Our Review of the 1999 Lineup
Once again, our tech expert Tim Laflin has outdone himself. Armed with a scale, a shopful of tools, an array of Campagnolo's latest stuff, and his own extensive knowledge, Tim has prepared this review of the latest from Vicenza. Use the links below to find the part you're interested in. The reviews break down each of Campy's top four lines (Record, Chorus, Athena, and Veloce). Tim concludes by providing his famous gruppo-to-gruppo comparison.
We think it's safe to say you won't find a more detailed examination of Campagnolo's gear anywhere on the web or in print--enjoy! (By the way, for Tim's archived review of the 1998 lines, go here.)
Record: The '99 Record headset gets no improvements this year compared to the '98 and '97 versions. It works well and rolls like on other headset. Nothing is as smooth as the Record and Chorus headsets. The '99 headset is 104 grams with a stack height of 36.5mm. The design uses a labyrinth O-ring top seal and a full contact O-ring bottom seal with grease ports. The upper bearing is much better sealed and the grease ports have been dropped. The lower bearing can still be injection lubed without disassembly like the headsets before it. The lock nut has an O-ring seal to keep water out of the headset and stem quill area. The lower and upper head tube race are aluminum with steel races embedded to lower weight. The crown race is still full steel.
The '99 threadless headset is unchanged from last year. The lower bearings are injection lubed like the above threaded headset. The threadless headset is a decently light 110 grams and a very low stack height of 24.5mm. The bearing adjustment bolt (star nut) is aluminum (7005) instead of steel and the top cap is carbon similar to the ergo lever body. The seals are good, but not as good as the threaded version. The seals come from a plastic ring like that of an Athena or Veloce headset. The lower bearing will need to be watched a little more closely for lube and cleaning. The upper bearing cap is an overlap design like the threaded version, but again the seals are not quite as good. Look for a little more care and feeding if you choose this one. The lower head tube race and upper head tube race are aluminum with steel races embedded to lower weight. The crown race is still steel.
Chorus: The '99 threaded headset is the same as last year. No changes were made. The '99 headset weighs in at 106 grams. Keeping with tradition, the Chorus does not have grease ports. The special labyrinth seal on the top of the Record has been dropped and a full contact 0-ring seal is used on top and bottom. The seals are very good. The O-ring seal on the stem is just like the Record.
The threadless headset from last year is the same for '99. The headset is 119 grams and is identical to the Record version except for the lack of grease ports on the lower bearing, the bearing adjustment bolt is steel and the top cap is aluminum instead of carbon.
Athena: The Athena headset is unchanged
for '99. Not bad for 109 grams with a stack height of
36.5mm. That is 3 grams more than a Chorus. The seals are
not as good as Record or Chorus threaded versions. The
seals are however very similar to the Record and Chorus
threadless headsets. The seals are good, but not great.
The upper bearing is protected with a overlapping lip
with an internal
Veloce: Veloce gets passed over this year in the headset department. The'99 headset is gone this year. Veloce is getting to us with Athena headsets so in effect Veloce gets the '99 headset to shave off some grams. The 10 plus year old design is gone and all the upper gruppos now enjoy the new lighter, short stack headsets. This is a nice feature for all the lower end buyers.
Record: The '99 Record bottom bracket is the same as the '98. It is hard to improve on this design. The Record bottom bracket gets a light tapered spindle. It is has a lighter shell of the bottom bracket with a carbon fiber casing instead of aluminum. The sealed triple ball bearing design stays this year. Two drive-side bearings and one non-drive side bearing carry the bottom bracket spindle. The fixed and adjustable cups have an extra set of seals just for good measure. The new bottom bracket tips the scales at 188 grams
Chorus: The '99 version is unchanged from the '98 bottom bracket. The Chorus bottom bracket is the same basic design as the Record except for a few changes. The spindle of the Chorus is a solid steel unit instead of a hollow tapered steel shaft. The bearing and spindle casing is aluminum instead of carbon fiber. The rest of the bottom bracket is the same as the Record, with aluminum end caps and sealed cartridge bearings. The bearings on both the Record and Chorus are easily user replaced. The Chorus bottom bracket weight is 218 grams.(See Tech Talk 5)
Athena: The '99 version is a carry over from '98. This bottom bracket departs from the user serviceable units of Record and Chorus. The bottom bracket is a complete unit with spindle, bearings and casing all in one. This is a throw away unit when it wares out. This bottom bracket uses aluminum end caps that are both adjustable cups, unlike the Record and Chorus that have a fixed cup on the drive side and adjustable cup on the non-drive side. It also uses the same bottom bracket tool and cassette tool as Record and Chorus, but lacks the extra seals on the cups (to the spindle) like Record and Chorus. The plus side of the Athena bottom bracket is you can adjust the chain line a few millimeters either way which the Veloce can't do. The weight is 267 grams for the 111mm spindle.
