If its patent applications are anything to go by, Campagnolo’s Vincenza-based boffins have been particularly busy of late.
We reported in late 2021 on a US application the Italian brand had filed earlier in the year. The 18-page document suggested that a crank-based power meter was on the cards, something its groupset rivals Shimano and SRAM already offer.
Campagnolo 'power meter' patent
More paperwork followed. In April of this year another US patent application was published, as reported by BikeRadar, this time for a “bicycle component comprising a stress/strain sensor aligned according to a stress/strain to be detected, and a temperature sensor associated with said stress/strain indicator”.
It’s followed by several pages of diagrams, showing a bicycle crank arm and cross-sections of said crank arm. The temperature sensor, the application states, is included to improve “the reliability of the temperature-compensated stress/strain measurement”.
Returning to the copy, the ‘background’ information refers to “the measurement of the torque applied to a crank arm of a crankset of a bicycle … typically of two strain gauges, one positioned on one side with respect to the neutral plane of the crankarm, with respect to the useful component of pedalling force, and the other positioned on the opposite side with respect to the neutral plane”.
The wording is complex, if not downright confusing at times, but it certainly reads like a power meter to us.
The application then goes on to outline a number of possible designs but all appear to use stress gauges attached to the crank arm alongside a temperature sensor. Interestingly, there’s no mention in the document of measuring power at other areas, such as the pedals, which could indicate that Campagnolo is pretty set on a crank arm-based power meter only.
Campagnolo 'electric hub' patent
But this isn’t the only patent application the Italians have filed. Another recently published application appears to show that Campy could soon be entering the electric bike market, with the creation of its own ‘motorized hub assembly for a bicycle wheel’.
This being a patent, lots of diagrams and meandering descriptions follow, but the crux of the design looks to be a hub motor created for road and gravel bikes. The diagrams of the hub look to feature a thru-axle and entry for straight-pull spokes only, both far more applicable to expensive drop-bar e-bikes than an everyday commuter.
It’s also a design in keeping with Campagnolo’s current offerings; could we see an e-gravel bike equipped with Campag (or Fulcrum) wheels and a wireless 13-speed Ekar groupset?
Campagnolo 'wireless shifiting' patents
Given that Campagnolo has also applied for individual patents that show both front and rear wireless derailleurs as well as wireless shifters - first revealed by patent agent and mechanical engineer Alan Coté on CyclingTips - it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.
Shimano’s move to a semi-wireless operation in its current 12-speed electronic groupsets was first hinted at through the release of a series of patents that the Japanese brand had filed.
Of course, patents don’t necessarily mean the stated technology ever sees the light of day. They can be filed and lie dormant for years. Equally they can be used with the intention of stalling the development of similar technology by a competitor. But given that SRAM and Shimano both use wireless technology in their electronic groupsets, it’s hardly a stretch to imagine that Campagnolo would be interested in following suit.
Although it’s achieved recent success, and exposure, through its supplying of groupsets to Tadej Pogačar and his UAE Team Emirates, on the whole Campagnolo’s standing in the pro peloton has diminished. In this year’s Tour de France just three teams rode Campagnolo groupsets - UAE, Cofidis and AG2R Citroen - a far cry from years gone by. A move to a completely wireless set-up could help move the needle back in its direction.
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