Cycling industry owes Mr. Tullio Campagnolo a number of significant patents which marked milestones in bicycle components' evolution. Just as the Campagnolo Cambio Corsa and the Campagnolo Paris-Roubaix, the rod-operated gearing systems invented by the Italian brand in the 1940s as development of the "Cambio Campagnolo a Bacchetta".
The inception of the "Cambio a Bacchetta" – the Italian for rod-operated gearing – dates back to 1930, when Tullio Campagnolo patented the quick release for the rear wheel, so called "Galletto Automatico" in Italian. Mr Campagnolo came up with this idea in 1927 after the mountain stage of Croce d'Aune Pass at the "Grand Premio della Vittoria" and having some troubles with the "Giro Ruota" of the time, a rear hub with free wheel and single cog to be switched manually by the rider.
In 1934, the Cambio a Bacchetta was born as extension lever of the quick release, a dual seatstay rod-operated rear derailleur. It allowed to shift while riding, though the operation was not particularly easy though: the rider had to open the quick release with the longest lever while riding; with the shortest lever he had to move the chain to the smaller or bigger cog while pedaling backwards. Chosen the gear, the rider had to pedal forward to tighten the chain and then he closed the quick release with the long lever. In order to allow the hub to move forward and backward, Tullio Campagnolo also patented specific dropouts with a toothed section which prevented the hub slid out the dropouts.
Campagnolo Cambio Corsa
The first "Campagnolo Cambio Corsa" was launched in 1946 and was also available with longer levers in the version "Sport". This gearing system was able to shift a 4 speed freewheel with up to six teeth difference – the most common ratio was 15-21.
If using the Cambio Corsa was not easy for normal riders, Gino Bartali was a true master at this and won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France riding bicycles equipped with a Cambio Corsa.
The pictured bicycle is a Molinari from Turin (Italy) and is exactly equipped with a Campagnolo Cambio Corsa.
Campagnolo Paris Roubaix
In 1949, Tullio Campagnolo introduced a new version of the rod-operated gearing with only one lever to open the quick release and to shift. The new system was also able to adopt bigger freewheels up to five cogs. In 1950, Fausto Coppi won the Paris-Roubaix race on a Bianchi with this rear derailleur: since then this gear has been named "Paris-Roubaix" to honour the victory of the "Campionissimo".
Vintage bicycles equipped with Campagnolo Cambio Corsa and Paris-Roubaix gearings are nowadays particularly rare and highly collectible. Not only are they icons of cycling heritage, but also true racing bicycles for the bravest riders. Have you ever thought about challenging yourself on the famous gravel roads of Eroica on a bicycle equipped with a Campagnolo Cambio Corsa?