1967 Roma Olimpiade

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This pristine 1967 Roma Olimpiade came to me from Peter Rossbaum of Collingwood, Ontario, a fine gentlemen and the original owner of this Legnano. The condition of the bike and particularly the original paint and decals are as good as it gets for a Legnano of almost 50 years. And everything about this Roma is original to the day it rolled out of Bloor Cycle in Toronto, which the exception of the rims, chain, tyres and toe clips that were replaced with wear.  The original rims would have been either either Fiamme or Nisi and were replaced with Mavic Monthlery Sport rims (released in 1974).

As this Roma Olimpiade does not have the traditional serial number stamped on the back of the seat lug (more to follow on that), the lug work, frame details, decals and original components all support the 1967 production year that Peter provided. I quickly popped the lock nuts on the front and rear hubs to have a look, the front is stamped 67 and the rear is stamped 64, indicating their year of their production. The lock nuts are not always a true measure in and onto itself for dating purposes however if the lineage is known to be solid it can usually be trusted to ‘substantiate’ the production year along with the aforementioned frame details, other components and the serial number.

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And that brings me to another reason I wanted to add this bike to the ‘Legnano Collection’, the Bloor Cycle decal on the seat tube.  Bloor Cycle in Toronto was owned and operated by Paul Kent and then jointly by Paul and his son Peter. I believe Bloor Cycles was also the sole importer at that time for all of the great Italian road bikes including Cinelli, Bianchi, Botteccha and of course Legnano. As a young boy I also recall seeing the great road bikes from Holdsworth, Bob Jackson and Alex Singer on the floor of Bloor Cycle.  It was without question, ‘the destination’ for the cycling enthusiast in the sixties and seventies.

Peter told me that he was 14 years old when he purchased this Legnano.  To put that in perspective, a Roma Olimpiade would have sold for approx. $500+ in 1967 depending on the shop and that was about one third of the price of a new Volkswagen Beetle. Considering that a VW Beetle now costs upwards of $20,000 and a top of the line race bike can exceed $7000, things haven’t changed much overall if you want to ride the best.  I asked Peter if his dad helped him pay for the bike and he replied confidently “No, did it myself.”.  I was also curious why he chose a Legnano and he said, “My friends had Cinelli’s.  I wanted something different and I really liked the colour of the Legnano.”  It’s a colour that some believe is best kept for fishing lures but for those that do appreciate this unique hue, it’s real ‘eye candy’.

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The last thing that captured my attention on this Roma was the Columbus tubing decal. Legnano built the Roma with Falck tubing and also some production with Reynolds 531 tubes in the late 60’s and 70’s, but this is the first Roma Olimpiade that I have seen with what appears to be an original Columbus decal on the front of the top tube, a location that they also used for the Reynolds decal on the 531 builds starting in the late 60s. Is this Roma constructed from Columbus tubes or was the decal placed there by Bloor Cycle in quiet error to ‘assist’ the sales effort with customers who were only familiar with Reynolds and Columbus tubing in first quality racing bikes.  Having said that, there are no signs whatsoever of a Falck tubing decal being removed from its traditional position just below the Legnano logo on the down tube as per the 1966 Roma that is in the collection.

To get a more definitive answer on this issue, I will ask Mike Barry of Bicycle Specialties to give me hand in verifying whether or not this Roma is truly built from Columbus tubes. For those that have not had the pleasure of meeting Mike Barry, he is most likely Canada’s best expert on vintage bikes and their restoration. Mike Barry along with his former partner Mike Brown operated Bicyclesport on King Street East in Toronto for many years, another of Canada’s formative cycle shops along with the building of Mariposa frames and bikes that continue to this day under his son’s direction Michael and Dede Barry, both accomplished professional cyclists of many years.

