How N3W’s problem-solving design made Ekar’s 13-speed groupset possible – and engineered compatibility for all Campagnolo wheelsets past, present and future.
“Don’t all the best ideas have that ‘why didn’t we think of that’ simplicity at their heart?”
To create Ekar, the new groupset with more, better spaced, sequential shifting gears in a cleaner, lighter, more compact package, the answer initially seemed simple: logic and experience told Campagnolo’s designers that a 1x13 system was best.
But like any great idea, its pursuit reveals hurdles to face and problems to overcome, bringing innovation to the fore. They had to start right at the heart of the transmission and create the Next 3 Ways (N3W) freehub body.
A beautiful design that stretches the possible to seemingly do the impossible: compatible with wheelsets, not just today’s and those coming in the future, but also with existing wheels running 10-, 11- and 12-speed systems, with innovative technology that, even though it is first implemented on Ekar, extends beyond the new gravel groupset and ultimately across the Campagnolo range.
The key to an incredible world
Check out an Ekar-equipped gravel bike, and while you can’t actually see it underneath the cassette, N3W is the key that unlocks the incredible 13-speed, sequential shift world of Ekar. It does so by taking Campagnolo’s legendary passion for cycling and innovation to a whole new level.
The ultra durable N3W freewheel driver body is similar to the proven design Campagnolo riders have relied on for years, but with a slightly shorter body.
That gave their engineers the space to cunningly add a 13th sprocket to extend the possibilities of the familiar Campagnolo 12-speed architecture, using an innovative mechanism of triplets and quartet cantilevers fastened to the shorter freehub, it enables a smaller 9-tooth sprocket to sit over the axle – rather than the broader freehub – With the 9T secured by a system of lockring and counter-lockring.
The result is a freehub and cassette combination that adds range and saves weight in a totally reliable, durable and deceptively simple way.
But then don’t all the best ideas have that ‘why didn’t we think of that’ simplicity at their heart? Like all brilliant ideas, once you’ve turned the N3W key, the advantages it unlocks are undeniable.
Starting with a 9-speed cog allows smaller, lighter chainring and rear sprockets. That also means a shorter chain and rear mech architecture to save weight and increase stability and shifting accuracy right through the system.
Ekar is the lightest gravel groupset available, boosting the performance and easy enjoyment of any gravel bike that wears it.
Made for riders, made for the future
Because Ekar is designed for riders – not for headlines – it doesn’t sacrifice smooth gearing progression for meaningless percentage figures. There’s no rhythm-wrecking jump to a ‘bail out gear’, just consistent, smooth cadence pedal steps up and down the block.
There’s no shortage of gear range, or of options to suit diverse gravel riding styles, with 9-36T, 9-42T and 10-44T cassette options, and four chainring choices.
It’s easy to switch cassettes and chainrings with Ekar, and it’s also easy to switch wheelsets with N3W, with its range-crossing compatibility.
Ekar’s N3W freewheels still work with existing 10-, 11- and 12-speed cassettes, just by adding an extension adaptor.
Going forward all Campagnolo wheels will follow the current Shamal carbon fiber endurance wheel in using the N3W freewheel body as standard, so upgrading is super simple.
Ekar-ready wheels will also be available from many leading brands, with more than 30 already on board and with more still set to join the 13-speed revolution shortly.
Next 3 Ways is an essential part of Ekar, inspired by its spiritual home and designed to use the best of the past to create an incredible now and the promise of an even more amazing future.
But more than that, N3W is Campagnolo’s future freehub, extending possibilities in every direction you can imagine!