i cannot deny it; i'm something of a campagnolophile. i well recognise that they cannot specifically claim to be at the leading edge of cutting edge and they've all but dispensed with the iconic script lettering that is tattoo'd on the underside of my eyelids in favour of supposed modernity, but there will always be a large corner of thewashingmachinepost that states 'campagnolo spoken here'.
heck, i've seriously considered purchasing one of those colossal campagnolo corkscrews and i don't even drink.
i recall being told by one who understands these matters far better than i ever will, that the italians have never quite come to terms with just what it is that sets them apart when it comes to matters of the velocipede and are therefore prone to throwing it all away in the quest for what it is they think we want/need (delete as applicable). i have two polished alloy campagnolo cranksets hanging in thewashingmachinepost bikeshed, cranks that harken back to the days of titanium, square-taper bottom brackets and are thus all but inapplicable to modern-day riding.
but those shiny chainsets are built like the proverbial brick outhouse, replete with their totally incompatible bolt circle diameter. and best of all, and totally unlike their japanese or american counterparts, they are awash with style, a factor that has been slipping quietly away over many a subtle year. for even in these days of wall to wall carbon fibre, campagnolo's componentry, particularly the current crop of rear derailleurs and four-arm chainsets still embody a flair that their peers can but look on and admire.
however, embodying all that is campagnolo is akin to remaining faithful to apple computer during their years in the wilderness around the turn of the century. expansion cards that fit nothing but apple macs, plugs and cables that had no place outside of infinite loop and memory chips that cost around twice that of their pc counterparts. campagnolo offer a set of freehub cassette splines that, though considerably more robust than the competition, will only accept cassette sprockets with a vicenza heritage. and despite having produced disc brakes for lambretta in the early 1960s, the italians are still running prototype road-bike versions while the others are happy to sell you some right now.
and don't get me started on that irritating propensity to attach the drive-side bearings to the crankset instead of inside the bottom bracket cup. if it can be done for the left side crank, why not the other?
'idiosyncratic' would not be too harsh a description.
but i'm still of the opinion that their ergopower levers are the finest on the market. one lever for each purpose beats sram's double-tap hands down and compares much the same with shimano's sti levers. their componentry remains just the far side of overbuilt, offering a confidence that probably is tangibly equalled by the competition, but persuades the all important headspace that indiestructability is part and parcel of the little warranty leaflet inside every carefully stickered box.
it was thus with firm leanings towards the rebirth of cool that i eagerly commenced rebuilding the molteni colnago master with a new, all black campagnolo potenza groupset which will subsequently become the subject of a washingmachinepost review. front and rear gear mechs, ergopower levers, skeleton brakeset and the very latest, four-arm alloy power torque chainset are in the process of transforming an example of one of italy's finest bicycles into an all-italian piece de resistance. well, apart from the ritchey bars and stem.
all was proceeding well; despite the previous centaur componentry topping out at ten-speeds, a campagnolo cassette freehub easily accommodates that extra sprocket without need for change, but after that, incongruity reared its ugly head. the front derailleur clamps to the braze-on bracket via a 5mm allen bolt, yet the rear mech attaches to the gear hanger by means of a smaller torx pattern bolt. the age-old centaur ergopower levers also required a torx key to remove them, while the very latest potenza levers employ 5mm allen bolts.
all that, while a tad irritating, reaching for differing tools to complete the task at hand, is relatively easily accomplished. but then we move to the centre of the potenza universe: the crankset. this is a definitive improvement over the earlier power-torque models, in that there is now a self-extractor built into the left crank, dismissing the requirement to acquire a crank puller if and when that crankset needs to be removed. however, the left crank can only be fitted in place via a 14mm hex insert.
i have a phalanx of tools which have been acquired over the years, many of which are now obsolete, but in common with many, the largest hex key in my possession reaches only 10mm. i tried the local hardware outlets, admittedly not overly stocked given my hebridean domicile and none had anyhting larger than the previously mentioned 10mm.
the fsa crank being replaced was easily removed with a 10mm hex wrench, so quite why vicenza thought it necessary to add 4mm of diameter, i simply cannot fathom. the upshot is that installation procedures have currently ground to a halt awaiting receipt of a hastily ordered 14mm hex insert.
i will regale you with italian idiosyncracies in the fullness of time.
wednesday 7 september 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................