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Factory visit: bc at the Campagnolo HQ in Vicenza, Italy

Jonas 27. March 2018

Spending the day exploring these hallowed halls was a true treat. It really shows why Campagnolo has such a high reputation when it comes to Road cycling.

It’s hard to think about beauty, function and tradition in cycling without first thinking about Campagnolo. Due to their reputation, Alex, Basti and I were honored by the chance to check out their HQ in Vicenza!

Campagnolo’s long and glorious history is so full of anecdotes that I could probable write a thesis dissertation. Getting their start as Tulio Campagnolo created the quick release and then the Gran Sport parallelogram rear derailleur, Campagnolo has come a long way with classic, high-quality groupsets like Super Record, Record, Chorus, Potenza and Centaur.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

I can't wait for the tour!

Their products aren’t just known for their top performance either. A bike with a Campy groupset has always had a certain flair. Those who still own untouched Delta brakes know that what they have is not only an integral part of cycling history, but also a priceless heirloom.

As a family-run business, Campagnolo has always remained true to Road cycling (except for a few MTB derailleurs in the early 90’s). Many other companies have widened their portfolio and have grown to be larger than Campy, but in my opinion no one comes close to producing cycling products with the same level of passion.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Tulio Campagnolo, the founder.

Sala Record meeting room at the Campagnolo HQ in Italy.

Big names in cycling have spent some serious time in here.

The Sala Chorus where we met Valentino Campagnolo.

The conference rooms are named after groupsets.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

The finest of fine! This display holds Campagnolo's dearest components. The case is even made of the original booth they used at expos.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

This cargo bike was first used by Tulio to deliver orders.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Shaking hands with Mr. Campagnolo himself.

In the Vicenza factory, every room, corner and desk is filled with this passion. Passing both the Record and Mirage meeting rooms, we settled down into Chorus, but not before we took a gander at Nairo Quintana’s winning bike from the 2016 Vuelta. In the Chorus meeting room, we were waiting on Tulio Campagnolo’s son, Valentino.

For the most part, in the cycling industry everyone is on a first name basis. There are only two people who are referred to formally, Yozo Shimano and Valentino Campagnolo. With weak knees, we waited patiently for  Mr. Campagnolo and when he came in we all started to chat. He took the time to hear bc’s history and he even signed a Bora Ultra 50 wheelset for us, which we are auctioning off for charity.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy. Valentino Campagnolo signs a Bora wheelset

Valentino Campagnolo signing our Bora wheelset!

After meeting Mr. Campagnolo, we headed into the factory. This place hasn’t seen many cameras, so we were excited to be able to document it. Of course, all under the watchful eye of Global Marketing Manager Joshua Riddle.

It’s amazing how much is still made by hand here. Campagnolo also has a factory in Romania, but apparently it works under the exact same principle.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

No cameras huh?

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Working by hand is still crucial to the process.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

This is where the legendary Bora carbon rims are made.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

The Campagnolo shine.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Does this remind you of a certain German tyre manufacturer?

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

This display shows how a bottom bracket housing is made.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

First the skeptical look...

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Then the perfect smile.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

What wheels will these rims turn into?

Next to the large presses, where Campagnolo stamps out chains, chainrings and sprockets, we found a large number of new and modern CNC machines. It’s easy to see that Campagnolo is still on the cutting edge of technology and puts a lot of effort into developing new ideas. For example, Bora wheels have been produced in clean room conditions in Vicenza for years.

Campy’s love for detail is immense, when you consider that they manually control the hollow pins for Record chains. Even though the assembly line uses various lasers, scanners and x-ray machines to check everything, each pin is checked by hand. For chains, before they are sent, they go through over 80 quality controls. The days when Campagnolo had to rely on the German company, Rohloff, are long gone.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Look at the precision.

Basti checking out the chain links in the Campagnolo Factory.

Basti checking out the chain links.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

One of the various quality control checks.

The Campagnolo pins vs. the leftover metal.

The pins vs. the leftover metal.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

The left over metal after CNC-machining.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

The chain pins.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

The chains are all checked through here.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

The chain before packaging.

For cycling nerds like me, seeing where the disc wheels are built was a very special treat. Mr. Ghibli is the king of this castle and you can get an idea of how he hand makes these wheels in a video Campy made a few years ago. He is the only one who crafts these wheels and those who have had one in their hand, know what pieces of art they truly are.

Video
bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Just beautiful.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Mr. Ghibli wheels!

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Everything on this wheel is assembled by one person. Not something you see everyday.

Everywhere we went, our smiles only widened. At the end of the tour, Joshua showed us a few very special bikes. They are equipped with the first EPS prototypes, which were almost ready for production in the 1990s. However, after a storm during the Giro d’Italia, the EPS parts failed because they were not made for the speeds and conditions they experienced on top of the service cars. The nerd I am, I had already told this story to Basti and Alex before Joshua even had a chance.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Check out those mint condition Shamal wheels.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

Basti wants to take it home!

Being at the end of the tour, all we had to say was thank you. Having a chance to see behind the scenes of Campagnolo was a pleasure. Seeing how detailed and how much passion goes into their products mirrors their reputation in the cycling world. There is truly nothing like a smooth Campagnolo groupset.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

One last look before we leave.

bike-components visits Campagnolo in Italy.

I couldn't resist...

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