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Bikerumor Review – Campagnolo 75th Anniversary Book

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campagnolo campy 75th anniversary years of cycling history bicycle culture bike mountain road group super record coffee table book review

Campagnolo’s “75 Years of Cycling Passion” was released a couple of months ago, and we’ve had the chance to review it in depth.  Coinciding with the company’s 75th anniversary, the book covers more than just Campy’s contributions to the sport, it provides a revealing look into the history of the bicycle and its evolution to the modern, carbon spec’d race rigs of today.

There’s plenty of self congratulatory prose to be had, which is understandable since it is Campy’s book, but they do fairly describe the contributions of other brands through the years and acknowledge some of their competitor’s accomplishments.  And while the writing can at times sound as though it were translated from Italian first, it does paint some pretty vivid pictures of what the Tours de France of the early 1900’s were like.

If you’re looking for something to adorn your coffee table, or you just don’t know what to get that cyclist that has everything, here’s your answer.  Click “more” to see some pics, including close ups of a Campagnolo electronic derailleur and hints at a mountain bike group

It was on a particularly cold, snowy day on November 11, 1927, that Tullio Campagnolo, then 27, was racing with the leaders in a breakaway during the Gran Premio della Vittoria.  Racing as an independent, he found himself among the leaders…all very famous racers of the time…when they hit the climbs.  In those days, the wheels were held on with wing nuts so that riders could remove them by hand, flip them around where they had an easier gear on the opposite side, then reinstall for the climbs.  This was the “technology” that enabled them to climb hills.  On that day, though, Tullio stopped to change his tire with freezing hands, and by the time he was finished, his competitors were long gone.  Thus, his inspiration for inventing the quick release lever.

From there, the book covers the origin of derailleurs and multiple gears and the various designs and schemes different manufacturers came up with to change gears while moving.  Click on the pics for larger images.

Campy’s current Fulcrum line of wheels has expanded onto the dirt, most notably under Julien Absalon.  There are some hints that Campy is listening to consumer requests for a mountain bike group…but there’s also pics of their very short lived Euclid and Centaur MTB groups from 1989.  They show the whole group, whose seatpost has a QR lever where the seat bolt would be (think of a cheap Kalloy Uno post)…which is quite ingenious for quick adjustments, but how often do you really adjust the seat angle or fore/aft?

There are a number of original bicycle ads and event posters.

This is the “electronic future”, which Campy claims is the way things will go, but they prefer to take their time and get it perfect rather than rush to market…even conceding that Shimano will likely beat them to market (which, obviously, they did).  Click on the pic to see it close up, it appears to be a battery pack behind the crankset under the front derailleur.

Of course, there’s a chapter on their new Super Record 11 speed group.

Available from VeloPress; 160 pages; $39.99

The book wraps up with some great timeline summaries and various factoid lists.  All in all, it’s a good read and entertaining, and something you’d probably end up flipping through occasionally just for the pictures.  We give it Four Thumbs Up.  The only reason it doesn’t get a full Five is because it is a little pricey…probably due to the quality and limited press run.  It is put together beautifully with thick pages the feel good in the hand and a sturdy hardcover.  If you’re a diehard Campy fan, I suppose $40 is a small price to pay for such a solid collection of history.


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15 years ago

If you pursue the Classic Rendevous mailing list, you’ll find out the lack of quality of the book. Most of the images were used without permission, and many are stolen from the internet. A good amount of the information is wrong, as well.

If you are a Campy fan, please don’t buy this book.

4 thumbs is 4 too many.

15 years ago

Interesting book… Some great info & pics, some not so great… The troubling part about this $40 printed in China book is that many of images, especially of the vintage stuff, were taken from the Internet without permission or credit. It’s astounding the license the authors took! But nonetheless it is a mandatory acquisition for the collection of the bicycle exotica aficionado….

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