The Campagnolo Nuovo Record totally dominated the road racing scene for 16 years - an astonishing feat given that competitive sports usually spur technical innovation.
The Nuovo Record had powerful virtues - it was light, very strongly constructed and well finished. The way the parallelogram loads its pivots means that they do not wear badly. Spare parts were relatively widely available. The pulley wheels used a proper two part bronze bushing system. Despite its outrageous price, these are all important features if you are training for hundreds of miles a week on a tight budget.
It also had its obvious vices. The parallelogram geometry is not optimised for gear changing - Campagnolo was never overly interested in the idea of ‘chain gap’. The Nuovo Record does not like low gears - and it also does not give a precise change with very small cogs at the high gear end. Many was the road race that was lost due to a missed shift into a 13 tooth top cog.
Frank Berto caustically comments that the Campagnolo Nuovo Record rear derailleur shifted poorly, but was so well constructed that it would keep on shifting exactly as poorly - forever.
At the time none of this counted for anything. In the fine tradition of the Turin Shroud, the ‘Jesus’ oyster shell and the famous ‘Virgin Mary’ piece of toast, the Campagnolo Nuovo Record was accorded miraculous race winning powers and became a totem of the bizarre religious cult that we know as cycle racing.
In terms of the history of the derailleur, the Nuovo Record has an important place as the first derailleur that established aluminium as the material of choice. One of my ‘derailleurs that changed the world’.
This example was made in 1981, towards the end of Nuovo Record production.
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