Bringing a 1970 Roma Olimpiade back into service — Part 2: The Build

Short of the bottom bracket, you will recall from Part 1 that this Roma came into my possession as a bare frame.  The BB cups were a modern Shimano variety and went to the parts bin however the axle was a period correct Campagnolo Record part so it may remain with the build.  In my way of thinking there are only two ways to put an old bike back into service and neither include the use of modern components.

The first and most affordable option is to use components that are from the same era as the frame, give or take a handful of years either way.  And some of the components and brands may or may not be true to the original fitting of the bike.  There is at least some respect in this approach that I can accept as do most other enthusiasts of old iron.  The second option, and the one I am taking with this project, is to refit the bike with the same components it had when it was new.  This usually requires some research as well as a lot more time finding the correct parts.  You also end up reaching a lot deeper into your pocket when you go this route.

One of the reasons for deciding on a ‘true’ rebuild lies in the remnant of a decal on the down tube.  Not much left of it as you can see in the photo below however on closer inspection there was something that struck a cord.  A legible photo of this decal on a mid 70’s Legnano (slightly updated graphic format) is below it for better reference.

2015-01-28 08.39.25


Here is what it is all about. Come the late sixties there were changes happening at Legnano and everywhere else as the bike boom hit full stride. At the Paris Trade Show in October 1968, Campagnolo released their Record side pull brake set making a complete ‘gruppo’ for the first time in their history. This was significant for many reasons, not the least of which Campagnolo began to demand that sponsored riders would only compete with bikes fitted with a full ‘gruppo’. It also started to mark the beginning of the end for many long-time Italian component makers such as Universal, Magistroni, Gnutti, Way-Assauto (WAS) and Balilla to name a few that would not enter the new ‘gruppo’ mindset of cyclists.

And that brings us to the Roma Olimpiade Record ‘Specialissima’, Legnano’s top of the line road bike at that time with Campagnolo only components (excluding the rims, seat, bars and stem that for some reason was deemed to be outside of the ‘gruppo’ in this era). And this particular frame with the late 60’s format Legnano logo on the downtube and unique seat post bolt is the earliest ‘Specialissima’ model that I have come across. Having said that, this frame is either from 1969 or 1970 because post-1970 the seat post bolt moved to the conventional position behind the seat post and the Legnano logo changed from the oval or lozenge shape to a parallelogram shape that you can see on the 1971 and newer Legnano bikes on this site.

So now it’s time check the part boxes (and my budget as I hunt online) to see if I can put together the early Campagnolo Record ‘gruppo’ that would have come on this bike. My own inventory of treasures has produced a pre-72 Campagnolo 42/52 crankset in near mint condition that I have been hanging on to for just the right project. In fact the chainrings show absolutely no wear on the teeth so it is long overdue for the open road.


In the same box I also found a NOS 1046/A bottom bracket (Italian threading) as per the 1969 Catalog although the actual production date for this one is probably mid-70’s.  Bike parts are updated or changed almost as fast as cell phones these days however Campagnolo issued only four catalogs between 1958 and 1973 with many parts virtually unchanged through those 15 years. The net result, there is lots of old stuff out there if you like working on vintage road bikes.


Next up is a pair of 1014 down tube shifters in good condition that proved to be a pretty quick find on eBay, and at a reasonable cost. The tension screws have a bit of corrosion but I will dig through the boxes to see if I have any in better condition. And looking better after some careful clean up with a brass brush, some solvent and metal polish.


eBay also provided the 1052/1 front derailleur which I decided to fully disassemble as it needs a full servicing and through polishing to bring around.  Nice thing is that the cage shows very little wear on the inside and the plating overall is in good condition.  Someone wasn’t too careful with the clamp-on bolt so I will see if I can locate a better one.


This ‘Pat.70’ stamped Nuovo Record (1020/a) rear derailleur from my part bins will definitely fit the build.  A small scuff here and there but the spring tension is strong and the jockey wheels are in good shape and not split or cracked, something common to the plastic they used at the time.  And it looks like it already had a good cleaning before I put it away, so it’s set to go.



