Can You Use an 11-speed Campagnolo Cassette With Shimano Shifters?

Condensed Answer:

Shimano shifters and an 11-speed Campagnolo cassette are not an ideal combination. If the drivetrain is indexed, the only somewhat viable options are:

  • Shimano 11-speed Road Derailleur + Shimano 11-speed Road Shifter. This setup has a 3.17% discrepancy/inaccuracy in comparison to the original Campagnolo system.
  • Shimano 11-speed MTB Derailleur + Shimano 11-speed MTB Shifter. In this instance, the discrepancy is only 1.52%. The combination is therefore more viable.

However, most people who have a Campagnolo cassette are probably running a road setup and wouldn’t care about using an MTB shifter.

For ideal, performance it’s recommended to use a 9/10/11 Campagnolo derailleur.

If you need additional details, consider reading the longer explanation below.


The Peculiarities of Indexed Drivetrains

Purpose. Indexed shifters aim to make shifting easier, faster, and more accurate. This is achieved by programming each shift as a segregated click that pulls or releases a pre-determined amount of gear cable.

The movement of the derailleur is also pre-determined via the rear shift ratio.

The rear shift ratio of a derailleur indicates how much the derailleur moves per 1mm of cable pulled or released by the shifter.

For instance, if the rear shift ratio of a derailleur is 1:1.5, the derailleur will travel 1.5mm per 1mm of cable pulled or released by the shifter.

The pre-set programming of the derailleur and shifter as well as the distinct click per 1 shift result in fast and accurate shifting that requires a minimal amount of “computing” power from the rider.

Historical information. Indexed drivetrains go back to the late 1960s, but they didn’t gain popularity until 1984 when Shimano introduced the Shimano Index Shifting (SIS) shifters as part of the 6-speed Dura-Ace groupset.

Index shifting became even more popular during the 1990s when Shimano presented its STI (Shimano Total Integration) shifters integrating shifters and road bike brake levers into one. Up to that point, the shifters and the brake levers were separated.

In 1992, Campagnolo presented its brake-shifters – the ErgoPower system.

Today, indexed shifters are even more refined and many high-end bikes come with electronic drivetrains. In this case, the derailleurs have electric motors controlled by the shifters.

Requirements For Compatibility Between a Cassette and a Shifter

In an indexed environment, a shifter and a cassette are compatible when:

  • The shifter and the cassette are designed for the same number of speeds.
  • The cable pull of the shifter and the rear shift ratio of the used derailleur are such that the movement of the non-original derailleur is identical or very close to that of the original model.

Combining an 11-speed Campagnolo Cassette with a Shimano Derailleur

Since the number of speeds on the shifter and the cassette have to match, we can only use 11-speed Shimano shifters.

However, we are not limited when it comes to the derailleurs.

The cog pitch of an 11-speed Campagnolo cassette is 3.9mm. (The term cog pitch refers to the center-to-center distance between two cogs and is also equivalent to the derailleur’s travel per 1 shift.)

Therefore, we have to find a derailleur that travels as close as possible to 3.9mm when combined with an 11-speed Shimano shifter.

Let’s analyze the possibilities:

Option 1: 11-speed Campagnolo Derailleur + 11-speed Shimano Road Shifter

ModelCable PullRear Shift RatioDerailleur Travel Per 1 Click (shift)
Campagnolo 11-speed2.61.53.9mm (original)
Shimano 11-speed2.71.54.05mm
Discrepancy: 0.15mm (3.7%)
11-speed Shimano Road Shifter + Campagnolo 11-speed Derailleur

The discrepancy isn’t massive, but it isn’t minimal either. Therefore, one can expect some over-shifting when combining an 11-speed Campagnolo cassette with an 11-speed Shimano road shifter and an 11-speed Campagnolo rear derailleur.

This combination is not recommended.

Option 2: 11-speed Shimano Road Derailleur + 11-speed Shimano Road Shifter

ModelCable PullRear Shift RatioDerailleur Travel Per 1 Click (shift)
Campagnolo 11-speed2.61.53.9mm (original)
Shimano 11-speed2.71.43.78mm
Discrepancy: 0.12mm (3.17%)
11-speed Shimano Road Shifter + Shimano 11-speed Road Derailleur

In this case, the discrepancy is smaller (3.17%). Thus, the combination is more viable than the previous one, albeit not ideal.

Option 3: 11-speed Shimano MTB Derailleur +11-speed Shimano MTB Shifter

ModelCable PullRear Shift RatioDerailleur Travel Per 1 Click (shift)
Campagnolo 11-speed2.61.53.9mm (original)
Shimano 11-speed MTB3.61.13.96mm
Discrepancy: 0.6mm (1.52%)
11-speed Shimano MTB Shifter + Shimano 11-speed MTB Derailleur

Ironically, an 11-speed MTB Shimano shifter and an 11-speed MTB Shimano derailleur give us an option that is expected to work.

0.6mm or 1.52% discrepancy is not enough to cause major shifting issues.

That said, it’s questionable whether this matters because most people asking this question are probably running a road bike with drop bars and brake shifters.

MTB shifters are designed for flat bars, townie bars, and risers – a rarity in the world of road cycling.

Friction Shifters = Full Compatibility

If you choose to rely on friction shifters, the rear shift ratio of a derailleur becomes irrelevant, and the only factor that matters is the derailleur’s capacity. If the derailleur can cover the cassette and operate with your chainrings, then it will fit just fine.

Why?

The movement of friction shifters is not segregated into clicks. They move smoothly from point A to B. It’s up to the rider to determine the position of the shifters for each shift. Consequently, the derailleur’s rear shift ratio cannot create an incompatibility.

Another positive side of friction shifters is that you can quickly move from the smallest to the largest cog and vice versa.

Unfortunately, the positives end here. Friction shifters are neither user-friendly nor as efficient as a well-adjusted indexed setup. For that reason, you don’t see them on newer bikes anymore.

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