With the Giro d’Italia just around the corner and manufacturers launching their newest products, it’s interesting to look back at what the likes of Bartali and Gimondi were racing on in their day

Campagnolo has released a neat video looking at the evolution of its rear mechs starting with the Cambio Corsa – four speeds and changes effected by pulling two separate levers on the seatstays whilst pedalling backwards.

Next came downtube shifters and a derailleur gear in 1951, followed in quick succession by a complete groupset in 1963, ten-speed and 11-speed.

>>> Icons of cycling: the Campagnolo tool case

Of course it’s all about the Campag heritage, but it’s interesting to see just what the champions of yesteryear were using to haul themselves up mountains – and pretty amazing that they managed it at all.

The number of professional teams now using Campagnolo is much lower than those using Shimano, but this look back at the Italian brand’s heritage shows how it is able to continue innovating in a tougher market.

Campag is also the choice of many amateurs, particularly those on Italian brand frames, who want to set themselves apart from the sea of Ultegra on their local club run.

  • Mj

    THAT”S neat. Campy History in a nutshell.

  • poisonjunction

    Wow, I didn’t realise what up-to-date gearing I was getting in 1955 when late one night I went with a friend to see his mates bike in a garden shed!
    My friend had a Dawes, whilst mine cost £12 10s two years earlier in Currys, it had steel drop h/bars and a Sturmey Archer 3spd hub gear, huge improvement
    on the one it replaced, that had ‘sit up and beg’ handlebars, a single gear free wheel, and rod brakes, bought s/h for 30/-!
    The seller wanted cash to buy camera equipment. I really had very little money, even for those days. Although It wasn’t ideal viewing conditions and I couldn’t see very much or ride it, it was obviously way better than mine, so I offered all my savings … £8, but left off ‘Pounds’ and whispered ‘8’!
    No one was more astonished than me when he said ‘OK’.

    For that I got a ‘Hobbs of Barbican’ hand built 531 Frame, ‘South of France’ alloy bars, Steel Cinelli stem, Campagnolo QR 32/40, alloy HP wheels, ‘Brooks’ saddle,
    d/t F and R Campagnolo steel gears[ parallelogram rear] at a time when they were the ONLY parallelogram gear makers in the World [hence todays WOW], steel Cinelli cranks with an alloy double chainset TA adapter and alloy rings, pedals and Christophe toe clips and straps, The Regina 5 block gave 10 gears, the rest I can’t be sure of, though certainly alloy brakes perhaps CLB. [I sold my ‘Curry’s’ bike for £4].

    In time I bought a Carradice saddlebag, joined the YHA, and went hostelling in the Lake’s, and the Peaks. Then whilst doing a paper round to earn money to hostel in Scotland, I fell fracturing my wrist, whilst trying to jump a low wall with a delivery bag of papers over my shoulder!!
    After a year working, I had 10 days off[ two week ends around a week off] and left Friday night after work to hostel down to Lands End. The following Friday I reached Sennen Cove, round the corner from Lands End ‘forgetting’ I had to be back at work in Leeds Monday morning! Yes, I got there, Viva Campagnolo.

    A few years later I went to see the Rome Olympics. The day after the Olympic Road Race I was in Cinelli’s bike shop in Rome negotiating the purchase of a S/H frameset, when in came Victor Kapitanov fresh from his Gold Medal win in the Olympic Road Race!!
    When I heard him tell the staff the frame[he had just won a Gold Medal on] was to small for him, I interrupted offering to buy it! He declined saying he would take it back with him to Russia . .. . !
    Such is life, but I was able to buy a S/H silver Cinelli frame, sloping fork crown,
    chrome ends, Campag dropout’s, at the shop. . . . . . . . .