Updated December 1999 for the new hubsets . . . Watch for a road test by your Campy Only webmaster, featuring Record hubs and new Montreal 76 rims.

New Campy Hubs

It is way over time for a tech talk on hubs. Campy continues the tradition of totally out-classing Shimano with the new hub design. The new Campy hubs are not just lighter, but so much better that I hardly know were to start. If you look at the weight of the hubs:

  • Campy Record Front = 181 grams
  • Dura Ace = 177 grams
  • Campy Record Rear = 316 grams
  • Dura Ace = 375 grams

Light is not always the right way to do things. Shimano proves this over and over again. What did Campy do that was better? I want to start by looking at the axle. Shimano is using a much smaller steel axle than used in the older Campy design. I personally thought that Shimano's patent for carrying the structure of the hub through the freehub body was going to give them a permanent advantage over Campy, with regard to weight. Wrong! 

Campy as countered with a hollow aluminum axle. But how? They used to break steel axles, before they increased the diameter back in the early 1980's. Campy has increase the hub body diameter to allow for a larger hollow aluminum axle. Campy also got rid of the cone on the drive side that was pressed on and machined the feature into the aluminum to prevent loosening (rare but not unheard of on the steel axles). The new axle is the major weight reducer.

The tools you need to disassemble the hub are now two 5mm hex wrenches and a 3mm hex wench. That is it. No more cone wrenches and stripped cone and lock nuts. All you do is hold the drive side axle end wrench and loosen the non-drive side axle end. The hex wrenches insert through the skewer hole. Once this is done you can loosen the 3mm set screw and remove the non-drive cap usually by hand. You remove the aluminum shim and steel cone and the axle comes out to reveal the bearings. It is just that simple.

The bearings are not what you are used to seeing. They are smaller and resin caged so they stay together. Big deal! You bet. I had this discussion with Jobst Brandt a while back and he doesn't buy it so I thought I would toss in a bearing manufacturers site to support my claim. The caged balls are a design improvement. They roll better with less friction and longer service intervals. All the things that we want. Campy has moved from the full complement loose ball configuration to the new caged design. Shimano is still offering a standard cup and cone, full complement design we have been riding for the last million years.

The caged balls make service a dream. You pop the axle out and slip a screwdriver under the white seal and pop it out. Then lift the bearings out as a unit, and viola! You clean and reinsert both drive and non-drive bearings. While you are here, you should look at what has been done. The outer adjustable cap on the non-drive side is spaced to keep water from being drawn into the bearing. Campy and Shmano designs of old had problems with water being wicked from the seal into the bearing, because there was no double seal with sufficient space to keep water out. Any water drawn past the seal was in the bearing. Not any more. The outer cap on the non-drive and the drive side seal on the end of the freehub body are spaced so that as water is wicked passed the seal will not draw past the seal against the bearing that you removed to service the bearing. To create an effective labyrinth seal, the seals must be spaced far enough apart that water can not be drawn by surface tension between the two seals. This is what Campy has done. The hubs are much more impervious to dirt and grim than before. This is not a license to not service them, but they will live much longer on the bike. 

The next thing to note is that the freehub pawls are now a sealed unit and do not have the O-ring seal that caused drag and assembly problems. No more chasing springs and fussing on assembly. The pawl assembly threads into the freehub body and can be replaced if needed. It took me nearly 70,000 miles to kill a old set of pawls and ratchet ring on my Record hubs so I do not expect the new parts to be a big seller either. The pawls are now a double row that is wider and the have shallower ratchet grooves. The pawls drag less and engage much more quickly so you will see a marked improvement in missed engagements. The old hubs would from time to time miss and cause huge bang in the drive line.

This is a thing of the past. the freehub body uses sealed bearing that do not need to be lubed. The lube ports are removed so water and dirt do not work into the bearings. It is possible to replace the freehub bearings if needed, but it is rare to kill a set of these. To remove the freehub body from the axle is a dream. A 17mm wrench (no special wrench needed here) and the 5mm hex key remove the retaining nut (reverse threaded) and the freehub body slides off.

I can service a hub in less than half the time with the new hubs and have no problems.   The other biggie is I can dial out play in a wheel after it is mounted on the bike. Try that with Shimano, NOT! These hubs are so easy to service it is silly. 

These hubs are so good and so well though out that it is hard to imagine buying Shimano. They roll faster, need less care, and are lighter than Shimano. These hub are so superior in design and function to Shimano that it is hard to compare the two. The Japanese have design with Kaizen. This word means continuous improvement in a product. They take a design and optimize it to the last degree. This is good, but you will never see a quantum leap in technology that Campy slaps them with every few years. Lets look at the 2000 improvements in Dura Ace hubs. None! It scares me to think how badly Armstorng would have killed the competition on a Campy bike. Riding Shimano is like towing a anchor.

Tim Laflin

We created this page on March 25, 1997

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