We’ve been hearing rumors and catching patents that suggest Campagnolo’s working on a 13-speed drivetrain for some time. Now, a fresh batch of four European patents suggest it’s pretty far along on some very advanced ideas.

They range from a derailleur with a non-linear upper pulley path to a smoother shifting cassette, plus a more versatile EPS electronic shifter design.

All patent drawings and information here were found on the European patent search site, EPO.org. Seriously, EPO.org. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. Now, onto to the tech…

Campagnolo’s adjustable, wide-range rear derailleur

campagnolo patent drawing shows a curving movement path for the rear derailleur upper pulley

If this design idea comes to fruition, it will be absolutely revolutionary for two reasons:

  • Cassette-dependent shift tuning
  • A curving, non-linear upper pulley movement path

Let’s start with the latter. Look at your cassette, especially your wide range cassette. While older 11-23 road cassettes formed a nice little cone shape from big to small cog, modern cassettes are way different. Most keep tight 1-tooth jumps for the lower four or five cogs, then progressively increase in 2-, 3- and sometimes even 6-tooth steps.

This wider range gearing introduces a funnel shaped profile, yet derailleurs keep moving their parallelogram (and, thus, the pulley cage) in a straight line between the extremes of the cassette.

campagnolo wide range derailleur patent drawing with curving path for upper pulley wheel

This derailleur’s curved movement path allows the upper pulley to more closely track the cassette’s profile, keeping it equidistant from every cog. If you’ve ever over-tightened your B-screw and moved the upper pulley too far away from the cogs, you know how badly that affects shift quality.

Now, with the pulley able to remain closer to every cog, shift performance in the middle of the cassette (you know, those gears we use the most) should be much better.

Notice that they’re not doing this by offsetting the upper pulley far from the cage’s pivot axis, which is what SRAM and Shimano do (to great effect, of course) on their mountain bike derailleur cages. Here’s how they do it…

campagnolo rear derailleur internals showing complex dual movement to control upper pulley positioning

The patent describes a non-circular gear set, with one toothed sector rotating the B-knuckle (pink), and the other rotating with the pin that connects the main parallelogram portion of the derailleur. As you shift, both pieces rotate and allow a complex, multi-plane movement pattern for the parallelogram and, ultimately, the pulley cage. And you can adjust it…

Customize the pulley path for different cassettes

curve path chart for campagnolo gravel bike rear derailleur upper pulley

This chart shows the standard upper pulley path (Prior Art) and the potential path of this new invention. It would be upside down for what would actually happen on the bike, as the upper pulley would closely follow the arc of the cassette’s profile.

But let’s say you have an 11-28 for riding in Florida, but you’re headed to the mountains and install an 11-42 for climbing. If the derailleur is tuned to match the curve of an 11-30 cassette, how could it possibly work with a steeper curve? Simple, change its tune.

 

campagnolo wide range derailleur patent drawing shows high and low settings for different cassettes

Changing the orientation of the main pin (116) and its tooth set (purple) allows the rider to adjust the upper pulley’s path. Externally, they’re showing Low (191) and High (192) indicators, so you’ll know what type of cassette your derailleur is tuned for. The patent filing suggests it only switches between these two settings with no intermediary steps, but we’ll see.

There are slight differences in the approach to tuning the derailleur based on whether it’s a mechanical unit or an EPS electronic unit, but the end result is the same.

What about a clutch?

Well, the word “clutch” doesn’t show up in this patent filing. But there is an “anti-impact spring” (25) that surrounds the main rotational point where the derailleur bolts on to the hanger. This is intended to absorb the forces of an impact, helping the derailleur live to shift another day.

Campagnolo 13-speed cassette concept

campagnolo 13 speed cassette with new wide range gearing patent drawing

Let’s just get right to it: This cassette’s illustration shows 13 cogs. We highlighted it, no need to count. Oh, and the smallest cog is just nine teeth. This particular cluster is a 9-10-11-12-13-14-16-18-21-25-30-36-42, giving you about 467% range just from the cassette. Think that’s enough for a proper 1x gravel bike setup?

Great, but what’s this patent about?

campagnolo 13 speed cassette with new wide range gearing patent drawing

Filed in January 2020 and published in May, their patent for “Bicycle Sprocket and Sprocket Assembly Comprising Such a Sprocket” (seriously) is really about tooth shapes. Specifically, about how they can stabilize the chain and maximize tooth engagement during shifts.

