Campagnolo – what’s all the fuss about?

When we talk to students and other cyclists about components, be it groupsets or wheels and the iconic Italian brand is mentioned, we get the usual reactions… expensive, difficult to work on and you need lots of special tools. Well to some extent that is true but these are not good reasons to shy away from understanding this manufacturer of beautifully engineered cycle parts. As you may guess from this introduction, I ‘m a ‘Campagnista’, a real fan of the brand, but for many good reasons. 


Let’s look at a bit of history first. Tulio Campagnolo was the man who invented the quick release mechanism so he could flip his wheel round when climbing in the alps to the big sprocket on the other end of his axle. Imagine the joy of being able to climb an alp with a 14 tooth instead of an 11. Now the brand’s latest innovation is the Ekar gravel-specific groupset with beautiful carbon cranks in a 1×13 format. The smallest sprocket is 9 tooth and the largest 44… Tulio would be amazed. However, he would not be surprised that his company is still innovating and finding new and better ways of building components. So the reputation for being hard to work on is a self-perpetuating myth.


Mechanics and riders don’t see so many examples of Campagnolo, as it’s not a common specification on most mass-market brand bikes. Because they don’t see or experience so many, they don’t gain knowledge of the setup procedures and so they shy away from dealing with them when they get the chance… say supporting an event. It is true on the 12-speed groupsets the precision of the system means you do need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to the letter to get super quiet and smooth shifting, but it’s not technically any more difficult than a high-end groupset from another brand. 


Yes, it’s true the brand is not cheap, but that’s because of the high-quality workmanship and material they use even in their entry-level components. However, the availability of parts and the design of their components means this cost is spread over many years of service. It’s not uncommon for ergo power levers to last 20- 30 years when services well. 


Finally, the idea is that you need lots of specialist tools to work on Campagnolo. Well as a professional mechanic you should have 90 % of the tools you need, and just a few are essential to do the same jobs but specific to Campagnolo. Most know that cassettes are not compatible with either Sram or Shimano so a cassette tool is machined to fit the spline pattern for Campagnolo is a must.

The chains are recommended to be riveted not joined by a snap link and it’s true without the expensive Campagnolo chain rivet tool for 12/13 speed chains it is almost impossible to rivet the chain successfully. But these are the key tools you need unless you need to remove bottom bracket bearings, which are factory fitted to the cranks, and even then you can do this job with aftermarket tools.


We at the Bike Inn are proud to be one of the few Campagnolo Pro Shops in the North of England, a status only conferred on fully trained mechanics who have met Campagnolo’s strict standards of competence. As such we can access the parts and the technical information to repair and service all of Campagnolo’s current and legacy range of components.



Mark Wilcox

Bike Inn Team

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