On November 11, 1927, when Tullio Campagnolo found himself alone ahead of his competitors, he prepared to climb the first steep slopes of the Croce d’Aune pass undauntedly and determined not to surrender.
On that freezing morning of November, his hands were so numb from the cold that he couldn't loosen up the hub wing nuts to disengage the wheel and shift to an easier gear.
Then and there, Tullio Campagnolo had a stroke of genius: he would redesign the nut's lever to make the release more straightforward.
1933: The beginning of the Campagnolo era
The Quick Release system was patented on February 8, 1930, and its industrial production started in 1933. That year, Tullio Campagnolo founded the Campagnolo company, headquartered in the back room of his father’s hardware store on Corso Padova 101, in the city of Vicenza. That was the beginning of what would soon become the trademark of the evolution of modern cycling.
Innovation springs eternal from research and trials
Campagnolo spent much time following races and speaking with cyclists, taking note of every input, suggestion, and recommendation. The information gathered on the field was then elaborated, translated through pencil and paper into sketches and perspective drawings. His solutions were then materialized by hand with a file in the back room of the hardware shop.
Italy and the legends of cycling.
During those years, and more precisely in 1936, Bartali turned professional and gained the spotlight after winning two consecutive editions of the Giro d'Italia. In 1938, he won his first Tour de France. The dualism with Fausto Coppi started soon thereafter, while Italy was on its way to becoming a benchmark in worldwide cycling.
Campagnolo jump-starts continuous innovation by designing the “rod gear”
Less weight, high reliability, and zero friction. The shop in Vicenza was the sole provider of solutions to the needs and challenges of the legends of cycling. With this in mind, Tullio Campagnolo's brilliance pushed him to further develop the quick release concept. The “rod gear” made its debut on May 4, 1940, presenting two levers controlling wheel disengagement and chain position. Campagnolo's slogan of the 1930s became “Senza attriti e senza rumore” (i.e., friction-free and noise-free)
The return of the titans of cycling on the roads of Europe and creation of the modern rear derailleur
As the drive for innovation escalated and international bike races resumed after the wars, Campagnolo was back in action. He enhanced his products while constantly seeking cutting-edge solutions. While the challenge between Coppi and Bartali was still unfolding, Campagnolo was busy working on what would become the “rear derailleur”.
Back in the saddle with Coppi while the world is still at war
Once again, Europe became the battlefield of a world war. Just like all other sports, cycling came to a halt before resuming in 1946, when Coppi won the Milan-San Remo and Bartali claimed the Giro d’Italia. In 1949, Coppi scored a double victory winning both Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.
Tullio Campagnolo’s quest to revolutionize shift systems.
In 1946, the dual rod gear evolved into the Corsa 1001 version, mounted on Gino Bartali’s bike when he won the Tour de France in 1948. In 1949, the release and shift controls were merged into a single lever, giving birth to the Paris-Roubaix 1002 shifter in honor of Fausto Coppi’s win in the homonymous race of 1950.
With the same competitiveness shared by Coppi and Bartali, Campagnolo leaves no room for competitors.
In 1949, in Milan, Campagnolo introduced a rear derailleur prototype equipped with an articulated parallelogram and a double pulley tensioner. The new derailleur presented two flexible cables and controls positioned on the down tube. Given the experimental stage of the prototype, only 10 units were manufactured.
The turning point for rear derailleur technology: in 1950, the debut of the first-ever parallelogram rear derailleur, the Gran Sport 1012.
Innovation at Campagnolo headquarters bore the name of Gran Sport, the utmost expression of cycling technology in those days. Its final version released in 1951 was further improved and provided with a single cable and return spring. Even simpler, even faster.It was perfect, and destined to become a success. The modern rear derailleur was born.
As cycling becomes more popular, market demands rise
During the 1950s, years of widespread progress and development, the Western world experienced a thriving period of recovery.
New personalities made their way in the world of cycling, and the needs of professional cyclists became more and more specific.
Campagnolo extended the concept of drivetrains.
The evolution of professional cycling. The rise of new champions and the development of new technological solutions.
The Bartali-Coppi dualism was drawing to an end. In 1953, Coppi the ‘Campionissimo’, or champion of champions, won his last Giro d’Italia. His success was followed by that of Clerici (Switzerland), Bobet (France), and most importantly Anquetil (France), already a winner in 1953 at the young age of 19. Meanwhile, the first front derailleurs started to be developed and adopted, leading to a broader selection of gears.
