Tuesday, September 17, 2019


A 1991 Tommasini Competizione just paid its way into my garage (more on that later), and eBay is killing my desire to stop. I'm like an old cat lady, but with Columbus-tubed Italian bikes. I always say that a reasonably-priced Bianchi Proto or Tommasini Diamante or Velocista is the only thing missing from the collection and lo and behold, what do I continue to see in my eBay searches...

In addition, there are a few interesting gems that, thankfully, are not quite the right size and in some cases, certainly not selling at a reasonable price!

And then there are the additional Bianchi's that make me grateful that I got my Reparto Corse model for almost nothing by comparison.

This last one, at $3500, is most definitely a "if money were no object" purchase. I've never seen another!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

My Two Delta Brake Setup Tips

I thought it would be worth posting some hints towards getting Campagnolo Delta brakes up and running. The Delta Brake Blog does a good job of identifying the various versions, and this is a good primer. There is more conversation online about this obsolete jewel of a brake than I had imagined.

Comments include the usual tip to set them up further from the rim than you normally would, replacing the now-ancient brake pads with this or that pad and/or holder, being sure you have the correct brake lever, etc etc. One thing I wasn't aware of was how much better they worked with the non-aero routing, as I would NEVER set them up that way.

My latest and greatest tips, after setting up three sets of them in the past month or so, involves the cable and housing.

Now I always run the freshly-cut housing end on the grinding wheel, to get it nice and flat. If possible, I suggest compressionless housing but, in the case of a recent Somec build, when only that neon pink 1980's housing will work... run NOKON-style link housing from the brake lever and splice it to the old housing just under the end of the bar tape with a special female-female ferrule. Jagwire calls it a "Double Ended Connecting Ferrule".

Next, I really think the cable is part of the solution here. Campagnolo spec'ed a very stiff cable, one that likely would sell for way too much money on eBay here in 2019. That said, I was able to overcome the horrible crunching sound at the bar not only with the NOKON housing run, but also by using a cable that has been drawn or polished to have a smooth outer surface. My memory is that Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) was the first to market a brake cable as such, but that now they must be commonplace. Now it seems the Jagwire Pro Road is the model currently marketing this feature, even though my knowledge of specific cable finishes is lacking and half of the commonly-found cables could be considered smooth.
So those are my two big tips, after setting Delta's up with both the vintage Campagnolo aero levers as well as with gutted Ergo levers (with special spacers 3D printed to fill the empty guts) and getting decent results.

For archive purposes, I think it's wise to publish my friend Steven's post from Bike Forums, which is likely the most level-headed and well-informed take on the subject...

"Some of the most important considerations to take into account are: proper distance from the rim (set them up too close and they will never reach the sweet spot of the progressive braking power), proper brake cable (many people simply use any old brake cable, whereas Campagnolo specced a thicker and firmer cable than what was most commonly used by other manufacturers, this is very important as many cable are perhaps too stretchy for use in delta brakes), the height must be correct (delta brakes can be adjusted up and down, if you do not have them set up at the ideal height, you will lose considerable power), new brake blocks (if the brake blocks have not been switched out by now with fresh rubber they are guaranteed to be sub-par. The delta blocks from the 80's seem to have been made of a rubber that hardened faster than many others), routing of cables (if you do not route them well enough you can lose a substantial amount of power, more so that with modern brake systems), length of cable (because the cable does not really have any appreciable room beyond the fixation nut, you have to get this spot on, ideally after having soldered the end to prevent any splaying and fraying of the cable end), lubrication and cleanliness (it is all too common that dust and rubber particles get inside the brakes and "gum" up the mechanisms; just because the mechanisms are covered up does not mean that they do not need to be serviced and lubricated.) Look after all these things and they work as well as all but the very best brakes designed pre-1985. If you are comparing them to modern-day brakes that is another thing."

Monday, March 11, 2019

OBAT #7: Cromovan Dura-Ace

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?

Page 87-89, 136 of La Bicicletta, May 1993. As usual, translation below the images.

Bianchi Cromovan Dura Ace

by Bebo Facciavento / photos by M. Venditti

Classic in its famous "celeste", now modernized with a fading paint style, this special bike from the Bianchi Reparto Corse utilizes the light and rigid tubing Oria Cromovan, Tig welded.

