Reverence: Campagnolo Quick-Release

Reverence: Campagnolo Quick-Release

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Tullio Campagnolo, an amateur racing cyclist, was racing on a classic Rule #9 day in Italy. The weather was cold, and I believe he was racing in the mountains. Riding with the leaders, I can almost feel in the pit of my stomach the dread that must have crept over him as he realized he wouldn’t be able to change gear. At the time, wheels used a flip gear to allow for changing of gear, and were fixed in place with wing-nuts which made it easy to remove the rear wheel – assuming everything was well greased, nothing was dirty or frozen, and the rider had just taken a refreshing shower. Which happened to not be the case on this particular day, as he had the misfortune of actually riding his bike.

It almost goes without saying that his frozen fingers were unable to loosen the frozen wing-nuts. And here is where Tullio distinguishes himself from people like me; whereas I would have chucked a Millarcopter you could see from the International Space Station, Tullio made the slightly more productive move of inventing perhaps the most sensible component on our bicycles: the quick-release.

There is no component a Velominatus can own that speaks more clearly to the history of our sport than a Campagnlogo Quick-Release. Bearing that in mind, it’s a shameful thing that I, a self-proclaimed Velominatus, have never owned one. Until a few months ago, that is, shortly after procuring my Record hubs, when I finally got my hands on a set.

And I have to say, they don’t disappoint. They’re not the lightest skewers in existence, but they do have a beautifully solid feeling when opening and closing them, and they grip amazingly true to the Campagnolo dropouts on my steel frame. The arc of the lever defies description; on the front it hugs the fork and tucks neatly behind it while on the back it bisects the angle of the chain and seat stays in perfect Rule #41 compliance. It is a sight to behold. In fact, it’s a little bit dangerous because I should spend less time staring at them when I’m riding and more time starting at the road.

Grazie, Signore Campagnolo.

// Reverence

  1. The sharp eyed, and many of you are very sharp eyed, will notice the pedals, which aren’t part of the groupo, but as I like to ride it, I’d taken off the proper C-record ones with toeclips, and also that it’s got a two bolt record seatpin. As it’s made of 753t, it takes a 27.0 pin and the only one I had was this nice fluted one, which looks ok with the paintjob! Sorry to go off topic by the way.

  2. @frank

    I’d just finished reading “It’s all about the Bike” and it jumped out straight away when I read your piece. Right time right place.

    Great article, thanks. My knowledge of these thing is poor and I’m really enjoying reading up on the history.

  3. Interesting that Cammpy chose to put “closed” on them in English. Has that always been the way or do they produce an Italian version?

  4. @fermapiedi
    I love your Mercian! And you’re right about the Campag ball bearings, but it was only the C-Record hubs wasn’t it, not Record in general? They used 7/32 balls instead of the more common 3/16 size…

  5. @Chris
    Ooh, I’ve got a picture somewhere of one of those that was on a bike for sale in Rome about 20 years ago. Was very tempted to buy it then but didn’t.
    I’ll see if I can dig it up.
    Cursed hindsight.

  6. Was it 1978? A regulation (USA?) went into place. The quick release arm was bent. The quick release nut added a roundish tip. The brake caliper release lever took on a spoon shape. The front rerailer added a spoon shape to the leading edge. The brake pad holders got a plastic coating on the down bit. All in the name of safety.

  7. Oh also. The rear derailer got those strange black plastic bits around the adjusting screws.

  8. I’m in disagreement with the front QR angle IMO it goes upward just fore of the fork. You can post all the photos you want you aren’t going to change my mind.

  9. @michael
    Nope, wrong. Your way is fine if you like, but aft of the fork is the true way. It’s easier for the race mechanics for a start.

    And you won’t take a picture as proof? Even one of Eddy Merckx?

  10. @Chris

    Here’s an interesting bit of Campy kit falling from a bit later on
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/1940s-campagnolo-cambio-corsa-legnano-super-rare-/120738618643?pt=Cycling_Parts_Accessories&hash=item1c1c951d13#ht_4325wt_1139

    Gah, I couldn’t be bothered ripping the garage apart looking for a slide, but thanks to the wonders of the interweb, I offer the following derailleur photos in context…

  11. Woah, Brett! What model/#/year are those levers with the cut-out on your Bosworth?

    Those are beautiful!

  12. @Oli

    No I won’t accept any photos. The limited number of photos of the past make the argument moot.

  13. @mouse

    Nice photo. It would be interesting to have a ride on one of those but we don’t know how good we have it!

  14. @michael
    Haha, touche! But I’d suggest the Merckx might finish a race with his q/r in that ugly and ungainly position, but I bet he never started one. Most likely that was a replacement wheel fitted in a hurry, probably by some part-time neutral service guy…

  15. @Jim

    Was it 1978? A regulation (USA?) went into place. The quick release arm was bent. The quick release nut added a roundish tip. The brake caliper release lever took on a spoon shape. The front rerailer added a spoon shape to the leading edge. The brake pad holders got a plastic coating on the down bit. All in the name of safety.

    Jim, very cool background – I had not heard those reasons for the changes. Thanks for sharing. You forgot to add about the lawyer tabs on the forks. Which I file off every fork that crosses the threshold into my workshop.

  16. Great article and photos everyone, great as always.

    My bike #2 doesn’t have QR wheels, and its one of those things that you don’t even think about until you’re fucked. Having to ride with extra tools and praying that you don’t get a flat isn’t the most fun. I keep meaning to buy new wheels for it, but somehow that money keeps being spent on bike #1 instead…

  17. I have to change the QR on the rear wheel when I put the bike on the Kurt trainer so I guess I should pick up a Campy QR to use instead of the generic one that comes with the Kurt. That should be good for 10 watts at least.

  18. @Cyclops
    Watts? Uh oh……..Let the flaming begin!

  19. @scaler911
    I’m a 50 year old, overweight, Cat 5 – I was speaking of “virtual watts”.

  20. @Cyclops
    Just joking around………Ha!

  21. LOVE that photo of Merckx! Casually Deliberate, even on a bench.

    The #1 on his bike, the drilled chainrings…awesomeness.

    And, the dude knew how to wear a cycling cap!

  22. @Ron

    LOVE that photo of Merckx! Casually Deliberate, even on a bench.

    The #1 on his bike, the drilled chainrings…awesomeness.

    And, the dude knew how to wear a cycling cap!

    I think it’s a look that mere mortals find very hard to pull off, Merckx does it pretty easily.

    I must say I prefer the look and operation of the curved quick releases to the original ones.  When you see the old Cambio Corsa or Paris-Roubaix mechs it makes you realise how easy we have it now days..

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