And a Regina Extra freewheel still fresh in the wrapper.  My days of grinding a 14-19 block are long gone so this 14-26 combination with the 42-52 chainrings up front and will be more forgiving of my ageing frame. And a Regina Extra 5-speed 1/2 x 3/32 nos chain to complete the setup.



With the drive train sorted, I need to take a look for brake callipers and levers. As previously mentioned, the Record 2040 brake set (52mm reach) was released in October 1968 at the Paris Trade Show and remained virtually unchanged for two decades beyond the addition in 1974 of the 47mm short reach callipers (2040/1).

The hoods on these 2040 levers may well be a reproduction product given how nice and supple they are but if so they are very accurate to the originals. And the 2040 callipers that I was able to source are fitted with protective plastic covers on the brake shoe wheel guides, added in 1978 to comply with Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements in the United States. Both levers and callipers are in excellent condition with just a bit of minor corrosion on the brake block bolts that I should be able to clean up.



There are two options for the bars and stem that would have been fitted to this bike, Ambrosio or 3TTT or both depending on the market. Given this Legnano was for export to the USA, the bars and stem were most likely 3TTT. However in 1968 Cinelli brought out the now classic 1A stem, a virtual work of art that was immediately on the wish list for every bike build or refit. And so I am going to consider that the original purchaser of this 1970 Legnano asked the shop owner to swap out the 3TTT bars and stem for the Cinelli masterpiece including the matching Cinelli Giro handlebars.


The Cinelli 1A stem and Giro bars were recently re-introduced however the ones I am using are the original issue that are getting more and more difficult to find in good condition, let alone the price. The bars often tend to be badly marked as the corresponding opening in the Cinelli stem needs to be opened a little (wood wedge) to insert or remove the bars without scratching the beautiful engravings. Regrettably most people either don’t know this mounting technique or don’t take the time and the bars are permanently damaged.


To get front forks and frame hooked up, here is the Campagnolo Record 1039 headset that would have come on this Legnano. I don’t think I am alone in wishing that Campagnolo would bring out the old tooling and re-issue this headset given how hard they are to find in good condition and the high price ($250+) they are fetching in NOS condition. This 1039 headset came to me incorrectly fitted to the 1958 Roma that is currently with Noah Rosen at Velocolour for refinishing. It also happens to be in great condition having been properly serviced over the years using the correct Campagnolo wrenches and care to minimize damage.


This Legnano ‘Specialissima’ like most Roma models going back to the early 50’s ran almost exclusively on Campagnolo Record (1035) high flange hubs.  And Legnano along with Bianchi and a few other of Italy’s top makers had their logo engraved on the Record hubs in lieu of the Campagnolo logo.  It was a practice that Campagnolo only extended to their hubs and it seems to have come to an end by the late 60’s, about the same time that Campagnolo completed their first ‘gruppo’.


I tend to purchase Legnano branded Campy hubs whenever I come across a pair as they are becoming scarce. I pulled the locknuts off this set and they are dated 1966, a few years earlier than this ‘Specialissima’ however even on original, fully-fitted Legnano bikes I find the hub nuts often predate the bike by a year or two. This may have to do with Legnano’s purchasing and inventory practices at the time versus the actual completion and ship date of the bike.

Thanks again to the parts bin, the hubs are now laced up to a set of period correct, new old stock, 36 hole Nisi tubular rims with double butted spokes.  Both Fiamme and Nisi rims where standard issue on Legnano road bikes and most other Italian marques at the time.  Fiamme rims were a little more common on the Legnano bikes imported to the U.S.A., for those of you that may be a little less familiar with the Nisi brand.



