Our technical expert, Tim Laflin, has gone over Campy and ShimaNO's top-of-the-line gruppos, Record and Dura-Ace, with a fine-toothed comb, and has prepared the most comprehensive comparison we've ever seen. We present it here as a service to cyclists everywhere.

Quick Reference

Following Tim's comparison, we also offer an addendum, supplied to us by our spy deep within the bowels of Pastahead Central. More stuff ShimaNO doesn't want you to know about their equipment!

1. Headset


The Dura-Ace headset is basically unchanged for 97. The guys at Shimano have the weight down and the quality up. The sealed bearing units roll well and are easy to set up. The cartridge bearings do not bind easily and make setup a snap. The stack height is a decent 37.5 mm and the weight is 103 grams.

Pros: Dura-Ace is lighter and easier to set up. The bearing are also maintenance-free. 2 grams lighter than Campy. Yes, I can do math check the Cons below.

Cons: Sealed bearings are Shimano units and subject to supply form Shimano. The crown race perch that is driven onto the fork is difficult; if not impossible to remove; unless you have a special tool, without bending it. 1mm of extra stack height equates to about 1 gram penalty in fork steer tube weight over the Record headset. Using a Kestrel fork as a reference each 1mm of steer is about 1 gram in the 50mm of threaded section that gets cut to size.


The 97 headset is totally new. Last year's headset at 151 grams is gone and the new one is 106 grams. This years design uses a new 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.

Pros: The upper bearings seals are so much improved that the grease ports could be removed and weight lowered. Lower stack height saves some weight. The bearings are totally user serviceable. The lower bearing is (worst environment) can be lubed without disassembly like the older version. The crown race can actually be removed and reused on another fork with normal shop tools.

Cons: Setting up the bearing is still the old tweak and move style, until there is no play in the bearing and it is not binding.

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2. Bottom Bracket


The guys at Shimano have been working over time on this one. The bottom bracket is an XTR style setup. The spindle is an oversized hollow steel unit. The fixed cups have O-ring seals internally and floating plastic seals outside. Two sets of bearings are used on each end of the spindle. The first is a fat needle bearing setup with a caged ball setup behind that to keep the spindle captive. The axial load is taken care of by the caged ball configuration and the radial load is handled by the needle bearings. The total weight on this is 175 grams.

Pros: This is one light bottom bracket.

Cons: The exterior plastic seals are not sufficient to keep water out in wet conditions. The bearings have a serious amount a drag in the axial plane and radial plane shows high drag also. The bearings are very specific and Shimano is the only option here. The only bottom bracket that fits is from Shimano and it is not easy to find one in a pinch. Adjustment requires another special tool from Shimano (high quality plastic) that most shops don't have and most customers didn't get with their bike.


Campy was not asleep here. The new Record bottom brackets get a new lighter tapered spindle. It is stronger than last year's version. It is also lighter in the 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.

Pros: Lighter than last year. Still uses a standard spindle design so emergency replacement is not a problem. Off the shelf bearings are as close as the local bearing house and they can be upgraded to fit your riding. Bearing houses have water tight replacements (higher drag) and less well sealed than stock (lower drag) units. Take your pick. No need to call Campy for bearings. The bottom bracket uses the light weight cassette tool for installation. The bearings run with significantly less drag than the Dura-Ace.

Cons: The weight in the bottom bracket bearings and spindle along with the steel crank bolts make Shimano the gram leader.

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3. Chains


The new nine speed chain is a carry over from the old chain. It is more or less a copy of the HG chains of the past. The rivets and side plates help carry the chain up and down the shift ramps. The Dura-Ace chain uncut is 303 grams.

Pros: Narrower chain is lighter.

Cons: 9 speed chain will not work with 8 speed Shimano chain pins. If you want to use the magic Shimano pins make sure they are 9 speed and not 8 or bring a file to the party. Drive train noise in extreme chain angles is loud.


The new nine speed chain is a total redesign. The new side plates are cut to allow for the more radical chain angles leaving and entering the cogs. The floating link chain design; like the Roloff 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 305 grams.

Pros: Lighter chain and no annoying pins to find to join it. Much much quieter drive train than Shimano.

Cons: May have a shorter life due to the floating link system like the old Roloff.

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4. Hubs


The 97 hubs get several weight saving advantages. The front hub gets a new aluminum axle and metal seals with full contact rubber seals. The rear hub gets a Ti freehub body new labyrinth contact lip seal on the drive side and a full contact metal/rubber seal on the non-drive side. Both hubs get a new lighter skewer. The front hub and skewer are 177 grams and the rear with skewer is 375 grams. The front skewer is 61 grams and the rear is 65 grams.

