For a long time I've been meaning to ask whether anyone knows anything about the Cambio Rino bikes and components I occasionally see up here in Canada. Evidently mid-range campy knockoffs, but that's all I know. Anyway here's an examople on ebay Anybody have any knowledge to share?
Cambio Rino was the early progenitor of Gardin bicycles that came after Cambio Rino. More of these bikes and components were sold in Canada than perhaps even in Italy. Rino was a small producer in Northern Italy, that was producing parts for a variety of other manufacturers, I believe also for Ofmega (But I have no proof of this, so please correct me if I am wrong and don't take this as fact!) In the 70's Joe Gardin met Rino and suggested a joint venture whereby Joe would be able to enter the bike business that he was so passionate about. Until then, Joe had made his fortune selling mostly forklifts. The parts were produced in Italy and Joe would look after the marketing and sales in North America. To publicize the brand name, Joe went to all the North American shows and sponsored many top Canadian riders, including future world Champion track rider Curt Harnett. The Cambio Rino frames were initially built in Italy and imported to Canada. Then Gardin decided to have some built in Canada by an 'imported' Italian framebuilder. From what I understand, Gardin and Rino then got into an argument about money and Gardin dumped the ties to Rino and switched to making bikes with his own name. Later Gardin failed too.
The top bikes from Cambio Rino (i.e. the ones they provided to the sponsored riders) were truly great bikes. The rest were rather variable in quality. The components were as stated, mainly campagnolo copies, but they did have some 'neat' parts, including what I take to have been the first top-mounted down-tube shift levers. The levers were designed to use a single waterbottle braze-on boss. I have a set of these levers on the first frame that I built for myself and find them to be singularly nice to use. They make shifting of both levers with one hand very easy.
I have exchanged a few emails with the seller and have commented that at $399, it is a great deal when compared to anything you can get new and perhaps the perfect addition to the collection of the contrarians in our midst. How many late 70's Italian bikes are there that don't have any Campagnolo on them?