Campagnolo is a unique and special brand in road cycling. It has the ability to evoke emotion from a seemingly soulless component. Campagnolo’s ongoing and relentless push for innovation is built on real world rider experience, together with the best materials and manufacturing processes available. With the last two Tour De Frances won by Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) riding Campagnolo Super Record EPS electronic groupset and Campagnolo Bora wheels, Campagnolo is very much at the pinnacle of road cycling.
The 1930s saw Tulio Campagnolo begin production of his quick release hub. This was a huge step forward in technology at that time, and this set the tone of innovation for the future decades. The rear parallelogram derailleur was the next major milestone component which began production in 1949, followed by the front derailleur in 1956.
However, Campagnolo was not always solely a bicycle component manufacturer, at the end of the 1950s Campagnolo were manufacturing sports car wheels from magnesium for prestigous brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. The 1960s space race era saw chassis production for NASA satellites. The 60s was also the era of the motor scooter, Campagnolo manufactured disc brakes for the iconic Innocenti Lambretta.
Era of Domination
Through its long history, Campagnolo’s key market has been bicycle components. The legendary road cyclist, Eddy Merckx, used Campagnolo exclusively throughout his career. Campagnolo collaborating with Colnago to produce Merckx’s 1972 Hour Record bike. Since 1946, Campagnolo has featured on the Tour De France winner’s bike on 42 occasions, the next most wins was from Simplex with 11 Tour De France victories (Shimano 10 Victories with 7 Disallowed).
Bike racing successes littered the 1970s and 80s with Campagnolo Record and Super Record components much coveted by bike riders all around the world. Towards the end of this period, road component innovation lagged slightly as rivals such as Suntour invented index gear changing and Shimano developed their STI combined brake and gear shifting. At this time Campagnolo were getting into the burgeoning Mountain Bike scene with all-new MTB groupsets. However, these mountain bike groupsets were regarded as over-built and heavy compared to their rivals and subsequently MTB groupset production stopped in 1994.
The late 80s and early 90s saw Campagnolo’s wheel production break new ground with pre-built aero wheels, the Shamal, as well as premium disc wheels for track and time trials, the Ghibli and Khamsin. Eight speed Ergopower combined brake and gear shifters (first with hidden cable routing) were launched and Campagnolo had ‘caught up’ and provided a dual-action alternative to Shimano. The late 90s and early 2000s saw an evolution towards more widespread use of more exotic materials such as titanium and carbon fibre, as well as a shift to 10 speed in the year 2000. The early 90s was the starting point of Campagnolo’s development of a move into electronic gear shifting which would take many years to make it into production.
In 2004 the Fulcrum sub-brand was launched to make wheels more accessible to riders with groupset components other than Campagnolo. The Campagnolo freehub wasn’t compatible with Shimano and Sram cassettes & groupsets, and so Fulcrum was the best way for Campagnolo to produce and sell more wheels – both on road and mountain bikes. Fulcrum were very popular to the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) bike market and for consumers looking for a wheelset upgrade.
Innovation kept Campagnolo developing components and new concepts through the early 2000s, the move to the ‘Hirth Joint’ Ultra Torque chainset and external bottom bracket system providing another alternative development route to its rivals. In 2008 Campagnolo went 11 speed and in 2011 electronic shifting (EPS) was released. The use of carbon fibre especially in chainsets was a strong point of difference over their rivals. In 2018 an extra sprocket was added to the top tier groupsets as they went 12 speed. Campagnolo launched its long awaited gravel bike groupset in 2020, in typical Campagnolo style, Ekar was the first 13 speed groupset available and features a beautiful carbon fibre chainset at its core. Campagnolo was back on the winner’s bike at the Tour De France with Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE Emirates) cementing Campagnolo’s name at the top of the TDF winning groupset & wheels manufacturer list.
1901 – Tulio Campagnolo Born in Vicenza, Italy.
1922 – Tullio Campagnolo begins his professional cycle racing career.
1933 – The Campagnolo company was founded and began manufacture of quick-release hubs.
1940 – Tullio releases the Cambio Corsa gear-changing system
1949 – Campagnolo produce an articulated parallelogram derailleur with a two pulley wheel tensioner: the Gran Sport. Flexible cabling, gear levers mounted on the down tube.
1953 – Campagnolo expand the concept of gears into a whole groupset. They begin work on a front derailleur. Seat posts, headsets and pedals too.
1956 – The parallelogram front derailleur makes it into production.
1962 – The Campagnolo Record GranSport rear derailleur comes out. An improved and refined design.
1963 – Out of 130 cyclists in the Tour, 110 of them use Campagnolo equipment.
1966 – Tullio hurts his hand opening a bottle of wine. He re-invents the bottle-opener with the self-centring Cavatappi opener.
1969 – The Eddy Merckx era begins. Merckx utilised the Nuovo Record system during his first four Tour de France victories.
1972 – Campag join forces with Colnago to produce Merckx’s famous bicycle that went on to break the world hour record.
1973 – Campag’s Super Record. The pioneering use of titanium blew people’s minds with its light weight and strength.
1981 – Giovanni Battaglin wins a stage of the Giro d’Italia on a triple-ring chainset.
1983 – The death of Tullio Campagnolo. His son Valentino takes over. The birth of the 50th Anniversary groupset..
1984 – The sculpted and aerodynamic C-Record era. The iconic Delta brakes follow in 1985.
1987 – Campagnolo produce Ghibli and Khamsin solid disc wheels for track and time trial use.
1991 – Campagnolo go eight speed.
1992 – Ergopower system. Gear shifting moves up the brake levers. The Shamal aluminium aero wheelset was launched.
1994 – Bora. Campagnolo’s first carbon rimmed wheel.
1997 – Campag go nine speed.
2000 – Campagnolo go ten speed.
2004 – Campagnolo introduce the compact drivetrain which gave lower gears than traditional racing setups.
2004 – Fulcrum Wheels sub-brand launch.
2006 – Paolo Bettini wins the World Tour using a Campagnolo Ultra-Torque crankset with external bearings.
2008 – Campagnolo go eleven speed.
2011 – Campagnolo goes electric with Super Record and Record EPS.
2013 – The 80th Anniversary groupset released.
2018 – 12 Speed groupsets launched
2020 – Ekar 13 Speed gravel specific groupset launched.
2020 – Campagnolo on the top step of the Tour De France with Tadej Pogacar (Team UAE Emirates)