Veloce: The '99 Veloce bottom bracket remains unchanged. The Veloce unit is very similar to the Athena in design. The only difference is it has the fixed cup pressed to the all in one bottom bracket sealed bearing and spindle unit. The non-drive side cup (adjustable) uses an older lock ring style external wrench interface. The fixed cup and adjustable cups add a little weight to the entire package. The Veloce unit is 300 grams for a 111mm spindle. The one big drawback to this bottom bracket is the installation tool is unique to Veloce and lower gruppos. You can use standard tools, but it gars up the fixed and adjustable cups a little. This is something that Campy needs to fix. I am waiting for this design to die and Athena to move down to Veloce.
Record, Chorus, Athena:The
'99 C-9 chain for the top 3 gruppos is unchanged. Athena
got the better chain this year. The big feature here is
longer life--something not easily had in a 9-speed drive.
The chain sports new nickel-plated chain rollers in stead
of unprotected burnishedrollers. The rest remains the
same. The side plates are cut to allow for themore
radical chain angles leaving and entering the cogs. The
floating link chain design; like the Rohloff chain of
old, allows the links to pivot slightly about the pin to
give positive shifts and adjust to the cog teeth better.
The chain pins also get a Shimano-like treatment to
assist in shifting. The chain pins are cut with a
protruding rectangular feature to help shifting. The pins
and links get a nickel teflon finish to make them run
quietly. The uncut chain weight is 300 grams.
Record 9 speed: This is where Campy went gram removing. The hubs have not been updated in a long time and the '98 hubs are totally gone. Campy did several things to entice the buyer to the upper gruppos. Record and Chorus get the new-for-'99 design. Campy was trying the sealed bearing route and decided it was better to head back to the land of cups and cones.
There are several significant new improvements for the hubs. The first is the oversized 7000 series aluminum axles. This is nothing new. Lots of companies use this setup with sealed bearings. Campy has taken the concept a little farther and made a very user friendly setup. Mechanics are going to love this. I already do. Each axle has a single adjustment. The double nut setup is gone. The way the new hubs work is by single side adjustment with a single wrench (not two) and a clinch allen screw. What makes this design cool is that you no longer use the bearing adjustment nuts as clamping surfaces. People that clamped the skewers hard could actually over tighten the bearings and cause damage. This is gone. The new hubs use the axle as the clamping surface and nothing else. This also buys you the ability to zero out bearing play with the wheel still in the frame. I used to have to have dismount a wheel after lubing it, if I didn't get the bearing play out due to a little over lubrication. Now it is not a problem. It also is nice to check for bearing play on the bike instead of with your hands off the bike.