The first-ever “Groupset”
Campagnolo's quest went beyond the production of derailleurs. New components were introduced in 1956, such as the seat post, headset, and pedals. The crankset, introduced in 1959, ultimately completed what is still commonly referred to as the “groupset”. It was an innovative and paramount concept. The groupset idea caught on in the years thereafter thanks to the creation of components designed to interact to perfection.
Goal: continuous improvement. The becoming of the Record rear derailleur
The reliability and performance of the GranSport rear derailleur were further enhanced with the introduction of the Record rear derailleur, in 1962. The new geometry screamed innovation, and an advanced rocker enabling the chain to wrap more around the sprockets offered a much broader range of gears.
Stages become tougher and Campagnolo develops the Tripla
Courses changed and gears changed as well Campagnolo introduced a new 5-arm crankset with a smaller bolt circle enabling the use of chainrings with a lower number of teeth. In 1961,it also created a triple crankset, staying ahead of the times of a cycling world that was expecting more from bicycles.
Campagnolo, a leader and global reality
The Sixties were an amazing stepping-stone for Campagnolo, which soon became the benchmark in the field of bicycle parts manufacturing. The bikes of 110 out of the 130 cyclists participating in the 1963 Tour were equipped with a Campagnolo rear derailleur. The company started exporting worldwide, and opened a plant near the city of Bologna to start experimenting in new sectors.
Anquetil, Gimondi and 'the Cannibal'
Anquetil ruled the Tour for years, until his prolonged series of victories was interrupted by an Italian: Felice Gimondi. Meanwhile, another absolute champion started to stand out: Eddy Merckx, whose predominance often left other cyclists fighting for second place. The Belgian’s power and vigor were indisputable on all terrains, leaving nothing to his competitors other than dust: it was no coincidence he was nicknamed “the Cannibal”. Giro, Tour, World Tour, Hour Record, the Classics... He missed close to nothing, and the world of cycling bowed before him.
New materials, less weight: the main features of the Nuovo Record
Inspired by innovation, Campagnolo used the best materials available. The Nuovo Record was lighter thanks to the use of cold-forged aluminum. The monumental notoriety and approval earned by the Nuovo Record marked Campagnolo's history for fifteen years.
It’s more than just cycling. It’s an ever-changing world where horizons stretch beyond the imaginable. The first man lands on the moon.
In the Sixties, Campagnolo the man began to express his creativity at its best, while his company reached unthinkable peaks of notoriety and transcended just bicycles. It created highly recognized motorcycle and car racing wheels, as well as lightweight magnesium parts for the aerospace industry (NASA). It was the dawn of a new era, and Campagnolo was by far the most renowned manufacturer of bicycle parts.
Intelligence, attention to detail, and quality often spur from practical, yet complex needs.
Campagnolo’s brilliance was evident in his everyday life. When he hurt his hand one day opening a bottle of wine, Tullio realized that traditional corkscrews could be improved. As if it were a malfunctioning rear derailleur in need of revision, he invented a corkscrew that could be removed effortlessly and with absolute precision, the Cavatappi immediately became a cult object.
The birth of a legend, the birth of the Super Record
The Sixties were filled with legends.
Eddy Merckx continued to leave his mark on the road of Europe, but the only true champion on the bike of every cyclist was the new Super Record.
Campagnolo introduced unprecedented materials, and offered unbeatable reliability and quality.
The Super Record was designed with a single goal in mind: to maximize performance.
The new generation of cyclists: from Merckx, to Moser, to Hinault
Merckx continued to win race after race… conquering the Tour in 1973 and 1975, and the Giro in 1973 and 1974. Those were also the years of Gimondi and Battaglin, and of the start of another historical rivalry: the one between Moser and Saronni. Meanwhile, as of 1978, a remarkable French cyclist began to stand out at stage races: Bernard Hinault, four-time winner of the Yellow Jersey, and later of the Pink Jersey. In 1982, he was the star of both the Giro and Tour.
Professional races are Campagnolo’s all-time research and development laboratory
Tullio Campagnolo was always present; at every stop-over, at every race, with team leaders and followers alike. His mission was to listen, and to learn what to improve directly from cyclists. This relationship, the constant brainstorming, and a strenuous development activity were the foundation of the “groupset” par excellence.
