Reverence: Campagnolo Tools

photo by italian_bicycles
photo by italian_bicycles

Exposure to religion in my youth was by way of a brief dose of sunday school at the local Unitarian church. The point there, evidently, was to learn about other religions and turtles. If a point was being made, I missed it. When Catholic friends of mine came over for the weekend I would accompany them to the closest Catholic church and we would endure the mass together, the experience leaving us just as clueless as the moment before we walked in.

A girlfriend of @Rob briefly worked for the English bike company Raleigh in Boston, Massachusetts. These were the Jan Raas, Didi Thurau, Ti-Raleigh years, where Raleigh made beautiful bikes and their team was one of the dreadnaughts of professional cycling. I was visiting this friend at the Raleigh offices, which to my eyes seemed like any other office: fluorescent lighting, linoleum tiled floors, men in coats and ties. It was uncontaminated by bicycles or red and yellow  kits. This place was not cool. My friend ushered me into a nondescript room, pulled out an enormous sliding drawer and showed me something she knew was cool.

In this sliding drawer was a complete set of Campagnolo bike tools, all set in blue foam cut outs, each tool nestled in its perfectly shaped place. I didn’t fall to my knees but I must have gasped. Each tool was a work of art: form and function in unison. Each tool designed for a specific task in the wedding of components to frame. The tools had a uniform silver finish. There were facing and chasing tools with beautifully milled cutting teeth of high speed steel. I’m serious about reverence here. I had never seen anything like this. The seeds to my Italophile religion were sown. I was already a devout fan of the components but did the tools have to look this fantastic? What did this say about a company? To me it said-these tools are designed and made to make sure Campagnolo components work perfectly on any frame. What goes into the tools goes into everything else. The passion, the design, the tools and the components are one. Perhaps the intention was never there to make cool looking tools, maybe it was just a by-product of making cool looking components. What else could they do?

I had found my religion. I never needed the complete tool set, I was never a professional bike mechanic. I do own a few civilian Campa tools: some cone wrenches, the peanut butter wrench, a T-handle wrench, a 10-speed chain tool. These are beautiful tools. Park makes functional tools, no one would say they are beautiful. Why make a functional tool beautiful? Is a beautiful tool a better tool? It is when one is making a living wielding them. Pride in your tools reflects pride in your work.

I was going to write that those days are over, adding beauty adds cost and the bottom line is everything now. Then I remembered my Lezyne pedal wrench. It is functional as it removes pedals without impaling knuckles onto greasy chainrings (and opens beer bottles) but it is beautiful because it has a wide smooth machined aluminum handle bolted onto the body of the wrench. It lacks the refined industrial design of a Campagnolo tool but it is beautiful in its own way.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/campy tools/”/]

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94 Replies to “Reverence: Campagnolo Tools”

  1. I wish I had the full Campag tool set.  I remember back in the late ’80s the went for about $1500 (wholesale).

  2. @Cyclops

    As a professional steel frame builder I’d say you are back in the market. Maybe there are some nice “broken in” sets available. These carbon frame builders can’t use half the tools in the case.

  3. As I’m out acquiring more tools for the shop, I’ve been trying to be careful and buy the “right” stuff. The old Campa stuff is hard to come by though. Unless you have a fat wallet. The LBS that I honed my wrenching skills at was old school though and had tons of that gear. Miss it………….

  4. BTW, since you mentioned steel frame building I just sent the first Deacon to the painter yesterday so as soon as I get it back I’ll be building ‘er up and posting an article on “Bike #2”.

  5. Since I ride Group-sans and Bro-sets I would have no use for Campagnolo tools unless they were simply repurposed as drool collectors, but this article certainly makes me regret my purchase of a Park Tool BBT-19 and FR-5 when I could have instead just purchased this and this from Lezyne.

  6. Love this piece.  A lot.  You’ve put into words much of how felled.  I’m too invested – emotionally,financially, and physically – in Campag to ever change…. Their stuff is just so beautiful.  I haven’t seen a complete Campy toolset, but boy, I’d love to.  Most of my tools are Lezyne (because they work,and they look good), but this makes me realise there is a cut above.  Chapeau, Gianni.  Beautiful prose as ever.

  7. You nailed it, the right tool for the job and looking so beautiful never hurt.  There is something to be said about using the proper tool and the way it feels in your hand.

  8. i just received my 11 speed campagnolo chain tool.  I am hard pressed to believe this wasn’t designed by the japanese.  that’s not mean to be a slight to the italians, but it is so well thought out and functional, that after you read the directions you see  how that little $200 tool can accomplish so much is baffling, at least to me it is.

    and speaking of tools, does anyone know where the heck I can pick up this dt swiss spoke tool?  ive called all the local distributors, and they can’t even find them.  is this a mythical unicorn i’m looking for?

