On particularly icy morning racing in the Dolomites, Tullio Campagnolo struggled with his tools, attempting to loosen the hub’s wheel nut to allow him to remove his wheel and change to an easier gear before the steep climb up the Croce D’ Aune. Frustrated and cold, his fingers numbed, he decided then and there in 1927 that the design was flawed and something needed to be done about it.
Three years later, Campagnolo patented the quick release skewer which is still found on bikes today and is considered one of the most remarkable innovations in cycling technology.
The story doesn’t end with one clever invention. Campagnolo was a skilled rider, and a skilled technician and innovator. In his father’s workshop, he began working on the rear derailleur, a bicycle component that allows one to change gears without removing the wheel first.
The name Campagnolo was now the name of his company. Tullio went from strength to strength through the 30’s and 40’s and was one of the first bicycle component manufacturers to start working with lightweight magnesium and aluminium alloys. In the 50’s Campagnolo even designed and manufactured lightweight magnesium parts for Italian sports car brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. In 1969, Campagnolo was recognised as a leader in alloy engineering and construction and built chassis for NASA.
It wasn’t until Shimano made the next big innovation in groupset technology, integrating the brake lever with the gear levers (Shimano Total Integration) that Campagnolo began to experience a slump in sales. A failed attempt to enter the mountain biking market in the 80’s due to heavy and ‘overbuilt’ componentry helped forge what Campagnolo is today; a brand that is focused on the road and the track.
Campagnolo groupsets, wheels, and accessories are found on bikes today that win races. Revered among road riders the world over, the name Campagnolo represents quality – ‘designed and manufactured in Europe'. Whereas other companies have chosen to outsource manufacturing, Campagnolo has continued to keep the whole process in the EU so that they can remain close to all stages from design, right through to production.
Moving forward in cycling these days mean making technology as light and as strong as possible. Campagnolo led the charge in this domain, constructing a great deal of their high end drive train and brake components from super lightweight composites such as carbon firbre.
The crème de la crème of Campagnolo design and construction is the 11 Speed Super Record EPS Groupset, Campag’s electronic groupset used by top riders in the Grand Tour Pelotons.
But they don’t just make products for the pros. Campagnolo’s design efforts are applied to all of their technologies, right down to their alloy groupsets, the Veloce and Athena.
Refining design and production technique designing alloy wheels for the likes of Maserati and Ferrari in the 50’s, Campag has come a long way since then. Today they design super lightweight wheelsets from lightweight materials for all types of road riding, whether for the track, or for the road. Whatever profile you are looking for, Campagnolo has a beautiful wheelset to suit your style.
To cap it all off, Campagnolo designs their own range of stylish cycling kit and Apres Velo wear, so that you look the part when you are rolling your new set of wheels. Why not pick up a Campagnolo ‘Big’ Corkscrew, the perfect gift for anyone who loves cycling and loves good wine (oh yeah, Tullio Campagnolo perfected the corkscrew as well…).