Monday, July 19, 2010

1948 Legnano Cambio Corsa, Finished & Ready for L'Eroica!

Six months of patient waiting, research, eBay'ing and obsessing over restoring this jewel have paid off. Ciöcc proudly finished the paint and decals this past week, so yet another quick drive down on the weekend was in order. He reminded me for the n'th time that it was he who build the Legnano that Fondriest won his world title on in 1988, so he had the formula for the correct shade of Legnano green. I made a late decision to go with only the true decals once I saw the color, so I left a few off to make it a bit more 'period correct'. The build went quite easily and on Sunday morning, it was ready for its maiden voyage.

I donned my replica Legnano wool jersey (and a smartwool undershirt to ease the itching) and headed out into the 26 degree (C) heat with a huge smile on my face. The first shift of the cambio corsa wasn't so hot. You can see in the first photo that the chain had a bit of slack in it (not real easy to set this up in a stand - you need weight on the wheel). I quick tug on the rear wheel and I was ready to try again and to my surprise, it works! It not only works, it works quite well! For two hours, I rode around the French countryside with limited gearing, grinding up the rolling hill with my four speeds, drinking from my two alloy bottles. I can't say that I can shift this thing as well as Bartali (or even Aldo, for that matter), but I'm pretty confident that experience will pay off. Remember - open the wheel qr lever, backpedal, shift the smaller lever, close the qr, pedal forward. When it shifts, the wheel will "walk" up or down the dropout to tension your chain... awesome stuff from Vicenza!

What surprised me is how well this antique rides. Those guys clearly knew what they were doing back in the day. The long wheelbase, long rake and stable geometry was designed for the days when roads were rough - no hands is super easy on this, even with the water ballast hanging off my handlebars. It was Masi who pulled the seatpost out of the frame and started what we now know as "modern geometry". The only thing that worries me about putting this thing through 200km is the unforgiving hand position. The track bend is sweet, but the bars are really thin, and the cloth tape just isn't doing my palms any justice.

PS - the head tube badge I found is just off. Evidently, it takes a slightly larger badge. I'm now on the hunt. Luckily, I have a virtual friend in Nove Ligure who is a Legnano expert!

Before-during-after photos are on my flickr page.


  1. Ulwelling is somewhere smiling.

  2. BIG RORY!!! with my best compliments!

  3. Sweet Jesus, I think I'm in love.

  4. Noww thatsa some bika. Mille Grazie!!