Campagnolo Retrospective ca. 1950 - 1990


Campagnolo's racing credentials go back to the 1920s. Known variously as Campy (in the USA), Campag (in Great Britain), or Campa (in Germany and elsewhere), their components dominated the high-end cycling market for decades. Click here for the history of the marque at campagnolo.com. Below is a sampler of a few of their more notable components.


Above, the so-called rod gear was actuated by a rod behind the saddle.
Chain slack was taken up by ratcheting the rear axle forwards or
backwards in the toothed droupout. 1949.



Above, left to right: Record 1963, Gran Sport 1955, Gran Sport 1952.
The parallelogram which revolutionized gear changing.



Above: early front mechs.



Above: Nuovo Record, Super Record, front mechs.



Above: Nuovo Record, introduced in 1967.
Nothing else at the time came close to its precision and reliability.



Nuovo Record was a racing derailleur. Until the advent
of the Campag Rally in 1974, tourists who wanted the precision
of the Campag mech required long cages to take up more chain slack.
Spence Wolf of Cupertino Bike shop offered his own long cages (above).
Other people cut their own (below).



Below: Campag Rally introduced in 1974.







Above: the successor to Nuovo Record was Super Record,
introduced in 1974, final year of production 1987.
The basic design was the same, but it
featured exotic-alloy bolts and black trim.







Above (3 fotos): In 1983 Tullio Campagnolo died,
and the 50th Anniversary Group was released.









Above (4 fotos): in 1987 Cinelli offered a special edition,
called the Golden Black, featuring extensively
re-worked Super Record components.



Above: Super Record was succeeded by the C Record group,
featuring 6-speed indexing and a more rounded design.



By the 1990s, Campag were offering several group sets
in different quality and price ranges, for both racing and touring.
Above is the Chorus long cage model, 1993, featuring
a swivelable parallogram with A and B positions
for close- or wide-ratio blocks.
The mech above is in the A (close-ratio) position.
Note also that the parallelogram now runs
parallel to the chainstay, unlike the design
from the Gran Sport to the C Record.
This allows the cage to follow the gradient
of the block as it shifts up and down.
The 6-sp. block, featuring light alloy cogs
and body parts, was ridiculously expensive.



Above: the Record side-pull brake, from 1968,
was lightyears ahead of everything else
on the market at the time for
stopping power, and were the only
side-pulls which reliably stayed centered.



The Record brake remained largely unchanged
until it was replaced by the C Record Delta, above.
Deltas had good stopping power and excellent modulation;
probably the handsomest brakes ever designed.




Above: the Delta mechanism is all underneath
a coverplate, well protected against grit.
The shoes could be adjusted for roll, pitch, and yaw,
and the entire brake body could be slid up or down on the mount.
Deltas had disadvantages however:
they were heavier than the dual-pivot designs
coming out of Japan at the time,
they cost as much as some frame sets,
they could be used only with very low-profile tyres,
and were very tricky to set up and adjust.
On the plus side: mojo factor 10!




The Record aluminum double-ring crankset
with four-sided taper axle was the
standard for racing machines for decades,
replacing earlier steel cotter-pin designs.
For tourists, Campag offered a triple (above)
from 1967, but they are seldom seen.



Above: C Record crankset, front mech, and pedals.
Note the 4-arm design with the chainrings attaching to the crank as the fifth arm.



Above: C Record set, showing mechs, cranks, pedals, seat pin, etc.
Some consider C Record to have been the aesthetic high-water mark for component design.
Functionally inferior to Dura Ace that time, however.




Above, the famous yellow box (Nuovo Record)
and blue box (Super Record).

Click here for Chuck Schmidt's invaluable Campagnolo timeline at velo-retro.com.



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