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F.B. was the mark of the company ; Fratelli Brivio S.A. of 9 Viale Italia, Brescia, Italy.

F.B. patented and produced a method of manufacturing the '3-piece' aluminium alloy flanged and steel bodied hub, based on their British & French & Patents of 21 & 23 September 1931 (Published 5 April, 1932) applied for by Camillo Brivio, an Italian National.

F.B. made hubs can be seen stamped with Bianchi, Campagnolo, Simplex, Olmo, Maino, Atala, Legnano, Wilier, Pinarello, Ciclo Piave etc.

Tullio Campagnolo patented the original quick release in 1933, under the Italian Patent No. 319062 (Applied for 4 May 1933 - Released 28 June 1934) - CHAIN-TENSIONING BOLT FOR BICYCLES." The patent drawing shows a
toothed dropout, long handled quick release and hub with two-sprocket freewheel on each side of the hub.

- Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick release in the early 1930s. This required a hollow axle. He didn't make hubs early on. He supplied, sold or licensed his axle / quick release to hub manufacturers (and consumers?) to convert their solid axle / wing nut equipped hubs to QRs.

 

Here's the entry in the Timeline:
"1933 - After fabricating parts in the backroom of his father's hardware
store, Tullio starts Campagnolo, S.R.L. with the production of the quick
release hub. The sliding hub, dual seatstay rod operated, back pedal
derailleur (cambio prototype) is patented on May 4th and introduced in
August. The pieces of the derailleur are all handmade requiring a
massive investment of time and labor. F.B. (Fratelli Brivio) is the
subcontractor for the hubs.
1940 - Tullio Campagnolo hires his first fulltime employee, Enrico Piccolo."

Long story short: Campagnolo-branded hubs probably date to 1933. I
think that the first actual Campagnolo-made hubs were the Record
one-piece alloy, small and large flange hubs (oval holes in flanges and
oil hole clip) introduced in 1958.

A while ago, I suggested that Campagnolo may have bought FB (the hub maker).

Recently, I asked Ernest Csuka, of Cycles Alex Singer, who had
mentioned this initially. He believes that sometime around the late
1940s, after the three-piece Campagnolo hubs came out, FB was bought
by Campagnolo outright. However, the details are sketchy. Ernest
believes that the hubs labeled Campagnolo were made in the FB
factory, but after Campagnolo bought them. When I pointed out that FB
also appears to have made hubs for other companies with their names,
he was not surprised.

Clearly, for Singer, what counted was that they bought the hubs, and
that they remained relatively unchanged. The check went to FB (in
France - their factory there, which, according to Ernest, later
became the French distribution center for Campagnolo), but whether
they were owned by Campagnolo or not didn't really matter.

Having raised the issue initially, I just wanted to provide this
update. Does anybody else have more/precise information?

Jan Heine, Seattle

I can categorically state that the your previous claim as to the French
nationality of FB and the newest response given by Ernest Csuka are not
correct. FB is not French, nor has it ever been French. Like Lygie and
Campagnolo, they simply saw the benefits of producing the products for
the French market in France to avoid the protective tariffs then in
effect. Simplex did the same for the Italian market, producing their
gears in Italy. This obviously does not make Simplex an Italian
company. These foreign production realities continued as long as
punitive tariffs remained in effect. It would obviously be mutually
beneficial for two small companies like FB and Campagnolo to produce
for the French market in the same factory where possible, especially as
they had already collaborated in Italy beforehand. Once the tariffs
were removed, it is also logical that the bigger of the two companies
would be more likely interested in maintaining the existing premises.
By the mid-50's this was clearly Campagnolo, notwithstanding the fact
that FB produced many products beyond their hubs (They were also major
producers of cranks.)

Csuka's belief that Campagnolo bought FB outright could therefore
perhaps have been partially correct, were he refering to the French
factory/premises only. FB and Campagnolo production continued in a
parallel manner for many years. While production was parallel, FB was
however also fully independant of Campagnolo as can be proven by the
fact that in the early 50's Emilio Bozzi catalog that Chuck is selling,
you can see FB hubs being supplied with SIMPLEX quick release levers
(see page 121).

I believe a more interesting point would be to verify whether the FB
and Campagnolo hubs are indeed identical. While the parts seem to be
interchangeable, there were so many variations in the 3-piece hubs that
I am unsure that the two companies ever sold identical hubs at the same
time. Some oldtimers in Italy have told me that FB provided Campagnolo
the flanges only. Clearly I can't prove this, so this statement will
need to remain 'fiction'. I can however state that FB-branded hubs
locknuts did not carry the same date codes as Campagnolo-branded hubs.
I can also state that most Campagnolo-branded hubs had FB-marked
flanges that clearly stated their Italian provenance. The same 'made in
Italy' mark can also be seen on the FB hubs.

Another topic that has been brought up is the 'hub patent' that
Campagnolo held. Campagnolo did not own a patent for a hub, but
originally only the cam-operated quick release. They then added the
serrated cambio corsa axle, but to the best of my knowledge, that is it
with regards to pre-1955 hub-related patents. It is also interesting to
point out a bit of Campagnolo trivia. Campagnolo's official corporate
name for many years was (and maybe still is) Campagnolo Brevetti
Internazionali SpA which translates into: Campagnolo International
Patents Inc. No mention of cycling whatsoever. I think that Tullio
earned much of his start-up capital for the launch of the Gran Sport
derailleur and such from his patents and always recognized the
importance of his patents. It is also often said in Italian cycling
circles that Tullio's initial Q/R invention was perhaps just as much
the merit of foresight in patenting an idea as it was of actually being
the first to think of and produce said idea. It was mentioned that
Gnutti and FB were licensed to use the Campagnolo patent. This does not
concur with what I have always been told. Gnutti definitely did pay
licensing rights to Campagnolo for their skewer patent. This can be
proven by a skewer I recently supplied to another listmember with an
Arbos frame. It clearly states Gnutti Lic. Campagnolo on the lever. FB
on the other hand never made any skewers with their own brand name.

Steven Maasland

I

> What was patented?

 

> Was it patented in all countries?

Don't know.

> When did Campagnolo first appear on a hub rather than FB?

FB supplied hubs branded with "Campagnolo" along with many other bike
and parts manufacturer's names from at least the late-1940s (if not
earlier), clear up through the 1960s (even stamped SIMPLEX).

> Who made the early Campagnolo branded hubs?

FB (Fratelli Brivio - Italy). I'm reasonably sure that the first hub
that Campagnolo made in house was their all aluminum Record hub
beginning in 1958.

> When did other QR hubs appear? (I know that the BH one appeared in the
early fifties.)

There were also EB (not a typo, "E") and Gnutti QR levers with "Lic.
Campagnolo" forged on them in the early 1950s or even before.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Copyright © 1999-2003 R.Reid Last Updated Saturday, 20-Dec-2003 10:21 hrs.