There are a number of things that I look for as the Legnano collection grows: original paint, original components, original owner, overall condition, scarcity and anything that makes it uniquely interesting. This 1976 Legnano Gran Premio checked most of those boxes and in addition I was looking for a frame size that would fit my niece as we contemplate the annual L’Eroica in Tuscany. Bike racing passed to me from my father however it missed my own kids. Fortunately the ‘double butted’ gene passed to my sister’s daughter and now the legacy goes on for another generation. Of course my niece was born in the era of STI shifters so downtube shift levers and leather toe straps make her smile.
This Legnano is also constructed of Reynolds 531 tubing, something that Emilio Bozzi began in the last few years before he was killed and the subsequent end of production by the Bozzi family in the early 1980’s. The unique seat binder bolt that attracts many Legnano afficiandos was a thing of the past by this time, never-the-less there are many collectors of vintage Italian iron that seek out the Bozzi 531 frames as their favourites. So in addition to a Legnano that would fit my niece, the 531 construction and completely original condition made this bike difficult to resist. And this is probably a good time to thank the previous owner, Federico des Dorides of Grottaferrata (Rome), Italy for not ‘parting out’ this original Lengano on eBay, and passing it along to me in tact in May, 2014 at a mutually agreeable price. Grazie Federico.
The Gran Premio was Legnano’s second best model behind the Roma Olimpiade, and through the 50’s and 60’s the Gran Premio was usually fitted with Campaganolo Gran Sport components or a mix of GS and Record to lower the price point for amateur racers. The Gran Premio frame also missed some of the finishing touches of the Olimpiade model but otherwise the GP was a great road bike. This particular Gran Premio is fitted with the second generation GS or Nuovo Gran Sport components, almost a full ‘grupp0’ short of the brakeset. However it is rare to find a Legnano, Olimpiade or Gran Premio of any year, that is not fitted with Universal brakes. Even after Campagnolo released their Record sidepull brakeset in 1969 to complete their first ever ‘gruppo’, Legnano continued their alliance with Universal. Having said that, this Gran Premio is fitted with the very popular Universal 68 sidepull brakeset.
I am dating this Gran Premio to 1976 based on the 531 construction and frame detailing, fork crown casting and the 1976 date stamp on the inside arms of the original three spoke GS crankset. A word of caution here, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find vintage bikes with their original parts so do not rely on this alone to date a vintage bike particularly if it comes with a high price tag. Moving on, this Legnano could also have come to market in 1977 as often the dated Campagnolo components were a year in arrears or standing inventory in the hands of the bicycle manufacturers. Unfortunately the locknuts on the second generation GS hubs were not date stamped by Campagnolo which would have helped confirm the gap a little more.
And here’s the spec in detail . . .
Model: Gran Premio
Color: Metallic Tangerine
Serial No: n/a
Frame Size: 52cm ctc
Tubing: Reynolds 531
Dropouts: Campagnolo GS
Headset: Campagnolo Gran Sport
Stem & Bars: 3TTT Mod. Gran Prix
Brake Calipers & Levers: Universal 68
Bottom Bracket: Campagnolo Gran Sport
Crankset: Campagnolo Gran Sport
Pedals: Campagnolo Gran Sport
Front Derailleur: Campagnolo Gran Sport
Rear Derailleur: Campagnolo Gran Sport
Hubs: Campagnolo Gran Sport HF
Rims: Nisi 36 hole
Seatpost: Campagnolo Gran Sport
Frame Only Weight: tbd
Total Weight: 9.89kg – 21.8lbs