This bike came to me from Portland Oregon when I was looking for a bike to ride in L’Eroica Italia in 2012. I ended up taking another bike to that event and so this one sat in the shop as an unfinished project for a couple of years. It is now finished and well ridden, and has completed one heroic event so far.
I took this bike to the 2014 inaugural L’Eroica Britannia last month in the Peak District and completed the 100 mile route. Just a simple century you say, but this one had almost 10,000 feet of climbing in its course! More on L’Eroica Britannia here.
When I received this bike it was original and complete, spec’d with its components as delivered by the factory. It appeared to be a low miles bike with the original tires and brake pads. It is amazing to me that you can still find a 50 year old bike that was barely ridden with little rust or damage. For my purposes it needed to stay mostly original but I knew that I would have to make a few changes to make it a better rider for the upcoming British event.
- 58 cm Legnano Gran Premio steel frame and fork
- Campagnolo Gran Sport Derailleurs, front & rear
- Campagnolo Record downtube shifters
- Magistroni Crank set 52/48
- Regina 5 speed freewheel, 14/22
- Campagnolo High Flange hubs
- Universal center pull brakes and levers
- Italia leather saddle
- Italia steel seat post and clamp
- Ambrosio Bars and stem
The condition of everything was pretty good, it mostly just needed totally disassembly and to have a good cleaning. Then, properly greased, reassembled and adjusted. I did make a few component changes so that the bike was more suitable for the climbing that I knew I would face in the Peak District.
First to go was the Magistroni crank. I simply cannot push 52/48 rings on a big climb. I found a TA Specialties crank with a wonderful 48/36 chain ring combination and installed it. Next I replaced the existing freewheel with a period correct 14/30 Regina freewheel. Now that was more like it!
These gears were past the range of which a Gran Sport rear derailleur can functionally shift, so I changed the rear to a Nuovo Record unit and was able to tweak it into good function. The GS and NR units are mechanically very similar but there was more chain take up in the NR unit which made all of the difference. Still, this is the max that can be achieved with these vintage components.
Next, I needed fatter tires. This frame has massive clearance for tires or fenders or whatever! I chose some Panaracer 32’s for the job since I was familiar with the tire. They roll well on the pavement but also handle pretty rough dirt paths like champ.
The original Italia saddle was usable but pretty well worn and had been neglected for many years. I was able to find an Italia replacement that was in excellent shape. It was not as good as a Brooks B-17 but it was right for this bike. With a little special treatment I was able to make it comfortable enough not only for this event but for many future adventures! The steel seat post was also replaced with a Campy NR unit just to improve the quality and reliability in that department.
New cables, brake pads, bar tape and other consumables were needed to complete this build but otherwise this bike is original, right down its hand painted pin-striping and logo!
The Gran Premio was amazing at L’Eroica Britannia and handled everything that the course threw at it. My only complaint is that the original Ambrosio handlebars are quite narrow at 38 cm. It it is very hard to find handlebars wider than 38 cm for these old bikes, and since I was trying to keep the bike as original as possible I rode with these original bars. On most of my bikes I prefer to ride with 42 /44 cm width bars, but these bikes were built primarily for Italian cyclists and that was what was available. I’ll just deal with it.