1973: Campagnolo presents the Super Record
Campagnolo’s Super Record was a milestone, one that hit the world of cycling with the impetus of a tireless cyclist. In production from 1973 to 1987, it was updated to the black and silver version in 1979. The rear derailleur was made in ergal and titanium,proving to be successful in terms of lightness, precision, and esthetics. The use of titanium made the Super Record extra light, weighing less than 200 grams.
From weight to customization. Campagnolo transcends drivetrains.
IFreewheels started to be manufactured in aluminum and titanium, bicycles became lighter, and the time came to move forward by exploring other sectors. Those years saw the debut of Campagnolo nutcrackers and of “Electa” saddles, customizable through a pneumatic system. Meanwhile, the triple crankset became the king of the road: Giovanni Battaglin used it in 1981 to win the Tre Cime di Lavaredo stage of the Giro d'Italia, earning the Pink Jersey.
The 50th Anniversary groupset becomes a collector's item.
Every groupset item featured Tullio Campagnolo's signature, and gold-plated nuts and bolts. Manufactured in a limited edition, the groupset was sold in a specific case and provided with a certificate of authenticity. Furthermore, the groupset's first mold was created the old fashion way: by hand, with a file.It was simply magnificent, unique, perfect.
It's the turn of Campagnolo’s son, Valentino, to manage this big enterprise.
In those years, specifically in 1984, Francesco Moser set the Hour Record, scoring a crucial point in the world of cycling. Bicycles were undergoing transformation. Terms such as aerodynamics and lightness came into play, as well as materials never seen before. Steel became lighter and aluminun alloys were introduced in the production of frame tubes. And Campagnolo And Campagnolo, true to fashion, was at the head of this innovative revolution.
Aerodynamics, contours, and design. In other words, the C-Record groupset
The C-Record made its debut in 1984 featuring a group of components with unprecedented aesthetics. The smooth and aerodynamic shapes of every detail, and particularly the lines of the Delta brakes, were unique. In the long run, this new groupset was acknowledged as one of the most attractive and desirable in the history of cycling. Meanwhile, between 1984 and 1990, Campagnolo won 6 World Tours, 5 editions of the Giro d’Italia, and 6 of the Tour de France.
The era of Bernard Hinault, Lemond, and young Indurain.
In 1985, Hinault won both the Giro and Tour riding on parts manufactured by Campagnolo. In 1986, Lemond was the first American ever to win the Tour, repeating his performance in 1989 and 1990. In 1987, Stephen Roche scored a triple victory, winning the Giro, Tour, and World Tour. The Tour in 1988 was won by Pedro Delgado, who had a very strong follower: Miguel Indurain. As of 1991, the Yellow Jersey practically became one of the personal items of this young Navarrese cyclist.
In the Campagnolo dictionary, the keyword is: continuous innovation. Aerodynamic studies are applied to wheels.
In 1986, Campagnolo extended its product range to wheels. It introduced a new line of “fluid-dynamic” wheels, namely Ghibli, the company's first lenticular disk wheel. Bike handling made room for greater aerodynamic penetration. Specific experiments, frames, and set-ups began to take shape to race against time.
Shamal, the first-ever complete wheelset by Campagnolo.
While freewheels went from six, to seven and eight speeds, Campagnolo surprised the world with a complete high profile wheelset, the Shamal. It was an extraordinary success, and the beginning of a new concept: the manufacturing of completely-assembled wheelsets.
As cycling evolves, its objectives become more methodical.
At the end of the 1990s, Campagnolo's prestige was further enhanced by major Tour accomplishments: above all, the success of Marco Pantani, the first Italian cyclist after Coppi to win the Giro and Tour in the same year, 1998. Known as “the Pirate”, Pantani raced on a Record groupset and Shamal wheels. And those very wheels became the new and winning “piece de resistance” of the Campagnolo brand.
The years of Miguel Indurain, Ullrich and Pantani
Especially thanks to his time trialing skills, Miguel Indurain won five consecutive editions of the Tour de France between 1991 and 1995, riding Campagnolo's groupset and wheels. Jan Ullrich won the Tour in 1997, and the Vuelta in 1999. Always with Campagnolo, Marco Pantani conquered both the Giro and Tour in 1998 with Campagnolo, and was able to cultivate the interest of viewers worldwide usually uninterested in bike races. In 2002, the World Tour went to sprinter Mario Cipollini.
A change in bike riding: shifting gears without ever removing a hand from the bars.