In 1885 Edoardo Bianchi founded the "Italian Bicycle Factory": it was the era of the high wheeler, difficult to ride due to its enormous front wheel. It was also the era in which serious and intense research began to bring ergonomic updates, until arriving at the necessary simplicity and efficiency of what we have today. Bianchi immediately made its contribution, presenting a bicycle with wheels of the same diameter, shod with pneumatic tires, giving relief to the spines of cyclists of the day. The final years of that century saw the industrialized planning of the bicycle and its accessories, and the "bottega" of Edoardo Bianchi transformed into an giant who would become known outside of Italy, brought by names like Girardengo, Bottechia, Belloni and Pavesi. Then came Coppi followed by Gimondi, Argentin and Bugno, who wore the rainbow stripes of the world champion while aboard a celeste Bianchi. And many more, too many to name here...

The world of racing has always been Bianchi's playing field, outside of a brief and recent reflective pause. For its return to racing the brand from Treviglio has launched a renewed production of frames and racing models by creating a new company, the Bianchi Reparto Corse Srl, that has the stated goal of designing and production the line of bicycles destined to be ridden by professionals and those who desire a bike of this level. The continuity of the traditional characteristics of each piece is assured by the structure of the Reparto Corse, that is equipped with the most modern research and development technology available. Frame production is instead trusted to the human element, where the experience and sensibility of an artisan cannot be substituted by a computer.

The model tested here is an example of the latest generation: it is called "Cromovan Dura Ace", and the name of course is made up from the tubing and component group chosen for the occasion (by which can be substituted upon request). The frame is assembled with Oria Cromovan tubing, a blend of steel with chrome, molybdenum and vanadium. It is a cold drawn tube, double butted with wall thicknesses that range from .5mm to 1mm, depending on the location. The center sections are slightly ovalized, in particular the top and down tubes, whose elliptical sections are oriented opposite each other. The contrasting forces should resist twisting and loss of power through flex, assuring the rigidity of the parts subjected to torsion and lateral hits: all without neglecting the right flexibility to absorb impacts from the terrain. The profile of the down tube increases the torsional rigidity necessary for sprinting and steering stability, limiting its work to compression and traction. A subtlety of Cromovan tubing is accompanied by a high strength (120 kg per cubic mm): the result is a frame that weighs between 1600 and 1800 grams, plus 650-700 grams for the fork, depending on the size (this complete bicycle weighs under ten kg). It saves a few hundred grams in respect to the standard, which are useful to the rider who rides thousands of kilometers during the year, and all this without affecting the stability and durability of the bike.

The qualities of the Cromovan tubing that permit both a rigid frame with the appropriate flexibility for comfort are maintained by the choice of Tig welding (as opposed to using lugs). The result on our test model is noteworthy: upon close inspection, the welds are very well executed.

Regarding the assembly, it's worth noting the lack of a chain stay bridge: with its corresponding seat stays, they form a compact and solid rear triangle. This configuration will show its benefits while climbing and accelerating, where frequent attacks typically flex the rear triangle. The rear dropouts are forged and brazed: they feature a vertical exit, to assure quick removal of the rear wheel, and additionally have micro-adjustment screws. The rear brake cable housing and rear derailleur are internal for a cleaner look: the first through the top tube and the second through the drive side chainstay. The fork is made of Cromovan: the reinforced steer tube is Tig welded and the dropouts are brazed. It is a unicrown fork, a style growing in its use on road bikes, which leaves the blades in their full length to better absorb hits and road vibration.

The seat tube is 53.5cm while the top tube is 55cm center-to-center (Bianchi calls this a size 55, measuring the seat tube center to top), the rear triangle is 40.3cm with a wheelbase of 99cm. Fork rake is 4.2cm and the bottom bracket sits 27.5cm from the ground. The head tube angle is 72.5 degrees while the seat tube is 73 degrees. It is a well balanced frame, solid for its tight triangles. It gives the impression of lightweight and agility.

Once welding is checked, before heading to finishing, the frame is treated to an antioxidant process and then immersed in a chrome bath, in order to protect the frame in case of accidental paint removal. The paint process is as such: primer coat, paint/color base coat, fade coat, final clear coat; each coat dried at 140 degrees. The result sets the standard from an aesthetic standpoint as well as for durability. For colors, Bianchi has ceded and added additional choices to its historic shade, Bianchi Celeste: blue marine, matte blue, white pearl, metallic red, red-black fade, green fade to Austrian blue, Ferrari red and matte violet. It is a wide range of shades and sufficient to please the needs of many. Our test bike is in the traditional celeste, updated with a slight fade and interrupted only by the simple logos, which from this year forward are masked and painted, and features a chromed rear triangle and fork. The look is noteworthy and no imperfections were to be found.

