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Athena vs Ultegra

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Athena vs Ultegra

Old 05-05-15, 11:11 PM
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Athena vs Ultegra

I'm working on buying parts for my Bianchi Impulso build. I had my mind set on the Athena groupset. However, Merlin Cycles has the Ultegra groupset on sale for ~$50 more than Athena. I don't have experience with either as I've only owned bikes with 105.

Which groupset should I go with and why?
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Old 05-06-15, 12:33 AM
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My general bias is towards campy as that is what I have on my road bike but my wife rides a road bike with a mix of ultegra and dura-ace. I would go with campy as I have seen and heard less problems with cables with the campy shifters compared to shimano with cables under the bar tape. On the shimano the cable winds around a tight diameter that causes the cable to work harden, fray, and eventually snap if not caught in time. They can be a huge PIA to get the cable end out if the cable snaps in the shifter. Other than that, both companies are good and both groupsets you mention are good. I prefer the ergo shifters but if you are comfy with the 105s then moving to ultegra will keep things consistent. Good luck.

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Old 05-06-15, 12:47 AM
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Athena Carbon...for aesthetic reasons. I'd probably give a slight edge to Ultegra for performance, though, so you've gotta weight something to make the call, meaning, you got to value something more than something else, be it a name, weight, looks, serviceability or whatever. They're just very close.
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Old 05-06-15, 01:03 AM
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I'm assuming we're talking mechanical here and not Di2 or EPS.

I find that Shimano systems shift smoother across the board. Campy has a bit more CF bling and I find it to be a bit more serviceable in general. In terms of trim-level, I would rate Ultegra on par with Chorus. And I'd put Athena between 105 and Ultegra.

That said, I think the biggest thing you will want to be concerned with is how the shifting works and how the hoods feel. If you're used to Shimano's Dual-Control and don't relish a change or learning a new system then maybe go for Ultegra. But really learning to use Campy Ergo levers isn't a big deal. However, you do need to try them out to see if they fit nicely in your hands and you can reach all the controls from all your hand positions. Some people can't hit the thumb levers from the drops. For me, it was a bit of a stretch to do so. And although I ride primarily with Shimano systems and got used to Dual-Control, I've never been overly fond of it and liked Campy's way of operating the shifters better. Actually the decoupled shifting and braking was one of the reasons I upgraded to Di2. I liked the placement of the shifter buttons with Shimano but wanted to give up Dual-Control.

My suggestion to you would be to try riding a Campy-equipped bike to see if you like the ergonomics. Also don't forget SRAM... unless of course you've already ruled them out for one reason or another.
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Old 05-06-15, 01:06 AM
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All other things being equal (and they pretty much are) I'd have to prefer an Italian gruppo on an Italian frame.

That's just my opinion.
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Old 05-06-15, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
All other things being equal (and they pretty much are) I'd have to prefer an Italian gruppo on an Italian frame.

That's just my opinion.
What makes the frame Italian and why does it matter? One could easily argue that since the Impulso's frame was made in Asia then it should receive an Asian grouppo thus pointing towards Shimano rather than Campy.
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Old 05-06-15, 04:25 AM
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If you've ridden 105, than you know what Ultegra feels and operates like. Is there a reason you're looking to make a switch?

Both work really, really well. One of my bikes has Ultegra, one has Centaur components. I find the Ultegra hoods to be more comfortable, but that's a personal comfort thing related to hand size and various hand injuries I've suffered through the years. When I ride it, the Centaur components work just fine.
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Old 05-06-15, 04:29 AM
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Originally Posted by khuon View Post
What makes the frame Italian and why does it matter? One could easily argue that since the Impulso's frame was made in Asia then it should receive an Asian grouppo thus pointing towards Shimano rather than Campy.
That's ridiculous. Point of manufacture doesn't have a thing to do with it, not in the face brand name, tradition, and styling. Most know nothing of point of manufacture. I don't even think most of Campy's stuff is made in Italy, but rather in Romania or somewhere in eastern Europe, but that doesn't stop anyone from immediately identifying and feeling Campagnolo as Italian.
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Old 05-06-15, 04:32 AM
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OP, it is entirely a subjective comparison and decision. Objectively, either will work.
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Old 05-06-15, 04:45 AM
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Old 05-06-15, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by khuon View Post
I'm assuming we're talking mechanical here and not Di2 or EPS.

I find that Shimano systems shift smoother across the board. Campy has a bit more CF bling and I find it to be a bit more serviceable in general. In terms of trim-level, I would rate Ultegra on par with Chorus. And I'd put Athena between 105 and Ultegra.

That said, I think the biggest thing you will want to be concerned with is how the shifting works and how the hoods feel. If you're used to Shimano's Dual-Control and don't relish a change or learning a new system then maybe go for Ultegra. But really learning to use Campy Ergo levers isn't a big deal. However, you do need to try them out to see if they fit nicely in your hands and you can reach all the controls from all your hand positions. Some people can't hit the thumb levers from the drops. For me, it was a bit of a stretch to do so. And although I ride primarily with Shimano systems and got used to Dual-Control, I've never been overly fond of it and liked Campy's way of operating the shifters better. Actually the decoupled shifting and braking was one of the reasons I upgraded to Di2. I liked the placement of the shifter buttons with Shimano but wanted to give up Dual-Control.

My suggestion to you would be to try riding a Campy-equipped bike to see if you like the ergonomics. Also don't forget SRAM... unless of course you've already ruled them out for one reason or another.
Your comparison ranking don't make sense to me, and I might even argue that Athena is between Ultrega and Dura Ace.

