Early 90s Bianchi

Vintage, yesteryear and retro biking

Early 90s Bianchi

Postby Joe H » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:31 pm

I thought I'd share some pictures of my trusty long-time road bike. You can never have too many lugged steel celeste colored bikes on a site like this.

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Back in'93 or '94 I purchased my first proper road bike since the old Schwinn Varsity 10-speed I had back in the 70s. I'd gotten out of cycling but came back as mountain biking started to get popular in the late 80s. I wanted a road bike for training and as a break from all the off road riding my group did. I lived in Germany and European brands were obviously the natural choice. I ended up with what the bike shop in Augsburg described as an entry level road racer. It's a Bianchi "Vento 606," made with Columbus Gara tubing (.8mm with no butting). As the on-line info describes the tubeset, "Road set especially suited for amateur and touring cyclists who demand stout, lightweight racing frames. Cr Mo Steel - Weight: 2300 g"

I've seen other Vento models with different numbers (602, 502, etc.). Some have the ergo shifters and others had down tube versions, all of which seem to at the low end of the road racing spectrum. That's not a put down of this bike, Bianchi made a huge range of road bikes from the upright mustache handlebar town cruisers to Reparto Corse dream machines. This particular model was the lowest priced road racer with the new (at the time) Ergo shifters. It's got the (possibly) Stratos gruppo.

Here are some old pictures from 1994 of the bike (and me).

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Over the years, things got worn, scuffed and generally in need of a good spruce up.

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The best way to add zing to an old bike is with a good set of wheels. I went to Greg at TWE in Newtowne for the work. I kept my rear hub which was fine, but replaced the shot front hub with an inexpensive used but very smooth Record with grease port hub. I matched these with 210 gram Vittoria Open Corsa Evos and latex tubes; a really nice combo to me. The result lost the bike almost three pounds and were noticeably stiffer than the old no-name rims/tires. The impression I got was that the new wheels forced the frame to absorb road vibrations more than the old ones, which felt more controlled and precise, though this was almost certainly also due to the lighter front wheel and better rubber. On hard accelerations the front actually lifted off the ground.

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Since that went so well I replaced the old bar tape with matching celeste tape, found a used Sella Italia Flite saddle and a proper Campy aero seat post. Some touch up paint and a good cleaning and she now looks almost new.

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The final weight is now 10 kilos and she rides better than when she was new. I probably spent as much on the re-do as the bike originally cost, but I consider it money well spent. I ended up with an updated old friend that's even more fun to ride than ever but it's still got the same old familiar feel and dimensions as my body's become accustomed to over the last 19 years. If only the owner was as easily refurbished!
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by BNA » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:58 pm

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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby GaryF » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Very nice story. Your Bianchi is very interesting and it just goes to show that nice bikes do not have to be 'top of the range' models.
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby HappyHumber » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:01 am

Always heartening to hear of enduring relationships which survive other fleeting distractions, trials and tribulations.

Pretty good you've had the bike for so long as well ;-)

Kudos to you sir.
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby Dan » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:10 am

You're losing your touch Joe - not a single mention of divorce in this tale! ;)

Great story, as always.
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby Joe H » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:24 pm

No divorces in this story, but my previous use of personal pronouns above was somewhat overstated. I technically lost the bike to my wife in a poorly conceived bet. We were arguing over who did the voice of the mailman in the clay-mation Christman special, "Santa Clause is Coming to Town." I thought it was Bing Crosby and my better half thought it was Fred Astaire. And yes, I know that sounds pretty lame. I say "technically" because though the bet took place a dozen years ago, I hate to lose, and anyway my bike is a bit too big for her. She's got a pretty nice Bianchi as well, late 70s, all original except tires and tape. Here's a shot in use from about 12 years ago up in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York.

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And a picture of the bike as it looks today:

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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby vaeske » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:03 am

wow. well worth it and its a keeper! must've had plenty of good times on this bianchi!!! Looks like campy SR group?? those drillium brakes look the bomb!
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby michaelkn » Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:04 pm

Gorgeous bike. Bonus points for the vintage mow + shorts! You'll be the envy of hipsters!
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby Joe H » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:21 pm

Yeah ah, well, I was seriously considering putting some PhotoShop on that upper lip, and the shorts are, we'll they're early 90s continental Europe style for sure. It's all cringe worthy but accurate. The bike was always a lot nicer to ride than one might expect. The tubing was straight gauge .8mm but Bianchi did a lot with the tubes besides the lack of butting. The down tube got most of the effort: it was oversized and ovalized at the bottom bracket to help stiffen lateral movement. The top tube was fairly thin, and the seat tube took a 26.6mm seat tube. You can see the fork is chopped out quite a bit. I've always found this bike to be hard to ride without hands but very stable for long rides. It's definitely a good century bike and never seemed to hold me back on out-of-saddle climbs. With the new stiff and light wheels it really has come into its own as a great all around bike that's not too valuable to ride in any conditions. She's aged a lot better than I have.
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby GaryF » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:47 pm

