MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

QUALITY - INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS BETTER?

OLD vs NEW

WHO MADE IT - ???

CAMPAGNOLO

SHIMANO

SUNTOUR

SIMPLEX

OTHER MANUFACTURERS

SEAT POSTS

PEDALS

SADDLES

RIMS & TIRES

HUBS, SPOKES , SKEWERS

HANDLEBARS & STEMS

BRAKE CALLIPERS

BRAKE LEVERS

DERAILLEURS

 

WHAT IS BETTER -  CAMPAGNOLO?

When it comes to choosing quality vintage road bicycle components, brand names can help.  At the top of the list, at least from a collectable point of view, stands the lonely, and formidable, Italian giant – Campagnolo.  However, Campy's "King of the Mountain" position, in the vintage road bicycle arena, is under attack these days, but that is another story.

Vintage Campagnolo components are probably the most sought after of all components in today's vintage road bicycle world.  Just the other day (Mar-26-08), a used 1951 Campagnolo Gran Sport rear derailleur sold for $2,650.00 USD on Ebay.  There were eleven bids, but only two bidders.  Occurrences such as this are harbingers of things to come.  As the interest in the world of vintage road bicycles grows, so too will the values of all things associated with the sport/hobby.  Right now is the best time to acquire a vintage road bicycle or component.

The term “Full Campy” suggests quality, the minute the words are uttered.  The CCM Tour du Canada road bicycle was a top of the line offering in the seventies.  In an effort to break into the high end racing bicycle world, CCM offered these bikes with a full Campagnolo grouppo (special order) at bargain basement prices.  The prices were so good, in fact, that bicycle shops would buy the bicycles, strip the Campagnolo parts off and then sell the parts at a considerable profit.

Even back in the seventies, Campagnolo was considered the King of vintage race bicycle components.  Of course, the question that comes to many collector's minds is what happened to all of those old Tour du Canada frame sets.  A local bicycle shop I am familiar with threw out a dozen or so one day, just because they were in the way.  A sad but apparently true story.  I looked long and hard to find a CCM Tour du Canada for myself and even though it is not the best bicycle I have ever ridden, it is a favourite in my humble collection.

In my experience, almost all Campagnolo components are very well made.  The early entry level offerings were, for the most part, heavy and lacked somewhat in the performance arena.  Though the Valentino derailleurs did work, they left something to be desired both in the performance and maintenance requirements.  That said, they are old and anything but the best that Campy had to offer, then or now.  Generally, these entry level Campagnolo offerings would find their way onto the lesser entry Italian bicycles such as Bottecchia, Bianchi and Torpado.  The Velox derailleur pictures was fitted to an entry level Legnano, a bicycle that offered me one of the most pleasing, and memorable rides, I have ever experienced.

Moving up the Campagnolo list, the Gran Sport transmission made its presence known.  Gran Sport and later Nouvo Gran Sport offerings were superior to the entry level shifter sets.  Both front and rear derailleurs now offered the parallel design, making shifting more positive.  Both were offered as alloy, rather than steel units.  And both preceded the appearance and function of the top of the line offering known as Record.

Campagnolo Record, Nouvo Record and Super Record components are pretty much legendary in vintage road bicycle circles.  These components are, for lack of a better description, works of art, both the cosmetically and mechanically.  Light, precise and attractive are the words that first come to mind when describing the lovely old fittings.  They work very well and seem to have lasted very well over the years.  Any vintage road bicycle equipped with a full Nouvo or Super Record grouppo is worth serious consideration.

The newer Campagnolo offerings are somewhat unfamiliar to me.  Though I have had occasion to acquire and use a few of the Campy's newer vintages, they leave me wanting.  This has nothing to do with quality or "user friendliness".  I just prefer the Old School feel of vintage road bikes and some of the modern components fail to deliver in this area.

The newer Campy offerings include the Indexed Shifting and Mono-Planer brake callipers.  I have used these well made Campagnolo components only once, on my limited edition Miele.  The Miele came equipped with these components and I saw no need to change them out at first.  Though I did like the way everything worked, I did change them out for a full Super Record grouppo, friction shifters and all.

The indexed system is somewhat akin to the automatic transmission is automobiles.  The shifters are still located on the down tube but the need to feel for the next gear is gone.  Click the shifter to its next location and the gear is automatically selected.  No missed shifts thanks to throwing the lever too much or too little.  No trimming of the lever to center the derailleur over the drive chain in an effort to eliminate the chain rattle that accompanies an out of position derailleur cage.  Just click and go.  This is, in my mind, a safer way to shift gears on an old road bicycle.

The Mono-Planer brakes I call "Light Action" because it takes a much lighter pull to generate considerable braking action.  These brakes are a far cry better than virtually any of the Old School brake sets that I have used.  Though some of the Old School feel is gone, one must still feel for the correct pressure to achieve the required braking action.  In all fairness I must admit that the Light Action brake system is my favourite.

The brake levers are comfortable and allow for both Non-Aero and Aero cable routing.  The levers are lightly spring loaded and always return immediately to their resting position.  And to add icing to an already tasty cake, the material that the hoods are made of is excellent when compared to the fast to fail gum rubber hoods or previous offerings.

The newest Campy components include the now popular Ergo Shifting system.  Finally, the rider does not have to move his or her hands off of the handlebars to shift.  The shifters are indexed and included as part of the brake levers.  This is about as good as it gets from a "user friendly" point of view but the Old School feel is absolutely lost.  Two bicycles that have found their way into my collection were fitted with the Ergo shifters.  The first, a nineties something Bianchi Trofeo and the second, my Pinarello Trevisio.  I hated the Bianchi shifters but I did like the set mounted on the Pinarello.

Most Campy stuff is valuable, and the value is growing rapidly.  People are becoming increasingly aware of the value hidden in their old "Ten Speeds" that have been hanging in the garage, for the past quarter of a century.  Because of this increase in awareness more and more vintage Campy components are surfacing and then being offered for auction on Ebay and similar venues.  Ebay prices, like most others, are very subject to the laws of supply and demand.  As supply increases, price decreases.  Because there is so much more stuff being sold on Ebay these days, prices are not too bad – until of course demand increases.  And demand is increasing.  My bet is that vintage Campagnolo stuff, be it NOS or used, will one day be far more valuable and harder to acquire.

Is Campagnolo the best, from a "user friendly" point of view?  Who knows?  All I can say is that Campy is not always my first choice, when function is the issue.  Is Campagnolo a good choice for a vintage road bicycle?  Yes!  If a bicycle that you are considering is Campagnolo equipped, the bicycle earns big points.

NEXT - WHAT IS BETTER - SHIMANO?

 

 

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