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I run an early-2000s Campagnolo Chorus 10-speed groupset on one of my bikes. Shifting is generally OK and the rear mech works fine on the stand, but out on the road it is often hard to get good shifts because the levers, mostly the paddles for front/up and rear/down give undefined feedback, compared to how my Shimano 105 STIs feel.

Both lack a defined click when engaging. Especially with gloves, it is often hard to hit a rear downshift just right. A little too gentle and the chain doesn't make the shift cleanly, too much and you jump multiple gears, which is indeed a feature of the groupset but hard to judge the way the shifters feel at the moment. The thumb shifters work OK but I assume that might have to do with the way the mechanism works.

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I'm no Campy aficionado but I've heard lots of praise for their groupset parts being servicable (unlike Shimano). Until now, I didn't take the levers apart and they don't look too gunked up looking under the covers, but it is indeed a 20-year-old bike I own for the last 6 or 7 years and was serviced, but only new cables and bearings, no general overhaul.

Is there anything I can do to get back to a more defined/"clicky" feel?

enter image description here

Does it need cleaning/grease or some parts to be swapped out? On the second picture you can see some kind of ring/ratchet on which the mechanism is locking in - can this ring wear out or are there any springs that lose tension and cause such loose feel?

Update

ojs' answer covers it all, talking to my LBS about the symptoms, they've said pretty much the same: It is a wear issue and servicable.

I just wanted to share a few things I found during my research, partially mentioned in comments but I put it in here for better overview

  • Generally, the parts are still available, here is an example from a UK shop, listed as ergo rebuild kit - for those who want to do it themselves, I found a YouTube video which looks like an old training/instruction video from Campagnolo (sadly no sound or explanation and a bit blurry
  • In my case and region (Austria), my shop takes parts and sends them over to Campagnolo for servicing/rebuild (expected cost ~100€) -> that's what I am going to do
  • Last, but not least: You can't get 10-speed Chorus (or any of the upper tiers) new but apparently, you can still order Ergopower shifters as part of their latest Veloce groupset iteration. Veloce is/was their bottom tier so it'll even lack some features compared to their 2000s mid-range (my Chorus does more than 1/3 up/downshifts at once). It also lacks the classic looks but around 100€ for a pair of new levers, it is an option. Nobody ever said that Campy is cheap.

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This is a quite common problem on the early 1998-2008 9- or 10-speed "round Ergos". The root cause is two small springs known as G springs or indexing springs, and a ring known as spring carrier. They have a design mistake that causes them to crack over years.

The parts are not expensive or super difficult to replace, but you need disassemble a large part of the mechanism and replace the bar tape and shifter cable at the same time which almost doubles the cost.

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  • Thanks. I wanted to get the bike to the shop soon anyway, so I'll check with them if they would do the servicing work. If all else fails and I'm not a purist, the 10-speed veloce ones you can still order would be compatible, I guess?
    – DoNuT
    Jan 28 at 19:22
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    At that time Campagnolo had lot of shared parts between series. The springs are the same for all Ergos from the time, but the ring is aluminum on lower series and composite on Record and Chorus and I'm not 100% sure if they are interchangeable. The only difference between 9 and 10 speed was the indexing ring (and of course chain and cogs), and Campagnolo actually sold upgrade kits from 9 to 10.
    – ojs
    Jan 28 at 20:21
  • The best source is to find product catalogs from the time. If the small parts have the exact same code, they are the same.
    – ojs
    Jan 28 at 20:22
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    Just had a chat with my LBS, they don't do the servicing themselves but send parts over to Campagnolo (or a service center of theirs). 100€ is a bit of a lover's game but I'll go down that road and hope for many more mile on that bike.
    – DoNuT
    Jan 29 at 7:57
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    Interesting that a fairly vague question (no criticism -- the OP provided all the details he could) has such a definite answer! Sometimes I love this group. Jan 29 at 16:48
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I don’t know that the G-springs were a design error. However, the fact is that they would wear out eventually, which indeed does produce symptoms like described. Shimano units can’t be serviced in the same fashion, so once they break they are done - but they don’t break for quite some time. In contrast, I had to service my springs every 2-4 years back when I used 10s Campy. This may have been a deliberate choice, and Campy may have thought that people should be changing their cables anyway, but it is additional time.

It is definitely possible to service these yourself if you can find the springs. You could probably search YouTube. I’ve done it. But it is fiddly, and most users should find a bike shop to do this. The problem is that shops familiar with Campagnolo are rare. There is at least one in Colorado (Vecchio’s). I live in Minneapolis and there are two that I know should be able to do it (Angry Catfish, Now Bikes). But it’s not going to be like this in all cities. For example, Minneapolis has two local chains, Freewheel and Erik’s, that are major Trek and Specialized dealers respectively. They don’t sell Campy bikes. There will almost surely be the odd mechanic at one of the shops who has come across it or who is willing to take on the repair job. But otherwise, mechanics won’t have been exposed to it.

Basically, those factors have produced a vicious cycle where fewer bikes had it specced OEM, so consumers and mechanics got less and less familiar with it, and product managers didn’t have any reason to take the leap to spec it, and so on and so forth. At this point, I can’t find an objective reason to recommend that a newer cyclist consider the brand, unless they had some sort of emotional connection to the brand or to Italy or something similar and they were willing to put up with the logistical difficulties.

