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Technical FAQ: Compatibility

  • By Lennard Zinn
  • Published May. 24, 2002
  • Updated Aug. 29, 2010 at 10:40 PM EDT

I read with interest the question and answer to the one fellow who’s slowly building a bike for himself and was wondering about compatibility.  You mentioned that a pre-2001 set of Campy Chorus Ergo levers wouldn’t work with either a Shimano cassette or derailleur.

Perhaps I’m a lucky case but I’ve found that a mix of components have often worked for me, especially Campy Ergo levers with Shimano cassettes. I have four bikes and each one has either 9 speed Record, Chorus, Daytona or Veloce ErgoPowers on them and I switch between a variety of wheelsets- mostly Mavic with Shimano-compatible freehubs.  I’ve found tha tevery one of them works better than the one set of Campy wheels that I have.  I rarely have to make any adjustments except for that pair of Campy wheels – which also makes an abundantly significant amount of noise in the best of conditions.  All the wheels with Shimano cassette shave their original spacers and consist of both Dura-Ace and Ultegra -and very rarely a problem shifting.
I also have an 8-speed system on my ‘cross bike that consists of Choru slevers with an old 105 derailleur and once again an Ultegra cassette on some Mavic wheels.

While these don’t work quite as crisp as my 9-speed wheels/levers Ifind my biggest problem is my fitness and form when mounting and dismounting over the barriers.

So – am I an anomaly or did I misinterpret your answer regarding compatibilityissues?
–Mike

Well, I’m amazed. I was never able to make 8- or 9-speed Shimano cassettes work quietly with 8- or 9-speed Campy systems, since the Campy cog spacing is wider. And it never occurred to me to try the last one. I have a Daytona triple front derailleur with a Campy RacingTriple with 105 STI levers on one of my daughter’s bikes, and it is a bear to make that work. I have to attach the cable on the wrong side of the cable fixing bolt to get more derailleur swing with each click of the lever so it centers over each chainring properly. I can shift it to the big ring,but she cannot generate the necessary force.

And mismatched front drivetrain components are usually much easier to make work than ones on the rear.
Anybody else have a mixture of components that work to report?
-Lennard

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Lennard Zinn

Lennard Zinn

Our longtime technical writer joined VeloNews in 1987. He is also a framebuilder, a former U.S. National Team rider, and author of many bicycle books, including Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance and Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, as well as Zinn and the Art of Triathlon Bikes and Zinn's Cycling Primer: Maintenance Tips and Skill Building for Cyclists. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Colorado College. Readers can send brief technical questions to Ask LZ.

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