  9. @VeloVita

    Since I ride Group-sans and Bro-sets I would have no use for Campagnolo tools unless they were simply repurposed as drool collectors, but this article certainly makes me regret my purchase of a Park Tool BBT-19 and FR-5 when I could have instead just purchased this and this from Lezyne.

    Most of my Campagnolo tools could be used on any components but cone wrenches and 15mm crank bolt wrenches are not useful on the new generation of wheels and cranksets. Oh well. I believe Frank was saying that Lezyne CNC rod was not a useful tool, and it does not open beer bottles, so it’s good you stuck with Park for those.

    @G’rilla

    You are correct sir. Chris King is at the top. More exacting than Tullio, I wish I had a dire need for their head set tool. It’s drool-worthy.

  10. @roger

    i just received my 11 speed campagnolo chain tool. I am hard pressed to believe this wasn’t designed by the japanese. that’s not mean to be a slight to the italians, but it is so well thought out and functional, that after you read the directions you see how that little $200 tool can accomplish so much is baffling, at least to me it is.

    ….it’s just so well thought out and functional, hehee, yeah, occasionally the Italians get it completely right. Not often but you must admit it’s the nicest and last chain tool you will ever own.

    You read the directions?

  11. @Roadslave525

    Love this piece. A lot. You’ve put into words much of how felled. I’m too invested – emotionally,financially, and physically – in Campag to ever change…. Their stuff is just so beautiful. I haven’t seen a complete Campy toolset, but boy, I’d love to. Most of my tools are Lezyne (because they work,and they look good), but this makes me realise there is a cut above. Chapeau, Gianni. Beautiful prose as ever.

    Thanks man. It’s good to hear from others in the sub-tribe of Campagnolo believers. @TBONE’s link of prints is a good primer. Imagine a giant sliding drawer filled with many of these amazing items.

    I hope @rob dosen’t tell me I’ve hallucinated/exaggerated all this.

  12. Just the name evokes the smell of dusty wooden floorboards and grease soaked workshop aprons and the smell of a strong macchiato …….   old men sitting on wooden stools around an aged bench tinkering with steel steeds.

    Mmmm, now where was I ……

  13. @sthilzy

    @frank

    @Cyclops

    Check it out, I found this sweet picture of you.

    Those clogs are used to smack down the quill stem bolt.

    Man, that Dude is Tobias in an early form.  I wonder if Ron Howard is a Campa fan?

  14. @TBONE  Those are beautiful prints and cool website – Thanks. Perhaps the more enlightened Velominati could tell us what some of those tools are actually for?

    [dmalbum: path=”/velominati.com/wp-content/uploads/readers/asyax/2013.01.24.02.09.05/1/”/]

  15. @frank

    @Cyclops

    Check it out, I found this sweet picture of you.

    Fuck.  I had a Buick ‘wagon for a while in high school and college.  It was not nearly this cool, but it could not be killed no matter how I abused it.

  16. I had a wet vagina after reading the article, then I saw the clogs. And the Buick. Take me now.

    I get sweet feelings over the Hozan cast iron truing stand. Art personified. I am very partial to my own Park shop grade spoke wrenches. They fell heavy like a tool should. Being a Campagnolo heavy shop, I can see my future is bright.

    VLVV!

  17. @Dan_R

    I had a wet vagina after reading the article, then I saw the clogs. And the Buick. Take me now.

    I get sweet feelings over the Hozan cast iron truing stand. Art personified. I am very partial to my own Park shop grade spoke wrenches. They fell heavy like a tool should. Being a Campagnolo heavy shop, I can see my future is bright.

    VLVV!

    Ok. Can y’all officially declare that I’m no longer the biggest sexual miscreant around these parts?

  18. I like how you connected religion, beauty and tools. There is something almost liturgical about the use of sacred instruments on the hallowed steed. When the ritual is complete, they are cleaned and returned to their place. We are blessed. Joy is complete. A-Merckx.

  19. @scaler911

    @Dan_R

    I had a wet vagina after reading the article, then I saw the clogs. And the Buick. Take me now.

    I get sweet feelings over the Hozan cast iron truing stand. Art personified. I am very partial to my own Park shop grade spoke wrenches. They fell heavy like a tool should. Being a Campagnolo heavy shop, I can see my future is bright.

    VLVV!

    Ok. Can y’all officially declare that I’m no longer the biggest sexual miscreant around these parts?

