Gambato was the brand of a company that, in 1992 at least, was owned by one Señor Aguilaneido, and was based in the Avellaneda district of of Buenos Aires.
I have also been told that Gambato is related to Gian Robert as follows:
- In the late 1940s, an engineer called Marcello Gambato was a designer of rod type derailleur gears (in the style of the Campagnolo Corsa, see French patent # 988,772). It is possible that he actually worked with, or for, Tullio Campagnolo on these designs.
- In 1952 Marcello Gambato was granted an Italian patent for a more modern derailleur design. The French version of this patent (French patent # 1,087,957) was granted to Tullio Campagnolo, implying that Marcello Gambato was still working with or for Campagnolo at this time.
- Some time in the 1950s, Marcello Gambato started his own business manufacturing bicycle components, particularly derailleurs.
- Initially this company was possibly called ‘Gambato’, and was possibly based in the Padova area of Italy. After a short period the company was called ‘Gian Robert’.
- Sometime around 1960 Gian Robert manufactured its first parallelogram derailleur. It generally manufactured derailleurs that were cheaper than Campagnolo models for the more popular bicycle models made by brands like Torpado (who were also based in Padova).
- Sometime, possibly in the 1960s, Marcello Gambato was involved in founding the ‘Gambato’ company in Argentina, manufacturing derailleurs branded ‘Gambato’. It is likely that this business also manufactured derailleurs branded ‘Gian Robert’ in Argentina - and imported derailleurs branded ‘Gian Robert’ into Argentina.
- Sometime in the 1980s Gian Robert in Italy went out of business. However the Gambato business in Argentina continued to exist at least into the 1990s.
This history is generally backed up by the patents issued to Marcello Gambato - for a rod type derailleur mechanism in 1948 and for two identifiably Gian Robert derailleur designs in the 1977 and 1982.
However there are also some questions that have to be asked about this story. If the Argentinian Gambato company was effectively the child of Gian Robert, why did it produce copies of Campagnolo designs rather than of Gian Robert’s own models? Why were Gian Robert designs also manufactured in Argentina? Also Gian Robert’s Argentinian models share no obvious common parts or features with Gambato models.
I am aware of seven distinct types of Gambato gear:
- A model called Gambato Gran Sport, which was made of bronze and steel castings and was a copy of a ~1953 Campagnolo Gran Sport. This model is in this collection.
- A model called Gambato Gran Sport, which was made of bronze and steel castings and was a copy of a ~1963 Campagnolo Record. This model was basically the same as the one above - but with an improved, offset, pulley cage.
- A model called Gambato Junior which was a fairly faithful copy of a late 1960s Huret Allvit.
- An economy model called Gambato Sport, which was made of steel pressings and is uncannily similar to some of the nastier Triplex models of the mid 1970s.
- A rather classy all-aluminium model branded Gambato Dural which combined the functional design of a late 1970s Gian Robert Competition with the Arabesque styling touches of a 1978 Shimano 600 EX .
- Another rather natty model also called a Gambato Gran Sport which was largely aluminium with plastic knuckles, but, despite the plastic, managed to convey a distinctly Campagnolo look. This might date from the late 1980s or early 1990s.
- A mountain bike version of the aluminium and plastic model possibly called Gambato Gran Sport Todo Terreno, which was advertised in Pedales magazine. This also might date from the late 1980s or early 1990s.
It’s an eclectic mix, including design elements ‘borrowed’ from Campagnolo (Italy), Huret (France), Triplex (Spain) , Gian Robert (Italy again) and Shimano (Japan)!
As for evidence of dates, there is a posting on bikelist.org claiming that, in ‘about 1975’, Argentinian bikes branded ‘Rogers’ were sold in the USA with Gambato rear derailleurs that were copies of the Campagnolo Gran Sport. I believe that this refers to the first model above.
My particular example of this Gambato gear came from a bike branded ‘Saavedra’. Cosme Saavedra was a legendary Argentinean cyclist who won a shed-load of races between 1924 and 1930. He apparently owned a bicycle factory in Buenos Aires after he retired from racing. As an aside, in the 1980s Saavedra used Rino derailleurs that were branded ‘Saavedra’.
I also remember that in the late seventies, I met a Brazilian cyclist who was extremely enthusiastic about South American copies of Campagnolo that were very much cheaper, and ‘just as good’. For many years I wondered exactly what he was referring to - then I came across this brand. Perhaps he was talking about Gambato (although I would worry about his claims about the quality).
The advert in Pedales magazine from 1992 gives some indication of the date of the second style of Gran Sport (with the plastic knuckles), and shows that Gambato was alive and well at this time - but the brand may have disappeared shortly after this.