The rear hub gets some extra attention besides the new hub design. The freehub pawls are now in a lighter (captive) assembly that threads into the freehub body. The wider pawls make for a longer wearing surface and it all stays together to prevent the dreaded (by non-mechanics) pawl spring assembly torture. The hub is now a total no brainer to service. Campy has even caged the new smaller bearings and race to make service easier. It is very easy for a mechanic to have a set of new cleaned and lubed bearings ready to go and do a full hub overhaul in a few minutes and have the hub ready to ride. Last but not least the drive side rear bearings have been moved out to reduce stress axle stress that the older design had. This helps reduce axle stress and bearing load for longer life. The freehub body went on a serious diet due to the new captive pawl unit that is carrying all the weight. You could used some of the older freehub bodies for boat anchors in the past. So what are we talking about here? The front hub with skewer is 181 grams and the rear with skewer is 316 grams. The total package for the front is 4 grams lighter than the '98 version in front. The back, however, shaved off 72 grams on my scales from last year's version. That is a big savings. About half came from the freehub body and the rest from the axle. You will be hard pressed to go find an aftermarket company to match the light weight of the new hubs, and nobody is going to match the performance. The last new change for '99 is the addition of 28 hole hubs the the line. The Record hubs are injection lube compatible like the previous years. The choices of 36 and 32 hole hubs in the past made a lot of since and I am not sure if 28 holes will be popular for many except the lightest riders. One note of caution is to make sure you keep the cassette lock ring handy. Campy cassettes have always come with a lock ring, but the new Record and Chorus freehub bodies now have a larger lock ring and the one in the box with the new cassettes will not fit so keep this in mind and you might want to keep a spare around.
Chorus 9 speed: The '99 Chorus gets the new Record version hub minus a few things. What you lose are the lubrication ports for external injection lube and the Chorus hub gets a steel pawl ring to to add on a little weight and save some cash. Again Chorus is all the best of Record with slight weight increase and cheaper price. The Chorus front hub is 205 grams with skewer and the rear is 326 with skewer. The Chorus front hub also drops the spoke hole extra drillings to help relieve the stress on the spoke bend. As with the headset Chorus hubs are not injection lube compatible so disassembly is a must. If you are not an all out racer I would not injection lube a bike and I personally use a grease in the hubs which will last a full season and take the bike apart during the winter for cleaning anyway. If I were going to do a radial wheel I would still choose the Chorus hub due to the additional material in the flange over the Record; even thought Campy is not covering radial laced breakage under warranty.
Athena 9 speed: The Athena hub is not changed from last year. The front hub is 216 grams and the rear is 457 grams with skewers. Athena is the classic Campy design that we have know and loved for years with all the weight of years gone by. This hub will stand the test of time. I don't really care for the Shimano looking plastic cap on the adjustable side of the skewer, but I guess that is the wave of the future.
Veloce 9 speed: The Veloce and Athena hubs are identical in every way. As far as I can tell the only difference is the quick release which has the same weight as the Athena, but an older style. The front hub is 216 grams and the rear is 457 grams just like Athena.
The shifters for '99 are one of the biggest changes across the line. Every gruppo gets new shifters this year. Keep in mind that Campy is now producing thumb shifters for the 9 speed tri bikes so you are not forced to use the Ergo levers in some inefficient configuration. '97 and '98 were lacking these necessary shifters for the 9 speed gruppos. Record and Chorus are still offering down tube shifters for all you gram counters or retro riders. We review only the Ergo setup because it is what almost every rider is using now.
Record: The '99 levers are new this year. Campy overhauls the lever material in the shifter, but keeps the ergonomic shape. The levers are still closer and easier to get at from the drops. If you use ergo bend bars, this reach reduction is very welcome. The improvements of brake and shift lever in carbon shave off 23 grams from last year. The still have ball bearing movement and helper springs to keep the shifting effort light. The shifters can be used with the Racing Triple. The quick release for the brakes is a slide pin on the brake lever for the Ergo shifters. The new levers still have the ability to route the shift and brake cables on the same (front) side of the bar if you prefer. The pair of Record shifters weighs 342 grams.
Chorus: The '99 Chorus levers are the same as the Record levers from last year in almost every way. The main difference is the weight. Chorus uses aluminum shift and brake levers but this year the levers get all the internal Record advantages of aluminum parts that were steel last year. Chorus gets a 54 grams reduction for a total weight of 365 grams for a pair of shifters. All the above Record features apply.
Athena: All you guys waiting for a good Athena Gruppo need wait no longer. Last years Chorus levers are now this year's Athena levers. With full ball bearing action and lighter weight and the same ergonomic design these levers are great. The levers dropped nearly 60 grams to 378 grams this year. The big news is that you get a Chorus levers at an Athena price. These levers are a serious bargain this year.
