Legnano was established in the region of Lombardia in Italy in 1902 and became famous with riders such as Coppi and Bartali both of whom rode for Legnano on their distinctive lime green bikes. A feature of very Legnano bike up until the 70s is the seat bolt which is located in front of the seat post just below the top tube.
I had always fancied a Condorino which in the 50s/60s was a popular style in Italy for gentlemen that wanted something a bit sporty but not an out and out racer. These bikes are usually 5 speed and have straight handlebars.
Searching the Internet I found an example from 1969 located in Italy for sale by Mario. I was worried to purchase a bike in Europe post Brexit but Mario assured me it would be ok and he would complete the necessary paperwork and ship the bike priority with Italian Post.
The photos looked promising and I really liked the blue colour (did Park Tool steal this from Legnano?). Ten days later the bike arrived in a massive box with no delays at UK Customs or extra duty to pay. Mario had done an amazing job to protect the bike individually wrapping everything and bonus the unique seat bolt was there wrapped to the underside of the pedals.
At first glance the bike was in remarkable shape I gave the paint a polish with vintage car paint polish and it came up like new not bad for a bike made the same year I was born (1969).
In my haste I bolted everything together save the mudguards and chain guard and went for a spin. Disaster struck immediately when I sent the chain into the spokes which wrapped itself around the hub between the freewheel. Normally I am building bikes from scratch, so I had not checked the limit screws on the rear derailleur, which was the reason I was able to overshift into the spokes. A video call to me friend Jeroen in Holland followed and he suggested to knock the chain out with a screwdriver and hammer, this did the trick. Unfortunately some of the spokes were a bit mashed so I decided to try to remove the freewheel and replace the spokes. Luckily my modified sun tour freewheel tool did the job and I found some spokes the correct length to replace the damaged ones in the hub (note the slotted spoke wholes never seen those before).
Once the wheel was back together I was able to start the rebuild of the bike. I noticed however the dish was really out and somewhere along the line a washer had been added to the drive side. I am pretty sure that the drive side was missing a nut so I added a couple of spacers to bring the wheel bake into alignment before installing the wheel. It’s not perfect but we will see how it runs.
The modern chain I bought I cut too short and after much head scratching and another phone call to Jeroen, discovered that the modern chain was about 4mm narrower and that my calculations were out because I hadn’t taken into consideration the longer chainstays on a touring bike with 28 inch wheels! A search on the internet located a new chain.
This bike is 57cm C to C so a little bit small for me so I replaced the seat post with a nice Campy Gran Sport one I had in stock and at the same time replaced the Legnano branded saddle with a Brooks limited edition saddle in matching tan. Brooks was a supplier to Legnano and even produced a special Campy branded saddle (never seen one before but can imagine they would command large sums on eBay).
I wanted to replace all the cables but found the brake cables to be neither Campy or Shimano style but an usual domed cable. The levers are Legnano branded (probably made by Balilla?) an internet search found nothing but Jeroen managed to find some cables with rounded balls on the end which should fit hopefully!
I have totally fallen for this blue bike maybe it’s an age thing since we have both worn the same years well but are showing signs of age. It was obviously cherished by someone and kept indoors out of the sun and the rain. I feel quite fortunate to be the new owner and wish I could go back in time to meet the previous owner. I have the same feeling as I had with my vintage Jaguar I once owned. I just want to look back over my shoulder and glance at his beautiful bike beaming at me in the spring sunshine and smile. Arrivederci