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However, the 101 stamped on the underside of the bottom bracket was enough of a suggestion to me that perhaps the Columbus decal is the real deal or rather that this Roma is built from Columbus tubes. The underside of the BB is also the location that Legnano stamped their Reynolds 531 builds putting an R below the numerical sequence as can be seen on the 1969 Roma Olimpiade in the collection. The letter R would serve to identify or distinguish the two frames through the production and until they were painted and the respective frame decals applied. The BB location of the serial numbers would also distinguish them through the production process from the predominant Roma production that used Falck tubing.

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It’s a boy! And his name is Columbus

Well the nod on this one goes to T-mar on BikeForums who suggested I check the inside of the steering tube for the five helical ridges that were a patented feature of Columbus tubes at this time. And sure enough, there they were. The photo above is not the best however you can see one of the five helical ridges at the top of the circle where the steering tube exists the underside of the fork crown. Easier done with a flashlight than my iPhone.

Timing is a funny thing, and within a couple of days of T-mar shedding some light on the Columbus question I received a number of Legnano sell sheets from a fellow enthusiast, Sergio Aquilina. And if one of those sell sheets isn’t for a 1966 Roma Olimpiade! On the back is the detailed spec for the distributor or merchant along with the following statement, “By request we can supply also bicycles with tubes Reynolds 531 double cone shaped (DB) or with tubes Columbus“. You can find the sell sheet being referenced under the section LEGNANO CATALOGS on the menu bar to the right of this page.

So Roma’s were built out of Columbus tubes however this is the very first one that I have come across in many years of collecting and researching these bikes. Given the 101 stamped on the underside of the BB, there is also a good chance that not many were built and I am also hoping, in my mind of minds, this ‘could’ have been the first Columbus build had they chose to start the numbering at 100. Maybe, just maybe?

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The cantle on the Brooks Professional saddles is stamped 66, indicating the year of production. As with many components it is not unusual for their production year to predate the production year of the bike by a year or even two depending on inventory in the factory.

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Here is a blueprint of the bike as it was received from its original owner:

Model:   Roma Olimpiade
Year:   1967
Serial No:  101  (stamped on the underside of the BB)
Original Retailer:  Bloor Cycle, Toronto Canada
Total Weight:  11.02 kg or 24.3 lbs (with pump)
Frame Weight:  
2.980 kg  or  6.57 lbs (without b.b. or headset)
Frame Size:
  57.5 cm (ctc)  60.0 cm (ctt)
Tubing:  Columbus SL
Dropouts:  Campagnolo Strada 1010
Pump:  Silca w Campagnolo head 1030/2
Pump Clip:  Campagnolo Record 632
Crankset:  Campagnolo Record (42/50) 144 b.c.
Bottom Bracket:  Campagnolo Record 1046  stamped  70 – SS – 120
Pedals:  Campagnolo Record 1037
Toe Clips:  Christophe Special
Toe Straps:  Record w REG buttons
Front Derailleur:  Campagnolo Record 1052/2 (slot on cable stop)
Rear Derailleur:  Campagnolo Nuovo Record 1020/1a
Shifters:  Campagnolo Record 1014
Derailleur Cable Guide:  Campagnolo Record 626/a and 636
Freewheel:  Regina G.S. Corse –  14/16/18/20/22
Chain: Regina Extra
Hubs: Campagnolo Record HF 36H 1035 (engraved Legnano)
Rims:  Mavic Monthlery Sport 21.5mm tubular 36 hole w/o eyelets
Spokes:  Stella double butted 20/18/20 (radially forged)
Tires:  Hutchinson Super Sprint tubular
Handlebars: T.T.T. Gran-Prix engraved Legnano
Handlebar Stem:
  T.T.T. Gran-Prix  (Tecnologia del Tubo Torino)
Handlebar End Plugs:  Gaslo for Legnano
Headset:  Campagnolo Record 1039
Brakeset:  Universal Mod.61 Centerpull
Brake Cable Clips:  Campagnolo Record 649
Seatpost: Campagnolo Record 1044 (27.0mm OD)
Seat:  Brooks Professional (copper rivets) cantle stamped 66