Ergo Shifting

Ergo Shifting

Ergo Shifting, also referred to as Ergopower or Ergolevers, is the dual-control shifter component design by Campagnolo for operation of the derailleurs on racing bicycles. An alternative to Shimano's STI dual control levers, the Ergo shifters incorporate a shifting lever behind the brake lever to shift to a larger cog, and a small thumb lever (sometimes called a 'mouse ear') on the insides of the right and left brake hoods that is pressed down in order to shift to a smaller cog. Because the braking levers do not pivot inwards and the shift levers operate independently of the brake levers, the Ergo system is less susceptible than STI to unintended braking while shifting the largest levers. On the other hand, the small thumb lever is not as easy to reach as the STI levers for people with small hands.

Campagnolo's design philosophy with Ergo emphasizes using exotic -and often very expensive- materials to reduce weight, while keeping the system relatively simple. In contrast, Shimano designs are more complex. Because Ergo shifters are less mechanically complex and are designed for serviceability, they can be re-built by a competent mechanic in a relatively short time. Some users of Ergo levers and Campagnolo parts in general like the fact they can be serviced should they show wear or break and can have a much longer service life. Shimano parts cannot be serviced as easily and are considered by many to be 'throw away' parts. It's also the case that some Ergo levers can eventually be converted to earlier to later specification by changing the main ratchet in the right shifter. For example, 10 speed shifters can be converted to 9 speed and vice versa.

It's worth noting that earlier (pre-2001) 9 speed Ergo shifters have a different cable pull ratio compared with later (2001-on) units. The spacing of the sprockets remains the same, but the rear derailleur design and cable pull changed; so earlier and later versions must be used with the appropriate derailleurs or the indexing will not be accurate. This is a design change that has turned many potential Ergo users away, as Shimano levers/shifters has been using the same cable pull for all of its 8, 9 and 10speed systems (except for the first 8 speed Dura Ace groupset), thus making upgrades from one system to the next a much easier task than for Campagnolo users. Earlier 9 speed Ergopower units can be identified by plain brake lever blades, and either Carbon BB system (Record and Chorus) or the name of the groupset (lower groups) on the right hand body above the lever. Post-2001 9 speed have '9speed' printed in white on the right hand body above the brake lever.

It's also worth pointing out that Shimano and Campagnolo sprocket spacing (measured from centreline to centreline of adjacent sprockets) standards are not fully compatible. Campagnolo 9 speed standard is 4.55mm while Shimano 9 speed is 4.35mm which makes them interchangeable in practice. Campagnolo 10 speed is 4.15mm; Shimano 10 speed is 3.95mm.

Up to the 2007 model year, all Ergopower versions except the very cheapest (Xenon) allow multiple shifting in both directions. It's sometimes claimed that with this feature both shifters can move the respective derailleurs from the largest cog to the smallest cog in one stroke, but in practise while it's possible to make seven or eight upshifts simultaneously (on a ten-speed systems) it's very hard to downshift more than about four gears at a time. The multiple upshifts can be an advantage upshifting quickly for going downhill and for sprinting. Shimano's system can only move to one smaller cog per lever stroke. In 2007, the Mirage, Veloce and Centaur groups adopted the inferior internal mechanism of the Xenon shifters, and can only make one upshift at a time. They are also less robust and less rebuildable than earlier models. 2007 Record and Chorus Ergo shifters retain the multi-shift facility. A left-hand Ergo shifter is also double and triple front chainring compatible with no modifications necessary. From 2007, all left Ergo shifters are designated QS (Quickshift) and equipped with a revised small ratchet which is compatible with a revised front derailleur design for quicker shifting. It's possible to update earlier left hand Ergo shifters to QS spec just by changing that small ratchet.

Finally, an aesthetic and aerodynamic advantage of Campagnolo's Ergo design is that the brake and derailleur cables are both routed under the handlebar tape. This has however created a small disadvantage in smoothness of cable path compared to the Shimano STI levers, which don't have cables routed under the handlebar tape and avoid curving them so sharply.


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