Ok so update. Where should I start?
Shifter replaced. Mounted on a trainer- same issue. To their credit Shimano pursued with a green light to change EVERYTHING- shifter, derailleur, polymer cable, etc etc. The shop did not need to call me in- they could detect the issue.
Shop used another maintenance due bike, one of those owners that never complained of his 11 speed set-up, mounted a 12-25 11 speed on their bike and- SAME PROBLEM. Essentially, no matter the bike tried etc- same problem
Problem was found through trial and close observation: Cassette design around the cluster, AND chain tolerance. Shifter can never get the chain to engage fully the carbon cluster, resulting in a grind when upshifting, and lag when downshifting. Also, DA chain has NO room in the center of the cassette, depending how it (sits left ) or ( sits right) on the tooth, left or right side ALWAYS hits and nearly grabs the adjacent tooth- BUT ONLY IN THE CARBON CLUSTER SECTIONS. When watching the trainer, became clear that the angle (17-18-19) or 18-19 between the chain cogs and the 53 chainstay automatically has the DA chain ALWAYS rubbing- effects varying from slow to strong effort. One cannot see light between the DA chain and the cogs.
Campy chain: you can see light AND it self-trims on the trouble cogs-18 and 19 (my only carbon cluster presently).
When told, Shimano shipped a fancy calculator tool to verify critical angles, hanger bolt, alignment etc. My bike passed with excellence. By now was on my 3d-4th week without my best bike. Anyhow, Shimano sent an additional part that I cannot divulge- as it does not yet exist.
However, my shop decided to experiment separately. A campy SR chain was installed. It is 0.2 mm thinner than the Shimano, and a different, more resilient construction. Difficult to describe the transition my bike experienced, kinda like going from an Infinty Q50 to a McLaren P1. 95% of all grinding and catching disappeared. Cannot feel, hear or sense the chain. Or the cassette (minus the carbon cluster) No lateral, longitudinal or horizontal vibrations. Gained 2km/hr in the 34-38 range, and 1km/hr in the 40-50 km/hr+ range. The only issue that I still experienced was partial engagement grind, followed by the Campy chain self trimming. Something like this:
tac tac tac grrind grind tac tac. (15-16-17- grrr18,-grr19, 21,23,25)
downshifting would get tac - tac - taaaac=taaaac-taac- tac-tac, (25-23-21-19---18---17-16-15-14) a few millisecond delays on 19 and 18th and 18th to 17.
Chain dropped once under load, likely 1000W short effort, 53/19t, chain engaged 18t and ping!!! Dropped back on 19t and self centered. After that was more cautious. With the DA the chain could never center as there was no room for it physically, and would drop frequently. With campy I got one drop in 100 kms.
Between the DA chain and the Campy, 95% of the issue had been solved. Additional steps with Shimano involve trying their new parts. The also want a footage and my bike- but I want to ride until Nov.
What causes it? I have three theories:
- Engagement Flex- as the chain mounts the carbon based cogs, these lean 0.1-0.3 mm inwards and begin a slow and uncertain recentering.It is POSSIBLE (though not necessarily a fact) as I can BEND by as much the carbon cluster squeezing them with my fingers. A few times, I just let the chain grind and see? 5-10 m of rolling the grinding stopped as the Campy chain mysteriously quieted. That, my friends, had NOTHING to do with cable shifting.
- Tolerance: Spacing is NARROWER on all carbon cluster cogs- visually seems so but do not have a tool to check with precision, but DIFFERENT than spacing on below or above cogs, and DIFFERENT than the 11 SRAM spacing which appears equidistant
- A combination of the two above.
Will pursue the Shimano venues- my bike been requested by them- but only in Nov. What seems certain is that:
Campy chain removes 100% of the pedalling grind, and 95% of the engagement grinds (the 5% being those two or three carbon cluster cogs). Cycling in the Campy configuration was safe, solid and one could not feel or hear the chain or any movement whatsoever, at 35, 40 or 50 km/hr. However, not to imply a carbon cluster cannot break, the issue above is that there is still something weird happening when the chain engages it.
Only sounds are in the 53/18-19 movement, after which the chain settles-1-2 seconds.
NONE of this was possible with the DA chain, which rattled terribly 17-21 and semi noisy the rest of the gears. More lube would silence it in the 12-17 range. However, the Campy chain DOES NOT EXIST on the 12-13-14-15-16-17- - -21-23-25 configurations. No chain sound, no lag, no energy loss, no noise, and I feel I can brutalize it and it just begs for more effort. The DA crank is powerful, the Campy chain a workhorse, and the only variable still in doubt is the cassette.
My next step? A new cassette, DA 11-23 experiment (to determine if a general issue with 12-25 DA or 12-25 Ultegra cassette). SRAM if that experiment fails.
What was tried: 4 cassette, x3 cables, x2 complete new 9001 shifters and x2 derailleurs, x3 wheelsets, x2 road bikes, no solution to a working 11 speed DA or Ultegra set up in a 12-25 / 39-53 mount.
Mobile Pro Bus tech had also confirmed to me not having seen it work in a 12-25 carbon cluster 11 speed configuration.
Furthermore, from asking around, some people have it but just ride with grind (though not too fast), creaks and partial shifts and push too little to experience drops.
Comments from Pros: they cannot comment due to non-disclosure agreements (this is literally in the press). But TDF close pics reveal that no matter the group manufacturer, the pros mix parts in their set up.