Bianchi Teardown: Phase 1


Everything filed into ziploc bags and ready for cleaning.

With my DIY bike stand completed and a couple hours of free time on my hands this morning, I donned my best grease outfit and braved the garage to begin the disassembly of the vintage bike project. I got most everything stripped off the bike and sorted into ziploc bags, with the exception of the headset, forks, cranks and bottom bracket. I decided to save those for another day, as I have a feeling they’ll take a little while, what with it being my first time assaulting a bottom bracket and headset in such a manner.

Things went pretty smoothly. Really, the only difficult part was removing the original Campagnolo cable brackets from the top tube. The screws were so badly rusted that any attempt to loosen them with a screwdriver simply stripped out the flathead slot. In the end, I didn’t want to part with these original brackets, so I rigged up some shop rags on either side, then used a hacksaw to cut about 2/3 of the way through the screws so I could snap them off with some needle nose pliers, which actually worked quite well. I’ll need to scare up some new screws, but the brackets are intact and just need some rust removed.


The mystery cocoon, as found inside the brake lever. Strangely, this was the brake lever with the broken cable. Coincidence?

I had a couple surprises along the way, namely the empty cocoon that was hiding in the front brake lever housing (seriously!) and the partial wasp nest that had been hiding in the handlebars (which I noticed are the original Ambrosio bars after removing the bar tape) for who knows how many decades (the bar ends have been plugged since I can remember).

Speaking of brake levers, I can’t tell if the brake levers are original. I seem to remember reading that this vintage of Bianchi had Universal brakes and levers. The brakes themselves are stamped as Universal, but I cannot see any stamps or company name on the brake levers.

I’m more concerned about the overall condition of the frame now, however. The rust is worse than expected in some places, especially on the bottom bracket… lots of flaking paint and rust patches. I’m torn as to whether I can really conserve this frame. It may have to be sandblasted and repainted.

Mystery decal... could it be from the 1964 Olympics? Enquring minds want to know. Well, at least I do.

Mystery decal… could it be from the 1964 Olympics? Enquring minds want to know. Well, at least I do.

Which is an even bigger bummer as I noticed a couple decal remnants that I hadn’t seen before. They’re very faint, but one of them almost looks like it could be from the Olympics, with a guy on a bike holding a torch. This has me wondering if this bike was built for the 1964 Olympics, in which Italy won the gold for individual road race. I’d appreciate any knowledge anyone has about what is left of these extra decals.

Later in the day, I stopped by Camas Bikes to order some Frame Saver, as I did find some rust on the seat tube. It was easily wiped off, but I still want to be safe and preserve this frame as much as I can. While I was there, I talked to Ed about ordering a Surly Crosscheck frame and building it up myself. That’s a tempting offer and I may have to go that route after I complete this project.

I also had read about using Aluminum foil with water to rub rust out of the Chrome. Tried that for a few minutes and was astonished at how well it worked. But the astonishment quickly led to disappointment as I realized how much pitting was hiding under the rust. A sandblasting/re-chroming/re-painting seems more and more likely.

Oh, and as I mentioned in a previous post, the wheels are not original, but are instead Galli and Rigida. I don’t know much about rims, but was told these are decent brands. The front hub is a Mavic, but I don’t remember what the rear hub is.

Mechanically speaking, the bottom bracket and headset sound like sandpaper when I rotate them, so I’m guessing the bearings are shot and will need replacement. This explains why my test ride felt so rough, for sure.

Anyhow, enjoy the photos below. I’m interested in hearing peoples’ opinions about what to do with the frame and the mystery decals. Don’t be afraid to chime in, folks!


  1. jim mccoin
    Aug 30, 2009

    I don’t think the mystery decals are original, I’v never seen them on new bikes. I started riding and racing on Bianchi Team issue bikes in ’65.

    To Find out what you have I would have the frame stripped with chemicals and possibly restore it. I guess you know that the Bianchi head sets are almost impossible to find, the bottom brackets and 151 cranks can still be found. Universal brake hoods are also difficult to find

  2. Greg Lone
    Aug 30, 2009

    Hi Bret, looks like a great project. I have a 1961 Competezione, and a bent 1964 specializima.
    {in very good original condition ;other than a nasty wack to the head tube, for paint and decal reference} Unfortunately neither have your three mystery decals. Might be due to yours being slightly newer , or the fact yours is a “team” bike rather than a standard Specializima. Your bike appears to have chrome only on the head lugs rather than a completely chrome frame and fork of the standard top of the line bikes. once again suggesting a team bike. As far as tools goes, there are a few specific tools recommended for Campy equipment. These would be the correct Campy bottom bracket cup wrenches {expensive but essential if damage is to be avoided], and the correct Campy pedal dust cap wrench {cheap}. The normally required Campy head set wrench is not necessary as these bikes use Bianchi’s proprietary headset. You will require the correct pin plier tool for this specific headset. It’s a odd ball but very necessary tool more or less unique to this headset. Var used to make it, you will probably be able to come up with one with patience. Parts for this headset are quite rare so I hope yours are still usable. The C.R. archives are full of valuable information on a project like this. Best of luck, you are a lucky man indeed to have come across such a desirable bike. Greg

  3. Bret
    Aug 30, 2009

    Jim, thanks for the info and advice — I’m going to wait until I get the BB off to make any major decisions, regarding having it repainted. Also thanks for the tips on the parts.

