is campy centaur group as good or better than ultegra?

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11 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

i am cosidering a bike where both centaur and ultegra are available to me. I dont know which is more highly regarded so I am hopefully defering to superior knowledge. thank you

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

They're roughly equivalent.

EXCEPT: You'll either prefer Ergo or STI shifters. There is very little middle ground. So pick the one that has the shifters you like.

Edited (to include long answer with which to bore Judith):

The long answer is more complex, especially if it's 2004 equipment.

You'll be able to get a wider selection of cassettes in Ultegra, especially for cassettes with a 12 tooth small cog. Also, you can mix/max Ultegra with Shimano XT and XTR. This would give you access to an 11-34 cassette (XTR) and derailleur. Lastly, Campy rear wheels have very severe dish, because their cogs are wider than the Ultegra cogs. If they are built with an OCR rim, this is somewhat abated, but it's still not a great design. There is no substantive difference among any front derailleurs. I'd give the definite edge to Ultegra here.

I have some fundamental concerns about wear on the Octalink bottom bracket interface which is used on 2004 Ultegra crank/bb. The Centaur crank uses a standard tapered square bottom bracket. Significant advantage Centaur.

Shifters/Brake Levers:
Ergo shifters are completely rebuildable and all small parts are available separately. This is not true for STI, which are not serviceable. Advantage Centaur.

If you're looking at a pure roadbike with 39-49mm brakes, then both are fine. If you're looking at a sport-touring bike, with 47-57mm brakes, Shimano will be the only choice for that component.

I think the best choice is a Campy Centaur bike with an Ultegra 9 speed wheelset. The Campy shifters will shift 9 speed Ultegra flawlessly.

And that's only if you're set on getting a gruppo. I'd rather pick each individual component on its merits, but that's not usually a choice unless you're building up a bare frame.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Peter Storey (not verified)
Yeah, what Christian said . . .

"But (just to re-emphasize), if your choices are to buy the bike ""all Ultegra"" or ""all Centaur"", go for the lever system you like. You'll notice that all the time. The rest probably won't make any difference when all is said and done."

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Yes, yes, yes! I couldn't agree more. Other than the levers, the differences between these groups are basically at the subatomic level.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
chiron (not verified)

You'll get 10 speeds w/Centaur vs. 9 w/Ultegra, unless you wait a few months for the Ultegra 10.

Anonymous's picture
Cat (not verified)
my 2 grams

For two years i have been perfectly satisfied with the Centaur gruppo on my sport-touring bike. I do use Shimano long-reach caliper brakes which afford me the option of installing fenders, but everything else is Campy. I think it all comes down to which way you swing in general -- i like the feel and setup of Campagnolo. (although consider you won't have all those wires up front to clip your cue sheet to!)

Also, the ErgoBrain10 really rocks, with the handlebar controls!

I'm glad to see that people are talking about Centaur; it doesn't seem to get much recognition. Compared to Chorus on my racing bike (which i don't actually race), the shifter action is slightly stiffer, but that's not a problem, just a matter of adjusting accordingly. The actual gear-change is just as smooth. There's some difference in weight but considering how much i carry in food and tools and water, it's immaterial considering the savings in cost.

Whatever you choose, enjoy it, and let us know.


Anonymous's picture
fred steinberg (not verified)
Centaur vs Ultegra gearing options

I'd like to add:
If you intend to use a triple cranset, Campy has better chainring options, 40/50 allowing a 26 or 28 inner ring.
This allows using a much tighter cogset 11-23, 12-25 and still having low gears. 40/50 works on a double of course.
That's good since Campy doesn't offer a 12-27 for 9 or 10sp or 12-25 for 9sp. Just an archaic 13-26, plus 13-28 (9sp) and 13-29(10sp-which requires a long cage derailleur).
I don't know if Shimano 10SP hubs/cassettes work with the Campy 10SP drivetrain; Shimano worked with Campy 9Sp. Time will tell.
I'm very satisfied with a Centaur 10sp groupo.

Anonymous's picture
Eddy (not verified)

"You can mix and match Campy 10 speed groupo components and upgrade individual components as you like. Campy levers have a shorter reach from the bars then Shimano. They also do not have the ""dip"" that Shimano shifter levers have."

Anonymous's picture
bike man (not verified)

I think you need the long cage if you go with the triple anyway.
Also, I run older Campy Veloce with an XT 12-27 cassette. So, Campy doesn't have it, but you can use it. As posted above, some Shimano stuff works fine with Campy. One of the miracles of life...

Anonymous's picture
fred steinberg (not verified)
long cage dereilleur requirement

Published dereilleur capacity limits for both gear capacity and max cogs are typically understated.

I don't know what the cutoff is for requiring the long cage rear dereilleur for the 13-29 in a triple setup, but the long cage RD is not required in most setups.
I am currently using the mid-length Centaur RD with a 28/40/50 10sp w/a 12-25 cassette.
For 9sp I currently use the mid-cage w/26/38/48 (8SP XTR crank) with 11-21 & 12-23 cassettes. I used the mid-cage with 28/40/50 w/12-23 & 13-26. When the RD broke on the road (@20,000 miles) bought a Veloce short cage RD to get home. It worked fine, may hav ebeen using the 13-26 at the time. The 9sp mid-cage will also handle the 13-28.

I wouldn't get the long cage RD (10SP) unless I was certain I was going to require the 13-29 cassette at some point. For some, Campy's failure to provide a 12-27 cassette gives no alternative.

Anonymous's picture
Peter Storey (not verified)
Another data point . . .

"""I don't know what the cutoff is for requiring the long cage rear derailleur for the 13-29 in a triple setup, but the long cage RD is not required in most setups.
I am currently using the mid-length Centaur RD with a 28/40/50 10sp w/a 12-25 cassette.""

In speccing out my latest, the advice I got was that I could get away with the medium cage for my intended 52/42/30 13-26. OTOH, if I thought I might need to go to a 29 tooth cog or a sub-30 granny, or both, for a someday trip to the alps (or whatever), I should go with the long cage. So I did.

""I wouldn't get the long cage RD (10SP) unless I was certain I was going to require the 13-29 cassette at some point.""

""Certain"" might be a bit strong. The long cage weight penalty is academic and (I'm told) the shifting performance is indistinguishable. These aren't the clunky tourist derailleurs of days gone by.


Anonymous's picture
fred steinberg (not verified)
Long Cage dereilleur

Chacon pour soi or something like that.
Weight shouldn't be an issue on triple chainring setups.
I don't like long cage dereilleurs. They require extra chain links and I don't like the chain slap that accompanies such setups.
To me the rule of thumb is the low gear provided by the middle ring vs biggest cog. Thats the determining factor how many times you'll shift to the granny.
A 42 x 26 provides a gear of 43.61 gear inches.
A 42 X 29 provides a 39.10 gear. With that you may never use the granny. I think that if I needed a 39 inch I'd be on the granny in the first place.
By comparison, a 40 X 25 gives 43.2 in gear.

At the low end:
A 30 X 26 provides a 31 inch gear
A 30 X 29 provides a 28 inch gear
By comparison, a 28 X 25 provides a 30 inch gear.
Works for me.

Gearing is a personal thing, so no one is right.

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