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Campagnolo - The history of one of the most prestigious brands

 

Founded in 1933 in Vicenza, Campagnolo is one of the most prestigious road bike groupset manufacturers.

It was the first manufacturer to organize bike components as groupsets, and it's produced a near-complete collection of cycling components: crankset, gearbox, brakes, seatpost, headset, and pedals. Record and Super Record are the top groupsets, followed by Chorus, Power, Centaur, and Veloce. 

With more than 135 patents for innovations in cycling technology, the brand is the benchmark for design and engineering excellence. 

Campagnolo's class and success are indisputable. Bikes equipped with its components have won every type of race: Classic races, stage races, and minor races.

 

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History
 

The 1930s 

1933 - Engineer and former racing cyclist Tullio Campagnolo started Campagnolo S.R.L. in Vicenza, after patenting the quick-release (1930). That mechanism is still used to fasten bike wheels in frames today. 

At that time, when racers had to change gear, they had to stop, remove the rear wheel, rotate it horizontally so that the opposite cog was engaged by the chain, and finally reinstall the wheel.

Campagnolo came up with the idea of the quick-release during an autumn race on the Croce D'Aune Pass, where today there is a plaque in memory of that day that marked the evolution of road bikes. 

Tullio was at the head of the race, but when he reached the top of the mountain, he couldn't change gear because his fingers were frozen. He finished fourth, so he vowed to invent a product that will eliminate the problem. 

 

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The 1940s

1940 - The derailleur entered in production. It enabled the gear to change without removing the wheel. 

1946 - The introduction of Cambio Corsa, the name for the sliding hub, dual seat stay, rod-operated, backpedal derailleur. 

1949 - The Gran Sport twin cable, parallelogram rear derailleur prototype is shown at the Milan Show in the Fall. Pulling on the cable deforms the parallelogram and moves the chain across the sprockets while a spring in the lower pivot keeps the chained tensioned. The Gran Sport was beautiful, reliable and tough.

 

The 1950s

1952 - The Gran Sport Extra rear derailleur is introduced (changed body, large chromed mounting bolt and pivot bolt, holes in pulleys, extended horn shape to the outside pulley cage frame and revised cable clamp) along with the Sport single pulley rear derailleur.

1956 - Campagnolo introduced the Record 5-pin cotterless crankset (151 mm bolt circle, 44 teeth minimum chainring). 

 

The 1960s

Campagnolo's products became the most used in competitions. The company introduced new groupsets, as well as track and cyclocross components.  

1966 - The Nuovo Record rear derailleur. The cycling legend Eddy Merckx used it and won the Tour de France.  

1968 - Campagnolo changed the Record crankset: from the previous 151 mm bolt circle (44 teeth minimum chainring) to a 144 mm bolt circle (41 teeth minimum chainring). 

Campagnolo also started to manufacture wheels for sports cars, like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. It also built chassis for NASA satellites in 1969, thanks to the company's increasingly advanced die-casting techniques.

 

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The 1970s and the 1980s

Between 1973 and 1987, many champions won almost all the most prestigious races on bikes equipped with Campagnolo's flagship groupset, the Super Record. 

1972 - Campagnolo worked with Colnago and Eddy Merckx and produced lightweight parts for the bike Merckx used to beat the world hour record in Mexico City.

1973 - Introduction of the Super Record and Track groups.

1986 - Campagnolo re-designed Record Corsa and Pista groupset (usually known as C-Record). They replaced Super Record as the top of the range. 

 

The 1990s

1992 - Ergopower levers, which combined brake lever and a shift lever. 

1999 -  Campagnolo introduced 9-speed shift components.

 

The 2000s

The fierce competition with the rival Shimano pushed the company to continue to improve the performance and weight of the groupsets components. 

2000 - Campagnolo introduced 10-speed shifting.

2001 - The introduction of Carbon-fiber shifting levers for the Record groupset.  

2004 - And Carbon-fiber cranks for Record and Chorus.

2008 - Campagnolo introduced 11-speed Record, Super Record, and Chorus groupsets. 

2011 - The first electric 11-speed Super Record groupset.

2018 - Campagnolo introduced 12-speed Super Record and Record groupsets.

To this day, after more than 80 years, Campagnolo is still one of the most famous cycling brands. The elegance and high-quality of its products keep the legend alive. A legend that began on the mountains of Veneto, to which the prestigious GF Sportful race is dedicated. Every year it attracts thousands of participants, eager to retrace the route taken by Tullio Campagnolo in the autumn of 1927. 

 
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(1) Campagnolo Super Record chainset
(2) Tullio Campagnolo
(3) Croce D'Aune group set
(4) The plaque at Croce D'Aune Pass


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From the BG.LEGENDARY.BIKES Store:

In this original Galmozzi we find a Campagnolo Record group that is particularly rare because it is enriched by the handlebar controls. This is a detail requested by professionals that distinguishes top-level bikes

 

campagnolo record galmozzi vintage race bike

 

 
In this Vintage Bike ALAN for Priori we observe a complete Super Record groupset.
By clicking on the image you can see the details of the bike.
Campagnolo Super Record Alan Vintage Race Bike
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ULTRA RARE COLLECTOR'S ITEM Campagnolo Record Front Derailleur FIRST GENERATION
This is the rarest of Campagnolo's front derailleurs, because it is the version with slotted screws that block the parallelogram arms at the rear.
ULTRA RARE COLLECTORS ITEM Campagnolo Record Front Derailleur FIRST GENERATION

2 comments

  • Chris Kappert

    Back in 1981 I built a Raleigh Team Profesional bike , equiped it with the complete Campagnolo Nuovo Record
    group , Cinelli handlebar , Mavic GP4 rims and a Brooks Professional saddle.
    Now in 2020 I still own this racer and I am stil amazed by the beauty and sheer quality of the Campagnolo parts.
    They proved themselves as being extremely reliable and durable , the chrome is stil in perfect condition and
    also the aluminium is looking great , and everything works perfectly !
    regular use of the oilcan and every year new grease in the bearings , seems to give this Italian masterpiece
    the eternal life !
    I still think the Campagnolo Nuovo Record group is one of the best inventions ever did for race bikes ,It is simply EPIC .

  • Rachel Pousson

    Italia surely is the most important country for cycling, the soul of the sport. Bravo that a plaque marks the spot of Tullio Campagnolo’s anguished frozen fingers, an event that galvanized him to seek a solution and become an inventor. He revolutionized cycling, and has affected the lives of countless millions of people through his innovations, year after year. My cyclist friends and I feel privileged to have raced during some of the peak years of Campagnolo’s dominance, the 1970s and 80s, when almost every racing bike was Campy-equipped, and anything else was unthinkable. Those who are able still seek to maintain our vintage machines with his components in deference to their quality and beauty, and with a certain romance for those days out on the road, on those same bikes, with the wind in our hair, our muscles burning, and our hearts soaring.

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