimano. It just makes no sense at all. My Campy group has always worked well, even when it’s been splattered with dirt or mud. The only thing that Campy doesn’t have going for it is that the company doesn’t have the money that Shimano and SRAM do. Nevertheless, Campy produces groups that work just as well as the other two companies’ offerings.

      Reply
      • Crash Bandicoot on

        It isn’t it can just be a pain in the ass to find spares for stuff in the US at least. I like campy but as someone who races and crashes (more than I like) I can walk into any bike shop and pick up a replacement Ultegra shifter, Derailleur, etc. obviously for much more $ than the internet but some times you need a part to get going. The whole campy being delicate is more an archaic stereotype of Italian manufacturing.

        Reply
    • lop on

      Lots of people think of Campagnolo as being far too precious. It’s tough, durable stuff, and with 11-speed, it’s interchangeable with Shimano and SRAM, so you don’t need to worry about hard-to-find freehubs and wheel compatibility issues. Used Campagnolo Chorus and Record 11 shifters can be had for $150-200 on eBay, and the pre-2015 stuff will work with basically any Campy derailleur from modern times, meaning you can find an old Xenon mid-cage from 2001 and run an 11-32 with no fuss.

      Frankly I’m glad more people don’t do it, because then I’d have to pay more when I need to replace something.

      Reply
  8. gmundorff on

    I raced Campagnolo for 8 years before I made the switch to Shimano. I think the company has the capability of making truly amazing products, but for Campagnolo to return to their former glory they need to innovate and create a ground breaking product. Simply keeping up isn’t enough

    Reply
    • markbikes on

      The innovations Campy needs: 1) get into the OEM supply business; 2) build their knowledge base for servicing (Shimano’s Sparc program should be their reference) ; and 3) switch to a masterlink for their 11 speed chains.

      I shudder when I hear “innovation.” Usually that means cable pulls have changed, a cog has been added, a chainring has been subtracted, or a battery has been added. In short: your new stuff doesn’t work with your old stuff.

      Reply
      • JBikes on

        This. They innovate plenty, they just don’t market it too well. They also tend to make a very well thought out design that doesn’t really require updates. The issue with this is that people think its “outdated” when other manufacturers release a revision of a poor product rushed to market.

        I’ll add to your list and say they need a 1x gravel/cx set-up (I know…) and a mountain bike groupset (1x). They will otherwise fail and can’t see them surviving much beyond 10 years given modern market forces/dynamics.

        Reply
      • Atle K on

        @markbikes: “cable pulls have changed, a cog has been added, a chainring has been subtracted, or a battery has been added. In short: your new stuff doesn’t work with your old stuff.”

        Maybe it’s the point, adjusting their own products to sell as much as possible. Aren’t Campagnolo shifters slowly getting less rebuiltable? There’s big difference between the older and newer shifter according to the shifter mechanics, and I hope that the lifelength is still as good as ever.

        I got a broken Shimano 105 shifter, and the ratchet was of bad quality (e.g. it was done as cheap as possible, the inside was rought like a cookie.) I hope that Campagnolo has some intergrity to NOT go that way, because it is a waste of resources.

        Reply
  9. blah blah blah on

    as ugly as they are i like that Camgagnolo have made separate calipers to suit for front and rear installation, Shimano/Sram ya there, hello ya there!?

    Reply
  10. Dirka on

    Love the brake performance on Campy’s hydraulic groupos, and I think the’re currently making the prettiest rotors on the market.

    However, I’m not a fan of the compatibility kerfluffle they’ve got going on. Even though it’s all 11-speed, you can’t mix high- and low-end groups, there’s the 2014/15 split of Chorus and above, and good luck getting your old Athena to work with anything on the market now.

    Yes, they may have solid engineering reasons, but the end result is just plain stupid. They make such well tought-out products which basically last forever. But I’ve you’ve got an older group and wreck a lever or derailleur, good luck getting a replacement, because that shit is getting rare.

    Also, they used to have the prettiest cranks on the market, so I can’t really fathom why they felt the need to give their current crop a good whacking with the ugly stick.

    Reply
  11. Morten Reippuert on

    in terms of 11 speed geometry, its correct that they chnaged their geometry in 2015. but please remember that 11 speed campy dates way back to 2008.

    Please find a new stock shimano rear deraillure that fits your DureAce 2008 STI levers and vice versa – you cant… What was dure ace back in 2008? i belive they had just left 9 speed shifting for DureAce/Ultegra… 105 was still 9 speed.

    Campy’s compatibility over any range of years actually exeeds shimano’s… Current cassette spacing used for 11 speed road was intruduced in 1997 by Campy. No need to redish your wheels etc. You can slap on a modern 11 speed casette (and soon 12 speed) on your 1997 Campagnolo wheel that was originally made to accomodate 9 speed. (and Campy of course predated shimano for years in terms of when they made it to 9, 10 and 11 cogs).

    + Campy components are rebuildable (especially from Chorus and up) and you can source spare parts +10 years back without having to turn to NOS spareparts.

    Campy is just very sound engenerd and well build components – they are almost non existant on the asian OEM markets though.

    Reply
    • hankamania on

      Dura-Ace 7800 10-speed was introduced in 2003. 7900 in 2009 was also 10-speed, and they went to 11 in 2013 with 9000.

      Ultegra and 105 were both 10-speed by 2008.

      Reply
  12. uscric on

    The rotors look cool but those calipers …uh, do not. They look like an update on those old Hayes disc mtb calipers. They sure didn’t apply design flair of their cranks and other Record components.

    Reply
  13. Late Night on

    Not true Mr. Reippuert, while I do agree the free hub body design of Campag is great, it has not been without problems. Campy redesigned the axle used in many hubs adding lobes and the free hub body to interface with the lobbed axle at some point in the 2000s to address how the free hub body would crack along the splines. The original oversized axel of the era FH-RE201, was replaced with the lobed FH-BO001 and subsequently a new free hub body FH-BO015, both of which are still in use today.

    Reply

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