Pros: Lighter hubs and better seals. The new seals are much superior to the past years products. The new hubs are compatible with the old 8 speed cassettes. The hub combination is 30 grams lighter than Campy.

Cons: Keeping the free hub length fixed makes the gear spacing very tight. Derailleur adjustments are much more critical. Quick release skewers have steel inserts pressed into an aluminum exterior (rust is imminent) and knocking the aluminum cap of in a wreck is probable.


The new nine speed hubs from Campy have seen several revisions for the 97 version. The combinations of hubs and skewers this year is almost 100 grams lighter than last year. The front hub receives a cartridge bearing and a titanium axle. They still maintain the ability to lube the hub without disassembly, because the back of the cartridge bearing is open to the grease port. The new bearings have a much improved seal and lighter end caps. The rear hub gets the titanium axle and aluminum freehub body from last years Ti eight speed. Along with this, the hub pawl surface is also in Ti. The skewers get new lighter aluminum end caps and the quick release gets a special low friction insert to make operation smoother. The rear hub can be lubed as always without disassembly via the grease ports on the freehub body and hub body. The front hub with skewer is 190 grams and the rear with skewer is 391 grams. The front skewer is 62 grams and the rear is 67 grams.

Pros: 100 grams lighter than the previous version. New front bearings hold grease better. Improved skewer design for lower weight and easier operation. Full Ti 8 speed cogs fit the deeper splines of the 9 speed body and allow enough thickness to yield decent life. No disassembly to lube the hubs so you can save down time during the season and clean them up over the winter. Replaceable cups and cones give hubs infinite life (see
Tech Talk).

Cons: New free hub body will not accept the old 8 speed cogs. The aluminum free hub body needs deeper spline grooves to take the cog stress so the steel 8 speeds will not fit. The front hub dust caps look cheap. Black plastic takes away from the gruppo.

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5. Shifters


The STI levers for the 97 have gotten rid of even more weight with a new more trim lever and lighter body. The basic mechanics are pretty much the same. The new STI levers weight in at 380 grams. The new version of the shifter comes with a gear indicator that routes into the cable exiting the lever.

Pros: Shimano racks up another 23 grams on Campy here. The gear indicator and less radical cable route make for light shifting. Shorter reach for small hand and anatomical bars to the brake levers.

Cons: Shift cables are flying all over the place in front of the rider (not Aero or very aesthetic). Down shifts in the rear come one at a time. Brake levers move away from the riders hands to shift making brake activation vague. Exposed shift mechanism allows road dirt to enter (see
Tech Talk).


Campy keeps the Ergo shifters from last year pretty much untouched. The 97 Record levers are 403 grams. The shift levers employ a ball bearing shift mechanism with the 96 versions lighter action rear derailleur. The brake and shift lever cables are routed under the bar tape and out of the way. The Shift body is carbon fiber.

Pros: Concealed cable routing is a cleaner design. Protected shift mechanism and rigid brake lever. Up shifts and down shifts are on separate controls. Shifters make multiple up or down shifts in a single movement. The shifters can be used with the Racing Triple.

Cons: Heavier feel to active the shifters. Harder to route the cables under the bar tape. No gear indication for the rear cluster. More cable friction from the routing.

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6. Cranks


The Dura-Ace crank is a very light design. The main body is forged and the arms are actually hollow, because a backer plate is cosmetically welded over the cavity on the back of the arm. After welding, the weld is polished smooth. The arm fits on a tapered spline to the hollow bottom bracket. The retaining bolts are Ti with built in extractors. The bolt circle for the chain rings is the standard 130mm. The chain rings come with special pins to help the chain climb to the big ring easily. The 96 version was 650 grams and the new 97 is 570 grams. The crank bolts with extractors are 33 grams.

Pros: The weight of the hollow arm design saved 80 grams this year. Crank bolts have built in extractors so you can remove the crank arm easily without an extra tool. Saves about 80 grams over Record design. The standard 130mm spider accepts a wide variety of aftermarket chain rings.

Cons: Built in extractors some times don't work (just spin right out). Stripping the crank bolt is rocket science to fix. If you do accidentally strip one take it to a Machine shop. Crank bolts are not easy to get, even from Shimano.


