Campagnolo Cambio Corsa & Paris-Roubaix

Campagnolo Cambio Corsa & Paris-Roubaix

Cycling industry owes Mr. Tullio Campagnolo a number of significant patents which marked milestones in bicycle components' evolution. Just as the Campagnolo Cambio Corsa and the Campagnolo Paris-Roubaix, the rod-operated gearing systems invented by the Italian brand in the 1940s as development of the "Cambio Campagnolo a Bacchetta".

The inception of the "Cambio a Bacchetta" – the Italian for rod-operated gearing – dates back to 1930, when Tullio Campagnolo patented the quick release for the rear wheel, so called "Galletto Automatico" in Italian. Mr Campagnolo came up with this idea in 1927 after the mountain stage of Croce d'Aune Pass at the "Grand Premio della Vittoria" and having some troubles with the "Giro Ruota" of the time, a rear hub with free wheel and single cog to be switched manually by the rider.

In 1934, the Cambio a Bacchetta was born as extension lever of the quick release, a dual seatstay rod-operated rear derailleur. It allowed to shift while riding, though the operation was not particularly easy though: the rider had to open the quick release with the longest lever while riding; with the shortest lever he had to move the chain to the smaller or bigger cog while pedaling backwards. Chosen the gear, the rider had to pedal forward to tighten the chain and then he closed the quick release with the long lever. In order to allow the hub to move forward and backward, Tullio Campagnolo also patented specific dropouts with a toothed section which prevented the hub slid out the dropouts.

Campagnolo Cambio Corsa

The first "Campagnolo Cambio Corsa" was launched in 1946 and was also available with longer levers in the version "Sport". This gearing system was able to shift a 4 speed freewheel with up to six teeth difference – the most common ratio was 15-21.

Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa

If using the Cambio Corsa was not easy for normal riders, Gino Bartali was a true master at this and won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France riding bicycles equipped with a Cambio Corsa.

Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa

 

The pictured bicycle is a Molinari from Turin (Italy) and is exactly equipped with a Campagnolo Cambio Corsa.

Campagnolo Paris Roubaix

In 1949, Tullio Campagnolo introduced a new version of the rod-operated gearing with only one lever to open the quick release and to shift. The new system was also able to adopt bigger freewheels up to five cogs. In 1950, Fausto Coppi won the Paris-Roubaix race on a Bianchi with this rear derailleur: since then this gear has been named "Paris-Roubaix" to honour the victory of the "Campionissimo".

Campagnolo Paris-Roubaix


Vintage bicycles equipped with Campagnolo Cambio Corsa and Paris-Roubaix gearings are nowadays particularly rare and highly collectible. Not only are they icons of cycling heritage, but also true racing bicycles for the bravest riders. Have you ever thought about challenging yourself on the famous gravel roads of Eroica on a bicycle equipped with a Campagnolo Cambio Corsa?


Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
Cambio Campagnolo Cambio Corsa

3 thoughts on “Campagnolo Cambio Corsa & Paris-Roubaix”

  • Hugh Thornton

    Really nobody in their right mind would have used these gears if they weren't paid to do so. Simplex gears were far superior in terms of cog range and shifting and were on the 1947 Tour we France winning bike. Even Bartali needed a Simplex front shifter to win in 1948. It took a Bartali or a Coppi to win major races with these silly gears. In the late 1940s Legnano's top model Roma was available with Simplex gears and I am sure that sensible customers bought those. I am sure Coppi was pleased to be paid to win the Tour with Simplex. The reason these Campagnolo gears are quite uncommon is that people threw them away as soon as they could get Gran Sports.

  • Arthur Cooper IV
    Arthur Cooper IV Feb 9, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Beautiful... and a million thank you's to Campagnolo and his great contribution to cycling today... His the BEST...

  • David J K Stephenson
    David J K Stephenson Aug 20, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Give a thought to when a rear tyre punctured. The wheel came out with the long rod still attached to the skewer and had to be fed inside the chain loop to get the wheel all the way out.. Then if the replacement wheel didn't have a cambio corsa skewer and rod attached, the skewer and rod had to be swopped from the wheel with the flat tyre. What palaver.

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