Exclusive Content:

Campagnolo N3W: A Detailed Look at the Versatile Freehub Body for 10-13 Speed Cassettes

Introducing Campagnolo N3W: A Backwards-Compatible Freehub Body

In the middle of last year, Campagnolo unveiled their all-new N3W freehub body standard, which is both forward and backwards-compatible. The first wheels to feature the N3W body were the all-road Shamal Carbons, introduced when Campy’s largest gear offering was 12-speed. Two months later, Campagnolo released the highly-anticipated Ekar gravel groupset, which introduced 13-speed drivetrains and necessitated the new freehub. However, even wheels dating back to Campy’s 10-speed era, over 20 years ago, are compatible with the N3W standard, making it compatible with 10, 11, 12, and 13-speed drivetrains.

Why Backwards-Compatibility Matters

Backwards-compatibility is essential because many cyclists, like myself, have a variety of bikes and wheels that we constantly Review. It can be frustrating when wheels designed for specific drivetrains don’t work with other components. For example, wheels set up for 11-speed SRAM won’t work with anything Eagle or AXS. Similarly, some Shimano road wheels designed for 10-speed cassettes won’t fit an 11-speed cassette. The introduction of new gear and standards shouldn’t render our old bikes obsolete. Backwards-compatibility ensures that our older bikes can still be used and enjoyed.

A Closer Look: 10-13 Speed Compatibility

To confirm the compatibility of Campagnolo N3W with various drivetrains, I decided to disassemble one of each and see for myself. I have bikes running each of the four gearings: 10-speed, 11-speed, 12-speed, and 13-speed. Campy components are known for their durability and serviceability, so they provided the perfect Review subjects. I had a Khamsin wheel with Chorus 10, a Shamal Ultra wheel with Athena 11, the new Shamal Carbons with Chorus 12, and a 650b Fulcrum Rapid Red 5 with Ekar 13. These wheels span more than a decade of Campy groups on bikes up to 15 years old, proving that compatibility is not limited to specific genres like gravel-specific groupsets.

What’s New in Campagnolo N3W?

The innovation behind Campagnolo’s N3W freehub body lies in the last few millimeters of it. The toothed adapter on the end of the freehub nests into every other spline, extending the splines to work with older cassettes. The adapter can be left on for traditional 10-12 speed cassettes or removed to accommodate the smaller cogs of newer cassettes. Campagnolo includes the extension ring adapter and a longer lockring with all N3W-equipped wheelsets. This allows them to work with both older and newer cassettes seamlessly.

How Does the Interface Work?

Similar to Shimano’s freehubs, Campagnolo relies on full-length splines to engage the inner splines of cassette cogs. The N3W extension ring adapter extends four arms into four of the eight standard splines, transferring power to the main freehub body. Modern Campagnolo cassettes only have four inward-facing tabs per cog, leaving the other four spline grooves untouched. The smaller cogs engage the outer edge of the N3W body and thread into the body with their built-in lockring. This setup ensures compatibility with all modern Campy drivetrains.

Universal Compatibility, Except…

While Campagnolo N3W offers near-universal compatibility with Campy drivetrains, aftermarket cassettes may pose a challenge. Aftermarket cassettes that use all eight freehub body splines, like the 10-speed Miche cassette, won’t work with the N3W extension ring adapter. In these cases, a genuine Campagnolo 10-speed cassette should be used. If you need to replace the wheels on your old bike with a new N3W-equipped wheelset, make sure to purchase a compatible cassette.

Where to Find Campagnolo N3W

Early adopters of the 1x 13-speed Ekar groupset and Campagnolo’s Shamal Carbon DB all-road/gravel wheels were among the first to experience the N3W standard. Campagnolo is transitioning all new wheels to the N3W standard, and existing wheels can be updated with a conversion kit. Fulcrum, Campagnolo’s wheel brand, will also offer N3W freehubs as an option, but it may take some time before they become standard. Other wheel manufacturers, including 3T, Boyd, Carbon-Ti, Deda, DT Swiss, ERE, Hunt, Industry Nine, Scope, Vision, and Zipp, have also announced N3W compatibility for their latest wheels.

Final Thoughts on Campagnolo N3W

The introduction of Campagnolo N3W is a significant development for cyclists who value backwards-compatibility. It allows us to use older wheels with newer drivetrains, preserving the functionality and lifespan of our bikes. Campagnolo’s innovative design and commitment to compatibility ensure that we can continue riding and enjoying our beloved bicycles. Let us know your thoughts on the N3W standard in the comments below!



Don't miss


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here