Veloce: The Veloce shifters are almost identical to the Athena cosmetically. except they drop the carbon composite shifter body for plastic resin. The weight is 387 grams for a pair. The shifter is a bushing design like the older Campy shifters and the extra weight comes from the plastic body over a carbon body. Shifter feel is definitely a step down from Athena. If you upgrade one thing in the Veloce gruppo it should be the Shifters. While they are not bad, it is worth the money to get the Athena and not have to pay a Chorus price. Ball bearing shift levers are the way to go.
Record:The Record crank is unchanged for '99. The four-arm spider is a unique design in the fact that the crank arm functions as one of the arms in the spider. This allows for maximum strength and minimum weight in the spider. The deflection of the crank arm is not placed between two adjacent spider arms, but directly to the chain rings mounting point. The design relaxes the stress of torsional spider defection and crank arm defection by joining the crank arm to the rings to give a stronger design. Most light weight cranks fail at the crank arm to spider junction. Campy has eliminated this problem. 135mm bolt center on the spider makes the chain rings less structural in the design and reduces flex. The chainrings have small shift pins that help the chain up to the big ring and cut tooth profiles to help move the chain back down. The crank weight is 632 grams.
Chorus: This year's crank received no changes. The Chorus crank is a more classic design and does not receive the same design as Record. The five arm spider is still a 135mm bolt circle, but the rings are not joined to the crank arm like the Record. As with all Campy cranks, it still has the shift pins embedded in the chain rings to assist up shifts. The Chorus crank is 667 grams picking up 35 grams from the Record design. The Record and Chorus crank forging are setup for a 102 mm bottom bracket which saves weight in the bottom bracket spindle and makes for a more rigid design. Some riders like the extra ankle clearance the Record and Chorus have due to the flared arms. The Athena and lower cranks lose most of this flare.
Athena: For '99 the Athena
crank remains unchanged. Athena is the first gruppo to
pick up the triple crank option. This crank and the
associated name "Racing Triple" (Athena level)
derailleurs are spec'd on Record and Chorus triple
component gruppos as well. Athena is available in a
double or triple. The doubles come in 39/53 or 42/53 just
like Record and Chorus, and the racing triple (Athena)
comes in 30/40/50 or 30/42/52. The Athena double is 650
grams and the triple is 735 grams. The Athena double is
lighter than the Chorus double, because the Athena bottom
bracket is much longer and the crank forging does not
need to be offset as much. The Chorus crank is stiffer
due to the shorter bottom bracket spindle and beefier
design. The thing you get with Athena is a easy swap to a
triple without needing a bottom bracket change. The
double and triple use the same bottom bracket. If you
think you might need a triple, go for the triple front
and rear derailleurs and all you need to do is swap the
crank down the road. It seams like the triple gets a
better finish than the double for Athena, because the
guys at Campy know it may end up on a Record or Chorus
bike. One more note on the cranks is that Campy is making
the triples in 170mm or 175mm arm lengths and the 172.5
is only available in a
Veloce: Veloce follows in the line of Athena and uses the same double and triple chain ring cranks with all the same features. The Veloce triple finish is a bit more rough than Athena and the crank weight is the same at 735 grams if you put on the same rings that Campy weighs the Athena with, but this year you only have a choice of 30/42/52 rings instead of the two choices that Athena has. The double is almost identical in design and weight also at 650 grams. The finish on the Veloce double is not as nice as Athena either. The Veloce and Athena cranks perform identically and differ only in finish.
Record: Campy keeps the Record dual pivots about the same this year. The weight is a portly 388 grams. The Record calipers maintain full features like return spring adjustment, fine tune centering adjustment and adjustable pads for toe and rim angle. If you use aero rims, all the Campy brakes have ball jointed pads that can be canted to match the rim profile (unlike Shimano). The dual pivots have a solid feel and powerful braking. Dura-Ace is not even close to the brake feel of the Record and Chorus. These brakes stop sure and fast without grabbing and spongy feeling. Quick releases are mounted at the lever to deliver full brake power even when the quick release is open unlike the Shimano offerings (see Tech Talk 4). Caliper movement is made on self-lubricating sealed ball bearings inside the caliper body.