Where some cassettes simply remove a tooth to give the chain a little room to slide into position, Campy’s patent says that removes a critical bit of support. Their solution? Spurs.

campagnolo 13 speed cassette with new wide range gearing patent drawing

The spurs (50) are just smaller teeth. They’re shorter, both circumferentially and radially. The idea is that, on any cog with more than 18 teeth, they could be used to give the chain more bite as it slides onto that cog. And, particularly when the outer link plates are trying to grab the Shifting Tooth. But they’re small enough not to slow down the shift.

Each cog is then divided into two groups of teeth…the “Gear Changing Teeth” (5), which are the thickest, and the shifting teeth (40), which have the shaping. The First Tooth (10) is preceded by an shift ramp (41, below, and shown in color in a previous image) that helps pull the chain up to it from the smaller cog. The other end of the shaped Shifting Teeth section is ramped to facilitate a downshift to an easier cog.

It works out well that the thicker teeth are the ones pulling the chain up to a larger cog. Campy notes that having multiple teeth, including the Spur, in the gear changing area, reduces the load on any one single tooth.

Not only does this increase durability, but ensures strong, crisp shifts in both directions. They also say it helps keep the chain on the intended cog when backpedaling. Some other wide range cassettes we’ve backpedaled on tend to drop the chain down to a small cog (or two), so this would be a welcome improvement.

campagnolo 13 speed cassette with new wide range gearing patent drawing

Not exactly earth shattering, but when taken in combination with the rear derailleur design, Campagnolo may soon have the most refined wide-range shifting on the (gravel) road.

Based on earlier patents (and that 9-tooth cog), we’re guessing these wider range cassettes will use a new mounting interface, and possibly even a new attachment method. Take look at Campy’s potential future cassettes and then hope your favorite wheel brand will offer freehubs for it!

EPS Shifters add buttons…and a screen?

new campagnolo EPS shifters with additional function buttons

If you’ve ridden Campy’s EPS system, you’ve probably readjusted your hands now and then to avoid an accidental shift on the inboard triggers. We love them, and they work great, but it does take a bit of getting used to if you’re coming from Shimano or SRAM.

In this patent filing, they’re showing what could be a dramatically streamlined button as opposed to a small lever, but it leaves the option open for both.

More importantly, it adds the ability to have additional buttons located on the forward protuberance. They mention a few ways to use them:

  • an electric propulsion actuator (e-bike assist levels)
  • a saddle configuration adjuster (dropper post)
  • a configuration adjuster of a damper (suspension lockout)
  • a direction indicator (turn signal)

new campagnolo EPS shifters with additional function buttons

They provide for left and right buttons (31, 33) that can cycle one way or another, depending on which side you press. So, they could cycle through screens on a display or GPS cycling computer (while also showing the gear selection and other settings), or just be used for different things.

And it’ll have a screen (32). While we anticipate just one button per side, Campy’s showing what look like indicator lights (but mentions a screen) incircling the button. They say it could be used to indicate the motor assist level for an e-bike, which would keep the cockpit gloriously free of a second screen since most drop bar riders are already running a GPS cycling computer.

But for real, can they pleeeease make one of them work my garage door opener?

So, what does it all mean?

All of this is speculation based solely upon on our interpretation of public documents. Campagnolo has not provided any commentary or information for this article.

Nor have they mentioned anything about a new Campy Seatpost. Sorry.

39 COMMENTS

  1. The geared b-spring is already in use by them. It appears its selectability is the new part.
    The gears thing is odd. I’d have to read the patent more closely, because most cassettes use shortened or otherwise modified teeth to facilitate change.

    • Goat Link is a longer replacement of Shimano’s B-link, so if anything it would be a Shimano patent. Campy has been using one on their mechanical 12speed groups already too. The pivot is sprung on Campy, and it’s not a clevis style mount, two things that might have been necessary to get around patents.
      Those Campy 12 derailleurs are 100% compatible with “direct mount” derailleur hangers.

  2. I wonder how much of this we’ll see in their new “gravel” groupset that got accidently announced the other week ? Wide range cassette with a 9T cog is there for sure, hope the rear mech is, guess we’ll find out soon enough..