The Record crank is a carry over in design from the previous year. The five 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 chainrings have small shift pins that help the chain up to the big ring. The Record crank design also uses a 135mm bolt center. The crank weight is 680 grams. The crank bolts are 33 grams.

Pros: 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 ring less structural in the design and reduces flex. Generic steel crank bolts are easy to find and fix if stripped.

Cons: The 135mm bolt circle on the crank makes replacement rings more rare. Heavier design than Dura-Ace. Heavy steel crank bolts.

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7. Brakes


This 97 version of the dual pivot brakes received over 100 grams in weight reduction. The new brakes are 309 grams. The arms have be reduced in size and the hardware has been swapped for aluminum in some spots like the quick release and the adjuster barrel. The pads and mounting hardware have be lightened also. The fine tune centering adjustment is retained to allow easy centering of the brakes.

Pros: New adjusters are rust fee aluminum and the calipers are very light.

Cons: The new calipers are very spongy in feel. The caliper arms have been reduced to the point the brakes are mushy. Some of the bolts on the calipers are so small that they are impossible to disassemble without destroying. The calipers also lose the tension adjustment for the return spring this year. The pads are a pain to adjust.


Campy keeps the Record dual pivots about the same this year. The weight is a portly 406 grams. The Record calipers maintain full features like return spring adjustment, fine tune centering adjustment and adjustable pads for toe and rim angle.

Pros: Much more solid feel than Dura-Ace. Pads can be canted to match aero profile rims and toed in to eliminate squeal. Quick releases are mounted at the lever to deliver full brake power even when the quick release is open unlike the Dura-Ace (see
Tech Talk).

Cons: The weight.

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8. Derailleurs


The 97 9-speed derailleurs are completely new in the front and rear. The rear derailleur gets a weight reduction to 193 grams. The new Ti mounting bolt and pivot bolts make it much lighter. The front derailleur is 103 grams and gets some weight reduction with a narrower body and aluminum hardware on the cage and adjuster screws. The front derailleur exterior plate is also aluminum. The weight for the front includes a 30 gram clamp to compare it to the Campy Record clamp on unit.

Pros: The new derailleur combination saves 34 grams over Record.

Cons: The hanger bolt for the rear derailleur is very easy to break. Make sure you keep a spare close at hand. Heavy clamp mechanism for the front kills the weight savings. Retains the cheap steel adjuster barrel with plastic cover in the rear to adjust the rear derailleur. The front derailleur adjusters are easy to strip aluminum and the cage being aluminum makes an overshift potentially deadly.


The 97 Record rear end is designed for the narrower drive line and gets no reduction in weight this year. The rear is 230 grams and the front tips in at 100 grams. Ti hardware is being used in the pivot bolt and hanger bolt.

Pros: Solid one piece adjuster on the rear is easy to use and will not rust (aluminum). Hanger bolt will not destruct in a minor crash. Chrome steel cage on the front derailleur is stronger and lasts longer.

Cons: Heavier package for front and rear combination.

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9. Cassettes


The new 9 speed cassettes are very very light. The variety of cassettes and options makes it hard to weigh them all. The cassettes are in the 170 gram range for the cassettes with 3 Ti large rings and the rest steel. Depending on the cassette the last 2 or 3 big cogs will be Ti and the rest are steel. The choices are 11/21 or 12/21 or 12/23 or 11/23 or 12/25. The cassettes that begin with 12 teeth have 3 large Ti cogs and the ones that begin with 11 teeth have only 2 large Ti cogs. The biggest 4 or 5 cogs come riveted to an aluminum carrier for weight reduction and to protect the hub splines. The lock ring for the cassette is also aluminum. Cog spacers are 2.56mm for the 9 speed, which is down from 2.8mm on the 8 speed. The cog thickness remains basically unchanged.

Pros: Major weight reduction.

Cons: Joined cogs makes it hard to replace a single cog. Few choices of cogs. The aluminum lock ring is easy to strip if you are not careful.


The 9 speed from Campy comes in a wide variety of choices. For roughly the same weight as Shimano you can get a 6 steel and 3 Ti cog cassette. Cassettes are also available in 8 speed Ti or 9 Ti cogs or 9 steel cogs. The choices of 9 speed all Ti are: 12/21 or 12/23 or 13/23 or 13/26. The choices for 9 speed steel/Ti are: 12/21 or 12/23 or 12/23 or 13/26. The choices for all 9 in steel are: 11/21 or 11/23 or 12/21 or 12/23 or 13/23 or 13/26. The cog to cog spacers are 2.8mm down from 3.1mm in the 8 speed. The cog thickness has also been reduced to almost match that of Shimano (the difference is nil).

