Forget for a moment, if you can, the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Here’s a bike we spotted in Milan last week that dates from three years before Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne, and when the Italian Republic was celebrating its first birthday.
Yup, we are talking about 1949, and what we have here is a bike from the Italian brand Frejus and moreover one equipped with one of the earliest Campagnolo rear mechs – four gears, switched not by downtube shifters, which would come much later, but by levers located to the right of and behind the saddle.
It’s the current Bici del Mese – Bike of the Month – at the wonderful Upcycle bike café in the east of the city, close to the Politecnico, the city’s science and technology focused university.
Should you find yourself in Milan, we’d thoroughly recommend paying a visit – it’s a couple of stops on the Metropolitana from the central station, and not that much further from the heart of the city.
Safe to say, this bike would pass the scrutineers at L’Eroica, the vintage bike festival founded in Tuscany but which now has editions worldwide.
The Frejus brand, by the way, was acquired by Legnano during the 1930s – and pre-war, the great Gino Bartali rode their bikes.
Here’s the tech spec:
Frejus Campionissimo (1949) from the Collezione Ciclico (Instagram link here)
Frame entirely nickel-plated, chrome forks.
Drivetrain – Campagnolo Corsa.
Handlebars and stem – Ambrosio Champion.
Brakes – Universal model 50.
Other components – all made for Frejus.
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