Reverence: Campagnolo Tools

photo by italian_bicycles

photo by italian_bicycles

Exposure to religion in my youth was by way of a brief dose of sunday school at the local Unitarian church. The point there, evidently, was to learn about other religions and turtles. If a point was being made, I missed it. When Catholic friends of mine came over for the weekend I would accompany them to the closest Catholic church and we would endure the mass together, the experience leaving us just as clueless as the moment before we walked in.

A girlfriend of @Rob briefly worked for the English bike company Raleigh in Boston, Massachusetts. These were the Jan Raas, Didi Thurau, Ti-Raleigh years, where Raleigh made beautiful bikes and their team was one of the dreadnaughts of professional cycling. I was visiting this friend at the Raleigh offices, which to my eyes seemed like any other office: fluorescent lighting, linoleum tiled floors, men in coats and ties. It was uncontaminated by bicycles or red and yellow  kits. This place was not cool. My friend ushered me into a nondescript room, pulled out an enormous sliding drawer and showed me something she knew was cool.

In this sliding drawer was a complete set of Campagnolo bike tools, all set in blue foam cut outs, each tool nestled in its perfectly shaped place. I didn’t fall to my knees but I must have gasped. Each tool was a work of art: form and function in unison. Each tool designed for a specific task in the wedding of components to frame. The tools had a uniform silver finish. There were facing and chasing tools with beautifully milled cutting teeth of high speed steel. I’m serious about reverence here. I had never seen anything like this. The seeds to my Italophile religion were sown. I was already a devout fan of the components but did the tools have to look this fantastic? What did this say about a company? To me it said-these tools are designed and made to make sure Campagnolo components work perfectly on any frame. What goes into the tools goes into everything else. The passion, the design, the tools and the components are one. Perhaps the intention was never there to make cool looking tools, maybe it was just a by-product of making cool looking components. What else could they do?

I had found my religion. I never needed the complete tool set, I was never a professional bike mechanic. I do own a few civilian Campa tools: some cone wrenches, the peanut butter wrench, a T-handle wrench, a 10-speed chain tool. These are beautiful tools. Park makes functional tools, no one would say they are beautiful. Why make a functional tool beautiful? Is a beautiful tool a better tool? It is when one is making a living wielding them. Pride in your tools reflects pride in your work.

I was going to write that those days are over, adding beauty adds cost and the bottom line is everything now. Then I remembered my Lezyne pedal wrench. It is functional as it removes pedals without impaling knuckles onto greasy chainrings (and opens beer bottles) but it is beautiful because it has a wide smooth machined aluminum handle bolted onto the body of the wrench. It lacks the refined industrial design of a Campagnolo tool but it is beautiful in its own way.

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93 Responses to Reverence: Campagnolo Tools

  1. Chris January 24, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    @scaler911

    @Chris

    @scaler911 Any doubts about your deviant status are dispelled by the fetching pink nail varnish.

    …The only people that shave their legs in this town are… …strippers. And even those have around 60% compliance.

    That could suggest that you’re only achieving a 60% success rate on the gender identification thing.

  2. gaswepass January 24, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    @scaler911

    @Chris

    @scaler911 Any doubts about your deviant status are dispelled by the fetching pink nail varnish.

    No way that’s either me, or a photo from Portland. There’s no socks involved, and/or the legs in the above photo are shaved. The only people that shave their legs in this town are bike racers and strippers. And even those have around 60% compliance (looking at you @gaswepass).

    when we get the genetic upgrade to allow me to go cat 2, I’ll employ the razor with gusto. until then, I rest comfortably that I’m doing all that extra resistance work and not wasting time cleaning/unclogging bathroom drains. Thats a fuckton of hair.

  3. Ron January 24, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    Now that most of my bikes have external BBs I almost get queasy at the sight of a square spindle, something like waking up and your pants have shrunk like Milhouse Van Houten’s and you can see leg showing between your cuffs and your socks. And denim. Yikes. I proudly don’t own any.

    Crocs. I think those are/will play a major part in the downfall of humanity. In “Ride the Divide” the lone female rider not only wears a backpack but she has her Crocs strapped to it! No wonder she cramped up & nearly quit. Definitely not an essential item on a twenty day self-supported race.

