Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year, New Bike Project

2009 had me all interested in old Italian bikes. Particularly, those with Campy's Cambio Corsa.

Imagine climbing a mountain pass with only four or five gears. To change those gears, you have to reach back to the seat stay, open the long q.r. on the rear hub, backpedal while moving another lever which moves the chain, then closing the q.r. only to then resume pedaling! Gino Bartali was the master of the "due leve" and won the 1948 Tour aboard a Legnano with said shifter.

So after much research and bothering of some Italian friends, I've found a Legnano and the matching parts! It seems to be from the late 40's or early 50's (the Cambio Corsa, crude as it was, was used for over 20 years!). There's still lots of work to be done, but hopefully, persistence will pay off and see me toe the start line at the 2010 l'Eroica aboard this beauty.

The frame is in great shape. Color was removed, since the last owner decided it better to slap on a coat of grey. The true Legnano color is a type of olive green lacquer. Purists say that there are few who still know the process to replicate it. I'll come as close as possible.

The rear axle has teeth which allows the rear wheel to move as you shift, taking up the slack of the chain!

Le due leve.

Here's the proof (and also the missing piece). The Legnano headbadge depicts Alberto da Giussano and celebrates the defeat of the German rulers in the 1176 Battle of Legnano.

The rest of the parts are equally sweet. Magistroni crank and bb, Universal brakes, customized Brooks saddle, Ambrosio bars, and original wheels laced to VERY aged Martano rims. I also get a spare set of hubs to lace to wooden rims (riding wheels, the others will be kept for show).

Hopefully, this restoration won't break the bank. I still have to finish the Ciöcc and Atala!


  1. Wow - very cool! Post pictures as you work on the project. Good luck!

  2. Dan U. would be a happy man.
    I tried riding this one:

  3. Yeah, I remember that one on the wall there. You know, Dan was the first to open my eyes to the old bikes.

    Regarding Bartali, I have a DVD I made from a recording of the RAI drama a few years ago on his life. All in Italian and I haven't found a subtitle file for it yet (not a problem for me though!). Also too busy subtitling "The Assassination of Jesse James" into Italian for Francesco Chicchi!

  4. Sounds very cool Rory. Keep me posted. George D

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