Campagnolo’s 13 speed gravel groupset, Ekar, has introduced a new freehub body standard with the ability to use cassettes with 9 and 10t cogs. But before you roll your eyes, the new driver, called Campagnolo N3W, is everything you want in a new design - unparalleled compatibility.
At first glance, it appears to be a new design. The N3W freehub body is 4.4mm shorter than the classic Campagnolo one. Instead, the lock ring protrudes, to accommodate the smaller 10 and 9 tooth sprockets found on Ekar cassettes. Nonetheless, Campagnolo has managed to make the N3W driver compatible with its 12 speed groupsets. Which means that 11 speed and 10 speed and even 9 speed Campagnolo cassettes will also fit.
The backwards compatibility with older generation Campagnolo cassettes is achieved through a simple bolt on extension. The extension transforms the N3W driver to resemble a classic freehub body and mount 9, 10, 11, and 12 speed Campagnolo cassettes, as long as the smallest sprocket is no smaller than an 11t.
So is a 10t cog coming to Campagnolo 12 speed? While unconfirmed, we think it might. Take a closer look at the photo above where Campagnolo’s website hints at future 12 speed cassettes with 10t sprockets. It’s an exciting prospect as the Italian company continues to keep pace with Sram and Shimano.
The N3W driver standard is already shipping on the new Shamal Carbon DB wheelset and will no doubt be available on Bora wheelsets in the future. Campagnolo also made the N3W standard an open one and a number of companies are offering N3W hubs already, including DT Swiss, Roval, Deda, Hed, Zipp, Fulcrum, and others.
Fortunately, Campagnolo makes it easy to upgrade the classic Campagnolo freehub body to the N3W one. Two conversion kits are available for your Campagnolo wheels, depending on whether your wheels use the cup and cone standard or sealed bearings.
Zipp Cognition N3W Freehub - At this time Zipp are "no comment" but we do expect it's in the works
DT Swiss N3W Freehub - DT Swiss have told us it's in the works but could be Spring 2021
Can I fit a or 10,11, or 12 speed cassette onto my N3W hub?
Yes. You will need the N3W adapter kit (kit ring + ring code AC21-N3W). This extension is bolted on to the end of the freehub and lets you mount 9, 10, 11, and 12 speed Campagnolo cassettes, as long as the smallest cog is an 11t.
Can the N3W hub + adapter fit a cassette that starts with a 12t cog?
Not yet. Campagnolo is rolling out a lockring in the next few weeks that will allow you to mount a cassette starting with a 12t sprocket.
Can I fit an Ekar cassette on my classic Campagnolo freehub body?
No. You need to swap out your current freehub body with a new N3W one using a conversion kit.
Which conversion kit do I need to upgrade my Campagnolo wheels to the N3W standard?
If your Campagnolo wheels use a cone and cup standard, such as Bora WTO DB, Bora One DB, Zonda DB, and Shamal Ultra DB, use the AC21-N3WRFCC conversion kit.
If your Campagnolo wheels use sealed bearings, such as the Scirocco DB, use the AC21-N3WRFCS conversion kit.
Can I upgrade my rim brake Bora wheelsets to an N3W driver?
No. So far, the N3W freehub body is available for disc brakes only.
Can I upgrade my non-Campagnolo wheels to N3W?
Yes. However, you will need the N3W specific conversion kit from your hub’s manufacturer.
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