The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Campagnolo Bicycle Components

1933

Campagnolo derailleurs

Early Campagnolo derailleurs including a Grand Sport, Sport and one of Campy’s original front derailleurs     Photo: Courtesy of Eric Norris/campyonly.com

In November 1927, with snow covering the roads of the Italian Dolomites, Tullio Campagnolo competed in the Gran Premio della Vittoria race. Crossing Croce D'Aune Pass he needed to change gears, which at that time entailed removing the rear wheel. Large wingnuts that held his wheel on were frozen, and his hands were too cold to loosen them. Unable to shift, Tullio lost the race, muttering words to himself that would change the course of cycling: "Something must change in the rear!"

In 1930 Campagnolo produced the first quick release, after which he invented the first derailleur. By 1940 Campagnolo had developed the Cambio Corsa shifting system, which was a derailleur that used two levers and rods attached to the right-side seat stay. While riding, the cyclist would reach down and use one lever to open the quick release and the second fork-like lever to move the chain, which would shift it between cogs, and push the rear wheel backward or forward.

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