This Cromovan is equipped with Shimano's top group, the Dura Ace STI with Dual Control shift/brake levers: these shift onto an eight speed, 12/21 Hyperglide freewheel and the new crankset (the big ring has six shifting ramps on the inside that facilitate upshifts; also the bb axle has been narrowed, resulting in a smaller distance between pedals) with 170mm arms and 39/53 teeth. The dual pivot brakes are very effective, while the pedals are French Look PM 76.

The wheels, having a 66.5cm diameter, are made from FiR Tour hard anodized alloy rims with double stainless eyelets, Aci stainless double butted spokes 2.0/1.8/2.0, and Michelin Hi-Lite Supercompetition HD 700x20C clincher tires.

The ITM Italia Pro handlebar is 42cm in 7075 black laser-etched anodized aluminum, wrapped with Bike Ribbon Bianchi tape. The stem is also by ITM and is 110mm. The Selle Italia Turbo Matic saddle is a standout and features three suspension zones to further isolate road vibration.


Builder and distributor: Reparto Corse Bianchi Srl, 24047 Treviglio (BG), Via delle Battaglie 5
Price: L 4,750,000
Available sizes: 49-50-51-52-53-54-55-56-57-58-59-60-61-62-63 cm (center-top)
Measure of test bike: 55cm
Colors: Bianchi Celeste, blue marine, matte blue, white pearl, metallic red, red-black fade, green fade to Austrian blue, Ferrari red and matte violet
Total Weight: 9.950 kg
Front Wheel Weight: 1.315 kg
Rear Wheel Weight: 1.795 kg
Tubing: Oria Cromovan, Tig welded
Fork: Oria Cromovan uncrown
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace Dual Control
Front derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace
Chain: Shimano HG
Crank: Shimano Dura Ace 1993, 53-39 teeth, 170mm
Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura Ace cartridge
Freewheel: Shimano Dura Ace 8v: 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21
Hubs: Shimano Dura Ace, 32 hole
Spokes: Ace stainless 2.0/1.8/2.0mm, 3x
Rims: FiR Tour hard anodized
Tires: Michelin Hi Lite Supercomp HD 700x20
Brakes: Shimano Dura Ace
Pedals: LOOK PM 76
Headset: Shimano Dura Ace
Seatpost: Shimano Dura Ace
Saddle: Selle Italia Turbo Matic
Stem: ITM 110mm
Handlebar: ITM Italia Pro, 42cm
Accessories: Elite water bottle cage, bottle

Saturday, March 9, 2019

OBAT #6: Bianchi Reparto Corse Opens in 1992

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?

Page 204 of La Bicicletta, May 1992. This is coverage of the inauguration of the Reparto Corse. As usual, translation below the image.

Bianchi Reparto Corse Opens

Thursday March 19, on the eve of the sign-in of Milan-San Remo. In Treviglio, a morning appointment at Bianchi for the official inauguration of the Bianchi Reparto Corse, the new operating company where special racing bikes for road and off road are born. An appointment honored by presence of champions who race aboard Bianchi bicycles and by many personalities from the sporting world. The event marks Bianchi's return to the pro racing ranks, after a two-year absence, and a much-needed return knowing the racing heritage of the brand.

The presentation was hosted within the new Reparto Corse. The reasons behind the creation of this Reparto Corse, structured as a new and separate company, were illustrated by Franco Brunetti, CEO of Fiv E. Bianchi, by Sporting Director Felice Gimondi and finally, by Enrico Maggioni, GM of the new Bianchi Reparto Corse.

The autonomy of the Reparto Corse was born for the sole purpose to create a truly technical cycling center through the study, experimentation and application of the most cycling resources available. The new society has asked for investments in terms of capital and for specialists of various sectors; investments undertaken in a very delicate moment for the market. This is proof positive to the degree that Fiv E. Bianchi believes in the future of the bicycle.

Assembly lines do not exist within the Reparto Corse. Here the mountain and road bikes are built with artisanal attention but using cutting edge materials and technologies.

The road line is made up of many model and versions developed on the base of nine different frames.

Completely renovated is the line of Bianchi Nth 1992 with five models of mountain bikes.

