Kharkov (1st style)

Kharkov derailleur (1st style) main image

On the face of it this Kharkov is just another copy of the iconic Campagnolo Gran Sport. But the closer you look the weirder it gets. There is not a straight line in the whole thing. No two edges that should be parallel are remotely aligned. Its like a Campagnolo Gran Sport - but drawn by a child with a blunt crayon. Whatever happened in the Ukraine in the 1960s? Had Stalin purged the country of 12” rulers?

And then there is that quintessential Eastern European pick’n’mix of small parts. This example has two different pulley wheels and two different pulley bolts. The two adjustment screws have different sized heads. The bolt that captures the spring has a shallow head and is not chromed, the pulley bolt has a shallow head but is chromed, the cable clamp bolt has a deeper head and is not chromed etc. etc. Which are the original parts? Were parts so hard to get that the factory fitted this mix? Were spares so hard to get that users fitted whatever came to hand? How do you lose a pulley bolt anyway?

Finally there is the vexed question of the dots surrounding the lettering. Many derailleurs of the time had lettering set against a background panel containing a pattern of dots. This Kharkov is no exception - except that there are about ten times too few dots! The point of the dots is to provide a background that covers up any flaws and does not draw the eye away from the lettering. Here exactly the opposite is achieved. The dots are so far apart that all the (many) flaws are clearly visible. And the spacing between the dots is perfect for your eye to jump from one to the next. How expensive could it be to pattern the background with a sufficiency of dots? Were dots a sign of splitist bourgeois decadence? Do running dogs have anything to do with this?

I like the Cyrillic branding. Using the most similar Roman letters, the lettering reads ‘XAPbKOB’ which I would translate as ‘KHARKOV’- and it is the right way up.

  • Derailleur brands: Kharkov
  • Country: Ukraine - USSR at the time
  • Date of introduction: 1968?
  • Date of this example: unknown
  • Model no.: unknown
  • Weight: 306g
  • Maximum cog: 26 teeth?
  • Total capacity: 26 teeth?
  • Pulley centre to centre: 43mm
  • Index compatibility: friction
  • Chain width: 3/32”
  • Logic: top normal
  • B pivot: unsprung
  • P pivot: sprung
  • Materials: steel
Kharkov derailleur (1st style) additional image 01

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