  4. Ron January 24, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    ps – Honey Stinger’s on sale at chainlove. Only drawback: a certain former bike racer is featured on the package…

  5. PeakInTwoYears January 24, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    @gaswepass

    when we get the genetic upgrade to allow me to go cat 2, I’ll employ the razor with gusto. until then, I rest comfortably that I’m doing all that extra resistance work and not wasting time cleaning/unclogging bathroom drains. Thats a fuckton of hair.

    Damn, how fast does yr leg hair grow back??

  6. gaswepass January 24, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    @PeakInTwoYears

    @gaswepass

    when we get the genetic upgrade to allow me to go cat 2, I’ll employ the razor with gusto. until then, I rest comfortably that I’m doing all that extra resistance work and not wasting time cleaning/unclogging bathroom drains. Thats a fuckton of hair.

    Damn, how fast does yr leg hair grow back??

    well, son, a man reaches a certain age… I just don’t feel I can sacrifice a pair of garden shears to get things down to razor manageable length at this time.

  7. Nate January 24, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    @Ron

    Now that most of my bikes have external BBs I almost get queasy at the sight of a square spindle, something like waking up and your pants have shrunk like Milhouse Van Houten’s and you can see leg showing between your cuffs and your socks. And denim. Yikes. I proudly don’t own any.

    Crocs. I think those are/will play a major part in the downfall of humanity. In “Ride the Divide” the lone female rider not only wears a backpack but she has her Crocs strapped to it! No wonder she cramped up & nearly quit. Definitely not an essential item on a twenty day self-supported race.

    What are you talking about? Square Taper Forevah!

  8. G'rilla January 24, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    @Ron

    ps – Honey Stinger’s on sale at chainlove. Only drawback: a certain former bike racer is featured on the package…

    Second drawback: They have no flavor and are a poor excuse for a proper stroopwafel.

  9. VeloVita January 24, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    @G’rilla

    @Ron

    ps – Honey Stinger’s on sale at chainlove. Only drawback: a certain former bike racer is featured on the package…

    Second drawback: They have no flavor and are a poor excuse for a proper stroopwafel.

    Agreed, I’ve tried them (though not on the bike).  If I’m going to ingest anything other than a gel or energy drink on a ride, its going to be REAL food.

  10. Barracuda January 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    @Gianni

    Just the name evokes the smell of dusty wooden floorboards and grease soaked workshop aprons and the smell of a strong macchiato ……. old men sitting on wooden stools around an aged bench tinkering with steel steeds.

    Mmmm, now where was I ……

    Why are the words I wrote coming out of your mouth ???   Did I write such eloquent prose that you changed the posters name ??

    Not having a go …. just name on post has changed from mine to yours ……..     or am i dreaming again ??

  11. Gianni January 24, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    @Rob

    Gianni, you always cut to the essence of your subject and your choices in life, women, bikes, boats show that its about aesthetics. I have wrestled with the question of what beauty is all my working life and while it is hard to define and not always a nessecity you always know it when you see it.

    On a more prosaic topic… WTF I was never shown the “back room” at Raleigh HQ!!!

    I’ve been waiting for young Rob to weigh in here…Why weren’t you shown the back room? She was your girlfriend!  She was showing you other things, more interesting perhaps but less useful for aligning rear drop-outs…

    @asyax

    Print #1 two tools for aligning rear drop-outs. Man, this is hard to explain but would make perfect sense if you saw them being used. I’ll look for some video…

  12. Gianni January 24, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    @Barracuda

    @Gianni

    Just the name evokes the smell of dusty wooden floorboards and grease soaked workshop aprons and the smell of a strong macchiato ……. old men sitting on wooden stools around an aged bench tinkering with steel steeds.

    Mmmm, now where was I ……

    Why are the words I wrote coming out of your mouth ??? Did I write such eloquent prose that you changed the posters name ??

    Not having a go …. just name on post has changed from mine to yours …….. or am i dreaming again ??

    This might all be a dream, or I might have plagiarized the hell out something you were thinking. I have to get my material from somewhere. I can’t dream this up on my own.

  13. Gianni January 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    @asyax

    @TBONE Those are beautiful prints and cool website – Thanks. Perhaps the more enlightened Velominati could tell us what some of those tools are actually for?