    Greg, yeah, the consensus from the CR list seems to be that the three decals in question were from the originating bike shop. The lore of this bike is that the original owner was working in a bike shop and a sales rep came in and asked if they were interested in buying this bike. The owner bought it for himself and made a few changes to it (one being the pump peg that is very rusted now). I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the info about the tools… sadly, I would have probably attempted to remove both parts with standard tools. Now I will seek out the proper tools before even trying. Hoping the BB and headset are salvageable and that they just need new bearings and lubrication. It’s been stored in my dad’s garage for years, so it’s not necessarily been out in open weather. Anyhow, thank you very much for the advice!

  4. jim mccoin
    Aug 30, 2009

    Do not use vise grip pliars to remove the head set, there is a very rare campl wrench for that job, the BB is standard campy and not an issue.

    Once you get the hrad set off you can have the bearing races re-finished and re chromed. If you do find a new head set there are several stack heights and inside diameters. The sterer tubes have been known to crack so that is sometjing to check. The sterer tubes normaly had a wooden dowl inserted to give you a slight bit of security when the tube broke

    The head sets come in a couple different qualitys, some for cheap street bikes to the Specialissima and Team Bike quality, something else to be aware of


  5. Mark Stevens
    Aug 30, 2009

    Good luck with this one Bret. Do bear in mind it is only original once and that a lot of people, me included, love to see these old bikes looking just that. Old. See mine here.
    It doesnt look too bad to me. Clean it up and ride it with its old suite of bits, not polished just cleaned and functional. The rust under the b/b shell is superficial. Live with it. just oily rag the bike now and then after protecting the decals with lacquer. it is often more interesting to guess at a decal from its remains than a have a repro.
    If I have the attention of other Bianchi-istas I have 2 Paris roubaix frames from c 1951-2 but neither have forks! I NEED forks! Any suggestions?

  6. Bret
    Aug 30, 2009

    Mark, wow, those are some truly beautiful bikes you have there and seeing how you’ve treated areas where the paint is stripped or chrome is pitted is inspiring. I plan on doing the same if I can. Thanks for the link and the information!

  7. Bret
    Aug 30, 2009

    Jim, thanks for the followup information about the headset. I’ll hunt down the tool for the headset before I even delve into that portion of the bike.

  8. jim mccoin
    Aug 31, 2009

    Oh yeah, VAR also makes a tool that will work and probably easier to find.


  9. Michael Westlund
    Aug 13, 2010

    Wow. My son & I just spent a week and a half overhauling a 1980’s Schwinn I got for him when someone set it out with their trash. While our job can’t compare with yours, it had it’s notable moments. One came when we found that one bearing was missing from the headset race. The local bike shop was closed for the day, so I called a machine shop I knew of. They had nothing, but recommended a nearby bearing and transmission place I hadn’t even heard of. When I stopped by and explained my predicament, the guy took out his calipers, measured one of the remaining bearings I had brought in, went in to the back room and came out with a little baggie full of perfectly matching bearings. He popped one in and we were on our way. When I asked what I owed him, he smiled and said “Forget about it. They’re only 3 cents!” and sent us on our way.
    I hope you have such happy moments during your project, too. I enjoyed riding my son’s bike myself after we worked so hard to overhaul and clean it up.
    As an aside, finding end caps to fit my discontinued 1980’s SunTour Cyclone pedals has been a bit of an odyssey. I’ll be glad to finally have one or two in my hands which actually fit. The original cap has an approx 22.19mm male thread and the silver MKS ones I bought are a hair too big.
    Best of everything.

  10. Bret
    Sep 21, 2010

    Hi Michael! For some odd reason, I never got an e-mail telling me about this comment, so I apologize for the belated response. It sounds like you and your son are having a great time with your restoration project. I remember my dad and I restoring an old Raleigh when I was in high school and that bike ended up serving me well for several years. My project’s been on hold for awhile as life has been too crazy and I’ve been waiting on the frame to get re-painted (that store is yet to come in another post soon, I hope).

    Anyhow, best of luck and thanks for your kind words!

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