24 February 2015

Campagnolo Gran Sport And The Records

The other day, I wrote about the Nivex rear derailleur.  In my post, I mentioned the derailleur that foreclosed Nivex's future: the Campagnolo Gran Sport.

The first GS derailleur looked somewhat like every racing derailleur Campagnolo would make for the next four decades.  Debuted at the 1949 Salon de Milan (That name has a nice ring, doesn't it?), a.k.a., the Milan Bicycle Show, the original Gran Sport had, in embryonic form, the dropped parallelogram we would see on all of Campy's racing derailleurs until the late 1980's.  However, that mechanism had no return spring and was operated by a "double" cable--actually, a cable that looped through the body in the same manner as it did in most French derailleurs of the time.  

No one seems to know whether anything more than a prototype of this derailleur was ever made.  However, a year later, the "double" cable was replaced with a single cable that moves the parallelogram outward or inward, depending on the direction of the shift.  If it wasn't  not the first derailleur to employ such a system, it's almost certainly the first such derailleur to be widely used by racers.  

Main Photo
1951 Gran Sport

 Tullio Campagnolo made various refinements to the derailleur over its manufacturing run, which ended in 1963.  It represented a great improvement in shifting ease over the rod-actuated derailleurs Campagnolo and other companies made before the Gran Sport and the plunger-actuated derailleurs made by Simplex and other companies.  The GS was also mechanically simpler:  no small consideration in races over pockmarked postwar roads and teams with limited budgets.

First generation Record, 1963

The Record, introduced in 1963, looked all but identical to the last version of the Gran Sport.  However, the pulley cage was moved slightly forward and upward in relation to the jockey pulley.  This refinement widened the range of the derailleur and improved the shifting ease somewhat. 

Campagnolo Nuovo Record derailleurs
Campagnolo Nuovo Record

Four years after that, one of the most iconic derailleurs of all time--the Campagnolo Nuovo Record--would first see the light of day.  While it didn't offer much technical refinement over the Record, it looked far more refined, in its polished cold-forged aluminum (in contrast to the chrome-plated brass and steel of the Record and Gran Sport).  Campagnolo would make the Nuovo Record--and it would be the most common derailleur in the peloton--until 1985.  A further refinement of the Nuovo Record--the Super Record--would appear in 1974.  As popular as it was, it did not displace the Nuovo Record, with both derailleurs ending their runs at the same time.

Later version  Super Record


Note:  I would like to acknowledge The Retrogrouch, Bicycle Quarterly, Classic Rendezvous, Disraeli Gears, Velo Base, Classic LIghtweights UK and old Campagnolo literature for the information in this post.


  1. Mostly, the Super Record added titanium fasteners and a little bit of black paint. Neither was as good as the Suntour.

  2. Steve--I always used to laugh at the guys who thought the Super Record had some sort of mystical powers that the Nuovo Record (or, for that matter, any other derailleur) lacked. Some even claimed that it was made from stuff not found on the periodic table.

    But, as you note, neither was as good as the SunTour. But the guy who paid the price of four SunTour Cyclones for his Campy SR didn't want to hear that!