Campagnolo designed the Ergopower system, the first controls in the world with internal cables. The main goals: ergonomics and safety. Light-weight and unique in design, this new shifting system labelled “One Lever - One Action” enabled cyclists to use controls intuitively, quickly, and without hesitation.
Lightness, performance, and most of all Full-Carbon
1994 marked the rise of another star of cycling innovation. Lightness, aerodynamics, and excellent handling properties were merged into a single product, giving birth to the Bora wheel, Campagnolo's first full-carbon high profile wheel. 200 grams lighter than any competitor, this wheel was the perfect solution for the most demanding cyclists.
Cycling becomes a global phenomenon, and technological innovation runs faster than ever.
Materials and technologies were being developed to anticipate and outperform the demands of professional cyclists. In this regard, Campagnolo exceeded every expectation. It developed new bottom bracket solutions, introduced an 11-speed drivetrain, and prepared to face the electronic era with unparalleled technological solutions.
Training, tactics, and technology: cycling in the new millennium.
Races were being won atop Campagnolo by champions such as Boonen and Petacchi. Riding on Campagnolo groupsets and wheels, Ballan won the World Tour in 2008, Basso won the Giro in 2010, and Gilbert conquered the northern classic races. While cycling continued to tell tales of hard work on roads worldwide, the electronic components by Campagnolo contributed to Voeckler's first place in France, and to Greipel's hundredth victory.
Paolo Bettini and the Ultra Torque crankset
Campagnolo's new bottom bracket, the Ultra-Torque, was developed using HIRTH couplings. Curious about this novelty, Bettini decided to try it during his training. He was instantly blown away by the low weight and efficiency of power transmission while pedaling. The Ultra-Torque™ crankset was mounted on the bike he rode during the World Tour that he won for the second time.
11-speed: a revolution
That of 2009 was an epochal revolution: an 11-sprocket cassette and an all-new, top-of-the-line groupset, marking the return of the Super Record. An extra sprocket and a completely revamped groupset delivering unprecedented performance. The Ergopower controls were completely revisited as well, becoming easier and more comfortable to grab.
The EPS electronic groupset: an ambitious road taken by those with a grand vision of the future.
Campagnolo had been testing electronic drivetrains for several years. This technology evolves proportionally to the number of gears on bicycles. The project was started and developed “in the field” with the collaboration of PRO TOUR teams such as Movistar. When Campagnolo made its electronic drivetrain debut in 2011, it presented not one, but two groupsets: top-of-the-line Super Record EPS and Record EPS.
Electronics and the evolution of the global market
Shortly thereafter, in July 2012, Campagnolo also presented the Athena EPS. Same technology as the top of the line, but carbon was replaced with aluminum,making Campagnolo's electronics more affordable. The public took delight in this new system's precision and feel. With the electronic technology by Campagnolo, the riding experience would never be the same.
Campagnolo groupsets and wheels: the stars of the Pro Tour season
The electronic groupsets have passed their most extreme test with flying colors, fitting out and supporting the winners in top Pro-Tour teams since 2012.
The successes have just kept coming – in 2016 Campagnolo won the Giro d’Italia with Vincenzo Nibali and Vuelta a España with Quintana.
The innovative spirit drives the development of advanced projects.
Branching out from traditional areas of expertise, Campagnolo dedicated many resources towards developing its own version of DISK BRAKE TECHNOLOGY.
In similar fashion, a new, state-of-the-art application was unveiled in an effort to improve the cycling experience by offering free, useful and game changing interaciton with componentry of all types.
80 years of passion for cycling and innovation
After this ride down memory lane, it is time to look at the road ahead of us. For the last 80 years, we have chosen to continually innovate in order to produce the cycling components that represent the pinnacle of performance and design. Our passion is your passion and we are dedicated to making the products that excite both the professional and the amateur cyclist.
“Campagnolo embodies not only the search for technical perfection, but also the passion, the hard work, the pain, the legend, and the past and future of cycling, the most beautiful sport in the world.” Valentino Campagnolo
There are no shortcuts in history. What we are today can only be patiently constructed.
On 11 November 1927, when Tullio Campagnolo found himself all alone at the foot of the first steep climbs of the Croce d’Aune, he was not afraid and did not give up. Now that today we can count on a whole crowd of friends along our path, keen fans and admirers of Campagnolo products, we will never give up. We have chosen this image from the turn of the century to trace the salient stages of our distant and recent history.