  3. Does that mean, Campy will offer more EPS groups than Super Record EPS again? I can‘t imagine someone wants a Super Record for gravel.
    Maybe Record and Chorus EPS, with Chorus moving down the hierarchy to replace Potenza in the sub 800€ league.

    • This will likely just be for the forthcoming “Ekta” group, which was accidentally listed on build kits on a distributor’s website awhile back. At least for now. That said it’s probably also likely that there would be two or even three levels of Ekta, and it also seems likely that they’ll wait to release a cheaper (and lower margin) mechanical version until after the early adopters buy through the EPS versions. In a little while they might expand the 13spd stuff to other model ranges, but it could also be that they view it more as a gravel or mountain specific technology that won’t transfer to their classic road line until a full refresh comes through.

  4. I did not understand a single thing but it’s Campagnolo,that’s enough for me to stay away from it. On a more non personal note glad to see they are coming out with something new,maybe bad times are thing of the past ( ?) Good luck to Campagnolo.

    • Don’t know if you’ve actually lived with Campy, but the stuff is good. I’ve been riding it for years, and have never had issues with BB bearings, shift cables fraying/breaking etc. I have nothing against Shimano or Sram for that matter, and they are both better supported at the bike shops, but Campy works.

      • Yeah had a 12sp SR for a while. Great ergonomics but could not live with the thumb shifting. I think it’s more blingy than actual functionality, it appeals to those obsessed about jeweling up their bikes. Campy on a Colnago ? Good. Campy on an Sworks ? Punch in the guts imho. Getting my first Sram ( AXS) in a month,let’s see how it works. But really,when I’ve ditched my Ultegra R8000 for Campy on my Colnago C64 it felt cool just for the first few kms,then I endend up missing shimano’s plain and simple functionality.

        • Cool!

          What I’ve loved about Campy for the 15 years I’ve used it is it’s plain and simple functionality. It functions well, is dead reliable, and is ergonmically perfect for me.

        • I actually like the thumb shifting, find it more intuitive than a second paddle behind the lever. And def easier to actuate with winter gloves on. Good luck with SRAM, I have an Etap bike I haven’t ridden yet, but the two guys I hooked up with the same parts have gotten the shift hesitation on the rear Der within a year and a half of use.

  5. Approximately 25 years ago I ran across a campy rear derailleur with an adjustable parallagram to accommodate different rear cassettes. I always thought that it was a great solution to the problem of differing cassettes.

  6. I feel like the pulley-from-cog distance thing would be easily implemented by SRAM into their AXS derailleurs via the AXS app. Just tell the derailleur what cassette you’re running and it would know how much to adjust the “b-tension”.

  7. Don’t rear derailleurs already have limit screws to define both axes of movement?

    On a road drivetrain, each shift away from or toward the small cog is a relatively similar jump. The exact percentage depends on the range of your cassette. You can probably interpolate that figure mechanically out to the B-screw or replace the concept altogether with a “B-index” to set cumulative range adjustment (250-400% or so).

  8. If I look at my stable of bikes, I have a road and touring with campagnolo Chorus and Centaur, and a gravel bike with Shimano and a MTB with Sram.l They all work fine, but Campy is my favorite.
    I love the way it works, especially with road groupo’s, I just wish all manufactures could agree on a common cassette interface.
    I really do not agree with a 1X, especially on gravel. I do agree, most of the time I am in my big chainring, and my small chainring doesn’t get used much, but I love the small steps between each gear jump. 2X works great, so why get rid of the front derailleur?
    do you really need a 9 or 10 tooth cassette cog? I don’t want to or need to go smaller than a 50 tooth on my crank, and I can push a 50-11 under certain conditions. If the terrain gets too hilly, I drop down to my small ring. With all of the ramps on the cassettes and chainrings, shifting has never been better.
    What I really don’t understand is the media and newbie riders perception of road.
    I have been an avid cyclist for over 40 years. I have rode and raced mountain and road over the years, and before gravel bikes, we always put in big gravel miles on MTB bikes. I am so blessed where I live that we have an abundance of asphalt and gravel roads. In the spring when the road graders are out grading the gravel roads after the frost has come out of the ground, the gravel sucks, and the only thing that is pleasant on them roads are fat bikes.
    After some use with pickup trucks and farm machinery, they become more smooth and fast. Why the hell would anyone want a smaller than 50 chainring on a 1X? I would be spinning like crazy, in a 46X11, and any thing smaller is just stupid.
    Just give me a Campagnolo Chorus 50-36 and a 11-34, with your hydro’s and I am well pleased.

