Frejus is one of the big historic Italian brands that was founded by Emmo Gelfi in 1896 and acquired by Emilio Bozzi S.p.A. in 1946, joining the Legnano and Wolsit brands and production. The Campione del Mondo was the top road model for Frejus having won 11 World Championships and counting by 1958. This 1972 bike in the classic team colours and original factory finish was just purchased from its original owner and it will be making its way to Toronto in the coming weeks.
During my many years of researching and collecting Legnano bikes, I have come across several early 70’s Frejus bikes that were built using the unique Legnano seat lug with the seat post bolt below the top tube and ahead of the seat tube. At first I thought these exceptions where Legnano Roma models that had been refinished at the owner’s preference in Legnano trim. However I then came across other examples that still had their original factory paint and decals, as does is this one. In addition, the fork crown on this Frejus is also the same fork crown used on the Legnano Roma at this time.
It has always seemed very odd to me that the Legnano seat lug was used on a Frejus model. Why would Bozzi S.p.A. have wavered on this iconic Legnano frame detail? Not to forget that Frejus had their own ‘identifying’ style of seat lug. This exception is definitely restricted to production from during the first few years of the 1970’s and it also seems to be restricted to the Reynolds 531 construction for both brands on the top model. Perhaps the standard Frejus lugs were not compatible with Reynolds 531 tubing? In any event, I have been keeping my eye open for one of these ‘exceptional’ Frejus bikes . . . and today was the day.
My preference is to acquire bikes from their original owner whenever possible, although as each year goes by this is becoming more difficult. As is the case with this Frejus Campione del Mondo, some components have been changed out over the years however with one owner bikes there is the opportunity to jog their memory on what and when. And in other cases, sometimes the original parts are still around in the original owner’s garage or basement as was the case with this Frejus.
Currently the wheels on this Frejus are clincher upgrades however the original wheels with Campagnolo hubs and Fiamme tubular rims were kept and they also look to be in excellent condition considering 45 years have past (above photo). The bike is also fitted first-generation Shimano Dura-Ace side pull brakes and Suntour bar end shifters. The Campagnolo Record down tube shifters were also kept by the owner and they will be refitted.
Although the Campagnolo Nuovo Record side pull brakes came to market in 1969-1970, they were very expensive and supply was initially a little thin. For these reasons, I suspect this Frejus was originally fitted with Universal centerpull brakes. Also, one would think that if the bike originally came with Campy brakes there would have been no reason for the original owner to swap them out a year or two later for the Shimano sidepull brakes.
I still have a pair of the Shimano Dura-Ace sidepull brakes that I purchased when they were released on or about 1973-1974. They were virtually identical in design and performance to the new Campy side pulls, perhaps even a little better finished overall, and close to half the price of Campy if memory serves. If the parts bin still holds a set of early Campy brakes I will swap out the Dura-Ace or fit the Universal 61 centerpull brakes as I have lots of those kicking around.
More to come when the bike arrives . . .
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