cycling utah October 1999
Campagnolo's short-lived SR replacement: C Record
By Greg Overton
In past issues of Classic Corner, we have chatted about the collectible component groups from Campagnolo - namely Record, Nuovo Record and Super Record.
Well, it's been a couple of years , and with the passing of time, the next group in lineage from Campy is reaching the desirable stage. This new-for-1986 "gruppo" marked Campagnolo's most dramatic redesign ever with a completely new aerodynamic look.
Each component in the new group was redesigned from the now 12-year-old Super Record. Gone were the titanium bolts and bottom bracket spindle. In were the smooth, rounded edges of the derailleurs and crank, and the Delta brakes.
The word of the day was aerodynamics, and this group was designed with that word in mind, even down to the seatpost that incorporated a narrowed upper half to better slice the wind. Every item in the group reflected a modern, updated style while maintaining the highest quality goals of Campagnolo.
The most innovative, or technologically inspired, uh, er, different component in the C Record group was the Delta brakeset. A thing of beauty in finish and detail, this triangular shaped brake body of highly polished aluminum fully enclosed an articulating parallelogram which expanded when pulled by the cable, and pushed on the integral brake arm to close the pads onto the rim for stopping.
It's really cool, but...it had some problems. The variable rate "modulation" designed into the brake worked fine, and the stopping power was terrific, but this first version was recalled by the factory very early in its life because of a cable clamping problem. It was discovered that modulation and braking power are not effective if the brake cable slips from its captive bolt, creating a bit of a safety issue - No Brakes!
These first Delta brakes were replaced in early groups by a special version of the venerable Super Record brake. By adding a blue stone in the recess of a Triomphe brake pivot nut, and sticking this onto the Super Record caliper, voila, Cobalto Brakes! From this auspicious beginning, Cobaltos became THE brakeset to have, and demand from customers required that these "new" brakes be marketed. These are still considered by many enthusiasts as the coolest brakes for their classic bike.
Later in the first production year, all problems with Delta brakes were solved, and they began replacing the beloved Cobaltos in new C Record groups being delivered, although for a short time, customers could choose either brakeset.
Whether Delta or Cobalto calipers, the brake lever was the same, and it was, we believe, the only lever designed for either standard or aero cable routing.
Dia Compe had introduced a brake lever that routed the cable underneath the bar tape for a much cleaner, neater look than the traditional loops above the bar. Campagnolo must have done the eenie meenie minee... forget it, they made theirs for both styles.
White rubber hoods replaced the traditional gum color and diagonal grooves down the lever front replaced the drilled holes of the previous style. The quick release lever usually mounted on the brake caliper was now located in the lever so that a racer could quickly release the brake for a wheel change. This lever has been virtually the same through the current non-ergo brake lever. Dual pivot brake calipers replaced Deltas in the second year of Record Ergo.
The Record C crankset was another major departure from Super Record with an arm that was thinner front-to-back for better aerodynamics, and broader side-to-side so that the fifth chainring bolt could be incorporated into the backside of the arm for improved stiffness. The bolt pattern was changed from 144mm to 135mm so the customer could choose a chainring smaller than 42 tooth.
The famous Campagnolo shield logo was engraved into the side of the crankarm, later to be replaced with a black laser etching of the same logo. Campy also used for the first time a self-extracting crank arm bolt, but for whatever reason, it required a 7mm hex wrench, which was an odd size relative to any others used on a bike. Many were replaced with traditional bolts for convenience.
The bottom bracket for Record C retained the alloy cups of the Super Record titanium bracket, but did not retain the costly and flexible titanium spindle, instead returning to a hollow chromoly shaft.
The headset changed from the previous rounded Super Record style to a more blocky squared design. The overall size was smaller and it used a smaller bearing, but was still up to the requirement of smooth operation, easy adjustment and long life demanded by the company.
Derailleurs for the Record C group are some of the prettiest components ever. The rear derailleur is a sculpture of molded shapes and rounded edges in a typically high polished alloy. Incorporating stronger spring tension and superior bushings, this derailleur is one of the smoothest and quickest shifting units we've ever used. Together with a simple clutch mechanism and greater cable pull in the new shifter, these were the height of design for friction shifting.
There were three different versions of the rear derailleur. Changes were mostly cosmetic as the outer plate's engraved shield logo gave way to black laser etching as with the crank, but most of the changes were in the beautiful derailleur cage.
Some versions had a solid sided cage concealing nearly the entirety of the pulley wheels, while others had a couple of different style cutouts revealing the pulleys. Exact lineage for these versions is impossible to discern. Each version looks terrific and works great.
The front derailleur follows the same rounded, sculpted look of the rear, at least as much as a front derailleur can be sculpted. It did have a smaller and narrower cage than the Super Record front, and left behind the cutouts on the outer cage plate as well. Once again, coupled with the greater pull of the shifter, the front "changer" was quick and precise.
The hubs for this new group were the same as before inside, where Campagnolo quality has never been disputed. The shell was redesigned with a slight bulge in the center section that housed the greasing port, but the flanges were much different. The spoke holes on the outer flange edge were counter drilled to create a sort of bed for the spoke's head to seat without effecting the flange's integrity.
Also a new sculpted cap was incorporated that extended from the outer flange to the edge of the axle nut, covering the previously exposed axle and spacers, once again with aerodynamics in mind. This cap reshaped the hub to create a smoother transition from the flange to the dropout. But most of all, it looked cool and different.
By the end of the Eighties, Campagnolo must have been shaking its fist in the direction of Japan.
Here it had this beautiful, leading edge group, painstakingly researched and developed over several years, exquisitely finished and constructed, set to be the benchmark for years as was the Super Record group before it.
But those pesky competitors started redesigning every year and marketing like crazy, and all of a sudden it was keep up or get out of the race.
As a result, Record C was only around for three years.
A wonderfully crafted excellent groupset was no longer technologically competitive.
See you next year, happy roads!