I have a friend looking at buying a bianchi san remo for touring. Any coments. I don't know what year. The gearing looks abit high to me. More like a road bike triple set up. 30, 42,53 triple up front and a 13 28 at the rear. Any comments would be most appreciated.
Mercian KoM with Rohloff, Bike Friday NWT, Pogliaghi Italcorse (1979)
I ride a 2002 San Remo, at least until my Mercian is finished.
They're nice bikes, but they could use some changes out of the box. I believe the model was discontinued in 2004.
I don't know what your friend intends to do with it, but San Remos are meant for randonneuring/Audax rides/credit card touring, and they have racier lines and a bigger triple (52-42-30) than any loaded-type tourer you're going to find. It's heavier than it looks, but it does zoom along quite nicely.
The smallest gear on my San Remo is a rather big 29 inches, and on some models is even bigger (30 x 26 with a 700 x 28 wheel = 30.9"). People in the 1970s did fully loaded tours on worse, but you can get better. Again, though, this bike isn't meant for that.
They also sort of skimped on the components to keep the bike at the $1200 range (mostly Campy Mirage, which still isn't terrible), and the Mavic MA3 rims have had a notorious spoke pull-through problem in the past, but your friend might escape that. I didn't, but I've used this bike for things it wasn't meant for (see pics).
The frame is very nice - without question the best thing on the bike. It only has single eyes front and rear though, and the clearances are pretty poor for fenders or any tires above 700c x 28. There are no lateral fork braze-ons for front racks either, but this is common in even more lauded tourers. You can see in the second pic I posted that my front rack is secured to the fork at the top by heavy plastic bands that came with the rack - less than ideal.
So yea, despite that it was made for non-loaded touring, I've still done loaded touring on it without problems through hilly Appalachia and now hilly NorCal, pulling it up grades that it just doesn't look like it should climb while loaded. I have had troubles in some places where extreme hill grade is an issue, but this has been so rare as to be considered negligible, and I do have a tendency to overload.
The bike in these pics has been modded out a bit from the off-the-shelf bike, with a new rear rim, Schwalbe Marathons, a Brooks, and one or two other things.
Another bike to consider in this vein is the Novarra Randonee from REI, which is a few hundreds less expensive, but not significantly less of a bike, and a very similar design - only it does have double eyelets.
Despite what sounds like a somewhat negative review, this bike has been put through some punishment over the last 3 years with minimal fuss and a lot of pleasure. It held up extremely well on many many loaded tours, and I've even taken it half-loaded up and down the hilly dirt/rock trail at Annadel State Park. It's going to be turned into my full-time "beater bike" for groceries and all that once my tour-specific bike is finished, but I would recommend the San Remo overall - just know that it's not ideal if you're doing touring with baggage in any graded terrain. On flat lands, it can fly even loaded up.
Thanks alot for the info. It is just the sort of information we need. I will pass it onto her and it will give her an idea of what she is getting. I have no idea if she intends loaded or CC touring at the moment.
Thanks again Brian