Thursday, March 7, 2019

Old Bike Article Translations #3: Bianchi Caurus. The Renewed Proto.

Proving one of three points yet again:

  1. My translation of technical Italian is lacking
  2. Romance languages are terrible for technical descriptions, often scribbling a series of random 5-syllable words to describe something like "stiff"
  3. How much detail can you really give about a great steel frame?

Back in 2016 an internet friend started a great thread about this bike on BikeForums. I posted this translation of a 1990 Bicisport review back then (full scan of the article is here) and just realized it never made its way to the blog, so here we go...

Bianchi Caurus
The Proto is Reborn

All of the mountain and road bikes of the 1990 Bianchi catalog carry strange names and, in cycling terms, are already outdated. In reality the big Italian player wanted to renew itself even in its glossary, assigning to its offroad line Latin terms corresponding to the family of spiders, mainly because the spider can climb wherever it wants, like the friendly bicycle. The high end bikes were given names of winds, some picturesque and pleasant, since racing bikes are capable of higher speeds and are therefore similar to the idea of a strong wind.

Caurus, ie Cauro or Chorus, is a wind that blows from the west and occupies therefore the upper left part of the quadrant. In fact, in the Bianchi line, it corresponds instead to an elaboration, especially graphically, of the Proto model.

The Bianchi "Caurus" is the object of this test.


A bike utilizing tubing in a very peculiar form and painted in glossy black with neon green highlights could not necessarily be called ‘subtle’. This bike, is singled out from the group at close range but can be called out from a distance, even if being ridden by a lone rider.

And yet the Bianchi Caurus succeeds, in our opinion, by being flashy but not chaotic. The two colors form a sharp contrast and, combined with bad taste, could have resulted in definitely eye-catching results, but lacking in style. Instead, the bike has its own modern personality, that needed updating, especially as seen by a younger market. Looking at this model in its totality, you can appreciate its balance of the geometry that is made up of lines and angles, not of colors. Also noted, digging into the details, is the accuracy of the finishing, especially the head tube logo, the famous Bianchi eagle, which is pantographed and filled with neon green on the black tube. The component group ties itself nicely to the model with its finishing choices. The one exception, unbelievably, is the substitution of the water bottle cage that has an opaque grey finish which is totally removed from the complete package.


The frame of the Bianchi Caurus Proto is contructed of Columbus Max, Tig welded without lugs, except for the seat tube junction and the fork crown. These are original Columbus items as well due to the understandable shaping necessary. These are very particular tubes ovalized in different directions on the same draw, studied for its resistance to various stresses, that could not fit to any commercially available lug.

The fact is that a structure of this kind corresponds theoretically to a concept of high functional rigidity, understandable even to the naked eye, with the implicit promise not to waste energy with unwanted flex even a portion of the energy applied to the pedals. The fork blades for example are very flattened in order to assure a relative stiffness front to back and a relative give laterally, necessary to keep your line when taking curves and leaning over at speed. The seat and down tubes meet the bottom bracket shell with larger diameters oriented to counteract pedaling forces.

This frame measures 52 x 53.5 cm from center to center. It is 27.1 cm high at the bottom bracket and has a very tight rear triangle, barely 39.5 cm, with a wheelbase of 97.5 cm. Particularly balanced is the rake of 14 cm and trail of 5 cm.

Frame mounts are all welded, with just one water bottle mount located on the down tube. Cable routing for the rear brake is inside the top tube, while the cable for the rear derailleur is inside the chainstay that is bare from any chain protection. Seeing as there is no chrome, it would be a good idea to apply an adhesive chain protector (transparent) even if our road tests didn’t result in any marks on the paint. The dropouts are semi-vertical, but the tips have no chrome on them.

