Campagnolo is a bicycle component manufacturer founded in Vicenza, Italy in 1933. The founder of the company, Commendatore Tullio Campagnolo was a rising star in the Italian cycling arena, as well as an entrepreneur with passion and foresight. Through invaluable experiences gathered while racing, he conceived of innovative designs to implement into the bicycle, including quick release mechanisms for bicycle wheels, rod gears, to the more recent rear derailleur, the complete factory assembled wheel, and being the first company to use carbon fiber in bicycle components. Fast forward to the present, Campy components are now made of the finest aerospace materials, eg. Carbon fiber, titanium, and aluminium alloys. Campagnolo makes 8 different groupsets of components, and 10 different wheelsets, catering to cyclists of all levels. Seven of 21 pro-cycling teams in the Tour de France race on Campy?s top of the line Record ? Carbon groupo. Having offices all over the world and more than 400 employees in their Vicenza plant in Italy, Campagnolo has come a long way since humble beginnings in 1933.

Last week, Togoparts had the pleasure of interviewing Piero Da Rin, a handsome Italian Communications Manager with Campagnolo, who was in town for a brief half day stop-over enroute to a bicycle symposium in Sydney. Piero checked out some local bike shops to have a better idea of the Singapore market. Near dinner time, we had a chance to chat with him for awhile.

Is this your first visit to Singapore? What is your impression of our little garden city paradise?

Piero: Yes this is my first time here. I think Singapore is very nice. It has a mixture of many diverse races, cultures and religions, and everyone works together peacefully.

I understand you toured some of the local bicycle shops. Any thoughts about the Singapore market?

Piero: Well I was quite impressed with the bicycle shops I visited. They were all very neat and professionally set up, and I can tell that the people are passionate about what they do. I think that is important.

As Communications Manager for Campagnolo, what exactly does your job entail?

Piero: As Communications Manager, I head the offices of Trade Marketing and Public Relations. Trade marketing refers to marketing towards dealers and distributors; organising technical seminars to dealers, as well as presentations on product marketing and market positioning. I also coordinate all press releases in the Public Relations office, and I handle sponsorship for triathletes.

What new innovations can we expect to find in Campagnolo?s 2006 product lineup?

Piero: There aren?t very many changes in most of the component groupo lineup, but Record, Chorus and Veloce see the introduction of a new Ultra Narrow 10-Speed Chain, which promotes smoother shifting, runs more silent, and is lighter as well.

Another new product is the Ergopower flatbar shifters, which come with a new indexing mechanism which allows for easy up or down shifting of multiple gears simultaneously.

And there are also improvements in the 2006 lineup of wheelsets; most of which are lighter than the previous version, feature dynamic balancing, and with technological improvements in the rear hubs. Eurus 2006 wheels for example, have been completely restyled and are really light, weighing just 1,490 grams.

Campagnolo is this year introducing the concept of a differential profile for the Eurus model, i.e. a 24-mm extrusion profile for the front rim and a 28-mm extrusion profile for the rear rim. The rims have been lightened in toroidal form between the spoke insertion zones, and special milling in the section opposite the joint ensures dynamic balance during rotation of the wheel, a new concept enriching this year’s range.

The rims have a top bridge that is free of holes. This means considerable weight saving – because there’s no need for fitting any rim tape – and gives the wheel greater torsional stiffness and vertical elasticity.

Eurus wheels are available in silver and black versions and are compatible with both Campagnolo and HG drivetrains.

Campagnolo is also set to release new bib shorts and pants with Air Cushion System. The main advantage of this new system is the combination of the advantage of thinner pads with the comfort level of thicker pads, improved shock absorption and ventilation, as well as weight reductions.

Industry news has it that Campagnolo recently released another brand of wheels under the brand ?Fulcrum?. Just out of curiosity, why would Campagnolo come up with another brand of wheels when they already have a very comprehensive lineup of wheelsets? Also, how is the Fulcrum line of wheels different from the Campy line?

Piero: Fulcrum represents a different line of wheelsets sharing most of the assembly line processes and technology which go into the Campy wheelsets. This ensures a similar level of quality and performance.

But while Campagnolo is more classic, Fulcrum?s brand focus is more on the young. On top of that, Fulcrum is both Campy and Shimano compatible. And not being associated with Campagnolo makes it easier to sell the wheels to customers owning non-Campy equipped bicycles.

What about weight weenies? Will future Campagnolo groupsets and products move towards ultra-light weight to target this market?

Piero: Campagnolo products are already very light weight, but it is not all about saving the extra little bit more weight. A lot of research is being done on aerospace grade advance composites, titanium and aluminium alloys. This not only ensures that Campy products are light weight, but also made of the best materials possible to ensure strength and durability as well. All Campagnolo products will be put through the most rigourous testing in our laboratories to ensure their durability and reliability in real world use.

So where does the future direction of Campagnolo point towards?

Piero: I can?t say very much, but R&D is always inventing and testing out new products and innovations. At the same time, new materials and advanced composites are used and tested in existing product lines. Innovating ahead of the competition sometimes means slimmer profit margins, because of the cost of creating something totally new, but in a highly demanding and competitive market, it is a matter of survival.