MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

 

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

 

TEST BUILDING THE LEGNANO GP

Before spending a single penny on a vintage bicycle, a wise builder will take the time to check the structural integrity of the frame and fork.  Put another way, take the time to ensure both are straight and without any cracks.  It is also wise to check the frame and fork for any dents or unwanted holes (people sometimes drill holes in the frame tubes for a variety of reasons, such as mounting a water bottle holder.

Had the Legnano Gran Premio been found as a complete bicycle, the first order of business would be to get it road worthy.  Road worthy, in this case, does not mean fully tuned and greased.  Rather, road worthy means safe to ride for a short distance.

This old special Bottecchia Special arrived in need of repair and appeared to have a bent something or other.  With that in mind, the bike was assembled as a Poor Boy Single Speed for test riding purposes.  No gears to shift.  Just what was needed to make the bicycle go and stop safely.

A short ride, on a bicycle that is safe to ride, can reveal some startling information.  If the bicycle pulls one way or the other during that short ride, chances are pretty good that the frame and/or fork set is bent.  And no one wants to invest a bunch of time, effort and cash into a bent road bicycle.

But the Gran Premio showed up as a near bare frame set.  With that in mind, the first order of business was to get the bicycle built up enough to take it for a short ride.

Brakes, of course are an absolute necessity.  With that in mind, a set of brakes had to be located that would fit either a set of 700c wheels, tubulars in this case, or a set of 27" hoops.  There is not always a choice of wheel sizes offered, but in the case of the Legnano Gran Premio, either set could be ordered right from brand new.

Both wheel sizes were installed and brakes sought out to fit.  Sadly, nothing that would be period correct for a fifties something Legnano seemed to fit.  With that in mind, a set of Universal Extra 68 callipers were installed.

The Universal Extra 68 callipers would have been model and period correct if the Legnano was, indeed, of 1968 vintage.  The Universal Extra 68s were introduced in 1968.  Based on the two digit serial number stamped into the drive side of the seat post lug, the bicycle might well be 1968.  Of course, the number 18 stamped there might also represent 1958, as suggested by the original owner.

None the less, the 68s were the only Universal brakes that would fit, both front and back.  And, since the purpose of the initial build was to test the frame and fork structural integrity, the later model callipers would be just fine.  If research suggested that other brakes were required, the hunt for them would begin.  Finally, the 54cm Legnano Gran Premio supplied the callipers, already cleaned, lubricated and ready to install.

With the calliper issue resolved, all be it temporarily, attention turned from stop to go.  Go needs, at a minimum, a crank, a drive chain and a cog set, or at least one connected cog.  However, since it would cost nothing to install a set of derailleurs, the decision was made to get a working transmission included in the build.

In this case, a Campagnolo Gran Sport transmission seemed to be the most logical way to go.  The 54cm Gran Premio supplied the derailleurs and the correct shifters were snatched out of the Campagnolo spare parts stash.

Crank choice seemed almost a given at the onset of choosing what components would be installed.  Fortune had presented a three arm Campagnolo Gran Sport steel taped crank only a couple of weeks earlier.  That crank seemed to be an absolutely logical choice until it became apparent that the crank's vintage would be inappropriate for a pre-1971 bicycle.  The steel Gran Sport crank was issued for a single year, that year being 1971.

First choice for the Gran Premio would have to be a Magistroni chrome plated steel cottered set, pantographed with the Legnano name.  But those crank sets are few and far between.  They do surface, from time to time, but at prices that make buying one a bit unlikely for a budget build.

Which way to go?  It would be a snap to install a tapered bottom bracket, coupled with a Campagnolo Nouvo Record tapered crank, but the installation, once again, would be incorrect for the vintage and the model.  With no Magistroni on the horizon, it seemed logical to install the cottered Stronglight set that had been used on the 54cm Legnano.  Of course, the Stronglight crank would never have been original issue for the Legnano but it would do until the correct crank set surfaced.

Handlebars and steering stem were next on the list to be found and installed.  The steering stem was all but a given, given that the correct Legnano pantographed stem had arrived with the frame set.  Sadly, that stem was super stuck and stuck solid into the steering tube of the fork set.  Additionally, the bolt that clamps the stem into place was also stuck and stuck solid.

After several attempts to remove the "as found" stem, it became obvious that the bolt would have to be cut out.  A simple removal of the hex head was all that would be required, which, of course, would destroy the bolt.  But destroying a bolt would be far more acceptable than risking damage to the fork itself.

With the stem bolt cut, more bad news presented itself.  The stem was also stuck, but did offer the slightest bit of movement.  This is a dangerous situation!  The danger lies in the need to try to twist the stem out of the steering tube.  The natural thing to do is grip the front wheel between ones legs and twist the stem back and forth to loosen it up.  This action, however, just might end up twisting the fork set out of alignment.  Straightening a fork set is pretty difficult to do, if one does not know what they are doing.

But the stem, after repeated applications of WD40, did loosen up enough to safely remove it.  Not only did the fork set avoid damage, but the stem would be safe to use again, should a clamp bolt be found that would fit.

And finding a bolt to fit was, once again, a non issue.  The 54cm GP coughed up its stem, and that stem featured a shorter reach which would be all but prefect for the fit department.  Next on the what to use list would be handlebars.  And two schools of thought presented themselves with this issue.

Drop bars would certainly be the way to go in an effort to preserve originality, and TTT Grand Prix bars would be most correct.  First generation Grand Prix would do, not the later model.  Sadly, no first generation TTT bars had managed to hide away in The Old Shed, but there were several sets of no-name Italian bars that had piled up over the years.  The best of those would do the job.

The final consideration would be saddle choice.  Long has a very nice Brooks B17 Narrow lounged in The Old Shed, and its patina would prove perfect for the less than pristine cosmetics of the Legnano.  But the B17 was not, necessarily, the most comfortable of the Brooks butt perches.  Time, however, would tell the tale on that slightly too narrow suspended leather perch.

NEXT - GRAN PREMIO TEST RIDE

 

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

mail@mytenspeeds.com

COPYRIGHT(2008): mytenspeeds.com