In the vaporwear annals few innovations have generated more interest than new component groups. Claims on the part of component manufacturers that they have produced a road component group have fallen shy in each and every instance for the last 10 years except for SRAM. The fact is, despite their bold claims, because FSA has yet to produce an integrated control lever that works with a rear derailleur and cassette of their own making—no matter whose spacing is used—they have no group.
Sampson Sports has a history of marching boldly into OEM supply situations that put it directly opposite Shimano. These are supplier relationships that Campagnolo has run from like the brain from the bully. Consistently outgunned, Sampson has returned from each bruising only more emboldened.
The company, which is little more than Eric Sampson and his suppliers, has roared back with the bold confidence of a presidential candidate. Sampson is introducing two, count ‘em—two—complete component groups, Stratics (meant to go up against Dura-Ace) and Showtime (a more affordable option).
We saw early preproduction samples at Interbike. It looked promising, but this is the moment we’ve been waiting for—actual production samples. The stuff is lightweight and well-produced.
The levers have two paddles. For the rear, the upper paddle, which can be reached from the drops or the hoods, conducts upshifts. The larger, lower paddle executes downshifts. The detents are firm and shift feel is secure.
How he will manage to secure OEM contracts to get the group on bikes remains to be seen, but the represents a viable alternative to Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo.
As soon as a full production group we can ride is available we will review the group in depth.