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Fratelli Brivio (FB) components

By Stephen Warne

Back in 1931 a little known Italian company named Fratelli Brivio of Brescia, Italy applied for a patent for bicycle hubs constructed of steel with alloy flanges . Quite why the patent application was made in the UK and (presumably) not Italy is not known. Perhaps it was not possible to lodge a patent in Italy at that time under the Il Duce regime. The patent was awarded to them in 1933. 

Patent FB

2 FB patent

Above: Copies of FB patent

F B (Brivio Brothers) hubs were originally sold here by the Tabucchi Tyre Co who imported them with various other cycle components including Fiamme sprint rims from Italy and Titan stems from Belgium. They marketed the hubs under their own ‘Ambra Superga’ brand name. Interestingly, they also offered the hubs with Campagnolo quick release mechanisms. This may be where the Campagnolo / Brivio association began. Campagnolo had been awarded a patent for a cam operated quick release lever but not for a hub.

Ambra hubs

1938 Tabucchi Tyre Co catalogue – Courtesy V C C Library

FB hubs

1938 Tabucchi Tyre Co catalogue – Courtesy V C C Library

 To the best of my knowledge only small flange hubs were made at this time but following WW2 when production started again large flange hubs were offered. The earliest that I have seen these advertised is in the Fonteyn catalogue of 1950. I own a pair with cones dated 1949.

Fonteyn Catalogue

1950 Fonteyn catalogue – S Warne collection

6 FB small-flange hubs

F B Small flange hubs – S Warne collection

There is no doubt that Campagnolo Gran Sport hubs of this period were made by F B. I have read that it may be that the flanges only were supplied to Campagnolo for assembly by them but I consider this unlikely. However, the internal components are very different which suggests that F B simply supplied completed hub shells. As far as I know all Campagnolo large and small flange Gran Sport hub shells manufactured up to 1957 came from F B. 

FB large-flange FB Gran Sport LF

Left- F B Large flange hubs.  Right - Gran Sport Large flange hubs – (S Warne collection) 

F B manufactured hubs for many others and ‘badged’ them accordingly. These included Simplex, Legnano & Olmo. I have also seen quick release skewers with the F B logo. These carry the ‘Brev Campagnolo’ engraving which pertains to the Campagnolo patent. To the best of my knowledge Gnutti hubs were not made by F B. During the post war period both British Hub Company and Bayliss Wiley sold huge numbers of hubs of the F B patented design. One wonders if Brivio were ever paid by them ? I assume that the patent would have expired at some point in the 1950’s. The latest dated F B cones that I have seen are from 1959. After this date it seems that Fratelli Brivio disappeared.

The Brivio brothers also manufactured crank sets and chain rings. Fonteyn offered these in 1955. In addition it would appear that they developed a splined bottom bracket axle in 1946 (before Gnutti offered a similar design) but whether this was ever put on sale is another matter as I have never seen or heard of an example. 

FB 5-pin cranks

Above: FB 5-pin racing cranks with Specialities TA chain ring (S Warne collection) 

FB Cycling

 Above: Image from ‘Cycling’ December 1946 

Fonteyne 1955

Fonteyn catalogue 1955

Steve Warne – February 2019