     
     

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    OK, stolen off the web from a What is this tool? contest. Print #1

    Michael Cummings: “Campagnolo dropout alignment tool.  It is used to align the dropouts so that they are even and parallel.  The handle parts are unscrewed partially from the cup shaped parts and each one is tightened to a dropout with the cups facing each other.  The handles and cups are pushed and pulled to bend (er, cold-set) the dropouts to align the two sides.   This is best done with two mechanics, and is really best for steel frames. When the alignment is correct, the two cups are directly apart from each other and the distance between the cups is the same all the way around.  There are spacers on the tool so that it can be used for the front or rear dropouts.  Park has made a similar tool for years, and there is now a Czech company making a one”

  14. Gianni January 24, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    @freddy

    I like how you connected religion, beauty and tools. There is something almost liturgical about the use of sacred instruments on the hallowed steed. When the ritual is complete, they are cleaned and returned to their place. We are blessed. Joy is complete. A-Merckx.

    Aye Freddy. You are wise. Before I edited it out I was comparing the first sight of the sliding drawer of Campagnolo tools to:

    1) The baby jesus’s original short pants

    2) The crown jewels

    3) Some religious artifacts-bones, teeth, nail clippings, box of Myrrh

    but all of those options went out. But yes, I agree, sacred tools for the job at hand.

  15. Carl January 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm #

    re: Campy tool prints…… #4 is a fixed cup installer/remover. #5 is for cutting or cleaning up BB threads. #’s 2 & 3 sorta have me stumped. I think #2 is for reaming head tubes and #3 is for pressing in HS cups. Been a while since I’ve seen the real things.

    There’s a bike shop in Portland that I’ve been to where upon asking the labor charge for something the answer was “it depends on whether you want me to do it with a tool from the Campy tool box or not”. Good man….

  16. Nate January 24, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

    @Carl Judging by the cutter, 3 is some sort of facing tool.

  17. pistard January 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    @Carl #2 is indeed a head tube reamer. #3 is for facing BB shells. #4 is a headset press.

  18. Ron January 25, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    I have a pal who is strictly a utilitarian cyclist, with some impressive touring thrown in now & then. He cares very little about cycling stuff; if his bike moves, that’s fine. Stuff that would drive me bonkers is fine with him. One day he borrowed my Lezyne multi-tool and said, “Wow, this is nice! Much nicer than mine.” A beautiful, functional tool can impress even the uncaring!

    Ha, I’ve only eaten one Honey Stinger and I got it free when a new shop opened. Wasn’t necessarily endorsing them, more just poking fun at the salesdude on the cover, who might be the reason they were on sale…

  19. zalamanda January 26, 2013 at 2:01 am #

    With the Italians it’s not just about functionality it has to be aesthetically pleasing. It’s the Italian way. All the classic Campy gruppos were things of beauty, the NR/SR gruppo was the aesthetic standard of the 70s/80s copied by every man and his dog. Delta brakes, C Record ‘Sheriff Star’ hubs were jewels, which still fetch stupid prices on Evil Bay. It’s not surprisingthen  that the tools to fit them look the way the way they do. It’s the Italian way.

  20. Ken Ho January 26, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Nice article and pics. As a devoted Ducatisti and Campophile, I appreciate this.

    As a younger man, I had a more utilitarian nature, but discovering the possibility of beauty existing in the same breath was a revelation that I have never since ignored.

  21. Deakus January 28, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    Great article…but after this weekend I am seriously falling out of love with Campag!  The gear is awesome, the idea that some nutfuck in gorgeous clothes is making my stuff with Sophia Loren blessing every piece of metal that passes over the production line is what keeps me going on cold windy rides.

    However I pulled apart my crankset….or rather I didn’t…..this weekend to change my Centuar back on to the rain bike to prepare my beautiful N1 for the arrival of some Centaur Red and Black in a few short weeks time.  Only to find out that the cranks no longer just unscrew and fall apart with consumate ease the way they used to…..(the older stuff)

    BASTARDS!

    I’ve now got to buy a pulling tool for £150 or so….just to do basic work on my own bottom bracket!!

    I am so pissed off.  The ridiculous 11 speed chain breaking saga, which has led me to believe that 10spd is the way to stay has now been breeding another complete clusterfuck of a decision by Campag…take something that works, fuck around with it (when there was nothing wrong with it) and charge everyone a shit load of money for a specialist tool that should never have been needed in the first place!

    Are they trying deliberately to lose customers?

  22. prowrench January 28, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    I grew up working in a shop with a fantastic oak case clad 50th anniversary Campy Tool Kit.  Cool as hell.  As time presses on though, most of these tools are obsolete in the face of press fit everything and frames that break before they bend.

