|The most beautiful bicycle hubs ever?|
The large-flange C-Record hubs can command some pretty insane prices on eBay nowadays. Part of the reason might be their relative scarcity (at least as compared to the previous generation). The large-flange road hubs were the first to disappear, making them probably the most rare. Then the road hubs were completely redesigned for cassettes and no longer shared much of anything with the track version. The large-flange track hubs were the next to go away, but the small-flange version is still made today, looking not much different from the way it looked in 1986 (they are not exactly the same, however).
Their beauty was another reason they are so desirable. The finish on these was mirror-like. And the design of the hubs in general, and the large-flange version especially, was incredible -- the dust caps were extended and sculpted to blend into the flanges with a graceful, nearly unbroken curve. The large lightening holes give the impression of a 5-pointed star, somewhat reminiscent of a sheriff's star, hence the nickname often given to them. So much aluminum was cut away as to make the hubs look almost delicate.
|This photo was widely circulated around the web circa|
2000 - 2001. (from Sheldon Brown's site)
Although it is unclear exactly why the particular hub in question broke apart so dramatically -- the owner claimed he was "just riding along," while some insist it must have been involved in an accident -- there is really no way to know for certain. Campagnolo reportedly replaced the hub, but admonished the owner for using a "track" hub on the road. Afterwards, they started including a warning with the hubs stating clearly that using track hubs on the road constituted "abuse" and would void the warranty. That response, probably more than anything, cemented the idea that the hubs were too fragile to be trusted. But it was also pretty ridiculous -- considering that the shells of the hubs were basically identical to the road version that had once been available (only the axle and the threading on the rear hub were different). So what was it that made the hubs unsuitable for the road, unless the road version was also unsuitable? Is that why it was discontinued so quickly? If Campy had handled the situation better, we probably wouldn't even be asking these questions.
So, are the hubs a ticking time bomb? Who knows. The incident above was widely publicized, and one can find (if they search long enough) other stories of broken hubs. Then again, any hub can break -- even the venerable Record hubs of the earlier generation. Anyone who has these hubs and is too afraid to use them, feel free to send them to The Retrogrouch for proper "disposal."
Siblings and Imitators:
|Victory large-flange hub (from www.hilarystone.com).|
|Centaur mountain bike hubs, from a late-80s catalog.|
|Electra Ticino Hubs -- a pretty decent re-creation of a classic.|
All-City Cycles recently released another imitation, called the "New Sheriff," though apart from the 5-pointed star shape of the flanges, they are not nearly as faithful of a recreation as the Ticinos were. The cutouts are not as graceful, the center shaft is huge, and they use oversized 15 mm axles. I believe their target market is the "urban fixie" crowd.
To wrap it up, the Campagnolo C-Record hubs -- especially the large-flange versions -- are pretty impressive pieces. Like their predecessors, they have those legendary smooth, precise bearings, but in a more sculptural, aerodynamic package. Although they were first introduced about 28 years ago, they still look great today.