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TECH NEWS

Is Campagnolo planning a wireless groupset?

Check out the drawing from a patent application that appears to show an Ekar rear derailleur fitted with a battery

Campagnolo could be planning to release a wireless version of its gravel-specific Ekar groupset, a recently published patent application suggests.

The patent application shows what looks to be an Ekar rear derailleur fitted with a battery.

At present, Ekar is available only with mechanical shifting while the brand’s EPS (Electronic Power Shift) systems each rely on a central battery; the individual components don’t have their own batteries. The use of a battery on a rear derailleur suggests a move towards a wireless system.

This Campagnolo patent application focuses on the rear derailleur’s damping device designed to prevent unwanted cage movement that would affect chain tension over rough roads, but one of the drawings shows what looks like a removable battery that’s clipped in place.

The patent application says, “The gearshift can be mechanically actuated (through a sheathed cable) or motorised (through an electric motor). The attached figures show, as a non-limiting example, a motorised gearshift, wherein the movement of the rocker arm takes place by means of a motor member that is suitably driven, typically electrically.”

If you’ve ever read patent applications, you’ll know that they’re typically written to cover as many variants as possible, so it’s not unusual that Campagnolo includes both mechanical and electronic versions of its rear derailleur here. However, the fact that it has used drawings that seem to include a battery suggests that more work has been carried out on an electronic option, although it’s not definitive proof.

We say that the component in question seems to be a battery but at no point in the patent application is it described as one. Even in the opaque world of patents, batteries are usually described as batteries, power sources, or something similar. What we would ask, though, is that if it’s not a battery that’s clipped in place, what the hell could it be? Answers on a postcard, please… or you could just drop them into the comments below.

2022 Campagnolo patent rear mech battery - 1.jpeg

We know that Campagnolo has at least considered wireless shifting in the past. A patent granted in 2019 showed a rear derailleur powered by a removable and rechargeable battery (among other variants).

“The electric rear derailleur further comprises a battery power supply unit for supplying the necessary power supply to the electric motor of the geared motor and/or to a driving circuit thereof, and/or to other electric/electronic components of the derailleur itself or more generally of the bicycle,” it said.

“Preferably, the communication circuit is of the wireless type, for example according to the Bluetooth protocol… and it is not necessary to provide any data/power supply connection cable with the rest of the electronic gearshift.”

2022 Campagnolo patent front mech battery - 1.jpeg

In another patent application published back in 2018, Campagnolo showed a front derailleur with a battery and described it as working similarly.

Of course, far from everything that’s included in patent applications ever makes it to market, and with SRAM having offered wireless shifting for many years and Shimano now offering semi-wireless designs (where the shifters communicate wirelessly with the rest of the system), it would be surprising if Campagnolo hadn’t at least considered going down a similar route.

We just think that the above patent application and the lack of a wired EPS version of Ekar existing at present mean it’s likely that Campagnolo is getting closer to offering a wireless system.

On the flip side, we can find no US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) application from Campagnolo for a wireless communication licence, suggesting that a launch isn’t imminent, so time will tell on this one.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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