Frejus of Torino was founded by Emmo Gelfi in 1896, the same year that Maino and Umberto Dei were founded, two other historic Italian marques, and a decade before the Legnano brand was established. The Gelfi brothers continued to build Frejus bicycles until 1946 when it was purchased by Emilio Bozzi S.p.A. adding the Frejus brand to their Legnano and Wolsit marques. Frejus had a great history of victories on both the road and track having won 11 world championships by the end of the 1950’s. The list of champion riders included such names as Guiseppe Olmo, Cino Cinelli and even Gino Bartali (Classic Lightweights UK).
This frame is the Tour de France model, that replaced the Corsa model in 1951 following Freddie Kubler’s TdF victory in 1950. According to the Classic Lightweights UK website, this was the Frejus pecking order: Super Corsa, Corsa and Strada. The Campimissimo model was essentially a Super Corsa model with Campagnolo dropouts rather than Simplex and fitted with Campagnolo ‘Paris-Roubaix’ gearing and hubs. While not as unique as the Legnano seat lug cluster, the top three Frejus road models shared the seat lug design shown in the image at the top of this post.
This Frejus TdF came to me in July of 2017 from Glen Hendrickson of Las Vegas as a bare frame with only the original Magistroni headset. I am putting the production year at 1970-1971 based on the serial number and frame construction/detailing. The previous owner also mentioned that it was stripped of a Campy Nuovo Record rear derailleur with a 1971 date stamp. Still to be confirmed, the frame is most likely constructed from Falck tubing. Reynolds 531 and Columbus tubes were used for some Bozzi production however I do not believe this to be the case here based on the frame weight.
I have come to a point in time with the Legnano Collection that I no longer ask myself why I am buying another bike. And if there was an answer to that question I have long since forgotten. This is the second Frejus to join the collection and I don’t know how many more I will add. I suppose it depends on what comes along. Something that caught my eye on this Frejus was the original decal on the seat tube from The Spoke in Boulder, Colorado that is also on the 1970 Legnano Roma in the collection. I took it as good karma and reason enough to buy the frame and start another project. The Spoke was gone by the mid 80’s after a good 20 year run and based on the most recent report it is now a coffee shop.
I have started to look through the part bins to consider how I will build up the bike. The price of good quality vintage parts is continuing to skyrocket as well as being less plentiful. So I think I will give myself a bit of latitude with this build, let’s say a couple of years on either side of the 1971 production year for the frame. This time bracket will also allow me to make use of a number of existing parts while still being correct to the period if not exactly.
From the bit of research I have done, the changes in the early to mid 70’s to the Legnano brand were pretty much the same with the Frejus brand as competition from the Japanese component makers, particularly Suntour and Shimano, started to change the game. That said, this Frejus TdF was pretty much the last of the real quality years in the same way that the Legnano Gran Premio started to become ‘detuned’ in order to be competitive.
That said, I am looking to build up this TdF at the higher end of things with a Campagnolo Record/Nuovo Record group. The one exception may be the Campagnolo NR brakeset that came to market in 1970 with widespread distribution starting in 1971. I don’t have a set of the NR brakes in my part bins and the price of the early releases are getting both hard to find and extremely expensive. I do have a spare set of Universal 61 brakes and this was most likely how the TdF model was equipped in 1971. Bars and stem would have been T.T.T., a longstanding Bozzi supplier that took over the production of these components from Ambrosio in the early 60’s.
Model: Frejus Tour de France
Serial No: 31114 (left side of seat tube just below the seat lug)
Seat Tube: 58cm ctc
Top Tube: 57cm ctc
Frame Only Weight: 3.240 kg or 7.14 lbs (with headset)
Frame Tubing: Falck
Fork Dropouts: Campagnolo Record
Rear Dropouts: Campagnolo Record Long
Rear Spacing: 120mm
Bottom Bracket: 68mm — Italian threading