There are three principal objectives of the Bianchi Reparto Corse: research and development, design and construction of prototypes for competition, and the personalization and commercialization of these models for passionate cyclists.

Gianni Bugno and Franco Chioccioli revealed their positive feedback of these special Bianchi's when asked by host Davide De Zan. Maggioni and Gimondi revealed that in 1992, between professionals and amateurs, there are over 112 racers aboard Bianchi bicycles and 47 mountain bikers.

World Champions Bugno and Zanchi, the maglia rosa Chiocchioli and other racers present then cut the huge commemorative cake after the benediction given by don Piero Carnelli.

On the big screen, moving images of Coppi, Gimoni and other greats who wrote the story of cycling continued in rotation.

Old Bike Article Translations #5: Bianchi Advert for Reparto Corse, World Championships

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?

Page 27 of La Bicicletta, December 1993. This is a paid advertisement promoting the Reparto Corse and Bugno's world championship. As usual, translation below the image.

1993 Another World Championship Jersey for the Celeste Bianchi

The Reparto Corse Bianchi, two years from the actual establishment of the company, fully assures its function of advanced research, for the study, design and execution of innovative technical solutions. The specialized production of the Reparto Corse takes experiences from the professional racers, whether road or mountain bike, to make prototypes based on their feedback, in a tight and peculiar synergy with their technical team. Evidence of this continuous relationship are the numerous sporting achievements tied to Bianchi. The latest example of this continuity is represented by the rainbow jersey of Gianni Bugno on the road, which itself was followed by that of Dario Aquaroli on the mountain bike, in whom Bianchi has placed its faith in view of the coming Olympic Games.

The diverse models made in the Reparto Corse are the result of a series of studies and projects conducted with the help of the most modern computer software, time in the wind tunnel and many more resources, and then built by highly skilled personnel working with the style and duty of an artisan. The 1994 lineup of racing models from the Reparto Corse, with the special Bianchi Corsa and Nth for the mountain bike, was announced, featuring important technical innovations that sit beside other existing models that maintain their specific roles. In terms of updates we see, for the racing models, a double butted Cromoly frame equipped with the Campagnolo Stratos group and a new frame made from Columbus Thron. Other interesting items include a fully titanium frame and the possibility to mount on certain models the innovative new electronic shifting system from the Mavic Zap group. On the mountain bike side features a new frame made of Columbus Genius tubing, which can be had with either Shimano XTR or XT and with a classic unicrown fork or with a Rock Shox Mag 21 or Spring VLS suspension fork.

Reparto Corse Bianchi of Treviglio and Bianchi USA of San Francisco operate closely together to locate and experiment with new procedures and innovation solutions to further grow the already highly esteemed "Made in Bianchi", an important concept known in the cycling world.

Old Bike Article Translations #4: Bianchi Advert for R.P. Cromovan ZMS

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?
Pages 88 and 89 of La Bicicletta, June 1993. This is a paid advertisement of this prototype coming out of the newly-opened Reparto Corse. Per usual, my attempted translation below, with a few paragraph breaks that I would recommend to this PR wonk.

"Aheadset" and gear changing via microprocessor for this '94 bicycle from Bianchi's Reparto Corse

"Specialissima Electronic"

Bianchi's Reparto Corse is the advanced research laboratory in Treviglio. Design, building and experimenting with innovative technical solutions that will be used on the race bikes of the MG Bianchi team, the team of world champion Gianni Bugno. After being tested in action by the pros, the innovative technologies are filtered into the line of production bikes.

The Reparto Corse will in fact, commercialize a complete line of racing bicycles, both road and mountain. A special sales network has the task of satisfying the complex needs of Bianchi's racing clients, who can therefore climb aboard one of these exceptional models, made one by one with cutting edge technologies and custom measured on request.

This continual technological research brings us this new bicycle named "Cromovan Mavic ZMS", a preview of the 1994 lineup currently under development. This new model is equipped with a frame made of Tig welded Oria Cromovan tubing, the same frame Gianni Bugno will race in the 1993 season. The primary objective of reducing the frame's weight has resulted in the use of a sophisticated stem/headset known as Aheadset, made by Italmanubri and characterized by the absence of the traditional threading of the fork. This system of headset is lighter, easier to adjust and assures higher security with respect to traditional headsets.

The entire package in a size 58 comes in at only 9.6kg and uses a new component group by Mavic with a revolutionary 8 speed rear derailleur that moves electromagnetically and is controlled electronically, called "ZMS" (Zap Mavic System).