Joe H wrote:Yeah ah, well, I was seriously considering putting some PhotoShop on that upper lip, and the shorts are, we'll they're early 90s continental Europe style for sure. It's all cringe worthy but accurate. The bike was always a lot nicer to ride than one might expect. The tubing was straight gauge .8mm but Bianchi did a lot with the tubes besides the lack of butting. The down tube got most of the effort: it was oversized and ovalized at the bottom bracket to help stiffen lateral movement. The top tube was fairly thin, and the seat tube took a 26.6mm seat tube. You can see the fork is chopped out quite a bit. I've always found this bike to be hard to ride without hands but very stable for long rides. It's definitely a good century bike and never seemed to hold me back on out-of-saddle climbs. With the new stiff and light wheels it really has come into its own as a great all around bike that's not too valuable to ride in any conditions. She's aged a lot better than I have.


Very nice review of your bike Joe.
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby Joe H » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:31 pm

Another resurrection of my own old thread so sorry for that. My trusty Bianchi met with a freak accident a while back so I thought I'd share the repair story. I was riding along minding my own business when the rear wheel locked up and I started skidding. Not having any idea what had just happened I clicked out of the pedals and headed for the grassy shoulder. I managed to keep it upright and found my rear derailleur had become caught in the spokes and twisted around far enough to bend the derailleur hanger into the cassette. It turns out a bit of paper trash on the road got kicked up by my front wheel and stuck to the chain (note to self, keep the chain cleaner!). As I peddled the chain pulled the paper into the derailleur arm and jammed it. As I kept peddling it forced the arm into the spokes. It all happened in a flash.

I wanted to break the chain, remove the busted derailleur and ride home as a one speed, but without some sort of sturdy clamp and pry bar to get the bent drop-out out of the cassette teeth, I was well and truly done for the day. I kind sole gave me a ride back to my car and a couple of days later I found a replacement derailleur on e-bay that matched the dead one.

While I waited for it to arrive I had Greg at TWE take a look at the wheel which came through with only the slightest of wobble to the rim, and a few slight scratches on the spokes. I was impressed how well the wheel stood up to the event. I also rigged up a big C-clamp and a pry bar and carefully bent the derailleur hanger back to its rightful place. Here is a picture of the wheel, the new der (on the left), and the old one looking pretty bent up on the right.

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And here's the trusty girl getting adjusted after assembly.

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And one last shot of the bike after a shake-down ride in between showers today. I love old steel bikes because you can do a lot of repair work on them with tools around the house. So now she's back on the road again with a much cleaner chain and ready to celebrate her 20th birthday.

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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby HappyHumber » Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:49 pm

It's all good. Thanks for continuing to share, Joe.
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby servicimo » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:07 pm

Yeah, I have really enjoyed reading this thread.....great bike and story!
one nice bike.....
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby frailer5 » Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:04 pm

I could feel every millisecond of the described event. :shock:
Nice to see it back. And if one doesn't revive one's own thread, who will? :D
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby QuangVuong » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:00 pm

Ever gonna bring out this Bianchi on a retro ride?

Seems like you break RDs more often than not. Wanst another broken with a tissue?
Last edited by QuangVuong on Mon Jul 01, 2013 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby ldrcycles » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:30 pm

My first thoughts reading that post-

Was the "paper trash" like this...

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Or do joe's legs look like this..

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:lol:
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby Joe H » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:15 pm

My legs are skinny and under-used. That stationary trainer in the garage sees a good 80% of my saddle time, after the kids and wife are asleep. Quang, this is the same broke derailleur; the part took a month to arrive from France but at least it was pretty inexpensive. I'll bring it along on the retro ride I can attend but I'm on a pretty heavy travel schedule for the next two months. Thanks for the kind comments and take care.

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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby spirito » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:37 am

Great bike and story ... more importantly: please tell me you still wear a moustache !!! Suits you, sir :wink: 8)
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby Joe H » Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:04 am

Sorry, my upper lip has been a "no hair zone" for a good 15 years or so. I originally grew it to look older, but that's been unnecessary since I went gray. Plus I'm more aerodynamic without!

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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby spirito » Thu Jul 04, 2013 4:55 pm

Joe H wrote:Sorry, my upper lip has been a "no hair zone" for a good 15 years or so. I originally grew it to look older, but that's been unnecessary since I went gray. Plus I'm more aerodynamic without!


:?

As long as it was your decision. Too many men skimp on facial hair at the behest of their women ... next we'll be wearing lipstick (if not already).

I thought your moustache was very styling ... thinking of growing one myself (if the Mrs. lets me). :oops: :mrgreen: :lol:
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby munga » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:33 pm

if it's good enough for her..
boom-tish!
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Re: Early 90s Bianchi

Postby ldrcycles » Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:35 pm

munga wrote:if it's good enough for her..
boom-tish!


Haha :lol: . I had muttonchops for a while, it made me look Amish :D .
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