  23. Gianni January 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    @prowrench

    I grew up working in a shop with a fantastic oak case clad 50th anniversary Campy Tool Kit. Cool as hell. As time presses on though, most of these tools are obsolete in the face of press fit everything and frames that break before they bend.

    Absolutely, I was thinking how few of that whole tool kit would be used these days. Between a carbon frame, press fit BB and headset, there is not much left to mess with. Though guys who still build with steel or ti might used a fair amount of them.

    @Deakus

    Say it ain’t true! I have 10 speed and 11 speed Campagnolo chorus and it’s all beautiful. The Ultra-torque BB come apart very easily with a $10 allen wrench fitting on a torque wrench. I use my 10 speed chain tool on 11 speed chains with a backer when peening. No worries. It would be dumb to make people buy an expensive puller for their Centaur stuff. Sorry to hear that.

  24. Nate January 28, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    @Deakus

    Is that a Power Torque crank you are having trouble with?

  25. Deakus January 29, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    @Gianni

    @prowrench

    I grew up working in a shop with a fantastic oak case clad 50th anniversary Campy Tool Kit. Cool as hell. As time presses on though, most of these tools are obsolete in the face of press fit everything and frames that break before they bend.

    Absolutely, I was thinking how few of that whole tool kit would be used these days. Between a carbon frame, press fit BB and headset, there is not much left to mess with. Though guys who still build with steel or ti might used a fair amount of them.

    @Deakus

    Say it ain’t true! I have 10 speed and 11 speed Campagnolo chorus and it’s all beautiful. The Ultra-torque BB come apart very easily with a $10 allen wrench fitting on a torque wrench. I use my 10 speed chain tool on 11 speed chains with a backer when peening. No worries. It would be dumb to make people buy an expensive puller for their Centaur stuff. Sorry to hear that.

    It is indeed.  I converted to Campag 18 months ago and I love it!  But when I did I ordered my N2 rain bike (cheap Ribble Winter Trainer) I specced it with Centaur.  I had not realised it has all changed to Powertorque.  In fact I only found out the name for it all yesterday.

    Was chatting to the guy in the LBS and he was explaining it.  I said “why”…his answer was “Because they are Italian!”.  This reaffirms my faith in this knowledge of road cycling….I have seen the guff on the website about stiffness and lack of play but to be honest I am not sold on the marketing bullshit.  I am wondering if there was anything wrong with Ultratorque?

    Anyway it seems now to replace bearings, swap cranks, or BB I now need to buy 2 tools.  A puller and a puller spacer kit.  Campag sell the tool for about £150 and Park Tools do the kit and spacer kit for about £40 each but I cannot see where the benefit is?

    So I am now left taking my bike to the LBS for stuff I should be able to do myself or shelling out for the tools…..

    Apparently it is now on all Campag stuff i.e. it will be on Athena, Chorus and Record too….

    And for some wierd reason I can’t quite figure out….Ultratorque cups wont fit Powertorque…..I could not get the left side on the frame yet I cannot figure out why…the English threads should be exactly the same on both!??

  26. Nate January 29, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    @Deakus I’ve heard nothing but crap about the serviceability of the power torque cranks due to the need for special tools.  I hadn’t heard that Chorus, Record and SR were going there.  Hope it’s not true.  Are you sure you didn’t end up with Italian (36X24) cups?

  27. Ron January 29, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Deakus – I have 2009 Centaur on a bike & wanted to replace the BB bearings. (I had a click every pedal stroke…turns out it is the bearings in my LOOK Keo pedals, not the BB bearings. Shite!)

    Yup the tool for the BB bearings is not cheap. None of my LBSs had the proper tool. Had to take it to a big box store, which I normally avoid (REI in the U.S.) since they were the only ones to have the tool. The mechanic was actually really pumped to use it, since he rarely gets to. It lived in this imposing looking case & sat stored away on a bottom shelf. I think the charge was about $20 USD.

    And yes, as Gianni said, I think the UT cranks come off with just a 10mm allen, right? Not sure if this helps you out or not, but hope it might.

    Nate – Alright, I take back what I said about square taper BBs…

  28. Ron January 29, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Oh wait, maybe I’m confused. Are power torque and ultra torque cranks different? Looks as if they might be. Sorry for being dim.