Chorus: The Chorus brakes are almost identical to the Record except for a few pieces of hardware on the Record are substituted for aluminum in the internal of the brake. The Chorus caliper pair weight is 380 grams. The Record hardware saves some weight, but the new self-lubricating bearings and the covered pivot arm take the weight back. The Record calipers are 8 grams heavier.
Athena: The Athena dual pivots are of the same design as Chorus, but the stainless ball bearing caliper movement is now a brass bushing design. The brakes feel more sluggish than the Record/Chorus versions. They still have a fine adjustment side to side and return spring adjustment like Record and Chorus. The Athena dual pivots are 380 grams.
Veloce: The '99 Veloce is unchanged. With the Veloce 9 speed came the dual pivot brakes from the Athena gruppo. They are identical in almost every way except for the pads that are heavier and do not articulate like the Record, Chorus and Athena and are 10 grams heavier in the hardware. A pair of calipers weighs in at 390 grams. Get the Veloce and put on Athena pads when they wear out, and you have an Athena caliper.
Record: The '99 Record rear end is unchanged this year. The rear is 226 grams and the front tips in at 102 grams. Ti hardware is being used in the pivot bolt and hanger bolt for the rear derailleur. A solid one piece adjuster on the rear is easy to use and will not rust (aluminum) like all Campy adjusters. Weight reduction comes from aluminum cable clamping hardware. The lower pulley has chamfered teeth to reduce drive-line noise.
Chorus: The '99 Chorus rear derailleur is identical in design to the Record. The main differences are in hardware. The Record gets Ti hardware and Chorus gets steel in the hanger and pivot bolts. The Chorus rear is 243 grams and the front is 100 grams. The Chorus front derailleur does not receive the extra cutouts in the cage that the Record receives. The functionality is identical from Record to Chorus, but Record has the weight advantage.
Athena: The '99 Athena rear derailleur is very close to Chorus and the front (double ring derailleur) is Chorus. The Athena double rear is 237 grams and the Racing triple is 261 grams. The front derailleur for the Athena double is 100 grams and the front for the triple is 114 grams. The Athena triple keeps last years design which is more modern in design to match the Record and Chorus gruppos in style and performance. The Athena is closing the gap to Chorus with the new Chorus front derailleur and the rear is not lacking much to be a Chorus in design.
Veloce: The Veloce derailleurs are almost identical to the Athena in weight and performance for the doubles. The finish on the derailleurs is not quite as nice as Athena. The Veloce is not finished as nicely as Athena, but most of the function is still there. The Veloce front derailleur is the same weight as the Athena and a direct copy, but the rears are heavier. The Veloce rear derailleur is 251 grams for the double and 268 grams for the triple. The '99 Veloce derailleurs have a new raised letter logo on the derailleur bodies which is nice and is new for the lower end of Campy line this year. Veloce, Mirage and Avanti all get this treatment for '99 on the derailleurs. The spring mechanisms are a little less linear in the Veloce line and make it feel a little clunkier than Athena and above, but still very nice.
I am going to lump all the cassettes into a single category. First is the EXA-Drive MK2 cassette. The standard all steel cassette for a 12-21 (not MK2 type) is in the 218 gram area. The same MK2 version cassette in steel is 197 grams. The same cassette in MK2 with Ti/steel is 182 grams (19 and 21 cogs are Ti). The full Ti version of the MK2 is 132 grams.
Campy has pretty much switched to MK2 style cassettes. The older steel cogs on a loose cassette can chew up the aluminum pretty quickly. The Ti cogs were not much better, because of the inherent flex. They tend to deflect and chafe the aluminum freehub body if you leave the cassette a little loose. Campy reduced weight and made a better long-term design.
The cassettes are not any cheaper. Record, Chorus, and Athena all get the MK2 cassettes. Veloce gets the older all steel version that is not riveted together. If you keep the cogs tight it is not a big deal, but the MK2 cassette is probably a good upgrade here. All 9 speed cassettes fit all the 9 speed hubs and there is not a compatibility issue. The all Ti 9 speed MK2 will do nicely on the Veloce hub just as the Veloce all steel individual cogs will work on the Record hub. What you are going to lose is the ability to toss on a single big cog for a special event on a MK2 cassette. Not a big deal, but it is a loss of a feature.
