Campagnolo C-Record brake levers explained

Campagnolo brake levers, the differences

I get many questions about the exact differences between Campagnolo brake levers, so I decided to start a series of blog posts to help you recognise them.

Shimano came up with their AX components line and Campagnolo had to strike back fast, very fast. Campagnolo ended up making a very clean looking groupset which looks Aero and fast but is actually heavy and an aerodynamic disaster. The brakes outperformed and the derailleurs worked quite good but broke extremely fast (see the post about c-record derailleurs coming soon). I can’t complain about the other pieces, they are durable as always and they have some improvements over the older Campagnolo groups (for example the seals in the hubs).

C-record first gen from 1983-’86 a.k.a. “Cobalto”

Campagnolo manufactured the Cobalto, a very clean looking brake lever of high quality materials. It has an anodised body, silicone based hoods (last very long), grippy anodised aluminium levers and last but not least the option to run your cables under the bartape or in the classic way.

  • choice between Aero or non-Aero cable routing
  • no quick-release (those were attached on the first generation Delta brakes and Cobalto brakes)
  • often used with Super Record brakes (latest generation) Delta brakes (first generation) or Cobalto brakes (those with the blue stone)
  • mounted with black hoods on the Bianchi Centranio 1985 “100 year anniversary” model
  • the Aero kit contains 2 adapter plates to run the cable smoothly trough the lever body and 2 small caps to fill in the holes

These hoods are NOT compatible with later brake lever models of Campagnolo! Super Record hoods are incompatible too, however, I have seen people fit them on there. (But it looks like a grandma wearing leggings, about to explode once you touch it.)

The fastest way to recognise first generation hoods from second gen

  • ribbed top for extra grip (see photo 2)
  • no cutout for the quick release
  • very shiny, they came out of polished moulds (the later hoods had more structure for better grip)

Second gen 1986-’88

These levers can be easily distinguised by the quick-release. This quick-release was a necessity as the famous Delta brakes didn’t have one to enable riders to easily remove the wheel. First gen Delta’s and Cobaltos do have a quick-release but the First gen Delta’s intend to fail very quickly…

From 1988 these levers were also used as part of the Campagnolo Chorus group hence that in this year the third generation C-record Powergrade levers were introduced.

  • built-in quick-release “button” this allows the lever to set back further into the lever body opening the brake further and giving more clearance from the brake pads to the rim allowing to change the wheel much faster during a race
  • same grippy lever design
  • easy to dissable and maintain, not so easy to polish or remove scratches
  • Aero and classic cable routing possible
  • spring loaded (for C-Record)
  • hoods available in black and white (there are brown replicas to be found, white and black replicas as well. But watch out, the white ones are not that great in quality…
  • used in the following groupsets: Croce d’aune, Chorus (not springloaded) and Athena (plastic body, not metal!, also not springloaded)
  • also available in graphite finish (for the Chorus and Athena groupset)

Chorus vs Athena vs C-record

as this can be a bit tricky we will explain these a bit more specific

C-record:

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  • “made in Italy” stamped in the bushing
  • quick release spring
  • no “made in Italy” in the lever
  • metal body

Chorus:

  • “made in Italy” in the lever
  • quick-release spring
  • metal body

Athena:

  • “made in Italy” in the lever
  • no quick-release spring
  • plastic body
First generation Campagnolo C-Record hoods (right) versus second gen (left).
First generation Campagnolo C-Record hoods (right) versus second gen (left).

Third gen “powergrade” levers 1989-’91

These had a major improvement to adjust the momentum to the cable so everyone could adjust them to their own preference and perfectly finetune their Delta brakes. With the later 5-pivot design this feature became unnecessary.

  • also available in graphite finish (for the CDA groupset) and century finish for C-Record

4th generation 1992-’93

  • small hole on top
  • only Aero cable routing
  • only avalable with black hoods
  • also used for Chorus and Athena (Athena has a plastic body)

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One Comment

  1. July 18, 2016
    Reply

    “First gen Delta’s and Cobaltos do have a quick release but the First gen deltas intend to fail when braking…”

    Doesn’t quite make sense … I think you mean that Cobaltos did have a QR on the caliper but Deltas didn’t …

    Braking on 1st gen Deltas was a bit sketchy but later levers (like PowerGrade) with a different pull ratio improved it no end. We still use Deltas on our tandem with no problem – original brake shoes and blocks, too!

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