From the 1930’s to the mid 1950’s, the top road bike from Legnano was the Tipo Roma. To commemorate Ercole Baldini’s gold medal in the road race at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Legnano changed the name to the Roma Olimpiade. Baldini also won the World Hour Record in Milan on a Legnano in 1956, breaking the time that was set by Fausto Coppi on a Legnano in 1942. Cycling legends Alfredo Binda, Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi all won important races on Legnano bikes adding to the six world titles, 15 editions of the Giro d’Italia, 2 Tour de France victories and dozen of elite races attributed to this now famous marque.
The Tipo Roma and later the Roma Olimpiade in full Campagnolo trim was a top race machine for decades. And a good number of these beautiful road bikes came to the United States as well as to Canada in the late 50’s through the early 70’s. This pristine and completely original Roma Olimpiade came to me in 2012 from the original owner Bill Lieberman of Chicago. Bill recalled purchasing the bike in September of 1967 from the Sauganash Bicycle Store that was located at Devon and Cicero and owned by an ex-Belgian racer and as Bill put it, “a really nice gentlemen”.
The 1966 model year for this Roma Olimpiade is framed by two Campagnolo components of special note. 1966 was the first year for the Nuovo Record rear derailleur and 1966 was also the last year for the Record crankset with a 151mm bolt circle. The Nuovo Record cranket reduced the bolt circle to 144mm which in turn allowed for an inner ring of 41 teeth versus the minimum 44 teeth of the older Record model. Together with the Nuovo Record rear derailleur the new crankset provided a much wider range of gearing than had previously been possible.
The Roma Olimpiade models, as well as most of the Gran Premio models, were fitted with large flange Campagnolo Record hubs. Both the front and rear lock nuts on this bike are stamped ’65 however I often find the Campy lock nuts predate the bike’s age by a year or two as inventory may well have laid over in the Legnano factory depending on sales.
As you can see in the photo above, the Record hubs are engraved with the Legnano logo rather than the Campagnolo mark, a practice that Campy offered to Legnano, Frejus, Bianchi, Atala and Umberto Dei to name a few of the prominent brands of the day. Campagnolo only provided this custom branding on their hubs and only until the mid to late 60’s.
Just short of a full Campy ‘gruppo’, this 1966 Roma is fitted with the Universal Mod.61 center pull brake callipers as Campagnolo did not release their Record side pull brakes until 1969. Prior to 1961 the Roma models were fitted with the Universal Mod.51 side pull brake callipers that some competitors continued to use through the early 60’s by personal preference and because they were lighter. In 1968, Universal introduced the Super 68 side pull brakes as a less expensive and somewhat lighter option to Campagnolo’s pricier new side pulls.
This is one of my favourite bikes in the Legnano Collection. In part because I know it was a true one-owner Roma, the aforementioned mix of the Record crankset and the Nuovo Record rear derailleur and the overall pristine condition of the bike including the paint. The crazy ‘lizard yellow’ paint that defined the Legnano brand was not the most durable and the older water-slide decals also tended to flake off with time. So to find a Roma in this condition after 50 years is very special. For that reason, I had Velocolour apply a light epoxy clear coat to the frame when the bike was dismantled and cleaned to preserve the current condition.
Here is a complete blueprint of the bike:
Model: Roma Olimpiade
Serial No: FR2262 (stamped on back of the seat lug)
Frame Size: 58 cm (ctc) 59.5 cm (ctt)
Total Weight: 11.20kg or 24.69lbs w pump and bottle/cage
Frame Weight: tbd
Tubing: Falck Extra Leggeri
Dropouts: Campagnolo Strada 1010
Crankset: Campagnolo Record 1049/2 (45/52)
Bottom Bracket: Campagnolo Record 1046
Pedals: Campagnolo Record 1037
Toe Clips: Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Toe Straps: Binda with REG buttons
Front Derailleur: Campagnolo Record 1052/2
Rear Derailleur: Campagnolo Nuovo Record 1020
Shifters: Campagnolo Record 1014
Freewheel: Regina Extra (14-16-18-21-24)
Chain: Regina Extra
Hubs: Campagnolo Record HF 36H 1035 (engraved Legnano)
Rims: Fiamme tubular 36 hole w eyelets
Tires: Continental Giro 22mm tubulars (modern)
Handlebars: T.T.T. Gran-Prix (Tecnologia del Tubo Torino)
Handlebar Stem: T.T.T. Gran-Prix (engraved Legnano)
Handlebar End Plugs: Gaslo for Legnano in aluminium
Headset: Campagnolo Record 1039
Brakeset: Universal Mod.61 Centerpull
Seatpost: Campagnolo Record 1044 (27.0mm OD)
Seat: Brooks Professional Black (copper rivets)
Pump: Silca branded Legnano with Campagnolo head
Bottle Cage: REG w vintage Campagnolo bottle
This Legnano was sold to a fellow enthusiast in August 2021.
Hi is this legnano for sale? If yes can you email me at pantalleresco@onvol,net
The offer is flattering but I could never do it. It is now almost 50 years now since Legnano stopped production of the ‘real’ race bikes that built the legend. And it is getting harder and harder to find examples that are still original and unchanged. Lets hope that if someone comes across the few original bikes that remain they resist the temptation to dismantle the parts and history in the process . . . just for the profit. It’s so much more than just money!
