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The new Campagnolo Centaur groupset punches above its weight

First look and details of the gruppo designed to go head to head with Shimano 105

Campagnolo Centaur

Campagnolo Centaur
The new Campagnolo Centaur groupset represents the Italian company’s continued commitment to providing riders with quality mechanical shifting. “When people would hand pick every component on their bike, more times than not, they’d pick Campagnolo,” Joshua Riddle, Campagnolo’s press manager, explained after announcing the Centaur. “However, nowadays people pick bikes by the frame and the groupset becomes kind of an afterthought.”

Campagnolo intends to make inroads on shop floors with Centaur. In 2016, Campagnolo released Potenza to give consumers and product managers spec’ing bikes a competitive mid-range offering. With Centaur, Campy hopes you will find their groupsets even more accessible and common on off-the-shelf bikes.

Centaur better positions Campagnolo to complete the frames you see in your local bike shop. The groupset is meant to give an alternative to Shimano 105. The trickle down to Centaur from Campy’s top-end groupsets is considerable. With the addition of welcome refinements that will be attractive to enthusiasts, it is a stellar offering. “Campagnolo is not in the business of dumbing down any product. The Centaur groupset ran through the exact same paces as the top-end groupsets,” explained Riddle. “The only thing that is changing is the material used and its employment. We wanted to offer an accessible groupset without offering entry level performance or features”

Campagnolo Centaur hoods and levers

Campagnolo Centaur

Campagnolo’s excellent ergonomic hoods and levers welcome a rider’s hands giving them a secure position to operate the bike from. Centaur maintains the same feel at the riders point of contact from the company’s top-end shift levers.

The Centaur hoods use hypoallergenic silicon of varied density to ensure riders have a secure and comfortable hold on the bike. The hood pattern is not only designed for grip but also helps to shed water in the wettest of conditions. The hoods have a curved, inward hook with a rounded top designed to give riders positioned aggressively atop the bike a good place to place their hands.

Campagnolo Centaur

Centaur uses Campagnolo’s Ergopower shift and lever design. Like Potenza, Centaur features Power-Shift internals making sure shifts are fast and executed with precision. With the right-hand shift levers, you can move the chain as many as three cogs up the cassette into an easier gear using the lever found behind the brake or down on the cassette into a harder gear using the thumb shifter, which was inspired by the EPS thumb lever. The left shifters operate the front derailleur. Multiple front derailleur positions allow you to optimize your chainline regardless of where you are on the cassette. The shift levers are made from a technopolymer (plastic) reinforced with carbon fibre for a light and durable construction. The brake lever is aluminum.

Campagnolo Centaur crankset, front derailleur and chain

Campagnolo Centaur

Campagnolo brings its four-arm, eight-bolt spider from the Revolution 11+ release to the Centaur groupset. For the first time on one of the company’s alloy cranks, Campagnolo offers an ultra-torque axle giving the unit more rigidity at a lighter weight. It’s a design feature that Potenza will also receive and is a trickle down from the construction of the Super Record carbon cranks. You can run two combinations of chainrings can be run on the cranks: a mid-compact 52/36 or compact 50/34 setup.

The front derailleur is another component that borrows its shape and mechanical functionality from the Rev 11+ components. It features a longer rod and one-piece steel cage to reduce the force required for an upshift. Campagnolo’s Centaur chain is compatible across the entire lineup of groupsets to the top end.

Campagnolo Centaur rear derailleur and cassette

Campagnolo Centaur

A new trajectory angle makes the new Centaur rear derailleur compatible with cassettes up to 32 teeth without the need for multiple derailleur options. “It is certainly very welcome and there are some people that would argue they would like to see that at the top-end as well,” Riddle said about the new compatibility introduced on the groupset. This versatility is definitely something that consumers will appreciate; in one model, the needs of more cyclists can be met without the need of a short- and long-cage option.

Campagnolo Centaur

Three new lower-priced cassettes that are compatible across Campagnolo’s range are available in a Centaur specific finish. Offered in 11-29, 11-32 or 12-32, the top three cogs are grouped together on a spider while the remaining eight are loose.

Campagnolo Centaur brakes

Campagnolo Centaur

To scrub your speed, Campagnolo’s Centaur brakes have a familiar appearance, although unlike the offerings on Potenza and higher, the skeletal design isn’t present. According to Riddle, the dual pivot brackets are 30 to 50 g lighter than those of their closest competitor. There is also a direct-mount version in the works. Last year, Campagnolo updated its brake compound for aluminum rims. They have done so once again this year in order to increase the rider’s confidence, modulation and control when slowing down.

First ride with the Campagnolo Centaur

Campagnolo Centaur

Rolling out on a white Sarto frame equipped with Campagnolo’s black Centaur groupset and the new Scirocco wheels, I was accompanied by 20 riders. Riding inland on the southern tip of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands, it did not take long before we found ourselves climbing.

The shift action on Centaur feels fast and precise, much like Campagnolo’s higher-end offerings. While Shimano’s shifts have a dampened feel, Centaur offers more responsiveness when changing gears. The next day, I was on the new Campagnolo H11 hydraulic disc brake mechanical shifters. The Centaur shifts, I realized, have the same quality feel as the higher-end gruppo. If you need to dump a bunch of gears, the multiple-shift feature allows you to do so smoothly and quickly. The front shifting was also precise; the few times we hit false flats during the climb, I was able to quickly shift to the big ring to try to gain some speed.

With the Centaur, I had a 32-tooth cog, the extra teeth were welcome and put to use allowing me to tap out a quick rhythm on the climb. While the greater jumps in gearing may be felt in a fast moving peloton, I enjoy the versatility in my everyday riding.

The finer details matter for riders who choose Campagnolo; Centaur has been positioned to offer an accessible way to ride the Italian company’s groupset. “Centaur performs like its higher tier brethren and is constructed in a way that it should be as long-lasting if not more so,” Riddle explained. I am happy to see Campagnolo introducing technology that better serves consumers. In Centaur, the Italian company has a quality groupset that signals they are serious about offering more affordable options. The quality in performance at a lower-price point is a winning combination that will give a consumer reason to look a little closer at the groupset when choosing the next bike.

Weight and pricing

The Centaur groupset will be available in a black and silver finish to suit any build. The groupset with an 11-29 cassette weighs in at 2,484 g according to Campagnolo.

The black Centaur is listed at 636 euro which is roughly CAD$950 while the silver finish Centaur is listed at 673 euro which converts to roughly CAD$1,005. Final Canadian pricing is not yet available. The black offering should be rolling out of shops by the end of May while if you want a Silver gruppo you will need to wait until September.