MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

1968 LEGNANO GP - INTRO

FINDING THE GRAN PREMIO

GRAN PREMIO - TEST BUILD

TEST RIDING THE GP

TEST RIDE REPAIRS REQ'D

FINAL BUILD - FOR NOW

PERIOD & MODEL CORRECT

RESTORED RIDE QUALITY

 

BICYCLES OF ITALY

1968 LEGNANO GRAN PREMIO - INTRODUCTION

Legnano is, perhaps, one of the better know vintage Italian bicycles, with its origins reaching as far back as 1902, although there is little evidence to support this date.  1908, however, did see the Legnano name achieve public notice, when Emilio Bozzi formed a bicycle company - Emilio Bozzi & Co.

Emilio was soon to partner up with a businessman from the Italian town of Legnano, one Franco Tossi who had been seeking business opportunities in the bicycle world.  Apparently, Tossi had already purchased bicycle patents from a fairly well know English company, Wolsit.  Wolsit, incidentally, is a joining of a British Car company, Wolsely  with an Italian group, hence the name, however unusual it might be.

In 1924, surrounded by political pressures imposed by the Italian Fascist government of the day, the the company's name was changed from Emilio Bozzie & Co to Legnano.  Apparently, the Italian political powers of the day wanted to present heroes to their public, and those heroes, needless to say, were to be Italian and ride Italian made bicycle.  Nothing else would do at the time.

Perhaps that is one reason for the introduction of the now famous Legnano head badge, perhaps one of the most unusual and ornate ones to ever reach production, for any bicycle.  That badge, the Legnano Warrior, sword raised in triumph signalling victory is a representation of Alberto from Guissano, the commander who led his troops to victory at the historic battle that took place in Legnano, centuries prior to Legnano's introduction

The Gran Premio was not the top of the line offered by Legnano.  Rather, it was a lesser to the top dog of the Legnano stable, the Roma Olympiade.  None the less, the Gran Premio was and still is a very nice bicycle, featuring exotic frame tubes, Campagnolo drops in the rear only and, of course, an abundance of chrome plating.

The lovely and now hard to find Magistroni cottered crank set was prepared for Legnano and sported the company's name.  So too did the TTT alloy steering stem.  The company name also appeared on the quick release alloy hubs.  Again, the hubs are becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Both side pull and center pull brakes found their way onto the Gran Premio, depending primarily on the vintage of the bicycle and in keeping with what was available at the time.  Fitted with center pull callipers, the Gran Premio would be offered with a special rear brake cable guide that attached, with a single bolt, directly to the back of the seat post lug.

This unusual calliper attachment method was necessitated by the front mounted seat post clamp bolt, another very hard to find item in today's vintage bicycle world.  That front mounted clamp bolt, left no way to hang the cable bracket since the seat lug had no clamp bolt ears incorporated into the design as did most other bicycles of the day.

The Gran Premio frame set offered not a single braze on.  Clamps for brake cable and transmission cables were all clamp on units and generally offered as chrome plated items.  And the chrome plating did not stop at the components fitted.

Seat and chain stays, head tube lugs and, as one might expect, fork blade ends, were all lavishly plated with the deep rich chrome plating offered by Italian artisans of the day.  The chrome plating must have been a quality covering since it tended to survive the passing of time very well when compared to other plated items offered by the component manufacturers who supplied parts to Legnano.

The Legnano Gran Premio was offered with either 700c tubular wheels or the more common and practical 27" Fiamme alloy units of the day.  Plated spokes held the hoops securely to the hubs.  The spoke plating was not chrome, but a galvanized finish of some kind.

Generally, from the fifties, through the sixties and into the early seventies, the Gran Premios were fitted with Campagnolo transmission, Gran Sport models to be more precise.  The derailleur design would not accommodate a wide range cog set but did tend to carry on the chrome plating theme.

The suspended leather saddle, be it Brooks or some other reasonable facsimile, offered both support and, once broken in, comfort.  In a mid sixties Gran Premio catalogue, the saddles were reported to be made of the best Italian leather.

All in all, the Legnano Gran Premio is a wonderful Italian road bicycle that did not necessarily sport the best of the best in components or frame set construction.  The bicycle was, however, a considerable cut above many other brands being offered at the time.

NEXT - FINDING THE GRAM PREMIO

 

 

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