This innovative system exploits the most advanced electronic technologies and micro-mechanics, resulting in system-wide functional improvements to this important component. It is extremely simple to use, boasting lightning quick shifts, double shift button mounts and weighs just 315 grams total.

The ZMS system is made up of two principal units: the shifting device, that consists of two rocker switch buttons and a microprocessor fed by 6 volts, mounted on the handlebar; the derailleur itself is instead positioned on the rear hub and is actuated by two electromagnets. The control unit and shift buttons are positioned where they are easily accessible and have a total weight (including battery) of just 75 grams. The two shift buttons respond to precise ergonomic criteria, revealing themselves simple to engage independent of the position of the hands on the bars (one of the two are in fact, always within reach of a finger). The mechanism mounted on the wheel has a total weight of 240 grams and is protected against water and dust by an elegant plastic covering. The operation of the device is very simple: the pressing of a button (on the right side to change to a bigger gear and vice-versa) drives and impulse that the control unit sends in real time to the electromagnet. These command the change of gear with a particular system of transversal adjustments, that gives a very fast and precise gear change.

The innovative ZMS group is made thanks to the use of sophisticated materials like aluminum and kevlar. All of these technically innovative components presented on this model will be adopted by the high end bikes of the Reparto Corse for 1994 and, starting at the beginning of the season, will therefore be available on the market.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Somec Multistrade Custom Gravel with Lauf Fork

Also realizing that I hadn't yet posted my latest gravel bike here. It arrived last Fall and I didn't get too many rides in before all this winter!

Custom alloy Somec Multistrade with Campy Super Record EPS, Lauf fork, Leonardi Racing seatpost and Speedplay SYZR pedals. More parts made by friends!

Horses - This stem was made to go with my Colnago C60 (due to Colnago's connection with Ferrari) that was sold to make room for this bike. Somec borrowed their hometown's (Lugo di Romagna) symbol of Enzo's Cavallino Rampante and reverted it back to having the tail pointing down. Ferrari himself was granted permission to use the horse from the family of famed Italian WWI pilot Francesco Baracca (also of Lugo). I had the pleasure to see his museum with the Gallegati family (of Somec fame) back in 2016!

Along with the Tommasini Fire gravel bike, I have three sets of wheels to change the character of this bike. Fat 650B's, light 700c gravel and 700c tubeless road wheels. The choices that disc brakes give us! I just came across some even fatter 650's with tread that I may have to try out, seeing how the Somec has plenty more space.

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

Old Bike Article Translations #2: Bianchi Minimax Record

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?
This article is from La Bicicletta, January 1993. My translation below the images.

Bianchi Minimax Record

di Bebo Fiacciavento / foto M. Venditi

The new Bianchi Reparto Corse is just one year old. The new structure focused on high end road and mountain bikes is the birthplace of this special model.

Bianchi, after a brief pause in its direct sponsorship of pro teams, has resumed hostilities as it restarts production of racing frames. In preparation of its return to pro racing, Bianchi has formed a new company, the Bianchi Reparto Corse Srl, with the sole focus of developing and producing the line of bikes destined to professionals and those who ride at a high level. And it does so for itself, seeing how it was aboard a celeste Bianchi that Gianni Bugno won his second world championship.

The continuity of the traditional characteristics of each piece made by the Reparto Corse are the most up to date in terms of technology, research and testing. The actual realization of the frame is instead trusted to the human element, where the experience and sensibility of an artisan cannot be substituted by a computer. It was therefore interesting - we can't forget that some of the greatest names of the sports most notably Fausto Coppi, are tied to this brand - that we accepted the task of carrying out the tests on a unique high end model that bears the logo of the crowned eagle.

Starting from the top: the color is the traditional celeste, updated with a changing pearl coat, interrupted only with simple identifying logos (starting this year even these will be painted) and chromed rear triangle and fork. They are laid out in successive layers: background primer, paint/color, pearl coat, final clear coat; each coat is baked at 140 degrees. The result is aesthetically pleasing and resistant to hits, scratches and degenerative processes, atmospherically and otherwise. The frame, before starting in the paint department, undergoes an anti-oxidation process and immersed in a chroming bath, this last piece to give even further protection to the tubing in case of the paint being removed. The frame is made, as we mentioned, with butted Columbus Minimax tubing in Nivacrom, a steel of the latest generation that has, among others, the merit of combining extreme mechanical characteristics with a high capacity to withstand the temperatures used during the welding process; in our case TIG welding in a controlled environment to avoid changes in temperature. The tubes are mitered and joined head to head and a close visual and tactile examination prove this to be very well executed. The absence of abnormalities reassures us of the continuity and homogeneity of the tubing sections. These, in particular the top and down tubes, have an elliptic section oriented in different manners. The respective planes thus have a corresponding contrasting incidence which increases the cofficient of reduction of the flex, forced oscillation and dispersion of the lines of force that propagate along the main tubes. The configuration of the down tube increases the transversal rigidity, favoring sprinting and stability.

