LEGNANO TIMELINE

1873
Emilio Bozzi is born in Milan (Wikipedia).

1902
Vittorio Rossi & C. was established with large workshops constructing bicycles with the brand name ‘Lignon’.  Vittorio Rossi & C. would be acquired by Emilio Bozzi (date unknown) with ‘Lignon’ production added to Bozzi’s own bicycle brand ‘Aurora’.

1906 – 1966
Emilio Bozzi establishes the Legnano cycling team, one of the most successful teams in the history of competitive cycling.

1907
There is reported a business relationship between Emilio Bozzi and the entrepreneur/industrialist Franco Tosi, who had acquired patents associated with the British company Wolseley. The joint-venture distributing bicycles was known as Wolsit, a contraction of the words Wolseley and Italia. The Wolsit factories are located at Via XX Settembre in Legnano, Italy.

Interesting to note that Franco Tosi Meccanica still occupies a building adjacent to Piazza Monumento in Legnano where is situated the statue of Alberto da Guissano that Bozzi adopted in 1920 to symbolize the Legnano brand (head badge, decals, brochures, etc.).

1908
Emilio Bozzi establishes Emilio Bozzi S.p.A. at Corso Genova 9 in Milan and acquires the Legnano brand after World War 1 (28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918).

1910-1938
The Wolsit professional cycling team existed between 1910 and 1938. Its main sponsor was Italian bicycle manufacturer Wolsit. The team had two riders that won the general classification of the Giro d’Italia, Alfredo Binda in 1928 and Antonio Pesenti in 1932 (source).

1920
Emilio Bozzi adopts the statuesque figure of the Lombard warrior Alberto da Guissano to symbolize the Legnano brand. The figure of Guissano inside a ‘marquise’ or double-pointed oval border was first used on bicycles as a waterslide decal, then as a brass stamping riveted to the head tube.
Legnano serial numbers consist of five numbers (ie. 32037) stamped horizontally at the top and front of the head tube.

1924
Emilio Bozzi extends a lifetime contract to the young Alfredo Binda who would go on to five Giro d’Italia victories for Legnano (1925, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1933), a legacy to this day that has only been equalled by Fausto Coppi and Eddy Merckx.

1925
Legnano resets the serial number format with one upper case letter followed by four numbers (ie. M5767) stamped inside a box on the front and top of the head tube.

1927
Franco Tosi leaves Wolsit and Emilio Bozzi as sole owner changes the name of the company to Legnano, with Wolsit remaining as a bicycle brand (Wikipedia).

1930
Legnano accepts the Giro d’Italia offer to pay Alfredo Binda an amount equal to the total victory purse in exchange for Binda not entering the 1930 race, an effort to revive popular interest in the Giro after 4 dominant victories by Binda between 1925 and 1929. Alfredo won his fifth and final Giro victory in 1933.

1935
Legnano resets the serial number format with four numbers followed by one upper case letter (ie. 5521S) stamped inside a box on the front and top of the head tube.

1936
Gino Bartali joins the Legnano team at the age of 22, winning the Giro d’Italia in his first year.
Emilio Bozzi dies on September 21st in Milan (Wikipedia).

1939
Fausto Coppi joins the Legnano team and rides alongside Gino Bartali for two years (1939, 1940) returning after the war in 1946 to ride for Bianchi.
At the end of the 1930’s Legnano discontinues the muted olive green colour and adopts the metallic ‘lizard yellow’ colour that would come to define the brand.
Legnano resets the serial number format to begin with one lower case letter followed by four numbers (ie. a2729) stamped on the seat lug.

1941
Legnano resets the serial number format to begin with two upper case letters followed by four numbers (ie. AF2538) stamped on the seat lug. Horizontally on the rear of the seat lug for Roma models, vertically on the right side of the seat lug for all other models.

1942
The Second World War has already started, and Fausto Coppi is enlisted in the army when he betters the one hour record of Jacques Anquetil by 31 meters at the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan.  Controversy surrounds the victory until officially verified by international authorities in 1947.

1946
The second World War is over, and Gino Bartali wins the Giro d’Italia for Legnano tens years after his first victory. Fausto Coppi, captured and imprisoned in North Africa by allied forces, is returned to Italy at the end of the war and moves to Bianchi.
Eberardo Pavesi begins his 20 year reign as the Director of the Legnano team from 1946 until it’s conclusion in 1966.

