I receive many requests from readers asking to date the production year of their Legnano and I am happy to help with as much information as possible. However it is increasingly difficult to come across a Legnano that is completely unchanged from the day it rolled off the assembly line. In some cases as many as 70+ years may have passed and parts may have been replaced due to normal wear or perhaps the original owner’s desire to improve the performance of their bike as new products came available.
As an example, I came across a Roma Olimpiade recently from the early 60’s that was being sold by its original owner however the Universal 61 brake callipers had been upgraded to the Universal 68 model when they were released in 1968. I have seen similar upgrades with Campy brakesets when they came available to complete the ‘gruppo’ on Roma models from the early to mid 60’s. Wheels also came and went, particularly on road bikes that were raced competitively. Chains and freewheels are two other components that are commonly not original on most vintage bikes.
Keep in mind however that bicycle parts or components were not changing up every year or two as they are today and many parts stayed in production for decades with little if any change beyond a production date stamp (in some cases). So it is best to keep this in mind when dating vintage bikes and acknowledge it may only be the frame that can be truly dated to a production year, and even then it is not an exact science.
A number of years back I decided to begin compiling a list of Legnano serial numbers that I am posting here as reference for anyone trying to date a Legnano frame. The Legnano serial numbers presented in the link below have only been included if supporting photography of the bicycle was available, including an image of the serial number. The objective was not to question anyone but rather to ensure as much authenticity and accuracy as possible. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and also much more interesting than just a long list of numbers.
LEGNANO SERIAL NUMBERS This listing is current as of July 4, 2016
If you have a Legnano that you would like to add to the listing, comment at the bottom of this page and I will send you an email address were the photos of your bike can be sent. In addition to the serial number listing, I hope to add the supporting photo documentation for each of the bikes to this website when time permits. This will also provide an interesting visual history of the various components and companies that Legnano worked with over the years in building their bikes.
A special work of thanks and acknowledgement to the RSC or translated the ‘Historical Cycles Registry’ of Italy for providing the background on the Legnano serial number sequences, and also to Dale Brown and the Classic Rendezvous website that has maintained a voluntary listing of Legnano serial numbers for many years. In addition, a personal word of thanks to both Dale and the RSC for returning emails and helping this effort.
According to the RSC registry, Emilio Bozzi S.p.A. used a common or shared sequence of serial numbers for all three of their brands: Legnano, Wolsit and Perla. This is understandable as all three of the Bozzi brands were produced in the same factory. Legnano was also the last of the three brands to be acquired by Emilio Bozzi, originally founded by Vittorio Rossi in 1902. As an aside, Legnano’s long time rival Bianchi was founded in 1885.
The RSC registry shows that the Bozzi serial numbers began in 1920, about the time that Emilio Bozzi acquired the Legnano brand, and were ‘reset’ or redefined in format at several points in time. Here is how it all plays out.
Legnano Serial Numbers Stamped on the Head Lug: 1920 – 1938
1920 – 1924: five numbers only stamped horizontally on the upper head lug (e.g. 31017).
1925 – 1934: one letter followed by four numbers stamped on upper head lug (e.g. M5767).
1935 – 1938: four numbers followed by a letter stamped on the upper head lug (e.g. 5521S).
Legnano Serial Numbers stamped on the Seat Lug: 1939 – 1967
1939 – 1941: one lower case letter followed by four numbers (e.g. a2729)
1941 – 1967: two upper case letters followed by four numbers stamped vertically, reading top to bottom ((e.g. AB2367 in 1941, EX3632 in 1961, GO3530 in 1967). All Legnano models except the Tipo Roma and Roma Olimpiade models.
1941 – 1967: two upper case letters followed by four numbers stamped horizontally on the back of the seat lug for Tipo Roma and Roma Olimpiade models only (e.g. EB1056 in 1958).
The Association RSC states that the two letters were dropped and only the four numbers were stamped on Roma models produced for Legnano teams and sponsored competitors from as early as 1937. Above is Roma Frame number 4621 that was built by Bianchi Uno (Bianchi Dino’s father) for Gino Bartali in 1946, the year he won both the Giro and the TdF.