    Possibly, at least you only have problems determining other’s genders.  (or is that someone else, you a Kiwi?)

  20. @scaler911

    @Dan_R

    I had a wet vagina after reading the article, then I saw the clogs. And the Buick. Take me now.

    I get sweet feelings over the Hozan cast iron truing stand. Art personified. I am very partial to my own Park shop grade spoke wrenches. They fell heavy like a tool should. Being a Campagnolo heavy shop, I can see my future is bright.

    VLVV!

    Ok. Can y’all officially declare that I’m no longer the biggest sexual miscreant around these parts?

    Aye

  21. @scaler911

    @Dan_R

    I had a wet vagina after reading the article, then I saw the clogs. And the Buick. Take me now.

    I get sweet feelings over the Hozan cast iron truing stand. Art personified. I am very partial to my own Park shop grade spoke wrenches. They fell heavy like a tool should. Being a Campagnolo heavy shop, I can see my future is bright.

    VLVV!

    Ok. Can y’all officially declare that I’m no longer the biggest sexual miscreant around these parts?

    Um, biggest was never really the descriptor which came to mind…

  22. @Buck Rogers

    @sthilzy

    @frank

    @Cyclops

    Check it out, I found this sweet picture of you.

    Those clogs are used to smack down the quill stem bolt.

    Man, that Dude is Tobias in an early form. I wonder if Ron Howard is a Campa fan?

    Now, for an arrested development geek, you should know that this is an improbable suggestion; the aforementioned trained analrapist is also a never nude. c’mon Buck, had high expectations of you!

  23. @scaler911

    @Dan_R

    I had a wet vagina after reading the article, then I saw the clogs. And the Buick. Take me now.

    I get sweet feelings over the Hozan cast iron truing stand. Art personified. I am very partial to my own Park shop grade spoke wrenches. They fell heavy like a tool should. Being a Campagnolo heavy shop, I can see my future is bright.

    VLVV!

    Ok. Can y’all officially declare that I’m no longer the biggest sexual miscreant around these parts?

    Hell no. You still appear to be confused about gender, which if memory serves is the source of your problems. Dan R appears to be a MALE, while a Vagina is what FEMALES have.

    Frankly if you haven’t sorted this out by now Mrs Scaler has a mighty power of work ahead of her.

  24. I shouldn’t be drawn by Campag stuff as I prefer function over form, and prefer utilitarian to fluffy Italian, and yet I already know that when I get my new #1 it won’t be adorned by groupsan or bro-set but by a majestic and beautiful gruppo.  I haven’t even started looking for my new #1 and yet this is as guaranteed as if Mr Visa had already been laid down.

  25. The bike shops I worked at in college had full sets of Campy tools and a mechanic who knew how to properly treat them. Those of you in Ohio probably remember James Simbro.  Tools were in order, bikes worked, all was right other world.

    Fast forward 15 years and I get a part-time job at a shop here in Austin. I ask if they still have and use any Campy tools. The mechanic replies why would we? I don’t work on that stuff”. He didn’t and still doesn’t get it. he is trusted with little.

    If you want a Campy tool that the VMH will love and you’ll get to use daily, order the full-size wine opener. It is art. Featured prominently in my kitchen. If the VMH ever leaves, it is not up for discussion who gets the Campy tool. It’s her.

  26. Very nice, Gianni! I can’t say that I own any Campagnolo tools, yet that is. I went the bargain route when I needed a 10-s chain tool for my Campa chains & picked up the Park one. Works well, not beautiful, but functional. I even sheared off the pressing pin on mine & spoke to a very nice, sharp dude in MN who explained why the tool was designed like that, then mailed me a new one, free of charge. Nice! Being the son of a mechanical engineer I felt like tools were lost on me. Now that I’ve become a Follower I really appreciate a nice, functional tool. Nice tools, doing your own bike work, and heading out on long rides with just a few things in your pockets all are part of the same harmonic equation.

    Religion. Raised Catholic & really know nothing about it. A big waste of time for me. I do now get a real kick out of cycling on Sundays as people rush off to church, sometimes nearly running me off the road in the process, all to get into the house of god. Go figure.

    Nice wagon! My first car was a double hand-me-down Chevrolet Caprice Classic, maroon on maroon scheme. It was pretty amazing to drive that thing to high school, then college, especially when most other cars on campus were highly expensive imports. And they were purchased as gifts, not handed down. My parents eventually donated it to Salvation Army and every so often I’d see it rolling around town. Nice!

