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