      • Gerald, it sounds like you ride your gravel bike on roads that are often smooth and flat. I ride my gravel bike up abandoned, steep two-track mountain roads that could be considered intermediate mountain biking terrain for some. I have a 30T small ring and often want smaller, especially with bikepacking gear. If I ran 1x I would certainly take the smallest ring offered, as I prefer low-end gearing over top-end speed. I think it’s possible that the bike industry designs for both use cases, don’t you?

        • Troy
          Where I live in South-Western Ontario we have both big rolling hills and flats in this pure farm country. Most of them get graded in the spring and the fall, and depending on how much traffic they receive, will determine on how smooth they get. It also depends on how much the grader operator drops the blade when grading. Trust me, when its thick, it absolutely sucks, even on a mountain bike.
          I run 38mm tires and unless I am loaded up, I push my 50/11-32 otherwise I might drop down into my front 34. I like small jumps between gear changes.To me there is nothing more annoying than when you are on a group ride, and you are clipping along at a good pace and everyone is using the middle gears in a cassette, and the person with the 1X cannot find the sweet spot in the gearing that the rest of the folks are in, They are constantly shifting up a gear, then they are shifting down one gear trying to get into the same gear combination as their mates. Click click,click,click, click.
          I guess what I should of stated in my original piece about compatibility with Campagnolo was that I wish they would share the same common free-hub design as the rest in the industry. .

  9. I love my 1x system. My gravel bike does gravel in the spring and summer and I race cross in fall winter with the same bike. My bike has the ability to fit 43mm tires with no problem.
    I run a 40t chainring with a 11-32 cassette for cross and a 11-40 cassette for gravel. I never have much of a problem with gearing where I live( the high mountains 6800′ and most rides go up from there)
    I’m also a spinner on the road bike. I’ll sometimes keep it in the inner(small) ring on our group rides.
    By Campy using a 9t or Sram, Shimano having a 10t, that leaves lots of room for going to a smaller front chainring and still having most of the range you need, maybe not the high range as a 50t ring, but still olenty for most riders.

  10. All of it. I seriously doubt they’re going to replace the current 2×12 road groups with 1×13 right now. I imagine they will after populating a full ecosystem of 1×13 stuff. A super wide range 13spd derailleur and cassette won’t necessarily transfer straight over to a 2×13 setup even if they make a smaller 9-30t cassette or something like that.

  11. Those adjustments really need to be mechanical stops in case of mechanism failures. If they used a higher manufacturing grade then maybe not, but at a cycling level, a stop screw is always going to be the most practical feature.

    • There is not “data” on efficiency. Otherwise 1x systems would be out of business. But they are easy to operate and make new riders think they are pros – rather than figuring out how to use the superior 2/3x systems.

      • Damn…..figuring out how to use a 2/3x system?…I’m way beyond that. Raced and rode with friction shifters( both road and mtb), 6spd freewheels, 3 chainrings on my first mtb’s in 1982 that had a 48/38/28 chain rings and a 13-28 freewheel, pre- cassette.
        I raced pro mtb and cat 2 road. I think I got a grasp of how to use just about any drivetrain. 1x to me if far superior, unless on a road bike. Maybe its the other way around, some riders are too weak to turn a 32t-50t ring/cog on a climb and need a crutch such as a front derailleur.

        • Where do you ride mtb? On actual mountains or on the 10 miles amusement park trails?

          1x chainline is very poor, waist of energy. Besides wearing all components very fast. And having big jumps. Small chainring large cog is less efficient than the other way around. Last time I raced, I was passing way faster riders on the flats. They run 34 1x and I had a 42. Depends where you ride, 1x has been popular just because it makes it easier for american bike companies to sell bikes.

          32×50 is just ridiculous.

          I have 1x on my trail bike, it works well for small rides. But if I go on 30-50 miles rides across mountain ranges I prefer a 3×9.

        • Exodux, he was referring to new riders, not experienced ones like yourself. If you read what he wrote you wouldnt have had to go on that long rant.

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