1901: The Birth of a Formidable Racing Cyclist and Bicycle Manufacturer

August 26, 1901

Gentullio “Tullio” Campagnolo, who achieved widespread fame as both a racing cyclist and bicycle manufacturer, was born in the city of Vicenza in northeastern Italy. By the early 1920s, Campagnolo was regularly competing in such prestigious and difficult cycling races as the Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy) in northwestern Italy; and La Classicissima di primavera (the Spring Classic) between the Italian cities of Milan and San Remo. He also took part in several Olympic heats for cyclists. 

Campagnolo parlayed his considerable pedaling experience — combined with the mechanical expertise that he developed over the years while tinkering with various tools and equipment in his father’s hardware store — to establish what has become one of the world’s leading makers of bicycle parts. Campagnolo S.p.A. (Società per Azioni), which was launched in Vicenza in 1933, has become renowned throughout the decades for taking mostly unnoticed but promising ideas for bicycle components and improving upon and effectively mass-producing those components.

Key examples of components that Campagnolo further enhanced and then successfully integrated into his company’s product line included the quick-release mechanism to remove a wheel from a bicycle swiftly and without any tools; and a derailleur to facilitate a change in the gears of a bicycle by moving the chain from one gear to another.

Another way in which Campagno heavily influenced the bicycle industry was by adopting the concept of the “gruppo” — a group of matching components — in how his company did business. In general, those owning and riding high-end bicycles previously found themselves purchasing various and not necessarily compatible components on a piecemeal basis from multiple companies.  Campagnolo’s gruppo approach provided for a “one-stop shopping” alternative that allowed customers to obtain all of the needed bicycle parts from his company only. A half-century after founding his company, Campagnolo died in Vicenza at the age of 81.​

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on Gentullio “Tullio” Campagnolo, please check out https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/tullio-campagnolo/m075ghx?hl=en and https://www.renehersecycles.com/a-reappraisal-of-tullio-campagnolo/

Additional information on Campagnolo and the history of his namesake company is available at http://www.velo-retro.com/tline.html

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