Note: All you '99 Record and Chorus hub buyers need to keep track of the lock ring shipped with that hub! The new hubs use a larger lock ring and the one you get in the cassette box will work on these hubs.
Pedals have their own Tech Talk since they are new for '99. Suffice it to say everybody gets new pedals. '99 is going to be the first year with pedals for all. '98 brought most of the pedals in late and the '99 equipment was coming out before the pedals that were due in '98.
The pedals come in three levels. Record, Chorus/Athena and Veloce/Mirage/Avanti. As expected the Record pedals are the lightest and get sealed bearings (3 per pedal) and a Titanium axle with aluminum retainer. The triple bearing setup here helps minimize flex in the Ti axle. The Chorus is almost identical, but heavier than the Record because of a steel axle. The Chorus uses a cup and cone style ball bearing setup instead of sealed bearings. It physically looks very similar to the Record. The Veloce uses a steel axle, but gets 2 sealed bearings per pedal instead of the more costly cup and cone setup that Chorus gets. The Veloce also gets a cheaper plastic axle retainer that requires a special tool that Record and Chorus do not need, because the designers saw fit to use a standard hex bolt style retainer. This Veloce retainer is very Shimano like in design (similar to the old 737 off road pedals).
You will find that in true Campy philosophy the bearings are easy to service. I can think of several examples like Look and Time pedals that are basically impossible to replace the outer bearings on.
Record: The Record post was absent for '98 and most of you got the older Chorus post. This year Campy did it right. It has a single bolt that controls pivot and fore and aft movement of the seat. This post uses a titanium mast with a special cold forged aluminum alloy insert pressed in to the top to hold the seat clamp. The weight is 196 grams, which is about 30 grams less than last years post. If you are familiar with Campy posts, you know they don't give you any extra post. Most of the older posts were 180mm in length. If your bike fits properly, the max height mark was very close. The new post is 250mm and gives you more adjustment with the lower weight. It is only 8 grams more than an American Classic and it does not have a weight limit of 180 pounds like the American Classic. Most of the light weight posts have some sort of weight restriction. Campy got rid of the steel alloy post planned for '98 for a new longer lived Ti post that will look good for years. I personally applaud Campy for making the post out of better materials.
Chorus: The Chorus post is gone and you might get the '98 which looks very much like the '97 Record post except for the weight. The Chorus post is 210 grams. Some of the special clamping hardware of the Record is not aluminum and the heavier clamp bolt add the extra few grams.
Athena: The '99 Athena post is also missing and most suppliers are shipping to the '98 Athena post. It still has the aero profile and single bolt clamp. The weight is 258 grams.
Veloce: Veloce uses the Athena seatpost for its gruppo.
What happened this year? The big news is that the Ergo levers for Veloce and up are all new and Athena is now shifting like the high dollar gruppos. Veloce is still holding a good price line against 105 and Athena is looking good to run against 600. The hubs for Record and Chorus are very light and a major weight reduction in all gruppos has put Campy on par with Shimano. There will be joy in 1999 due to the fact that Campagnolo has surpassed Shimano on the scale this year. We all know that Campy is #1 in performance, but now they beat Shimano in the weight end of things. A full Dura-Ace gruppo is 3379 (with Ti cassette) and Record is 3372 (with Ti cassette) on my scales. It was a narrow margin, but Campy won by a scant 7 grams. There is still bad news in that Record is still about $200 more than Dura-Ace. Whoever was doing the seatpost design must have left the company. This year Record is the only gruppo with a post, and the rest of the gruppos are out in the cold. This is a complete reversal from last year when every gruppo had a post and Record did not.
To get complete weight comparisons I used 170mm cranks and 39/53 chain rings were used and a 12-21 MK2 all steel cassette cogs for all. All the comparisons below are for double chain ring cranks, with clamp on front derailleurs and threaded headsets. Since I didn't have a '99 seatpost for all gruppos I used the Record post for all gruppos and it is reflected in the price so don't get too crazy about the dollar figures--find a post to match your gruppo, and the prices will all be lower (except Record, of course).
