I doubt he would have published that correction if he wasn't pretty sure of this, or at least was told this by Campagnolo!
I think youre onto something here. This is entirely speculative, of course, but I wouldnt be surprised if Rebour was either misled by, or had simply miscommunicated with, the Campy representative(s) at the show. In my limited experience the individuals dispatched to trade shows often make up for incomplete knowledge with hype and enthusiasm. In particular, I recall sitting through a Shimano technical presentation about the then-new XTR group. A mechanic I know asked the presenter what material was used on the new freewheel cogs, and the response was that the cogs were 7000 series aluminum. They were most certainly not made of any type of aluminum, but I think the poor presenter thought it would be better to guess at a technical-sounding answer than to admit that he was unsure.
It is well within the realm of possibility that Rebour asked about the nature of the obviously different black rings and headset and was told that they were made of titanium. The titanium BB, pedal and hub axles, along with the titanium derailleur pivot bolts, were the biggest selling points / innovations on the SR group, and it is easy to see where an uninformed PR guy might make assumptions about the nature of the strange black parts in order to give an interesting explanation. Incidentally, as depicted in the Raleigh catalog referenced by Mr. Maasland, the lower brackets of the SR post were also black anodized in the prototype groups.
The twist in this whole story is the pedal cages. The black anodized aluminum cage on the SL pedal would surely have been familiar to Mr. Rebour by the end of 1973, since the unit was introduced about two years earlier. This being the case, it does not seem odd that he would have initially identified the chainrings as also being aluminum, but it does seem odd that he would accept Campagnolos later assertion that the rings were titanium (assuming the info came from Campy). Then again, titanium was pretty unusual stuff in the bike industry in 1973, and I would be surprised if, at that time, Mr. Rebour would have had any experience distinguishing titanium from aluminum based on visual inspection.
One thing that cast serious doubts on the whole possibility of titanium SR rings is the bizarre assertion that only titanium would allow construction of a cut-down ring of sufficient strength. I think a lot of NR rings had undergone aftermarket surgery by late 1973, and it was pretty well known that they were reliable. Moreover, how could a change in the chainrings save 260 grams? Does a pair of NR rings even weigh that much?
Another thing to consider is the competition. This is really grasping at straws, but is it possible that someone somewhere at Campagnolo felt a need to (mis)represent their new group as having more titanium than it actually did because of the introduction of the Zeus 2000 group? That group actually did have titanium rings and pedal cages as well as titanium BB cups and crank bolts, none of which was seen on standard SR parts. Realistically, the Zeus 2000 group was probably a few years off, but its certainly an interesting coincidence that the 2000 group actually had the titanium parts that Campagnolo was at least asserting that they would offer.
As for the 1973 appearance of a NR derailleur with ti bolts, the explanation that Maasland provided seems plausible. However, I think it is very odd that Campagnolo was displaying something other than a standard production SR rear derailleur by 1973, since they were supposedly in production by then.
Tom Dalton Bethlehem, PA
Got holiday prints? See all the ways to get quality prints in your hands ASAP.