This week we will have a brief look at the new (ish) Campagnolo Potenza groupset. Some of you may be familiar with Campag but be a little unsure of where this new groupset fits in the range or why it was necessary to create it. Well first of all it sits between Veloce and Chorus. It basically replaces Athena in the range. Why make it? Actually it’s partly about trickle down tech from the likes of Chorus, Record and Super Record but it also has it’s own unique features which may actually make it more appealing than it’s big brothers.
For example the front mech design is very similar to Super Record but uses different materials to keep costs down. The only penalty, of course, is weight. While the rear mech looks very similar and incorporates Embrace Technology which came from the higher end groupsets and allows the rear mech to stay closer to the cassette and didn’t feature on Athena. It now comes in two versions. A 55 mm cage version and a brand new 72.5 mm version which will allow Campag users for the first time to ride a 32 tooth cassette.
The introduction of Potenza also sees Campag introduce Campagnolo 11 components. Specifically chains and cassettes. For the first time they are non groupset specific 11 speed components that can be used with any Campag 11 speed groupset and are priced very competitively (the only exception is the 32 tooth cassette which can only be used with the Potenza 72.5 mm rear mech).
If you are unfamiliar with Campag then their shifters come as either Ultrashift, or in the case of Potenza and Veloce, Powershift. Powershift allows one downshift (shift to a smaller sprocket) at a time on the rear but you can shift up three sprockets at a time. Whatever Campag say about the reason for this I can tell you from personal experience that it has made the lower end shifters much more reliable and enjoyable to use. Higher end shifters (Chorus upwards) use Ultrashift which allows multiple shifting in both directions but because of their higher quality materials (and higher price tag) they are just as, if not even more, reliable.
So for about the price of a Shimano Ultegra groupset you could be riding some beautiful Italian design and now you can keep your granny gear!
For more info on Potenza or any other Campgnolo products head over to
Most people think that wheels fail due to an impact breaking a spoke. However in reality when your wheel buckles and you inspect the spokes, 9 times out of 10 they’re all intact. This is because wheels buckle when one of more spokes lose tension as a result of an impact.
Spokes usually break when you’re just riding along as a result of fatigue. If your spokes are under tensioned, then each time the wheel rotates, the spokes are flexed as the load changes. This continual flexing of the spokes caused by insufficient tension is what breaks a spoke. A wheel which has covered 1,250 miles has been subjected to a million of these load changes, this means a typical road wheel with 28 spokes has been subjected to 28 million load changes! Therefore although the spokes may have started out as perfect fit, they begin to move and flex, and more and more as time passes, until eventually they will fail. The most telling sign of an under tensioned wheel is one which has had many spoke breakages.
The solution then lies in the wheel being built with the correct spoke tension. If your spokes are tensioned correctly, then the spoke doesn’t move as the wheel rotates, meaning they last much longer. Thus a correctly tensioned wheel is one that will last often well after the rim has worn out.
Spoke tensions can be roughly measued using the Park Tool TM-1 (seen above), to check that the spoke tensions are equal between spokes, before checking absolute spoke tension with the more accurate Sapim spoke tensionmeter and making any fine adjustments thereafter. Although it is important to achieve equal spoke tension around the wheel, due to imperfections in the rim, there will usually be a very slight difference between the absolute tensions of each spoke.
If you want to learn more about hand built wheels, how to lace them and the processes required to achieve a well balanced wheel, then the book, “The Art of Wheelbuilding” by Gerd Schraner is worth a read. It also contains much of the content for the Cytech Level 2 wheel building module.