    Clogs. I still want to know who the genius is that convinced every single doctor in America (the world?) that they must wear clogs to work every day. That person deserves a huge bonus check. My doctor pals don’t quite like it when I ask how doctors in the previous centuries were able to survive without a pair of jazzy clogs in funny prints for each day of the week.

    Ah, Frank! I’ve been meaning to ask about cool, classic bicycle tumblr sites, since it seems there is now one for everything, but I was worried about bringing them up around here. Now that the seal is broken, anyone know of any with classic (say 1970s-1990s) steel road bikes? I still haven’t uncovered one.

  27. Gianni, you always cut to the essence of your subject and your choices in life, women, bikes, boats  show that its about aesthetics. I have wrestled with the question of what beauty is all my working life and while it is hard to define and not always a nessecity you always know it when you see it.

    On a more prosaic topic… WTF I was never shown the “back room” at Raleigh HQ!!!

  28. Well, in looking at that bicycletech site…that has some pretty awesome stuff!

  29. @Ron

    Ah, Frank! I’ve been meaning to ask about cool, classic bicycle tumblr sites, since it seems there is now one for everything, but I was worried about bringing them up around here. Now that the seal is broken, anyone know of any with classic (say 1970s-1990s) steel road bikes

    Why would you ever be worried about bringing up sites that provide an ever flowing depiction of beautiful bikes?  I don’t know about era-specific bikes, but my two favourites are ildolore.cc for classic racing photos and Cycle EXIF for drool-worthy bikes with well done photography

  30. @minion

    @scaler911

    @Dan_R

    I had a wet vagina after reading the article, then I saw the clogs. And the Buick. Take me now.

    I get sweet feelings over the Hozan cast iron truing stand. Art personified. I am very partial to my own Park shop grade spoke wrenches. They fell heavy like a tool should. Being a Campagnolo heavy shop, I can see my future is bright.

    VLVV!

    Ok. Can y’all officially declare that I’m no longer the biggest sexual miscreant around these parts?

    Hell no. You still appear to be confused about gender, which if memory serves is the source of your problems. Dan R appears to be a MALE, while a Vagina is what FEMALES have.

    Frankly if you haven’t sorted this out by now Mrs Scaler has a mighty power of work ahead of her.

    First, how did you get relegated to a Cat 4? Sir Frank finally had it with you sheep fuckers?

    Second, my gender identity confusion issue is the least of Mrs. Scaler’s worries with me…………

  31. @VeloVita

    @Ron

    Ah, Frank! I’ve been meaning to ask about cool, classic bicycle tumblr sites, since it seems there is now one for everything, but I was worried about bringing them up around here. Now that the seal is broken, anyone know of any with classic (say 1970s-1990s) steel road bikes

    Why would you ever be worried about bringing up sites that provide an ever flowing depiction of beautiful bikes? I don’t know about era-specific bikes, but my two favourites are ildolore.cc for classic racing photos and Cycle EXIF for drool-worthy bikes with well done photography

    Nice! Thanks for those. I guess I was reluctant to ask because there is just so much junk out there tumblin’ around that the whole topic would be frowned upon. I’ll check those out. The CX Championships are coming up fast!!

    Damn, Dr. Tobias. Somehow I missed that show until recently, even though I have seen David Cross live & think he’s pretty damn funny. I went through the whole thing a few months back, in just a few days. Definitely love how Bateman rides his whip everywhere! And now I’ve just started Todd Margaret. The level of humor is amazingly insulting & crass, and yes, still funny.

  32. @Gianni

    @sthilzy

    Sweet jesus, I owned those exact brown Dansko clogs. All the rage in ’70s. All dudes owned a pair.

    When you move into a house in Seattle, they issue you a pair of those. If you really can’t take them for fit reasons, you are given a dispensation and allowed to choose between a green or salmon colored pair of Crocs.

  33. @frank

    @Gianni

    @sthilzy

    Sweet jesus, I owned those exact brown Dansko clogs. All the rage in ’70s. All dudes owned a pair.

    When you move into a house in Seattle, they issue you a pair of those. If you really can’t take them for fit reasons, you are given a dispensation and allowed to choose between a green or salmon colored pair of Crocs.

    Is that an upgrade or downgrade from Birks?

  34. @Chris

    @scaler911 Any doubts about your deviant status are dispelled by the fetching pink nail varnish.

    That matched with the hillbilly boy capri cutoffs.

  35. @Chris

    @scaler911 Any doubts about your deviant status are dispelled by the fetching pink nail varnish.

    No way that’s either me, or a photo from Portland. There’s no socks involved, and/or the legs in the above photo are shaved. The only people that shave their legs in this town are bike racers and strippers. And even those have around 60% compliance (looking at you @gaswepass).

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