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
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
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.
Back to the top
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
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
Back to the top
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
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
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.
Back to the top
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
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.
Back to the top
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
Back to the top
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
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
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.
Back to the top
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
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.
Back to the top
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
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
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.
Back to the top
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
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.
Back to the top
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
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
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.
Back to the top
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 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
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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