Campagnolo CX11 Carbon Crankset. Photo courtesy Campagnolo
by Josh Liberles
We’d heard rumors a while back about legendary Italian component manufacturer Campagnolo coming out with a gruppo specifically for cyclocross and have seen early photos but had been sworn to secrecy. Now, the first signs of that lineup are public in the form of the CX Power-Torque cranksets. Campagnolo purists or mix-and-match fans (see our revolutionary Perfect Cyclocross Shift article in Issue 9 and our popular online article on using Campy shifters with Shimano drivetrains) have another drivetrain component option that allows smaller chainrings. Presumably other components will accompany the crankset shortly, and we’ve already seen info about three cyclocross-specific aluminum clincher wheelsets coming to market soon.
The cranksets’ primary cyclocross-specific features include what the company refers to as C.A.R.T. (Cyclocross Advanced Racing Technology) applied to the chainrings. Campy claims the “chainrings (were) developed specifically for cyclocross use and efficiency in all conditions of use.” The CX Power-Torque bottom brackets, which will be required to run these cranks, have a “doublelip seal” designed to preserve bearing life against contamination, an issue DIY Campy ’crossers have run into in the past. Campy also claims that “the chain up-shift and downshift zones (were) specially designed for cyclocross…” yielding “fast shifting even in critical situations due to rough terrain or the presence of mud on the chainrings.”
This foray into the rain and mud represents a true about-face for Campy. Until this latest iteration, the company explicitly stated that riding its components off road would void any warranties. Although ’crossers have been running Campagnolo setups for years, with recent notables including the Sunweb team and Katie Compton, it was always out of the team’s (or, in Compton’s case, the individual’s) coffers. While cyclocross has always incorporated a hodge-podge of road and MTB bits, and other component manufacturers seemed happy to have their names in new venues, riders running Campy did so at their own risk, with no support.
The cranks will be available in both carbon and aluminum varieties, and for 10-speed (CX10) and 11-speed (CX11) systems. For those who want to “take it to 11,” an 11-speed setup will be on offer, but in a sport where 8- and 9-speed systems are still popular choices, due to their decreased likelihood of mud clogging thanks to extra spacing between gears, I don’t know how many folks will be rushing off to choose that build. Super Record 11-speed cassettes alone fetch a staggering price of $470 for an 11-23 (up to $603 for a 12-29!), or you can forego all the titanium and slum it with Chorus for $181 and up.
The new cranksets feature compact bolt patterns, and are available with 50/34 rings more suited to road riding or a true 46/36 cyclocross setup. Although we haven’t confirmed this yet, it looks like Campagnolo continues its trend of exclusivity by having one of the five chainring bolts spaced at 112mm, rather than the industry standard 110, so any chainrings will need to be specifically designed to work with Campy. There have been all-aluminum Campy compact cranks with standard 110mm bolt patterns in the past, so we’ll have to wait to see the official specs on the CX models to be sure.
Cranks are available in 170, 172.5 and 175mm lengths. Weights differ between the 10-speed and 11-speed setups by just a couple of grams, but opting for carbon in either configuration will save you nearly 100 grams.
Campagnolo CX11 / CX10 Carbon Cranksets
Campagnolo's CX11 Carbon Crankset. Photo courtesy Campagnolo
Weight: 628g (11-speed), 629g (10-speed)
Campagnolo CX11 / CX10 Aluminum Cranksets
Campagnolo's CX11 Aluminum Crankset. Photo courtesy Campagnolo
Weight: 728g (11-speed), 731g (10-speed)