Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Portland, Oregon
Campagnolo has made a lot of different things over the years, I worked in bicycle shops in the late 60s/early 70s & we used to have sales reps for Campi distributors show us limited edition softbound glossy company portfolios of lots of the different products Campi made in those days. I remember seeing photos of the auto brake caliper castings, they made simply stunning magnesium motorcycle racing wheels with 4 leading shoe drum brakes(!!), later a few styles of disc brake type motorcycle wheels, never saw any of these in the flesh, and I used to race motorcycles as well as bicycles.
The portfolios showed photos of very high tech, gargantuan forging presses used for all kinds of exotic metal forging, they were industry innovators in pressure die casting of exotic magnesium & aluminum alloys, they made lots of very, very, complicated castings & forgings for use in the aerospace industry. Those Campi portfolios were stunning, wish I could come across some today. Probably all got thrown away.
The November 2005 issue of Classic & Sports Car has an article on the De Tomaso Vallelunga, the article talks about the Campi calipers, I bet Campi cast a lot of the suspension uprights for the rear suspension, etc..
I have Campi aftermarket wheels on the Jr Z & my bike geek buddies can't believe they made auto wheels. I have to show them the Campi logos on the center caps. They are pressure die cast magnesium & only weigh 10.5 lbs each, pick 'em with one finger.
Campi has never made entire bicycles, just individual component parts, but there are so many Campi logos all over the parts it's easy to see how people think they made/make bikes.
Actually, the epiphany Tullio had while climbing the hill was the quick release. His back wheel had slipped over & jammed into the chainstay, he had to stop on the uphill & retighten the wing nuts the racers in those days used to loosen wheels for tire changes & chain length changes they had to make to accomodate the different size gears on the cranks & rear wheels. It was hard to tighten the wingnuts tight enough, this led Tullio to think of inventing the cam based quick release wheel retention system we now have on most bicycles.
The French & a few other folks had been messing around with crude derailleurs & spring tensioned chain tightening systems, but they were not that good. Tullio developed and refined the paralellogram based gear shifing system that allowed the chain to closely track the cogs, and he refined the coil spring chain tensioning system. In short, he really improved the shifting systems to the point that we still use the same basic ideas for this as well. He was a brilliant innovator and a good business man as well. His company was very successful & profitable while he was alive & running it, it went downhill in the 80s, I think a big conglomerate bought them out, they are no longer thought of as the undisputed leaders in bike parts, although they are still very good.
And yes they make the world's best corkscrew. I've had one for years, it pulls corks out with the greatest of ease, smooth as silk with never a broken cork. I think you can still get them at good high end bike shops.