Mostly known for their pedals and headsets, the Italian firm Way-Assauto or "WAS" began its manufacturing operations in 1906 in the city of Torino. Way-Assauto is named after Luigi Way and Alberto Assauto. Luigi Way, an avid bicyclist, was originally a Swiss national whose entrepreneurial family settled in Northern Italy shortly after the turn of the century. Alberto Assauto, a self described mechanic turned businessman, provided the needed engineering background. Together they started WAS as a general industrial firm, producing parts mainly for the automotive and motorcycling industries. By 1930 WAS began producing crank-sets, bottom brackets, chains, freewheels and hubs in addition to pedals and headsets. Information regarding WAS production during the war years is scarce, but somehow they continued to survive.
Below is a photo of a pedal made by WAS during the early 1940s up until approximately 1971. It came with an all steel body and cage, and two toe strap loops, an innovation in its time. Various iterations of this model have been called, “Sprint, Zenith, or Corsa Extra Lusso”. WAS pedals were found as OEM on competition to professional range models made by Atala, Frejus, Gloria, Legnano, Mirella, Olmo and Umberto Dei bicycles, just to name a few.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about WAS is that they were one of the few exclusive manufacturers that made components for Campagnolo; in this case pedals. WAS pedal axles were the same dimensions as, and were reportedly interchangeable with, early Campagnolo Gran Sport models up until the late 1960s. Below is a photo of a Campagnolo branded pedal made by WAS. These pedals are extremely rare and were never identified in any Campagnolo catalog. These Campagnolo pedals were almost identical to the WAS models of the 1950s-1960s save for a Campagnolo branded steel dust-cap.
Below is a photo of a Way-Assauto “Stella” low-flange track hub-set from the early 1950s. Like many hubs of that era, these 32 hole hubs have steel flanges pressed into a separately machined center barrel. Road models came with a center oiling hole much like their contemporary FB and Campagnolo models.
Similar to Italian steel tubing manufacturer, Falck; Way-Assauto eventually leaned away from servicing the high-end bicycle market and by the late 1960s only provided a mid to lower end headset model. Below is a photo of a WAS headset available from the 1950s up until the very early 1970s. Found almost exclusively in Italian thread spacing only, the bearing races on this model held up as good as any contemporary model of its kind, but it’s overall finish quality gave it a look of the mass-produced item that it really was.
Without its heart in bicycling, Way-Assauto ceased to innovate or provide new models for emerging markets. In 1971, it left the bicycling components arena to focus strictly on its manufacture of automotive parts. Still in business today, they are presently located in the town of Asti (Piedmont).
(Complied by Nels Cone, Information cited from A.A. Way-Assauto Company, Speedplay websites, Mario Bergino personal communication; Photo credits, Speedplay, Velobase, Ebay, Dale Brown
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