Legnano Roma and Gran Premio models were almost exclusively fitted with Brooks saddles, one of the few non-Italian parts during the 60’s that were acceptable or better put, ‘politically correct’ to use a contemporary expression. The classic B17 model was the standard issue and the B17 Professional on top Roma models from 1963, and the model I have chosen for this build. As most know, Brooks continues to manufacture these saddles with few if any changes since they were first released.

seat and post

The seatpost is the Campagnolo Record 1044 that is shown in the 1958 Catalog and remained in production for decades with no substantive design or production changes. The diameter of this post is 27.2mm, compatible with Reynolds 531 tubing dimensions.  It is worth mentioning that the more common Legnano frame construction that used Falck tubing fits a 26.4mm post. Both sizes are pretty easy to come by in good condition. This post has been very lightly sanded and polished at some time to remove insertion scratches and measures 27.14mm. Fortunately the engravings were not polished away and the slight reduction in the diameter will avoid any further scratches when the post is mounted.

Wrapping things up, a nice set of Record 1037 road pedals that popped up on eBay Germany at a fair price and in very good condition.  A bit of brush work and polish will make them look great.  And the toe clip bolts are included which reminds me I will need to check the part boxes for some clips and straps.


And here is how it all came together.


As I like to ride these bikes, I mounted an early Sella Italia suede saddle in lieu of the Broooks as the rails provide more fore and aft adjustment.  The Sella Italia saddle is probably more mid-70’s than early 70’s but it will do for the time being.  A nice Cinelli saddle would finish it off, if the prices would settle down a bit.

The final decision is whether to repaint this Roma as the original paint is in very poor condition.  I think I will let it be for the time being as there are a couple of other projects in need of attention.


• • •

10 thoughts on “Bringing a 1970 Roma Olimpiade back into service — Part 2: The Build

  1. My red ser#1630R I am sure has the wrong forks, Non Camag end chromed and long 60s style rake. Does anyone have a later short rake forks they would sell?

  2. Hi John,
    I would reach out to Eisenherz Bikes ( ) to see if they have a Legnano Reynolds 531 fork from the early 70’s. There was one up on eBay a few or so back. Don’t know if it sold and I think it might have been Eisenherz that was selling it. May get posted again if you keep an eye on the eBay Legnano listings.
    best regards,

  3. I did buy the NOS 531 fork from Germany should get it in a few days, Will have to re thread the tube and shorten it I think also re paint it to match the red. I will the have for sale the wrong for my frame forks that like new if anyone is interested

  4. I have installed the correct forks what a difference they make. Also the front wheel fits a lot closer to the frame. I do have the incorrect forks that came with frame that I think are off a 1960 vintage Legnano I have them for sale $35.00 plus shipping, The chrome is perfect and the paint has been removed to repaint in what ever colour you need They are listed on Ebay August 9, 2017.

    • That’s great John, glad it worked out for you. Yes, the early 60’s Legnano geometry made room on the rear stays and forks for fenders as standard issue. Come the early 70’s, the frame geometry was tightened up and fender clearances were being dispensed with . . . along with the brake reach getting shorter as well on the more modern components. Good example being the difference in reach between the Universal 61 brake calipers and the Universal 68 brake calipers that were quite short.


  5. I have I think, one of the last Legnanos ser#1600R built with the seat t bolt in front of the lug. also was finished in a one colour light green metallic with no contrast bands. I will post photos if you tell me how

    • Hi John,
      We touched base a while back and I have your Legnano no.1600R in the serial number listing on this site with photos. The last of this series serial no. 6194R (1973-74) that I have on record thus far is a couple of years later than yours. Thanks again for writing and best regards.

      • Hi Mark very confusing the serial#s 1600R Do you think that mine is before 1972 1973 then? did they make that many frames forks those years?. I am pretty sure that I purchased mine NEW from Big Wheel bike shop in Denver Colorado around 1972-1973 maybe I am wrong? Mine also has a different paint finish, single one colour metallic light green, not the usual Legnano green,The finish chipped very easy, it was over a silver under color.. chrome fork lugs only. With usual decals Good to hear from you again. By the way my frame and forks were damaged in shipping to my son Paul at Purdue Univ, HE repainted it a horrible light green and had water bottle cages added!!!! YUCK I can send you a photo if you like, I still ride it, full 1973 vin Camag, love the bike but the colour!!!

  6. Hi Mark me again I see now that you have the photo of my bike the new colour my son Paul has it painted I have good photos taken as it was when I got it in I think 1973 with the orig colour how do I post those? Cheers John

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