Berlin’s Dan Santucci takes great pleasure in reinvigorating obscure European bicycles with a new lease of life, and it shows. Take, for example, what he’s done with this circa-1970s Legnano, an Italian marque that bore names like Alfredo Binda and Gino Bartali to numerous victories. The head badge tells an interesting story, too.
Emilio Bozzi started manufacturing bicycles under his own name in 1908 and, in 1924, changed the name of his business to Legnano, after the town in which his bikes were made. Alfredo Binda, a painter and already a creditable rider, was given a racing contract, repaying Legnano Cicli with Giro d’Italia victories in 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1933.
As a result of these repeated triumphs, and in a tradition not unlike that of a certain Eddy Merckx, the Giro organisers paid Binda a fortune not to compete in 1930, but he returned for a final hurrah in 1933. A young Gino Bartali was the next hero of Legnano, winning another Giro title in his first year, 1936, followed by many other Grand Tour and Classic wins.
Fausto Coppi was brought on board as Gino’s team mate in 1939 but by the end of World War 2 were well-documented opponents, with Coppi finally signing a contract with Legnano’s rivals, Bianchi. Bartali’s 1948 Tour de France victory was as much a slap in the face to Coppi as it was a final salute to Legnano, which, after a lull, had another champion in Ercole Baldini.
Baldini won gold at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne aboard a Legnano, before stripping Jacques Anquetil of his hour record. Proving the ability of the Legnano bikes, he overcame both the mountains and their Angel, Charly Gaul, to win the 1958 Giro. Unfortunately, economic odds were too great for the brand, which was absorbed by Bianchi in 1987.
Living and dying by the sword proved to be theme for the Legnano brand, whose head badge is adorned with the Alberto da Giussano, the legendary warrior credited with forming the ‘Company of Death’ that defended the Carroccio of the League at the Battle of Legnano. Sadly, Emilio Bozzi was assassinated by a terrorist group in the 1970s.
The Legnano story refuses to die, however. After a drawn out legal challenge, the rights to the Legnano brand were awarded to the heirs of Emilio Bozzi by an Italian court.
See more on the Santucci Cycles website, along with many more of Dan’s builds.