Certainly Athena is "on par" with Ultegra by price and as entry level electronic, but maybe you're thinking of some other measures?

"Trim level" wise, while I don't know what you mean specifically in this context, the availability of carbon options and choice of silver or black finishes for Athena would elevate it beyond Ultegras trim options. Plus, Athena is lighter.

I'd more readily put Dura-Ace between Chorus and Record, with Shimano fielding no competitor to Super Record.
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Old 05-06-15, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by khuon View Post
What makes the frame Italian and why does it matter? One could easily argue that since the Impulso's frame was made in Asia then it should receive an Asian grouppo thus pointing towards Shimano rather than Campy.
The Impulso was designed in Italy and built in Asia under license to an Italian brand name. Just because it wasn't hand-welded by Edoardo Bianchi himself doesn't change the fact that a Bianchi is an "Italian" bike. The classic image of a Bianchi is Fausto Coppi on a Celeste green bike with a silver Record group on it

I like Campy. I have 8spd Mirage/Chorus on my Bianchi Brava and it works every bit as well as the 105 5700 on my CAAD10, but the Cannondale is lighter and has more gears so it's my primary ride.
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Old 05-06-15, 10:00 AM
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Get the one that will look cooler as you sit on the patio sipping espresso downtown.
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Old 05-06-15, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Athena Carbon...for aesthetic reasons. I'd probably give a slight edge to Ultegra for performance, though, so you've gotta weight something to make the call, meaning, you got to value something more than something else, be it a name, weight, looks, serviceability or whatever. They're just very close.
I was referring to the alloy version
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Old 05-06-15, 10:06 AM
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If it were my only bike, I'd go Campy on a Bianchi just for the Italian factor. However, if I had another bike that was 11 speed Shimano, then I would probably go Ultegra to be able to switch wheels and cannibalize parts from one bike for the other when something breaks down but I don't have an extra replacement part on hand.
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Old 05-06-15, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rekon View Post
I was referring to the alloy version
I'd still give nod to Athena on looks. The carbon factor is just a bonus, perhaps, depending on bike style. Other points are the same, except maybe the alloy crank brings Athena to wright parity with Ultegra; dunno.
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Old 05-06-15, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by milkbaby View Post
If it were my only bike, I'd go Campy on a Bianchi just for the Italian factor. However, if I had another bike that was 11 speed Shimano, then I would probably go Ultegra to be able to switch wheels and cannibalize parts from one bike for the other when something breaks down but I don't have an extra replacement part on hand.
All 11spd wheels are interchangeable anyway, which is very nice.
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Old 05-06-15, 10:48 AM
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Many of you say the two groupsets are very similar. What about the BB? I've read that the Athena Power Torque BB doesn't hold up well.
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Old 05-06-15, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
That's ridiculous. Point of manufacture doesn't have a thing to do with it, not in the face brand name, tradition, and styling. Most know nothing of point of manufacture. I don't even think most of Campy's stuff is made in Italy, but rather in Romania or somewhere in eastern Europe, but that doesn't stop anyone from immediately identifying and feeling Campagnolo as Italian.
If only the OP had bought a Romanian frame, the campy groupset would go perfect with it.
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Old 05-06-15, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by rekon View Post
I'm working on buying parts for my Bianchi Impulso build. I had my mind set on the Athena groupset. However, Merlin Cycles has the Ultegra groupset on sale for ~$50 more than Athena. I don't have experience with either as I've only owned bikes with 105.

Which groupset should I go with and why?
Athena with Chorus shifters for the classic 5 smaller, 3 larger behavior. Especially if you'll be running a compact crank where you change more cogs in back compensating for a ring shift.

Personally I'd go with NOS 2014 for the 5-arm crank that does not resemble a dead octopus and consider an Ultratorque crank.

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Old 05-06-15, 11:43 AM
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I've had both and I like both. I currently own an Athena carbon 11s on a 2014 bianchi infinito CV and I wouldn't trade it for anything except maybe a chorus .
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Old 05-06-15, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by rekon View Post
Many of you say the two groupsets are very similar. What about the BB? I've read that the Athena Power Torque BB doesn't hold up well.
That was the serviceability question I raised earlier. PowerTorque holds up fine, I think, but it is a royal PITA to service, requiring a special puller for the crank arm, and sometimes a fair amount of coercion to remove the driveside and spindle. User Campag4life has some strong opinions on the stupidity of the design, not all of which I think are valid, but he's certainly right that it's a poor alternative to their UltraTorque design.

Anyway, if you don't service it yourself, I suppose it works just fine. I just put new bearings in mine, after some "gritchiness" and creaking developed two years in. Guys at the shop did it for me, without too much trouble, but some, which is kinda stupid for a BB.

I may, at some point, replace with a 2nd hand Chorus UT crank, but I'm not too worried about it.
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Old 05-06-15, 12:08 PM
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I just built a steel Bianchi with a silver Athena 11 spd group. Looks great and performs flawlessly. Putting anything other than Campy on an Italian frame is an abomination to me.
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Old 05-06-15, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Leinster View Post
All other things being equal (and they pretty much are) I'd have to prefer an Italian gruppo on an Italian frame.

That's just my opinion.
I'd agree but I don't think I could handle an American group (SRAM) on any nationality of frame.
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Old 05-06-15, 03:40 PM
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Thanks everyone! I just pulled the trigger and made my purchase. I ended up buying the carbon Athena groupset. I went carbon because alloy was out of stock!
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