Lastly a word to those readers that may have a Legnano bike that they know was purchased post-1967 and carries a two letter, four digit serial number on either the side or back of the seat lug. Consider that Legnano bikes imported from Italy could have remained in the hands of the North American Legnano distributor or the local retailer for some time before being sold. Although bikes today change up paint paint schemes on a yearly basis to define model years and entice customers, this was not the case in the 1960’s. Also, bike shops in the day would sometimes strip an imported bikes of its components, particularly if they were Campagnolo components, to service a good customer if their part inventory was low and/or to realize a little extra revenue. So potentially a Legnano Roma Olimpiade manufactured in Italy in 1967 may not have been sold until 1969 or even 1970+ to a customer in California.
Caution: These Two Digits are not Serial Numbers
However the four digit serial number stamped on a Legnano team bike is NOT to be confused with the two numbers stamped on the seat lug on Legnano frames from approx. 1967+ which were not serial numbers but some other form of production code.
Above is an example of the two digit production code on the right side of a 1969-1970 Gran Premio model (horizontally on the back of the seat lug for Roma Olimpiade models only). I have yet to learn the purpose of this code however it was clearly not a serial number as the same two digit number can be found on many frames. These two digit production codes were also used for only a few short years in the late 60’s to very early 70’s based on my research to date.
Legnano Serial Numbers after 1967+
First a word to those readers that may have a Legnano bike that was purchased post-1967 and carries a two letter, four digit serial number on either the side or back of the seat lug. Consider that Legnano bikes imported from Italy could have remained in the hands of the Legnano distributor or local retailer for some time before being sold. Although bikes today change up paint schemes on a yearly basis to define model years, this was not the case in the 1960’s. Also, bike shops in the day would sometimes strip imported bikes of their components, particularly if they were Campagnolo components, to service a good customer if their part inventory was low and/or to realize a little extra revenue. So potentially a Legnano Roma Olimpiade manufactured in Italy in 1967 may not have been sold until 1969 or 1970 to a customer in North America.
Serial Numbers on the Bottom Bracket after 1967+
At the end of the 1960’s, Legnano started to build some Roma Olimpiade frames with Reynolds 531 tubing. In the initial years of the Reynold’s production, the serial numbers with an upper case ‘R’ were stamped on the underside of the bottom bracket as can be seen in the photo below of the 1969 Roma Olimpiade that is in this collection. There was also a Reynolds decal on the front of the top tube and at the top of each front fork, however these waterslide decals were fragile and may have worn away over time. In the mid to late ’70s, Legnano also used Reynolds 531 tubing to build the Record Olimpiade Specialissima however there were no serial numbers on these bikes so an ‘expert’ should be consulted in verifying the build as the decals on the frame that may not be authentic.
I recently acquired a 1967 Roma Olimpiade that is purported to be built from Columbus tubing based on what appears to be an original Columbus decal on the top tube. This Roma also has the serial number stamped on the underside of the bottom bracket but without the ‘R’ used on the Reynolds builds. Dimensionally the tubing looks true to the Columbus geometry however it is still to be fully validated so ‘stay tuned’ for the time being.
Serial Numbers on Left Side of the Seat Tube 1970+
The remaining Legnano serial number format that I have run across is on the left side of the seat tube just below the seat lug. This format and position shows up on the 1972 Gran Premio that is a part of the collection, serial number 32142.
I have only seen one other Legnano stamped this way and it is owned by Paul Page in the UK with the serial number 32072, so most likely it was produced in the same year and the photos on file would suggest it is the same Gran Premio model. (fyi . . . both bikes have their original paint). Until more bikes show up with this serial number format it is difficult to say when it actually began, how long it lasted and if it was used on all or just certain Legnano models.
In summary, this is the Legnano serial number saga that was best through to the end of the 1960’s and from there the trail goes a little cold as they say. I hope this account is helpful to people working to date their Legnano bikes and also a bit of deterrent to those trying to ‘pass off’ Legnano bikes from the golden era that may not be quite so golden. I will provide updates to the Legnano Serial Numbers listing as I continue to document these wonderful bikes.