About to clean up what I think is a 66, it came to me with Dia Compe Brake set, I was looking for Campi record, but the pic above has Universal??? What is correct?
Campagnolo didn’t release the Nuovo Record brakeset until 1969 so any Legnano Roma or Gran Premio prior to 69-70 would have been fitted with Universal brakes, either the Mod.61 centerpull brakes or one of Universal sidepull models at that time.
Its Raymond from malta again
is this bike still NOT for sale? well if you want to sell it please remember in me
I doubt I will sell the ’66 Roma. It is probably one of the most original examples that exists and a very important year. Just got a ’58 Roma that is now posted on my blog. Also completely original except for the headset.
Its Raymond again
Can you please send me some pictures.
Its Raymond from Malta again.
Just a question how much approx a legnano olimpiade roma in your condition cost?
Beautiful bike. I have a 1959 model which is in equal condition and has the first generation Campy cranks…all original…even the bar tape and Pirelli tires
By the way…Thank you for your fantastic information on Legnano bicycles. Great Job!!
As my ’62 Roma frame has no allowance for water bottle brackets, how do I carry water – a back pack arrangement? Do I need to find a device to hold bottles over the handlebars?
Threaded bosses on the down tube for water bottles didn’t show up until the mid to late 70’s on most road bikes. So like brake cable guides, shifters and pump clips, water bottle cages prior to that time had band style clips to attach them to the down tube or to the handlebars. With a bit of patience you can still find these vintage water bottle cages.
I have a question for all Legnano folks out there. My Legnano was bought in 1962, I was 12. My hubs are CIDNEO EXTRA 36 hole with wing nuts. I have never seen any, anywhere. Are they rare or valuable? My # is FL 7591 on the vertical. Drop racing handlebar is very narrow, 131/2″. I lent it to a 14yr old neighbor while I went to Vietnam. Just found him last year and got my bike back. Top tube doesn’t look bent but there is separation between the top tube and neck. The bike is pitted and in bad shape. Chrome is shot. Can’t make up my mind to sink $$ in it. Your thoughts!
Because you say you were 12 years old I am thinking that your bike may be a ‘Junior’ racer for boys which Legnano made with a slightly smaller diameter wheel (26″ versus 28″). I have an early parts catalog from Emilio Bozzi (Legnano, Frejus, Wolsit, Perla) that does show a pair of small flange 36h hubs from Cidneo that were available in both alumumium and chrome plated steel. I will send you an email if you would like to send along some pics for more information.
Thank you for your comments. I did clean up chrome and repaint. I know..”.its only original once.” The wheels were always 27 x 1 1/4 and I was in the top 2% of the group of 30. I had a bad fall in the summer of 66. I got tangled up with a track bike and we both went down hard. The result was tearing off the derailleur mount bolt. What was left of the drop-out was ground off and a hanger in its place. I will send more photos tonight.. Thanks again Mark for helping me rediscover my Legnano. The hubs are full size aluminum. Same size as Campy.
The best thing for me in keeping this site are the stories that come forward from people like yourself. Your bike looks like the Legnano ‘Corsa’ model which was one step down from the Gran Premio. Good to hear you are putting it back into service The front brake lever for the rear brake looks like it was replaced with a new model however if the original Universal levers are not hard to find if you are interested. And an early Campagnolo Gran Sport derailleur with the hanger is also a pretty easy fix for what looks like a Shimano or Suntour replacement following the incident that you described. I have a feeling that the large spoke protector on the rear wheel may have been added at some point along the way as well. Most of all, have fun with your old friend!
Hello Mark. Before I shop around for the correct bearing size for my front and rear axle’s, do you have that information? The bearings that came out are to corroded to measure accurately. Thank you for your time, knowledge and wisdom. (all the bike shops around here are run by young people that have never heard the name Legnano). Sincerely, Gus Massard
Thank you Mark, Your comment brought me to tears. Flashbacks of my dad…priceless. Question; The top lug, just in front of the “Made in Italy” decal, is a gap. I can slide paper between the lug and The top tube. Any concerns of this braze joint coming apart? Should I have a frame builder check it out? I will send you more photos of it cleaned up and painted! Thank you Sir!
What are the pedals on this? Record 1037 look like clipless?
Good catch John. I installed some clip pedals to sort the bike after I put it back together and forget to put the Campy pedals back on before taking the photo. Something else for the ‘to do’ list. Thanks, Mark.
I am trying to find out what year my Legnano Roma olimpiade is, I am in the process of refurbishing this bike, but it is in very good condition. Also was wondering how much this bike might be worth? This bike is the lizard green with the serial number behind the seat post. I am having trouble posting pics on this site.
Hello Nicholas and thanks for writing. You can forward photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than happy to date the bike for you. Best regards, Mark.
Do you know the geometry of this bike? Maybe from a period catalog? I had an original paint blue paint 1966 Roma Olympiad’s and it was the best handling bike I ever owned. I was wondering about the head tube angle, fork rake and trail measurements.
I little humbled to say it is the one thing that I have not done and I should get to it. Thanks for that.