Campagnolo Record Hubs
Posted: Tuesday 21st July 2020
Campagnolo’s Record hubs were the hub of choice in the professional peleton for 25 years and were sold in large numbers – almost all of us who were riding before about 1985 will at one time or another possessed a pair of these hubs. Many thousands are still offering excellent service to their owners. So what is it that made the Record hub so special?
The quality of the cones and bearing cups was a distinct cut above anything else made in 1958 and continued right up to the end of production to be the equal of any other hub. You could simply feel that the bearings were better than any of the competition… The axles were also made from high quality steel alloy that rarely bent or broke except under extreme provocation and the hubs were well sealed with removeable tight fitting dustcaps against the ingress of dirt or water. And finally they were fitted with the best quick-release available at the time by quite a long way. And that is where the story of Campag’s hubs starts…
Tullio Campagnolo was a moderately good amateur rider in the 1920s. On November 4th, 1924 during the Gran Premio della Vittoria race across the Croce d’Aune Pass he could not loosen the wingnuts of his wheel to flip it over to a different sprocket due to his frozen hands. This was his incentive to invent a better device to fasten the wheel to the frame.
On February 8th, 1930 he patents the Campagnolo quick release fitting with cam fastening. By 1933 he has started Campagnolo SRL and production of the quick release was started. He engaged another Italian company to make the hubs, FB, with the necessary hollow axle. By 1935 these are being imported into England by Tabucci, an English importer of Italian cycle parts.
After WWII production continued and in 1951 Campagnolo gets FB to make complete hubs with the Campagnolo name stamped on them. They are named Gran Sport by Campagnolo and are very similar to FB’s own branded hubs with small aluminium flanges pressed onto a chromed steel barrel with integral bearing surfaces. Two years later a large flange version is introduced.
In the early 1950s there was little competition to the Campagnolo hubs with quick release – many riders in Britain were still using wingnuts. Simplex offered a cam operated quick release hub which presuambly either got around the Campag patent or licensed it but was no better and Gnutti in Italy also had a cam operated QR but it was Campag hubs which most of the pro riders used even if they did not use Campag gears. The hubs themselves were as good as any other of the period but not better – it was the quick release that attracted the riders.
In the 1950s the amount of research and development work at Campag must have been staggering – we will look at the development of the Gran Sport rear derailleur in another Design Classic but in 1956, headset, micro-adjust seatpin and pedals were launched, cotterless chainset in 1958 together with the Record hubs with most being manufactured in-house. All these parts were light years ahead of the competition.
The Record hubs featured one piece forged aluminium hub shells (either with small or large flanges) with pressed in bearing cups (which could be replaced) and dustcaps and of course fitted with the hollow axle with the patent quick release. Oil clips were fitted to the centre barrel – though the hubs generally relied on grease lubrication rather than oil. The road hubs featured a single threading for the multiple speed freewheel whilst the track hubs had just threading for fixed sprocket and lockring on just one side of the hub. What set these hubs apart from the competition was the quality of the materials used and the standard of construction. Like the earlier Gran Sport hubs the pro peleton soon adopted the Campagnolo hubs as standard.
Changes were few during production – early hubs (until the middle/late 1960s were not engraved Record but simply Campagnolo). A longer axle enabling the use of six-speed freewheels was offered by the late 60s and in 1971 a Super Record version was announced with titanium spindles but was very quickly dropped. The biggest changes were made in 1978 – the US CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) decided the quick releases could pose a danger. The quick release arms were made curved rather than straight and a ball-end added to quick release conical adjuster. With the growth of BMX in the early 1980s BMX versions were launched anodised in gold, blue or silver. Production ceased sometime during 1985 or 1986. Campagnolo launched the new C-Record groupset in late 1985 – but the C-Record hubs never achieved the following the Record had. In particular the very pretty large flange version sometimes suffered from broken flanges though is still being made in a track version.
Chuck Schmidt’s Campagnolo time line is extremely useful reference source http://www.velo-retro.com/tline.html
Campagnolo Record Hub trivia
Track hubs with curved quick releases were introduced in 1967 – these were not allowed on British tracks and were, it is thought, sold mostly in the US.
A special rear hub with a high flange on the freewheel side and a low flange on the left-hand side was introduced in 1982 – the difference in flange sizes was supposed to help even out the spoke tensions between the freewheel and non-freewheel sides of the wheel.
A lower cost version of the Record hub, the Nuovo Tipo was introduced in late 1967. This featured round lightening holes on the large flange version, stamped bearing races and no oil hole.
The hub lock nuts are dated with two numbers eg 65 for 1965.