1963 Roma Olimpiade

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This Roma Olimpiade came to me in August of 2016 with the kind help of Silvio Antoniuccci, the webmaster for  www.registrostoricocicli.com  in Italy, a historical cycling association that I have referenced several times on this website. I have just unpacked the bike from the shipping container and loosely assembled it on my shop stand to get a closer look at this latest addition to the Legnano Collection. While I have left this bike dated to 1963 based on the serial number, however there are some components on this Roma that are raising some questions in my mind around that date.  Let’s take a closer look.

For one, the cantle on the Brooks Campagnolo model saddle is stamped ’60’, representing the year of production. This special production Broooks B17 saddle with the narrow seat rails and the matching Campagnolo seat post were released in 1958 and some reports suggest they were produced through to 1963, however the latest date stamp that I have come across on these saddles in 1961. If a reader has one dated later, a photo would be greatly appreciated. You will notice in the pictures below that the pin of the seat post looks to have undergone some light polishing as it is pretty fresh looking compared to all of the other aluminium parts on the bike that show a lot of oxidation and grime. Despite the earlier date, it is conceivable that this saddle and post combination sat in Legnano inventory, or it was an upgrade when the bike was originally purchased, having been on the shop’s shelf for a couple of years, or as a unique and somewhat rare part(s) it was added to this Roma at some time in the past 50+ years by a previous owner. All are possible, none are certain.

The wheels are comprised of Fiamme green label tubular rims and high flange Campagnolo Record hubs with the barrels engraved with the Legnano logo. This wheel setup was the standard for Roma as well as most Gran Premio models (with tubular tires) from the late 50s though to the late 60’s. The locknuts on the front hubs are stamped ’60’ and the rear locknuts are stamped ’62’. While it is not at all unusual to find that the Campy buy locknuts predate the bike production by a year taking into account Legnano part inventory rolling over from one year to the next, it is a little unusual that the front hubs predate the bike production by 3 years. However both wheels appear to be a set as the spokes, wear and tear and oxidation are identical.  Who knows, maybe that ’60’ front hub got pushed to the back of a shelf or it was mislabeled in the stock room until someone spotted it and put it back where it belonged.  If you think about it, what reason would an employee at Legnano to pull a locknut on a hub before building up a wheel as I am sure they just drew from inventory as orders were filled.

The stem and bars also have my left knee twitching a little. The Roma Olimpiade models from this era were almost always fitted with and Ambrosio stem and bars engraved with the Legnano logo.  In or about 1961, according to reports, Ambrosio was acquired by TTT (Tecnologia del Tubo Torino) the same company that we know today as 3T. The stem and bars on this Roma are branded TTT which would coincide with the aforementioned acquisition date however there is no Legnano branding on either the bars or stem.  Did these parts happen to miss the engraving work in either the TTT or Legnano plant?  Also, the recessed binder bolt on the TTT stem is a little early for 1963 from what I have seen but perhaps. Having said all off that I am a little on the fence as to whether the stem and bars are original to the bike or a replacement.  Could have been that the factory stem was the wrong length for the customer and the shop decided it was easier just to replace the set.  Once again, all of these scenarios are possible and none are certain.

All of the other components on the bike are very correct and reflecting on some of my questions above, I am confident that this Roma Olimpiade dates to 1963. I wanted to walk through this in some detail to give the reader a glimpse of how vintage bikes that ‘look original’ may not be quite as original as you think. And while there are dishonest people out there looking to defraud buyers with ‘original’ bikes that are not, it is not the case with this Roma. However as the years pass and the value of the great vintage ‘marques’ and models increase, any prospective buyer should take a really close look at all the details if the seller is claiming that the bike is original to the day it rolled out of the shop. And the caveat that tends to hold true more often than not, “if it looks to good to be true, it probably is”.

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This Roma was originally purchased from Casa del Ciclo in the city of Perugia, the capital of the Umbria region in central Italy.  A quick Google shows that Casa del Ciclo is still in business selling scooters and motorcycles.

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1963 was the last year for the Brooks Campagnolo model saddle and matching Campy narrow rail seat post according to some reports, however personally I have only come across these saddles dated from 1958 to 1961. If there is a reader out there that has come across a 62 or 63 model, I would welcome a photo for reference. Worth noting that the seat post stem looks to have undergone some light machine polishing and it is pretty fresh looking compared to all of the other components on the bike as you can see.

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1963 was the first year for the Campagnolo Record rear derailleur that was produced through to 1966 when it was replaced by the Nuovo Record derailleur. The Record could easily handle a 26t cog and possibly a 28t, whereas its predecessor the Gran Sport topped out at 24t in most setups.  The Record also offered better shifting than the Gran Sport and almost the same its much lighter successor the Nuovo Record when it was released in 1966.

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The final release of the Campagnolo Record crankset with 151mm bolt circle diameter and minimum 44t chainring. This setup is a classic ‘half step’ setup with a 47t inner ring and a 50t outer chainring.  The Nuovo Record crankset that was released in 1966 reduced the bolt circle diameter to 144mm and was capable of fitting a 41t inner chainring.  Hand in hand with the Nuovo Record rear derailleur the NR crankset permitted a much wider range of gears and pretty much ended the ‘half step’ setup that had been the norm for 15+ years.

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Here is a blueprint of the bike as it was received:

Model:   Roma Olimpiade
Year:   1963
Serial No:  FF9402
Frame Size:  56cm ctc
Frame Only Weight:  2.88 kg or 6.35 lbs
Total Weight: 10.78 kg or 23.76 lbs  (as shown above)
Crankset:  Campagnolo Record 1049/2 – 151mm b.c. (47/50)
Bottom Bracket:  Campagnolo Record 1046
Pedals:  Campagnolo Record 1037
Toe Clips:  Christophe Special
Front Derailleur:  Campagnolo Record 1052/1
Rear Derailleur:  Campagnolo Record 1020
Shifters:  Campagnolo Record 1014
Freewheel:  Regina Gran Sport Corsa (16/18/20/22/24)
Hubs: Campagnolo Record HF for Legnano 1035 (stamped 62)
Rims:  Fiamme tubular green label with eyelets – 36h
Handlebars and Stem:  TTT Gran Prix Special
Headset:  Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Brakeset:  Universal Centerpull Mod.61
Seat:  Brooks B17 Campagnolo Model
Seatpost:  27,0 mm Campagnolo Record Narrow Rail
Pump:  Silca branded Legnano

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