If we had to choose our favorite piece from Campagnolo's new Record groupset -- and the biggest key to its historical success -- we wouldn't go for the obvious, high-profile shift levers or derailleurs. Instead, we'd point at the radically redesigned Record 11 4-Arm Crankset. This is because, though there are huge changes to its external design, Campagnolo still builds the crankset's internals around the virtually perfect USB (Ultra Smooth Bearings) technology. USB uses the same ceramic ball bearings as Super Record crankset's CULT bearings, only sacrificing smoothness and durability by not including Super Record's Cronitect races. Of course, for us mere mortals, the minute difference in longevity and friction are nearly impossible to identify. If every possible watt over the course of a 21 day grand tour matters, then you may prefer Super Record; otherwise, USB's 50% gain in efficiency over Chorus's steel bearings will likely be more than fast enough. Externally, the big, obvious changes are in the crank arms and chainrings. The crank arms lost a longtime comrade when their number fell to four, which nets a claimed 12% gain in torsional stiffness. They also lost a bit of metal, replacing it with lighter, stiffer carbon that extends all the way to the big ring. Like their predecessors, the new Record crank arms are strategically hollowed in areas that don't need the extra reinforcement in order to reduce weight compared to the new Chorus model, which is only hollow on the non-drive side. Instead of sharing one set of five chain ring coupling holes, both rings now get the benefit of their own set. This effectively standardizes the crankset's bolt circle diameter and lets you switch from compact to standard rings without swapping the entire unit. The full-size rings have eight pins with corresponding up- and downshift zones for immediate shifting engagement, while the semi-compact and compact rings have four pins. All three options are also more aerodynamic, ...
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