That said, the shifters made after that generation of Campy do not exhibit this issue. I believe the shift internals are replaceable, but my understanding was that Campagnolo doesn’t distribute the service parts, so someone would have to find a shifter to cannibalize.

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    I've understood that the other reason behind Campagnolo disappearing from mass market is pricing. Ordered directly from one of the German online stores they are very competitive, but I have been told that in several countries the local distributor's bulk OEM price is higher than those consumer prices. The local street prices are more than twice the online price.
    – ojs
    Jan 28 at 18:59
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    For me: It is my first road bike, I've spent more on service and parts than I initially paid for it, but I want to keep her alive, especially since it is a somewhat rare period-correct Fondriest frame and the bike acutally fits me and rides pretty well. That's where the sentiment ends, I wouldn't buy Campy, either... the only thing I can think of is using one of their last mechanical/rim groupsets for a retromod, certainly not a new bike - you're probably screwed if you just need a new chain on the road^^
    – DoNuT
    Jan 28 at 20:05
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    The last generation square taper Chorus BB was another of the Campagnolo brain farts. It has two small bearings on drive side where lower series have a big one that lasts indefinitely. I would try a third party replacement there.
    – ojs
    Jan 28 at 20:24
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    @Criggie Sure, but it is a long way to a write-off or totally replacing the groupset with something cheap and maintainable. I think my options are: a) get a replacement kit and sb. to service the shifters, b) get used Chorus shifters (not a fan, even used parts are offered for 100€+ on marketplaces) or c) find something compatible with the rest (available 10-speed components)
    – DoNuT
    Jan 29 at 6:51
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    If it’s a nice frame, i think a lot of cyclists would appreciate it even if it wasn’t period correct. It means that you rode the components into the ground. A lot of cyclists may think, who even is Fondriest and how on earth do you pronounce it.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Jan 30 at 16:21
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"The last generation square taper Chorus BB was another of the Campagnolo brain farts. It has two small bearings on drive side where lower series have a big one that lasts indefinitely. I would try a third party replacement there. – "

Technically, not really a "brain fart" - the use of two smaller bearings spreads the load better on the drive side of the bearing. It can also be used as a method of reducing the rolling restistance of a bearing assembly - it's a bit of a calculation - but by using two x 1RS bearings with their open faces butted to one another, the seal circumference (that creates resistance in a sealed rolling bearing) is reduced relative a single large 2RS bearing, plus the moment of rotational inertia that has to be overcome in moving the bearings through the packing grease is less.

These BBs can be serviced - admittedly they are not designed to be but it is a service we offer in the UK, having made suitable pullers, drifts and presses to replace the bearings.

Cost is £65.00 plus shipping but given that these BBs have just been discontinued by Campagnolo and ISO taper BBs are getting hard to find (and yes, contrary to a lot of Internet "chatter", yes, it does matter), it's probably a worthwile spend. We use ABEC3 quality bearings from either SKF, NTN or FAG to be assured of a really accurate fit and performance at the same level as the originals.

A note on shifters - all of the higher range shifters can be rebuilt including the most recent UltraShift units. It is true that Campagnolo don't offer service parts any longer for current shifters (most of the service parts are still available for 10s levers of the vintage you have, although they will be discontinued shortly) but at Velotech we buy complete bodies new and break them down, as well as reclaiming parts from levers that we scrap as being not economically repairable, so that we nearly always have either new or lightly used service parts (we always discuss which we have / will use to be transparent to the customer) to conduct full lever services / refurbishments.

If you are changing the index springs, we'd also, even if it hasn't failed (in our experience it's 50 / 50 failed : outwardly OK) I'd recommend changing the mount ring. They're low cost, failure is the secondary failure mode of these levers anyway and even a "good" used one will often have two small "pits" under the heels of the springs which reduce the "snappiness" of the indexing points.

The entry level levers like Veloce are not generally serviceable - the most common failure on those is actually caused by plastic degradation in the presence of mineral oils - avoid spraying anything into them (not necessary anyway) and they have been, since 2015 versions (when some of the plastics were changed to make them more resilient to some lubricants), quite durable. Spray WD40 or the like inside - and, yes, that'll kill the lever in time, as the volatile mineral oil will soften some of the plastic components causing hugely accelerated wear.

Search "Velotech Cycling Ltd" to find us ... shipping to Austria is no problem.

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  • For everyone else, this is a credible poster I’ve encountered elsewhere. They’re an authorized Campy service center. For some, it may be a logistical problem that they’re in the UK, and you may prefer a local center if you can find one.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Feb 1 at 17:25
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    I'm not sure which one is worse, designing an unserviceable bottom bracket that fails in relatively short time or failing to make it actually unserviceable.
    – ojs
    Feb 3 at 22:58
  • Coincidentally, my BB just started making some noise, like a knock at the drive-side 9 o'clock position and feels very much like coming from the BB rather than pedals etc... So, I'll have to talk to my LBS about replacing or servicing... however, if we're talking about this kind of BB, it's not that hard to find because my go-to online shop lists it, so it shouldn't be a problem to source it.
    – DoNuT
    Feb 6 at 8:57

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