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Video: Campagnolo’s ‘Mr. Ghibli’ Illustrates a Careful Carbon Disc Rear Wheel Assembly

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When we tour factories, one of the highlights is catching employees in the act of actually making something. There’s always so much more to the process than we’d imagined, and it’s amazing to see it in person. This little vid from Campy shows off the assembly process for a full disc carbon rear wheel that, sadly, trails off just before revealing how exactly they true it…

From Campagnolo: In an industry that is consistently more high-tech with every passing year and in a time when outsourcing everything seems to be the norm, Campagnolo’s most prized asset are the hands within its very own factory. Mr Ghibli is just one example of how Campagnolo maintains the quality and integrity of its products by producing everything under its own roof through passionate and competent staff. One of the very few companies left who is actually concentrating all of its production in the western world…more specifically the EU, Campagnolo continues to buck current trends not only through innovative product but also through how it produces its fantastic performance componentry.

Mister Ghibli is a unique story that seems better suited to a time in which there was a greater value placed on adding not only quality but passion, pride and soul into each and every product that passed through an artisan’s hands. Passion, pride, soul and hands…ingredients that regrettably are uncommon in the modern production process but thankfully still represent the foundation upon which Campagnolo products are brought to life to this day.

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Pedals
Pedals
9 years ago

Is it just me or wouldn’t everyone rather see their high-end, high-tech, high-performance, carbon fiber bike equipment manufactured by million dollar robots in a vacuum. Some lasers would help sell it, too.

Derek
Derek
9 years ago

@Pedals I agree, but that’s not really Campy’s target market. They cater to people who like the idea of their “craftsmanship.”

How are they truing the wheel at the end?

Pedals
Pedals
9 years ago

@Derek

Hammers.

Scotty
Scotty
9 years ago

Unless you do injection molding, composite parts are all laid up by hand whether it be bicycles, to cars and airplanes.

Pedals
Pedals
9 years ago

@Scotty

I’m well aware, I’m just saying a little bit of theatrics goes a long way to building a brand image.

JasonK
JasonK
9 years ago

Scotty, that’s not really true. Automated layup machines for both prepreg and resin-transfer molding (RTM) are a big business in aerospace. The bike industry doesn’t have the margins to justify these machines. No bicycle manufacturer is using these, at least as far as I know. Google “automated fiber placement” for more information.

Of course, filament-wound parts (e.g., Wound Up forks) are not laid up by hand either.

The composites industry is weirdly bifurcated. People associate composites with supremely sophisticated aerospace manufacturing, and this certainly does exist. But there’s a huge amount of composites fabrication that gets done by goobers in their garages. You can be a “composites fabricator” by buying some cloth and epoxy at a boat store.

Not everyone working in his/her garage is a goober; Damon Rinard famously built a carbon Y bike frame in his garage. But Damon is a trained engineer who fundamentally knows what he’s doing.

So it’s hard to know whether a carbon part was made by a competent fabricator just by looking at it. I have to admit that from an engineering perspective, the hand-applied die grinder in the video turned my stomach.

The point is that not all that glitters is gold. Having seen lots of unscientific and poorly controlled processes in composite fabrication, I’m not at all surprised to learn that Ghibli wheels are made in an unscientific and poorly controlled manner.

Having said that, Ghibli wheels are obviously functional and broadly competitive with other disk wheels.

john A
john A
9 years ago

If Mr Ghibli decides he has a little too much vino santo on sunday morning and drives off a bridge in milano, does this mean my dish wheel order is f&ck%d for another 4 weeks ?

Ronin
Ronin
9 years ago

@JasonK, What are you, some kinda wise guy? 🙂

This is Campagnolo, and Campagnolo are from Italy, and well, you know they like pasta, do I have to spell it out? capisce?

One thing I do love about Campagnolo wheels though, is their dynamic balance. Playing around with the bike when it’s in the stand, you can just crank the wheel as much as you like and it just spins without oscillating. Other wheels just don’t do that. So what ever Campanolo do, I hope they continue.

G
G
9 years ago

@JasonK: The BMC Impec is built by a machines. Doesn’t really work well, though.

Terry
Terry
9 years ago

i can’t comment on the engineering you all are talking about but i do like seeing things made by hand!

i would like to know how he trues the wheel when there are no spokes?

