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Articles & Opinions > Campagnolo Ergopower with Shimano 9-Speed

December 2009 - Addendum to this article:

This article must be taken in the context of the time it was written. Many components have changed, from the manufacturers mentioned and others, all but eliminating the issue for which this solution was originally intended. It should therefore not be assumed that I have continually experimented with the variety of more current component options to confirm this article applies to modern equipment. To my knowledge, it does not. I know the solution works well, but only for the specific parts indicated (and a few others from the period). Through your own experimentation you may discover some of the suggestions to still work with current parts, but success should not automatically be expected based on the information given.

As the article is clearly outdated, I have considered removing it, but some people still find it helpful. Instead I wish to leave it as-is, however with the above preface in order to set reasonable expectations according to modern offerings.

The original article:

Last spring a couple of friends came in to purchase a Co-Motion Sky-Capp tandem. The captain was already accustomed to riding a half-bike equipped with Campagnolo components, including Ergopower shifting. The "problem" for most of us is that Shimano’s wider range of gearing is much more appropriate for tandems. Also, there are not many modern Campy-compatible rear hubs that are appropriate for heavy tandem use; instead, most "tandem hubs" are meant to be Shimano-compatible. Since the inner-blade on an Ergopower lever causes a downshift and the inner-blade on a Shimano STI lever causes an up-shift, the captain believed, if he were to ride with STI, he might have a tendency to "miss-shift" or mistakenly move the "wrong" lever. (Those of us who ride tandems know that stokers do not often appreciate mistakes like this.) He also felt the Campy levers he was already accustomed to were more comfortable.

The solution, obviously, was to find a way to combine the use of Campy Ergopower controls with a Shimano drive-train. We have now built three Co-Motion tandems with this setup – a Breve, the Sky-Capp discussed above, and our own Co-Pilot. I chose to install the Ergo-levers on our personal bike because the Shimano STI hoods were too small and were cramping my hands. The Breve has Ergo-levers for the same reason the Sky-Capp does – the Captain was already accustomed to using Campagnolo on his single.

How well do the systems shift and are they quiet? The Sky-Capp and our Co-Pilot shift as well as any standard-derailleur drive-train I have seen. With the Breve, in fact, the switch to Campagnolo levers turned out to be a solution to some shifting issues with the original all-Shimano system. All three machines (when the drive-train is clean and lubricated) are nearly silent. Although there would seldom be any reason for doing this on a single, I cannot imagine why it would not operate at least as well as it does on a tandem.

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Chris Juden, of Britain's CTC, points out:

"... we find there are several [reasons].

Loaded tourists, older riders, and anyone with steep hills (15% is common and 25% not rare on English country lanes) to tackle can use MTB [wide range] gears on a road bike. Also the Shimano 135mm hub is a stronger design axle, bearings, and spokes-wise.

But they want Campagnolo Ergopower because, well, it's more ergonomic, easier to use from the tops where tourists mostly have their hands, and doesn't have a wobbly brake lever or cables that interfere with a handlebar bag. Also the not-really-indexed front shift lets us do as we please with the chainset and front mech.

So thanks for the idea!"

Check out the CTC website at:

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I have to admit that any bikes, including singles, I build for my own use in the forseeable future will probably have this setup.

How did we do it? Because of the wide-range-gearing requirements of our tandems we use a Shimano 9-speed rear derailleur (XT-SGS) and a Shimano-compatible 9-speed cassette (11-32 or 11-34). Other large-capacity derailleurs may be available but nine speeds allow for a smaller "step" inside that wide range. Campagnolo 10-speed Ergopower Shift/Brake levers (the right or rear shifter MUST have the 10-speed "ratchet ring" – a 9-speed ring will not work,) and a Campagnolo "triple" front derailleur are also necessary. So far we have used RaceFace Tandem (54-44-32) and Shimano Ultegra Triple (52-42-30) cranksets, but any properly set up 9-speed crankset should work. The final elements are, of course, a 9-speed compatible chain and well-lubricated high quality cables.

I understand that a few have used, and prefer, a Shimano triple-compatible front derailleur. It does work but I found the standard compatiblity between the Ergolevers and a Campy front derailleur to allow for easier adjustment and a more forgiving trim.

The actual setup and adjustment of the system is identical to any other except:

The pinch-bolt on the rear derailleur, which holds the wire fast, should have a "hooked washer" between the head of the bolt and extension from the parallelogram. Normally, when using a Shimano shift-lever, the "hook" faces rearward and the "tab", which clamps the cable, points inward toward the rear wheel. The wire rests in the small groove in the body of the derailleur and points forward (see fig. A).

Figure A
Figure A

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When using Campagnolo 10-speed Ergo-levers, however, the "hooked washer" must be turned 90 degrees so that the "hook" is facing the rear wheel and the "tab" is pointing directly forward. The wire is then wrapped tightly AROUND the "hook" and clamped beneath the "tab" so that the wire points outward away from the bike. The wire should then be running perpendicular across the small groove in the body of the derailleur (see fig. B).

Figure A
Figure B

Wrapping the wire around the "hook" may not be as easy as simply running it through the groove but it is necessary to making this combination work. I would also recommend adjusting the cable such that the extra "click" in the control occurs after the lowest gear rather than before the highest. This allows you to adjust the derailleur’s lower-limit screw so that the 10th gear position is "locked out" and the 10-speed control becomes, in effect, a 9-speed control.

©2000 Brian Jenks

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