  29. roger January 29, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    @Deakus is that puller tool you speak of look like a wine opener? removes what seems to be a seal of some sort and nothing else?  i saw a man use that in a video on youtube and my head started spinning if i’d really need to buy that and loathed how much it could possibly cost

  30. Lepidopterist January 29, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    @Ron Yep, Went out and bought the tools to change bearings on Powertorque crank cos I had a click on each pedal stroke.
    Changed the bearing and it was still there. Turns out the freehub needed greasing is all. Why that should only click only on a left pedal stroke I haven`t worked out, (unless its to do with frame flex). The most expensive greasing I’ve ever done.

    Still I have the tools now and tools are never wasted.

  31. TommyTubolare January 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    @Deakus

    Sorry dude but it’s your own fault. First of all you decide you want to have Campagnolo and now you complain that they did you wrong.Then you bought a bike without knowledge what BB system it uses and how to service it and you moan that you don’t have tools to service it.It’s a very easy operation if you know what you’re doing of course.

    You in England right. Ribble have UT FC090 Power Torque crank tool for 12 GBP.You can use any puller that is available on the market as long as it has the right size to grab the crank and push against it .And then 14 mm HEX to tighten the crank arm .

    When Power Torque was introduced all I had to get to a workshop was a UT FC 090 tool and that’s it.All other tools I already had as pullers are used for bearing repairs and replacements and 14 mm Hex is a common tool.

    Also PT cups are different than UT cups so make sure you have the right one for the chainset you’re installing.You have to use PT cups with a PT chainset. I doubt very much you have Italian thread BB so make sure you are turning the cups in the right direction.

    On your own you decided to go with Campagnolo so I’m afraid you should deal with it.Either that or there is always Sram and Shimano-in that order.

  32. El Mateo January 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Every time I see a Campa tool I’m immediately transported back to Freewheeling Bicycles in San Marcos, TX. it was the mid 80’s… The shop was full of italian and french bikes, wool & lycra (lycra- not coolmax or any other high tech mat’l) jerseys hung from racks and full complement of Campa tools hung in the repair shop in back. Not to mention the smell of white lithium grease and cutting fluid met you at the door as you walked in. My  first racing bike, a Gianni Motta with Italian Flag paint job, was lovingly threaded, reamed and pressed by those fabulous tools made by Campagnolo. Great memories and great article…. Thanks Gianni!

  33. Gianni January 29, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    @TommyTubolare

    +1, well said.

  34. unversio January 30, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    @Deakus 2013 Campagnolo book is a good thing to study.

  35. unversio February 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    Anyone looking to acquire a Campagnolo UT-CN200 10s HD-Link tool (Ebay) at 50.00 and free shipping anywhere. Includes spare pin but no instructions. Won it unexpectedly on Ebay and already have another.

  36. Nate February 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    @unversio I could use one.  I’ll ask @frank to forward an email to you.

  37. unversio February 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    @Nate Thanx Nate. It is done and you should have it one week.

  38. unversio February 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    @TommyTubolare Any wariness about mixing an older Ultra-Drive cassette [new] with a current Ergopower Power-Shift drivetrain? Record UD [11-21] 10s

  39. Nate February 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    @unversio Thank you.  I will no longer need to hang my head in embarrassment at not having the right tool for the job.

  40. Rick Vosper February 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    But did it have an Article 793/4 Kneecap Correcter? That’s how we told the authentic Campy Took Kits from the poseurs, back in the day.

  41. roger May 9, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    you know what gianni, for every great experience, be it painful or blissful, there seems to be an article on it here.  im in need of the crank bolt wrench aka peanut butter wrench, and bb crank wrenches.  the pain comes at the prices they are fetching on the bay, roughly $100 a wrench.  park makes mechanical equivalent, though their crank bolt wrench is listed as 14mm, unless im looking at the wrong one, while the pb wrench is 15mm.

    so why then, when park makes tools that will likely work just the same, would one start searching high and low for old, greasy, metal figures that have sat in a workbench the past 20 years seeing little to no use?  how did you plant this seed at the beginning of the year that is starting to go full bloom 5 months later?!

  42. G'rilla January 5, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    Bike #1 has been out of commission since I discovered that the Press Fit bottom bracket was frozen solid. I hate the idea of pounding out bearings with a hammer, so I discovered this tool out of Taiwan that removes press-fit bearings with a bolt instead of a hammer. Seems like a good idea…too bad Park Tool didn’t think of it before it was patented! The only way to get one seems to be to order it directly from Taiwan.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBLMemDW13s&feature=plcp&context=C389d9b8UDOEgsToPDskJOvnrbdB4P05ppc0SiTwTv

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