JasonK
JasonK
9 years ago

G: No, BMC isn’t using automated layup machines for the Impec. They’re filament winding tubes, which is an established technique. As I mentioned in my original post, Wound Up forks are the most prominent example of filament winding in the bike industry.

But as far as I know, no one in the bike industry has used an automated llayup machine in a production (or even prototype) setting. If anyone has, I’d love to know about it.

Ronin, Do I amuse you? Do I make you laugh? 🙂 The dynamic balance thing is meaningless for bikes. It has everything to do with the low natural frequency of a bike in a workstand. That flexible system grossly exaggerates the effect of imperfect dynamic balance in wheels.

The in-plane natural frequency of the bike/rider system on the road is much lower (close to zero, or a rigid-body mode) so the small, low-frequency forces involved don’t affect a real-world rider.

But people see the bike wobbling on the stand and think it’s meaningful. That’s not their fault; the “right” answer involves some fairly counterintuitive engineering knowledge. And dynamically balanced wheels don’t hurt anything, so if the Campy wheels make you happy, you should ride them!

JasonK
JasonK
9 years ago

Oops…typo in my post above. The second-to-last paragraph says “small, low-frequency forces” where I meant write “small, relatively high-frequency forces.”

bielas
bielas
9 years ago

low tech.

Campy made by hand in Italy? well, we only see one product, a disc wheel with obsolete technology and one of which Campagnolo surely sells very, very few per year… and we only see the rim being glued to the already made disc!

Meanwhile, in Taiwan or China high end carbon bike parts are being made. And guess what, also by hand, but with much more modern equipment and technology

Mike
Mike
9 years ago

Even someone as brilliant as JasonK should know carbon fiber in a bicycle is frivolous. A perfectly suitable one can be made using steel and aluminum, like the platform pedal shown in the video after this one in Campy’s YouTube playlist.

Large D
Large D
9 years ago

You’ve obviously never been to China if you think it’s high tech there, they aren’t using equipment like JasonK is discussing, rest assured the same type of grinding and hands on production are occurring as in the Campagnolo video. The difference is the labor rate of the individuals doing the work. I personally don’t want everything I consume to come from Asia, so I pay for Campagnolo (which isn’t much more expensive then SRAM or Shimano if you know where to look).

Ronin
Ronin
9 years ago

@JasonK – Now you are making me laugh 🙂 Isn’t it obvious that I ride them…

The funny thing is, to me it’s obvious that the dynamic balance of bike wheel doesn’t make a discernible difference on the road, but that doesn’t stop me from liking it 😀

I’m waiting for their next trick…wheels with a Keronite-treated braking surface….

Frippolini
Frippolini
9 years ago

I’m not sure it was such a good idea by Campagnolo to make a video of this…
That manual grinding on a “bad day” / Monday morning… could easily spell a disaster.
Also, looking at the kind of work being done, considering the fault-risks (failure at quality control), this work seems that it could easily be outsourced to China/Bangladesh (or Africa in not a too far off future). In this case it means that if I were to buy one of this wheels with the demonstrated work process and obvious risks in quality… I’m would be clearly over-paying.
Ghibli … I’ll pass thanks, but I’ll gladly take more pasta and wine (what the Italians do best). 🙂

Milessio
Milessio
9 years ago

Terry

Locate the hub with acceptable accuracy and then bake (as seen in clip).

‘True’ rim perfectly by machining rim as needed; would be how I would do it.

Rocket science not needed.

A.
A.
9 years ago

@JasonK. Regarding dynamic balance… Are you telling me that a 5 lb weight on one of the spokes wouldn’t affect the feel of the bike, even at moderate speed?

I’m not an engineer, so that is not a rhetorical question. I do, however, see wheels and bikes wobble in the stand from a reflector installed on a wheel. I can’t imagine not feeling the difference on a fast decent of a well balanced wheel compared to one that’s not.

Buddy
Buddy
9 years ago

haha what a bunch of haters. This video is sweet.

Spokey
Spokey
9 years ago

If Master Ghibli’s wheel builds are good enough for likes of Lemond, Indurain, Ulrich, David Millar, Quintana et al, (and they were all built by this gentleman, I believe ) I think they are more than good enough for the rest of us. Not just anyone can build these, it’s not a matter of labor rates.

stevey k
stevey k
9 years ago

Has anyone figured out how they are truing the wheel at the end?!?!?

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