The bike is assembled with Campagnolo’s Record group, with Delta brakes and chainrings of 41/53. Selle Italia Turbo saddle. 3t Super Competizione 42 cm handlebar and 3t 84 100 mm stem. Regina America freewheel, with lightweight alloy cogs of 13-14-15-17-19-21-23 teeth. The chain is a Sedis Sport with chamfered internal plates. Wheels are made up of Campagnolo Sigma "Pavé Hardox" rims of 32 holes, laced three-cross with 2 mm Alpina stainless spokes and wearing Vittoria Corsa CX Squadra Prof tubulars.


In the saddle of the Bianchi Caurus Proto we rediscovered a familiar taste. We’re referring to our 1989 test of the Proto model in its original Bianchi color, of which this bike represents a true copy. The winning feature of this racing bike is its geometry. This is a bike that allows you to immerse yourself in an efficient position both at a cruising speed and while at a frantic pace with accelerations and constant changes of pace. We didn’t note any appreciable flexing of the frame and were happy, as it relates to the stiffness this model is known for, to appreciate its comfort when the road was smooth. While climbing the Caurus certainly has a constant yield when climbing regularly and is ready to respond when attacking out of the saddle. The relatively tight rear triangle is an issue in twisty descents: it’s necessary to move your weight to the rear to face tight radiuses with security.

From a mechanical point of view, we had to adjust the bolts on both derailleurs, but this is normal. That said, we had to intervene on the rear brake pads in order to adjust the wheel guides, which were misaligned. On the other hand, upon flatting a tubular, we were forced to deal with an excellent job of gluing, which was perfectly even and applied while warm, as you need to do on a high end bike like the Bianchi Caurus, taking its place alongside racing models of the highest value.

Fulvio Lo Monaco

Data Sheet
Brand: Bianchi spa • Reparto Corsa • Cascine Battaglie, 5 • 24047 Treviglio •
Tel. 0363/41444
Model: Caurus Proto
Launch date: 1989 Milan Trade Show
Color: black/neon green, black/celeste Bianchi, black/pearl coral, green/pearl violet, fuchsia/violet
Available sizes: from 49 to 63 cm (cc) or custom
List price: Lire 3.230.000

Technical Details
Tubing: Columbus Max in nivacrom steel
Conjunctions: seat tube juncture and fork crown Columbus, the others are made with Tig welding, joined head to head
Group: Campagnolo Record with Delta brakes
Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo
Handlebar: 3t Super Competizione, stem 3t 84
Freewheel/Cassette: Regina America superleggera
Chain: Sedis Sport
Rims: Campagnolo Sigma Pavé Hardox
Spokes: Alpina
Tires: Vittoria Corsa Cx Squadre Prof tubulars

BS Ratings:
The Bianchi Caurus represents an esthetic elaboration of the Proto model. It is a proven and special high-performance bicycle.

The welding is workmanlike. The model is elegant in its lines and volumes. New are the colors and approach.

The proven geometry of the Caurus results in a perfect fit and does not need those annoying adjustments.

Very balanced in power transfer, making it particularly efficient on medium climbs.

You must move your body weight back to lighten the front end. In doing so, you won’t notice any loss of traction.

In out of the saddle attacks you will particularly appreciate the short rear triangle and the relative rigidity of this type of tubing.

The bike shows its best on a smooth road. The road bumps are not absorbed by the frame.

Small problem in adjusting the brake shoes and in setting up the rear derailleur. Great were the true wheels and the gluing of the tubulars in the heat.

Note that the voting expresses our vote relative to the Technical Details of the tested product.

Photo Captions:

The seat tube junction is the only lug utilized in the Bianchi Caurus Proto, whose tubes are Tig welded. Above, the Caurus model in its original colorway.

In the photos on this page you can see some of the important details of the Caurus: the bottom bracket shell, the heat tube junction and the internally routed rear derailleur cable.

A view of the handlebar, with its round curve, from the rider’s point of view. Below, the “motor” of the Caurus. In the upper right, the elegant line of the fork with its teardrop shaped dropouts

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