My preference in building ‘The Legnano Collection’ has been to focus on acquiring complete and original bikes, and from the original owner if possible. This 1978-79 Legnano Competizione frame set has been one of the few exceptions. There is nothing particularly special about this frame, however I must admit that the colour caught my eye and it is in very good condition. Of some significance, it was produced in the final years following Emilio Bozzi’s death and just before Legnano was sold off to Bianchi in the early 80’s.
The frame has been sitting on the shelf for a while now as I try to decide if it is worth the hunt and expense to bring together all of the period correct parts. The only bits that came with the frame were the original Ofmega headset and bottom bracket. Like the frame itself, both are in excellent condition and the Ofmega headset is nicely knurled with the Legnano branding.
So I started to look through the parts bins a few weeks ago along with cross referencing my Legnano catalogs to see if there was a starting point for this project. The Competizione was the road model below the top of the line Specialissima or Olimpiade Record Specialisma. These were new model names adopted by Legnano in the late 70’s, replacing the ‘one two’ of the Roma Olimpiade and Gran Premio model names that perhaps had become a little tired with customers.
This Specialisma, like the 1976 Gran Premio in the collection was most likely fitted with the modern Campagnolo Gran Sport ‘gruppo’ although Legnano was also starting to introduce the Ofmega components including cranksets and hubs about this time to lower the price of some models. Legnano was not alone among the Italian makers in their efforts to look for alternatives to Campagnolo components to remain competitive with the well-priced Shimano and Suntour equipped road bikes that were springing up everywhere.
Well there wasn’t much in the way of Campy Gran Sport in the parts bins and I have never been a huge fan of Ofmega, so what to do? Either way, this Legnano has already been stripped of it’s original parts and so the build could be accurate and period correct, but not original. So all things considered, I have decided to build it ‘correct’ to the period but also to ‘step it up’ with Campagnolo Nuovo Record components rather than Nuovo Gran Sport.
This decision has let me make use of a good number of early Nuovo Record components in the bins including a crankset, hubs, rear derailleur and downtube shifters. The bins also produced a Universal 68 brake set in excellent condition that was a very common alternative to the pricey Campy brake set on many Italian road bikes. Also, Legnano had a very long-standing relationship with Universal going back decades on all of their models.
What remained to hunt down was the front derailleur, pedals, rims, stem and handlebars. The NR front derailleur is usually a quick find on eBay at pretty reasonable prices depending on the day, so part no. 1052/1 was enroute in short order. A set of Fiamme or Nisi tubular rims from the 70’s are not quite as easy to come by and they are also becoming increasingly expensive in NOS or near new condition. And Nuovo Record pedals in good condition that could once be had for next to nothing have climbed steeply in price with the recent popularity of ‘eroica’ cycling events.
Ambrosio was the most commonly used make of handlebars and stems on Legnano road bikes through all of the big years, with 3TTT components also coming in to use during the 1970’s, about the same time as Cinelli released their classic 1A stem and Giro bar set. As an example, the 1976 Legnano Gran Premio on this site is fitted with the original 3TTT stem and Gran Prix road bars. However I have always liked the Ambrosio components and online prices are still reasonable as it is an Italian maker that is not as well known, particularly in North America. So it didn’t take long to track down a set in excellent condition for less than $100 including the shipping.
more to come . . .
Should you have the time on your hands, it would be great if you tracked down when GNUTTI officially morphed into OFMEGA. ciao.
Thanks for posting Dave. I have not come across any relationship or transition between Gnutti and Ofmega, unless it related specifically to Gnutti’s bicycle component production that came to an end in the late 60s, early 70s, as was the case with many of Italy’s first manufacturers. Carlo Gnutti S.p.A. remains in business today and is a now a large, multi-national corporation involved in the development and production of high performance valve train and fuel injection components for construction, agricultural, marine, and transportation engines.
The Carlo Gnutti website has a page that speaks to their history along with this wonderful photo (attributed to 1950) of a promotional truck featuring their bicycle cranks on the flatbed and a giant hub over the cab. I just love running across this sort of thing as it really expresses the passion of these early makers to promote their products and build their business . . . which in this case has become quite an empire as they close in on their first 100 years of business, albeit they are no longer in the bicycle parts business.