Here is a project that I may regret taking on. I stumbled across this frame online and picked it up for a song, and that may be about all it is worth. To my optimistic eye however it has some potential in spite of its condition. Rusted chrome, bent top and down tube, bent fork etc. But, I am usually up for a challenge!


The frame is a late 1950’s Girardengo, a brand whose name was loaned by early cycling champion Constante Girardengo, the original Campionissimo. I have heard that early models of this bike were actually built by Maino and later models by Olmo, but more on that later. This particular frame is in pretty rough shape with both frame and fork damage from a crash, along with 60 or so years of neglect. The few components that came with the bike will help me pinpoint its age and I will add that detail later as well.


Some of the details that I like on this bike are the chromed frame lugs and fork crown. Chrome lugs speak to me! Also in this photo you can see the damage to the tubes just behind the lugs.

DSC00420eThe seat tube treatment is not at all unattractive even with the crimped stays and their simple attachment. The lug and the seat post clamp dress this area up nicely.

DSC00421eThe Simplex lever actuated front derailleur is probably worth what I paid for the frame and is one of the reasons I made the purchase. If I am able to functionally rehabilitate this bike it will remain one of the unique highlights.

DSC00428eHere is another detail that I just love!. The Simplex rear shifter derailleur cable housing dives inside the frame, only to re-emerge on the right chain stay to do it’s job at the rear derailleur. I have not seen another bike of any era with this unique cable routing!

DSC00422eBalilla side-pull brakes are another rare component. They probably compare with the more popular Universal side-pulls of the period and probably stop just as poorly! Unfortunately they are not definitive for dating purposes.


Some of the original stickers on this frame include the Los Angeles City license tag and the shop sticker, likely from the shop who first sold this bike. These will stay along with the original paint as part of the provenance of this bike.

Wish me luck on this one as the challenges are many. The first task will be to try and put the frame and fork back into alignment. If that fails than the project will probably die a quiet but dignified death. Success in this area however will lead to the next step and a continuation of the story of this bicycle. Here’s hoping that the story continues!