The Giro and the Tour of California are both underway and in honor we thought we’d take a look at some of the classic Italian and American brands that have a place in cycling’s rich history.
This series of blogs aren’t going to be full on history lesson, but rather a few coffee stop/dinner table facts you’ll be able to (maybe) impress your mates with.
So to kick this series off we’re going to look an Italian powerhouse. One of the classiest and oldest cycling companies still around, the manufacturer Campagnolo.
- The company started life back in 1933, the name Campagnolo comes from the ex-pro and owner of the company Tullio Campagnolo.
- His first product that started the famed company was a quick release skewer. While out racing in the wintry conditions in the italian Dolomites he punctured. With frozen hands he struggled to get the rear wheel off. Tullio came to the discussion that something needed to be done to help and make it easier to get wheels out. This was back in 1927, when wheel removal was a case of undoing wingnut.
- Little known fact is that Tullio was a huge wine lover. He also invented the self centering bottle opener in 1966.
- Along with the quick release skewer Campagnolo also invented and pioneered several new technologies.
Back in 1961, Campagnolo, started producing magnesium parts and not just for the cycling industry either. Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati all use wheel produced by Campag.
- Back in 1968 US space agency have even had parts built for satellites by Campagnolo.
- The Ferrari F1 team also had wheels built by Campagnolo back in the 1970s.
Fulcrum wheels is also part of the same company. In essence they are similar but not exactly the same wheels (usually different spoke patterns). They started the Fulcrum range as to give people on Shimano equipped bikes a choice of wheel.
- The new EPS groupset is amazing and apparently Campagnolo have been working on an electric groupset since as early as 1992.
- The EPS was apparently pretty much ready for manufacturing back in 2005. But a version of the groupset was on top of a team car at one of the spring classics, an ungodly soaking caused a few niggles with it due to water getting in to the system so it was back to the drawing board.
- Campagnolo don’t sponsor huge amounts of teams, unlike Shimano or SRAM they like to fully support select teams. Not just with groupsets but also wheels.
The Movistar team, and all the other names/sponsors it has gone under (Reynolds/ Banesto/ Illes Balears/ Cassie d’Epargne), have been the team of choice for testing Campagnolo’s new products. With riders on the team such as Delgardo, Indurain, Olano and Valverde who would blame them.
The Tour de France has been won 29 times on Campagnolo. The first to break the long run of wins was in 1999 with Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team. He used Shimano.
- Campagnolo has long been a company that tries to stay ahead of the game. They were beaten by Shimano to an integrated brake and gear lever back in the 90’s, but they were the first to produce a 9, 10 and even the 11 speed cassettes. Unlike Shimano, Campag ventured into carbon long ago producing cranks, lever blades and parts of the derailleurs in carbon. It’s only with the current Shimano Dura-Ace groupset that Shimano started to use carbon.
- Campagnolo did have a short lived groupset for mountain bikes back in the late 80s, the Record OR, but it never took off and they stopped producing it.
- One of Campagnolo’s most desired products for collectors is the Delta brake that was released in 1986. It looks amazing but performance wasn’t up there and early models were a nightmare to service and broke easily. They were overly complex and heavy, but boy they do look lovely.