The chain stays are have no bridge and together with its corresponding seat stays contribute to form a smaller rear triangle that is compact and rigid. The benefits of this are felt while climbing and in changes of pace, where frequent accelerations are supported by the static rear triangle. A rapid rear wheel removal is assured instead by the forged rear dropouts brazed with a vertical exit with adjusting screws for making micro adjustments to the wheel's position. The fork blades are made from Columbus EL tubing TIG welded to a reinforced steer tube and brazed dropouts. It has a uncrown profile, used more and more on various models of road bikes (the Reparto Corse was one of the first to take this path), where the length of the blades remain whole to better absorb the hits and vibrations. The time tested measurements of trail and rake assure sweet steering.

Here are the essential measurements of our Minimax: 57cm high x 56.5cm long, center to center (in reality Bianchi calls this a 59 due to the entire length of the seat tube; we prefer to adopt the other measure for consistency). The rear triangle is 40cm while the front center is 60, making a wheelbase of 99. The fork rake is 39mm; lastly the bottom bracket sits 27.5cm high. The seat tube angle is 72.5 degrees while the steerer is 72.  We find ourselves in front of a frame that as a whole is very well proportioned in its various sections, solid due to the compactness of its triangles; the impression however is one of lightweight and agility. It was without a doubt intended for racing, and the sum of the rear triangle and the angles underline the intent of the frame builder.

There is little to say about the gruppo: Campagnolo Record speaks for itself (the Reparto Corse foresees assembly with other groups from Campagnolo and Shimano); a thank-you anyway to the our Vicenza friends for the efficiency of the Ergopower system.


Producer and Distributor: Bianchi Reparto Corse Srl, 24047 Treviglio (BG), Via delle Battaglie 5
Price: L4,500,000
Available Measures: cm 49-50-51-52-53-54-55-56-57-58-59-60-61-62-63 center/end
Measure Tested: 59cm
Colors: New Bianchi Celeste pearl, Ferrari red, Metallic red, White pearl
Weight Total: 10.250 kg
  Front Wheel: 1.385 kg
  Rear Wheel: 1.950 kg
Tubing: Columbus Minimax
  Seat Tube: 570mm c/c
  Top Tube: 565mm c/c
  Seat Tube Angle: 72.5 degrees
  Head Tube Angle: 72 degrees
  Rear Triangle: 400mm
  Front Center: 600mm
  Wheelbase: 990mm
  Bottom Bracket Height: 275mm
  Fork: Columbus EL
  Rake: 39mm
  Shift Levers: Campagnolo Record Ergopower
  Front Derailleur: Campagnolo Record
  Rear Derailleur: Campagnolo Record
  Chain: Campagnolo Rohloff
  Crankset: Campagnolo Record, 39-53
  Crankarms: 170mm
  Bottom Bracket: Campagnolo Record
  Cassette: Campagnolo 8v, 12-23
  Hubs: Campagnolo Record, 32 hole
  Spokes: Aci stainless, 2mm
  Crossing: 3x
  Rims: FIR Tour 192
  Tires: Michelin Hi Lite Supercomp HD
  Brakes: Campagnolo Delta
  Pedals: Campagnolo Record QR
  Headset: Campagnolo Record
  Seatpost: Campagnolo Record
  Saddle: Selle Italia Flite
  Stem: 3T AR 84, 130mm
  Handlebar: 3T Forma SL
  Accessories: water bottle, cage

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

1993 Bianchi Ads

Still vintage-ing over here. A bit of a wreck this winter after weeks of below-zero weather after a warm spell in January. Picked up a Reparto Corse recently so of course I ran back to the scanner with my 1993 issues of La Bicicletta. I've been brushing up on my 90's Bianchi info lately, so I'll probably post a translated review soon...

I believe the first two were either remnants of the 1992 campaign or they just changed style mid season.