In our latest series, we’re getting to grips with the brands that you deal with every day. The ‘Five minutes with’ series will present a company with five short, sharp and to-the-point questions about who they are and what they do. This week we’re joined by Campagnolo’s Joshua Riddle.
Can you tell us the history of the company?
On November 11, 1927, when Tullio Campagnolo found himself alone ahead of his competitors, he prepared to climb the first steep slopes of the Croce d’Aune pass undauntedly and determined not to surrender. On that freezing morning of November, his hands were so numb from the cold that he couldn’t loosen up the hub wing nuts to disengage the wheel and shift to an easier gear. Then and there, he had a stroke of genius; he would redesign the nut’s lever to make the release more straightforward. Today, the brand is still pushing the boundaries, branching out from traditional areas of expertise. Campagnolo dedicated many resources towards developing its own version of disc brake technology. In similar fashion, a new state-of-the-art application was unveiled in an effort to improve the cycling experience by offering free, useful and game changing interaciton with componentry of all types.
What are you ultimately trying to achieve?
The philosophy of Campagnolo, dating back to the invention of the very first quick release, is to improve the cycling experience one product at a time. Campagnolo is dedicated to making functional and reliable performance products that are beautiful and preform beautifully. It is not enough to produce performance if it doesn’t last. And it isn’t enough to be merely functional and reliable…but also beautiful. Campagnolo, true to its Italian DNA, seeks to produce functionally beautiful components – improving the cyclists experience through one innovation after another.
What gives you an edge over other brands in the industry?
Obviously our history and authenticity, which is unique to us. Aside from the obvious however, many perhaps don’t know that we are still a 100 per cent family owned company. While perhaps in terms of financing or scale that is a limit but it is also an opportunity in terms of not being beholden to a board of directors or obligated to make decisions purely based on profit margins. For example, the quality standard within Campagnolo is 100 per cent as the ownership wont accept anything less – even if it means taking a loss or coming to market later than desired. Other companies perhaps can insert into budget a certain number of warranty claims or failure rate, however with Campagnolo this is not the case. See our disc brake project; some might say that we came to market late and in a certain sense that is correct as competitors had introduced road disc solutions well ahead of us. Campagnolo wasn’t guided by market timelines or budget constraints but rather by the quest for Campagnolo quality construction and performance. Until that was met the product would not be launched. The H11 groupsets were launched only when deemed perfect. For the consumer that should be a guarantee.
What innovations in the industry are exciting you at the moment?
The industry is in constant evolution and that evolution is speeding up at an exponential rate. Our recent introduction of the disc brake for road cycling was an exciting project to follow. Launching not one but 6 disc brake groupsets and a line of wheels completely designed from the ground up for the specific requirements of this new and different technology is of note. Moving forwards we are seeing many specific segments inside the world of road cycling and it appears as if it is following the same path of the MTB world. Specific componentry, specific needs which call for specific solutions. This all means that the world of cycling is growing as a whole and represents positive opportunities for both cyclists and companies such as Campagnolo who are dedicated to improving those cyclists’ experience in the saddle.
What does the future hold for the company?
The future is always difficult to predict but exciting to create. Who could have imagined a rear derailleur in the age of the flip-flop rear hub? Who could have imagined 8 speed in the age of seven, or that we would one day have 22 gears at our service to tackle even the most varied course in efficient comfort? Electronic shifting, the first tensostructure wheel, the first fully assembled wheels are all technologies pioneered by Campagnolo’s quest to always try and create the future of cycling performance.