1946 – 1947
Emilio Bozzi S.p.A. acquires the Frejus brand that was founded in Turin in 1896 by Emmo Gelfi, the same year that the Maino and Umberto Dei brands were founded. (source)  Bianchi was founded in 1885.

1948
Gino Bartali takes the overall win of the Tour de France as well as the King of the Mountains classification for Legnano, his last year with the team.

1950
Emilio Bozzi SpA parts distribution business is extensive, publishing a massive 325 page parts catalog that includes nearly every bicycle component manufactured in Italy including Pirelli, Way-Assauto, Gnutti, Magistroni, Cidneo, F.B., Ambrosio, Cinelli, Universal, Campagnolo, Fiamme, Nisi, Binda, Martano, Marelli, Aprilia, Simplex (Italy), Rosa, Falck and many others.

1956
Ercole Baldini wins the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne and the Tipo Roma is renamed the Roma Olimpiade.

1958 – 1959
Legnano introduces the Gran Premio road model, positioned ‘just’ below the Roma Olimpiade but ahead of the Mod.54 Corsa and Mod.53. Mezza Corsa.

1961
Universal 61 centerpull brake set is fitted to the Roma Olimpiade and Gran Premio models.
A threaded boss is brazed on the rear of the seat lug to fix the cable stop for the new Universal 61 centerpull brake callipers.

1963
A new 22,000 m² production site (including 10,000 m² of warehouse) was opened along the ‘Strada Statale 527’ in Legnano and replaced the historic site of Via XX Settembre, which occupied 12,000 m² [12] . In those years, annual production amounted to about 150,000 bicycles (distributed in 80 models [12] ) and 20,000 motorcycles; Legnano’s products were sold worldwide in 62 countries [13] .

1966
Legnano offers the Roma Olimpiade in Reynolds 531 and Columbus frame builds as a special order option to the standard Falck tubing construction.
The last year of competition for the Legnano Team.

1967
Legnano suspends the two alpha, four numeric serial numbers (EX3632) stamped on the seat lug.
Legnano suspends the chrome plating on the head tube lugs, fork and stay ends on most Roma Olimpiade models.
Campagnolo suspends the use of the Legnano engraving on the Record high flange hubs. Probably the same for the other big Italian bike brands as Campagnolo seeks to empower their own brand.

1968 – 1969
The traditional brass head badge of Alberto da Guissano is replaced with a waterslide decal on most models, and is eliminated entirely from production by the early seventies.

1970
The long-standing Legnano logo on the down tube in the shape of an elongated oval is changed to a parallelogram shape with the exception of some Roma production through to about 1973 – 1974.
First year for the Olimpiade Record Specialissima, the new top road model for Legnano replacing the Roma Olimpiade.

1971
With the sales crisis of the bicycle market at that time, the expansive Legnano plant on the Strada Statale 527, opened less than 10 years earlier, was closed and the entire company’s operations moved to 1 Piazza Emilio Bozzi, with the subsequent sale in the 1980’s of the Legnano industrial area to Duplomatic Automation S.R.C., a producer of precision machine tools.

1972
Last reported use of the Universal 61 centerpull brakes.
Decals start to change on some models from the waterslide type to self-adhesive labels.

1975
The unique seat lug and binder bolt design that was specific to a Legnano frame is ‘fully’ discontinued. Lesser models (city and sportivo models) began receiving a conventional seat lug with the binder bolt behind the seat post starting about 1970.
Introduction of brazed on bosses for the front/rear downtube shifters, cable guides on the BB, a single pair of bosses for a water bottle cage on the down tube and rear brake cable guides on the top tube.

1978
Approx. start date for the Legnano Competizione model, replacing the long-standing Gran Premio model as Legnano’s second tier road bike.

1980
The parallelogram shaped logo on the down tube is changed to a new design of individual, san serif letters with no border or background shape.

1987
The declining Legnano brand is acquired by long-time rival Bianchi.  Bianchi relegates the brand to some lesser models and the Legnano brand is all but gone.

1997
The Bianchi and Legnano brands are purchased by the CycleEurope Group.

2008
After a lengthy challenge in the Italian courts, the Legnano name is returned to the heirs of Emilio Bozzi and the brand relaunches shortly thereafter with a new offering of city bikes, mountain bikes and road bikes.

2012
The renewed Legnano brand is passed to the Cicli Esperia S.p.A. of Cavarzere.

 

Updated: October 2017