Record: Is it worth going from Chorus to Record? This year the value of Record is better than last year due to the weight reduction and no real increase in price. The weight difference from Record to Chorus is nearly the same this year as last. With nearly identical function Chorus is 200 grams heavier than Record. This weight difference is still leaving me wondering if it is worth the extra cash this year. By all rights the Record gruppo should have gone up nearly $150 using my $1 per gram rule for upgrade cost. It however did not increase in price. The full Record gruppo is 3437 grams. The cost from Branford Bike is $1,767 (with post and pedals, 1449 without) for Record and $1,207 for Chorus (with Record post and Chorus pedals). The extra $560 for Record gets you 200 grams less weight. The rule of thumb I use for a good upgrade is $1 per gram. If I can shave a gram for a $1, it is a good deal. Record is about a $2.8 per gram upgrade. I hate to say it, but Record is still not a clear and easy step up this year. If you are looking at Chorus and have money for upgrades I would not recommend going for Record this year. I don't feel that the carbon Ergo levers and a few aluminum and Ti bits constitute the increase in price. I am giving the top of the line from Campy a thumb down on cost for the performance, but in the upper end of the bike world this upgrade is not out of the question. If you have the money, go for it; otherwise head for Chorus and you will not be disappointed.
Chorus: Why go for Chorus? Because, I don't have an extra $560 burning a hole in my pocket. This is even more true this year. The standout value of Chorus is below the Dura-Ace in price by almost $200, but not so much heavier. Campy trimmed out nearly 160 grams out of the Chorus setup this year. The positive feel of Chorus and rock solid design, with ease of service make it a long running choice. The standout improvements are the new hubs for Chorus this year. For my money Chorus is the best value of the high end from Campy. If you are counting grams, and the function and longevity are a don't care, Dura-Ace is the way to go. For the price you can upgrade the Chorus pedals to Record, which I feel is a bargain upgrade for $60 more (from Branford) on a gruppo, and you can save 60 grams. This upgrade leaves you only 140 grams heavier than Record or Dura-Ace. The rest of the weight savings like bottom bracket and shifters are not cost effective, but the pedals are almost a no brainer. This still leaves you cheaper than Dura-Ace.
Athena: Branford sells the Athena the gruppo for $1,007 (with Chorus pedals and Record seat post and $749 without pedals and post). The total weight for a gruppo is 3750 grams. Athena is over 160 grams lighter this year and only 68 grams lighter than Veloce, but 113 grams more than Chorus. The gruppo does not quite pass the $1 per gram test upgrade to Chorus, but it is under $2 per gram. For $200 you can go up to Chorus and get the top end performance that this gruppo offers. If you have the extra money, it is much better spent on Chorus than on some of the other upgrades you might be looking at for the Athena gruppo. This year I am giving Athena a thumb up due to several improvements that held me back last year. Athena has ball bearing shifters with the new Ergo designed levers, it comes with Chorus grade pedals and near Chorus level derailleurs. I don't feel like Athena is a clear cut bargain like Veloce, but it has a much clearer step in the Campy line over last year. Just looking at the weight you don't quite get the whole picture. Veloce is a killer bargain this year but Athena brings enough function upgrade: with the new shifting and pedals, that make it a much more solid gruppo. This year Athena is a clear step up in function from Veloce that it lacked last year. Even thought the weight is a little heavy, this gruppo is a real long-term keeper.
Veloce: Veloce lists at $767 (with pedals and Record seat post and $549 without post and pedals). This gruppo is still the hands down winner of the best bang for the buck in Campy's line. Veloce for '99 gets the new Ergo shifters and Athena headset. Veloce tips in at 3818 grams which is a full 100 plus grams lighter than last year. Veloce is a full $233 less than Athena which makes the step up to Athena a $3.5 per gram upgrade. Veloce is still my pick for the most gruppo for the least money. Veloce still has bushings in the shifters and plastic on the pedals, with a silly bottom bracket tool; which make it less of a high end gruppo, but it is full of value. With a few upgrades to Veloce you can have the Athena weight very easily. I would upgrade the shifters to Athena and get very close to Athena in performance and feel.