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Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?(11 posts)

Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?seeker333
Sep 3, 2002 1:53 PM
I'm thinking of buying an old (90-98) Bianchi lugged steel frame, refinishing it in powder coat and building up for a low-cost all purpose daily ride. I have no experience with Bianchis but there seem to be a lot of them for sale at bargain prices. I assume I can cold-set the rear dropout spacing to accomodate 130 mm hub spacing.

Anyone with personal experience in Bianchi care to comment on their suitability for this project? Do these things wear out (i know they rust)? Anything I've overlooked?
Not Bianchi specifically, but lots of old steel frames...retro
Sep 3, 2002 2:18 PM
Should be fine. I don't know a lot about Bianchis specifically, but I've kept almost every bike I've ever owned (not worth selling them for the money you get), and several of them are from that era or older.
Just generally, rust rarely seems to be a problem. I know bikes DO rust, but even when I lived four blocks from the ocean, it didn't happen. I kept my old (@1972) college Peugeot for 25 years, and when I gave it to the Salvation Army, it still had only minor rust spots on the paint chips. my oldest current frame is a mid-80s lugged steel Trek with no apparent rust, and I also have an early '90s Bridgestone mountain bike that's been my mud/snow/beater/commuter for six or eight years, ridden in all weather and barely maintained, with no rust problems.
As for cold-setting, I'm sure you can. Might not even be necessary to really "set" it. When I did a similar thing to my wife's Bridgestone, I just pulled the dropouts apart and slipped the wider wheel in, without bothering to spread them permanently. She's not strong enough to put the wheel back if she has a flat, but otherwise it works fine.
re: Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?Dave Hickey
Sep 3, 2002 3:07 PM
If it matter to you, the lower end Bianchi's are made in Asia. If have a 1889 Asian made Bianchi Premio that is my single speed. I have no complaints at all with the frame. The tubing is Chro-Mo and the main triangle is double butted. It's not the lightest frame, but it rides like a dream.
re: Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?desmo
Sep 3, 2002 3:22 PM
I did the same with a late 80's/early 90's (?) Superleggera and it was a great bike. Try to find a "Superleggera" or "Specialissma" as they were fully chromed under the paint and held up really well. At least Try to find a Italian made Columbus one, if those models don't show up. The collectors seem to be more after the early years so prices are not bad on the late ones. If you're not sure what you're looking at the better Bianchis from this period have "B"'s on the lower headtube lug and the fork crowns. The seat stays should have an engraved "B" or "Bianchi" in script on the tops. Of course they're going to have forged dropouts, I think Gippime on these late ones. And again, chrome showing through the paint on the main triangle is a good sign. As for the rear spacing, I didn't even have to "set" mine for a 130mm Campy 9 speed. It was very easy to just spread the triangle a bit when installing the wheel. I built mine up with left overs from a 2000 Veloce I had changed the gruppo on. It turned out way too nice for a rain bike and I ended up selling it when something else came along I just had to have.
re: Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?seeker333
Sep 4, 2002 1:44 PM
Thanks very much. Whats your opinion of this one? It has the Bianchi crest on fork crowns, columbus tubing (unknown type), Bianchi on seat stay ends:
hmm..Andy M-S
Sep 5, 2002 7:08 AM
I don't see the "Made in Italy" decal, but that really doesn't matter. If it fits, it should be a nice bike for you.
re: Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?mackgoo
Sep 3, 2002 3:29 PM
Get A Reparto Corse anything and you'll be fine. If you find an EL-OS you'll be in heaven.
re: Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?bianchi boy
Sep 3, 2002 6:55 PM
I have an early '80s Bianchi Nuovo Record with the original Celeste green paint, which has held up great over the years. I am the original owner and bought the bike new for about $600 in 1985. Two years ago, I bought a newer used Bianchi Alloro (aluminum) bike but didn't like the fit or the ride, so I sold the frame and swapped all the Ultegra components over to my old steel lugged Bianchi. The old Bianchi rides like a dream, especially on rough pavement, but is heavier than newer frames. My bike shop was able to reset the rear dropouts to 130 mm with no problems.

I periodically search eBay for Bianchis and see a lot of nice old frames and complete bikes sell for bargain prices. I've seen bikes identical to mine with all the old Campy equipment sell for $200-350, and frames alone for as cheap as $100-200 or so. Honestly, if I lived in an area with few hills, I would never get rid of that old Bianchi -- particularly if the roads were rough.

As others suggested, I would recommend trying to find a Reparto Corse frame in Celeste green (unless you really hate the color). The Celeste frames are worth more because, after all, that's what makes it a Bianchi. If the frame has chrome and engraved markings, it's one of their better models. If it has any rust, the first place it generally shows up is on the underside of the top tube near where it meets the head tube (because this is where sweat collects). Old steel frames also tend to rust at the cable guides. If the rust is not bad, it's easy to fix by sanding off all the bubbled paint and rust, and repainting. Bianchi sells matching Celeste paint at their website,, as well as all sorts of matching accessories and components. My bike developed a small amount of rust in both of these areas after I neglected it and quit riding for a few years, but most of the paint is in excellent condition. I sanded and repainted the rusty spots and they are hardly noticeable now.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Bianchi frame geometry has changed over the years. Older Bianchis have the classic Italian "square" geometry, with the top and seat tubes about the same length in mid-sizes. For example, mine has 57 cm seat and top tubes measured center-center, the seat tube angle is about 73, and chain stays are about 41 cm (with horizontal and adjustable dropouts). Newer Bianchis have top tubes much longer than the seat tubes (measured center-center), steep seat tube angles (74), and short chain stays.
1993 era Trofeomaxxx
Sep 3, 2002 7:26 PM
I have a Trofeo in Celeste and these days use it as my rain bike. Even slush and salt have yet to rust it out with no special care - I don't understand it but it's true. She's a little heavy and definitely harsher than my current caad 4 but still a pleasure to ride. I would never think of getting rid of it - its part of the family. A few years back I found an earlier 90's Torfeo and am kicking myself that I didn't pick it up.
re: Anyone with experience in older Bianchi steel frames?noveread
Sep 4, 2002 7:37 AM
Well, I have a 91 or 92 Bianchi Alfana. One of those Asian bikes, you know, Tange Prestige tubing. Great bike. I love it. I "upgraded" the bike this spring from the old downtube 105 7sp 126mm to old Shimano 600 8sp 130mm. I had a shop do the spacing for me, they charged $25 for spreading the triangle and aligning the frame.

I love this bike. I ride it on recovery rides and will commute a bit with it this fall.

Oh, yes!Andy M-S
Sep 4, 2002 7:41 AM
My main ride is a c.1990 Quattro, powdercoated celeste with a Profile BRC fork and mixed parts (Sachs Ergo 8 shifters, mix of newer Ultegra and 105, RX100 for the rest). Made in Italy, originally equipped with Suntour 7-speed. I got the bike for $100, sold off the old parts for almost that much, leaving me the frame for free! Had the LBS spread it for 130, no problem.

It's wonderful. Not the highest-end (read: lightest) steel by any means, but strong and STIFF. Nice 55x55 c-c geometry.

I have somewhere around 6000-7000 miles on it so far, and while I like to drool at other bikes, this one is simply grand.

For powdercoating, I'd highly recommend Spectrum Powderworks--it looks like wet paint, and the lugs don't look like lumps under the powdercoat.