Pros: Individual cogs allow the user to replace just one. The all steel cassettes are cheaper than Dura-Ace. The all Ti 9 speeds save about 40 grams over the Shimano steel/Ti cassette. The all Ti 8 speed cogs also fits on the same hub. More gearing choices available.

Cons: A little more expensive than Shimano in the Ti/steel configuration. The reduced thickness in the cog will make its life roughly that of Shimano. The old 8 speeds were thicker and lasted longer. Still using a heavier steel lock ring on cassette.

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10. The Bottom Line

Since most riders buy different seatposts and pedals, they were not covered. I will say the road SPD pedals are not widely used in the professional ranks even for Shimano sponsored teams. The Pedals from Campy are over weight and over priced, but have a widely accepted look cleat design.

The weight savings is about 310 grams for Dura-Ace. If you just look at the numbers as far as grams go Shimano wins. The real story goes much farther than that. Shimano has pushed the weight envelope to its limits. It would seem that Shimano spent most of the time in the design on weight reduction, and making all the pieces run together smoothly was secondary. The new 9 speed from Shimano debuts in only the Dura-Ace product. The shifters have lost a good deal of crisp shifting due to the tight spacing. It appears that Shimano was in a quick fix mode to get the 9 speed ready. The crank chain rings show secondary machining processes that indicate the stampings were not correct. The rear derailleur is sporting a plastic quieting plate used to prevent the chain from rubbing the body during up shifts. Oversized derailleur pulleys were added to prevent the chain from disengaging the lower pickup pulley on extreme angles. The drive line noise is quite loud. The bottom bracket bearings are fairly high drag compared to Campy. The last but not least problem is the lack of positive feel in the brakes. It is clear that weight reduction was paramount. The crank and brakes account for nearly all the weight savings between Dura-Ace and Record. I have no doubt that Shimano will improve next year and fix a lot of the shortcomings of the gruppo.

Campy has maintained the functionality of its 8 speed going to 9 speeds. It is difficult to tell blindfolded which bike you are on (8 speed or 9). Campy spent the year working on the drive train and it shows. The low friction drive and positive shifts are identical to the 8 speed. The wider freehub body gives better spacing of the cogs.

The chain is a major contributor to the over all drive line functionality. While not all the gruppo was changed the new changes are significant. It would be a serious mistake to not consider a Campy 9 speed on the basis of a half a pound. Campy is also offering the 9 speed in the less expensive Chorus gruppo which can be had for much less money.

Grams are one thing and total drive line functionality is something else. Campy has not made any design compromises for weight. The Record group is functionally superior to Dura-Ace in nearly every way. It is also designed to be user serviced and maintained, so that there are not throwaway parts. When you put your money down for Record you will be able run the equipment for a long time.

Try bikes with both gruppos and if that doesn't convince you nothing will.

Tim Laflin

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For the Campagnolo group the Titanium 8 speed cogs will fit on the 9 speed body with a spacer, so if you are upgrading you can get a hub first.

For an upgrade kit you will NOT have to replace the crank and bottombracket as in the Dura-Ace. Shimano had to narrow the spacing of the chainrings, Campagnolo uses the same.

The pieces needed to upgrade to 9 speed are:

rear derailleur
rear hub (or the freehub body can be ordered and replaced if a wheel is already built)
No need to replace cranks... :)

I will agree that the Record group is heavier but I think durability is more important, some people will not believe that.

Some of the things I have heard from the pros and friends riding the Shimano 9 speed:

Front derailleur cage breaks from being made of aluminium. Noisy cogs, a friend returned his complete Shimano Dura-Ace 9 speed group because of the cog spacing being off and not shifting correctly. Team mechanics are replacing Shimano chains with Campagnolo ( no one is supposed to know this, I still have friends that I keep in touch with that are team mechanics, hehehehe )

FYI, I called Shimano ( as Shop X working on a bike ) and told them I was having problems setting up a group and he asked if this was one of the first ones I had done, I told him "Yes" and he proceded to inform me that there was a problem in the machining of the cogsets and I would need to insert spacers between the cogs to get it to work. I received them the next day. I was told that the Saturn team mechanic had to maching new cog spacers to get things to work for the team.

Not trying to bag on Shimano but the 9 speed groups at the "Tour" were prototype, Campagnolo was all production.

Submitted by "X"

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We created this page on May 7, 1997

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