Giovanni Galli and Co was founded in Torino, some time in the 1930’s. Giovanni Galli was a racing cyclist, and his claim to fame was that he manufactured the world's first aluminium caliper brake.
Galli regarded itself as the equal of Campagnolo in engineering terms but without the unnecessary hype. A Galli representative once earnestly told me that Torino, the home of FIAT, was the real capital of Italian engineering, and that Vicenza (the home of Campagnolo) was more famous as a manufacturing centre for jewellery for women, which he considered entirely appropriate given some of the prima donna’s that Campagnolo was sponsoring at the time... blah, blah, blah.
Some of Galli’s designs reflect this ‘honest engineering’ philosophy, with their simple lines and clean edges. However Galli also had a penchant for multi-coloured anodising that shows that the Italian love of ‘bling’ was alive and well, even in macho, down-to-earth Torino.
Galli produced full groupsets by draughting in products from other manufacturers; TTT for seatpins, Stronglight for cranks and Maillard for hubs. They also used Simplex branded pulley wheels on their later derailleurs. Some people claim that Galli’s derailleurs were manufactured by Simplex - but they are rather unlike anything that Simplex produced, Simplex was never much into coloured anodising and, pulley wheels apart, they do not noticeably share any minor parts.
Frank Berto claims that Galli produced their first derailleur in 1976 and that derailleur production ‘survived until about 1987’.
The geneology of the Galli derailleur range is unclear to me. If you had asked me, before researching this piece, to reach back into my memory, I would have happily and confidently described a range made up of three generations of designs:
- The initial rather 'rectilinear' designs from the late 1970s. I remember one basic design that was sold in two variants, a cheap model called 'Sport' with a hex hanger bolt and a fancier model called 'Criterium' with an Allen key hanger bolt and sealed bearing pulley wheels.
- In the early 1980s these 'rectilinear' designs were replaced by a, more 'curvaceous', more Campagnolo-Super-Record-like design, I remember this as also being called 'Criterium' but as sometimes being part of a groupset called 'Aerodynamic KL'.
- Finally, in the late 1980s, Galli stopped producing their own derailleur designs, and used Sachs-Huret models decorated with Galli's rooster motif ('gallo' is the Italian for 'rooster') and the word 'approved'.
However, after conducting a bit of properly nerdy data-archaeology, the picture has become more complicated and I doubt my memory! In particular my simple idea that there was a single early 'rectilinear' design seems like nonsense:
- In fact, there are a multitude of different 'rectilinear' designs. Important variables seem to be: whether the hanger bolt is hex head or Allen key, the shape of the B knuckle (2 variants), the outer parallelogram plate (3 variants), the shape of the pulley cage plates (4 variants), the pulley wheels (at least 2 variants) and whether the cable clamp bolt was a hex head or an allen key. Most importantly, one of the possible designs of outer parallelogram plate has the cable clamp arm in a different position. This changes the actuation ratio of the derailleur - requiring more cable to be pulled to generate a given amount of movement.
- Velo-Pages has a copy of a Bicycling Magazine article, dating from September 1977. It describes a new Galli model called 'Competizione' which has recently been added to the existing 'Sport' model. No other models are mentioned. Crucially the 'Competizione' has a different actuation ratio from the 'Sport' - with the 'Competizione' requiring more cable to be pulled.
- Classic Rendezvous has a set of photos of a 'rectilinear' derailleur with the actuation ratio of the 'Competizione' but with a hex hanger bolt. This derailleur is shown in a Galli box that is labelled 'Ritmo'.
- My best guess now, and it is only a guess, is that there were 4 'rectilinear' model names, 'Sport' and 'Criterium' for the high actuation ratio designs, and 'Ritmo' and 'Competizione' for the low actuation ratio designs.
The situation with the 'curvaceous' design is also more exciting than I had, at first, thought. Here there appear to be four variables. The first is the direction of the text on the outer parallelogram plate (2 variants), the second is the material used for the P pivot bolt (2 variants), the third is the shape of the inner pulley cage plate (2 variants) and the fourth is the nature of the 'stop' that limits the movement of the pulley cage (2 variants). I think that the possible models include:
- An early 'curvaceous' design. This has the logo with letters arranged vertically above each other, has an aluminium P pivot bolt, has a simple inner pulley cage plate, without a spoke deflector, and has the normal stop on the pulley cage, butting up against a protrusion from the P knuckle.
- A later 'curvaceous' design. This also has the logo with letters arranged vertically above each other, has a steel P pivot bolt, has an inner pulley cage plate that incorporates a spoke deflector, and has the normal stop on the pulley cage, butting up against a protrusion from the P knuckle.
- A third 'curvaceous' design of unknown date. This has the logo with letters arranged horizontally as a word, has an aluminium P pivot bolt, has a simple inner pulley cage plate, without a spoke deflector, and has the normal stop on the pulley cage, butting up against a protrusion from the P knuckle.
- A fourth 'curvaceous' design of unknown date. This also has the logo with letters arranged horizontally as a word, has an aluminium P pivot bolt, has a simple inner pulley cage plate, without a spoke deflector, but has the stop ground off the P knuckle and instead has a rather crude, oversize rod screwed into the outer pulley cage that butts directly against the P knuckle.
I still think that all these 'curvaceous' models were called 'Criterium' and that 'Aerodynamic KL' was the name of a groupset. Velo-Pages has an American leaflet, copyright 1986, showing the curvaceous design and refering to it as a 'Galli Criterium'. However Velominati shows an Australian advert from 1984 referring to the curvaceous design as the 'Galli Pro'. Who can understand it? I am going with 'Criterium'.
If you have read this far, you have remarkable patience! Clear branding and consistent naming was never a forte of European derailleur manufacturers.