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Where are you? What time is it? Am I bent?

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Where are you? What time is it? Am I bent?

Old 01-23-20, 10:33 AM
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Where are you? What time is it? Am I bent?

I'm overhauling an old (mid-80s, Japanese-made) Bianchi Randonneur that I picked up a year or two ago for a friend who is planning a cross-country tour. It has some miles on it but seems to be in pretty good shape.

A previous owner took an electric engraving tool to the handlebars and inscribed "Where are you?" to the left of the stem and "What time is it?" to the right. (My father once borrowed such a tool from the local police department and inscribed his social security number on everything moveable in the house as a burglar-deterring measure. This would have been in the mid-70s, I guess, before the invention of identity theft.)

Maybe those were meant to be Zen koans, the contemplation of which would while away tedious miles while on a tour. It did occur to me that engraving the bars in that way might not be a great idea in terms of stress risers, etc., but because it was part of the history of the bike I was tempted to leave the bars in place.

Until I looked at them more closely. They seem to be slightly (and slightly unevenly) bent downward--maybe bent slightly toward the front as well.

What gives? It's too symmetrical to be crash damage. Can something like that happen over time just from hand pressure? It seems unlikely to me. In any case, I will be replacing the bars. The SR stem, on the other hand, seems fine.


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Old 01-23-20, 11:32 AM
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That’s weird. Randonneur bars tend to flare upwards a bit so that the drop are wider than the tops. The bend looks asymmetric to me. I have a set of Cinelli 64-40’s that are bent upward from the middle sleeve on one side and I have applied all kinds of brutal force to straighten it without a budge.
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Old 01-23-20, 12:17 PM
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Unevenly applied tape, lines in the background from the floorboards, and lack of full bar/stem photo makes it somewhat difficult (for me anyway) to make out what's going on in the photos. They seem bent, but I can't authoritatively comment because the composition is messing with my eyes!

DD
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Old 01-23-20, 12:22 PM
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Usually it’s the French bars being accused of being bent.
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Old 01-23-20, 07:40 PM
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Old 01-23-20, 08:05 PM
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Sounds like something a local cycling friend would use as a hashtag on his Strava logs. Most of his Strava and Facebook posts sound like Zen koans composed under the influence of mushrooms. And may very well be.
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Old 01-23-20, 08:16 PM
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I like the two questions engraved on the bars. Gives a glimpse into the life of a cross country road rider. No sense of time, out in the middle of nowheresville. Cool stuff.
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Old 01-23-20, 08:17 PM
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Vice and 2x4 works well for bending all kinds of steel and AL. I created a splayed handlebar for a mtb project that worked well.
P1030009, on Flickr
First time I showed this, someone asked "you can bend aluminum?" Duh yeah! how do you think they were shaped to begin with? Just like a steel fork.
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Old 01-23-20, 08:53 PM
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I'll be interested to see if you find more questions under the tape. Like, "what's that ringing sound?" and "why does my ass hurt?"

That said, some rando bars have that much shape to them. Pulled the wildest pair I've ever seen off a L. Bobet I acquired several years ago. But those were chromed steel, if memory serves.

That said, lots going on with that picture, not limited to the badly wrapped bar tape. Between it appearing to wrap the wrong direction on one side, the other lines in the background from the floor, and the off-center angle of the shot, it's hard to say. I'd love to see a head-on photo with a straight edge across the top and a grid behind it.

Park's frame/form straightening tool is great for free-bending bars into various shapes. But then again, depending on where you need to bend, cheater bars of various diameters work too ....
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Old 01-23-20, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
Unevenly applied tape, lines in the background from the floorboards, and lack of full bar/stem photo makes it somewhat difficult (for me anyway) to make out what's going on in the photos. They seem bent, but I can't authoritatively comment because the composition is messing with my eyes!

DD
Originally Posted by francophile View Post
I'll be interested to see if you find more questions under the tape. Like, "what's that ringing sound?" and "why does my ass hurt?"

That said, some rando bars have that much shape to them. Pulled the wildest pair I've ever seen off a L. Bobet I acquired several years ago. But those were chromed steel, if memory serves.

That said, lots going on with that picture, not limited to the badly wrapped bar tape. Between it appearing to wrap the wrong direction on one side, the other lines in the background from the floor, and the off-center angle of the shot, it's hard to say. I'd love to see a head-on photo with a straight edge across the top and a grid behind it.

Park's frame/form straightening tool is great for free-bending bars into various shapes. But then again, depending on where you need to bend, cheater bars of various diameters work too ....
I am rightly chastised for a bad photo. I will post another when I have a chance, minus the bar tape and with a straight edge and grid backdrop as proposed above.
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Old 01-23-20, 09:37 PM
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Looks like it was bent on purpose by the PO, and not too well at that. The engraving doesn' look good either.
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Old 01-24-20, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
I am rightly chastised for a bad photo. I will post another when I have a chance, minus the bar tape and with a straight edge and grid backdrop as proposed above.
Aw, man - I'm sorry if it sounded as if I were chastising you. I really did simply mean that the perspectives really messed with my ability to discern accurately what was going on

DD
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Old 01-24-20, 01:07 AM
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I wonder if the engraver was a randonneur who rode grand brevets. When your mind is gone from sleep deprivation, it's good to have a reminder of the two most important things. The world shrinks down to time and location. Food and water come into play, but those are just a means to the end: time and distance.

I can't decide if they are bent from the pics. If they truly are, I guess I'd sadly replace them. The patina is grand.
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Old 01-24-20, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
Aw, man - I'm sorry if it sounded as if I were chastising you. I really did simply mean that the perspectives really messed with my ability to discern accurately what was going on

DD
No offense taken! Not sure why I used "chastised." I was showing off, I guess. I just snapped a quick couple of photos without thinking much about it, and didn't really look at them before posting. Now that I have looked at them, it's hard to imagine how I could have done a worse job in terms or introducing optical-illusion inducing externalities. Oops.
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Old 01-24-20, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I wonder if the engraver was a randonneur who rode grand brevets. When your mind is gone from sleep deprivation, it's good to have a reminder of the two most important things. The world shrinks down to time and location. Food and water come into play, but those are just a means to the end: time and distance.

I can't decide if they are bent from the pics. If they truly are, I guess I'd sadly replace them. The patina is grand.
Well, it is the "Randonneur" model....

I like that hypothesis so much that that I am going to accept it as settled fact. These bars are going on the museum wall of my shop, along with my prototype triplizers, the mangled frame I was riding when I t-boned a large bulldog on a high-speed descent, and the nice Holdsworth Mistral frame that I bought for a song before discovering that it had a slight kink in the down tube.

It could also be that the engraving was done in the immediate aftermath of a ride--that would explain why the writing is so shaky. Maybe even during a ride, with a battery-powered tool.
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Old 01-24-20, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
I really did simply mean that the perspectives really messed with my ability to discern accurately what was going on
DD
Heh. Welcome to my world.
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Old 01-24-20, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jonwvara View Post
What gives? It's too symmetrical to be crash damage. Can something like that happen over time just from hand pressure?
Yes. I happens.
It's probably not so much constant pressure. More likely it was a heavy rider and rough roads and potholes. Usually I've seem this with French bike boom era bikes. (as others have mentioned)

That bar may be a cheap replacement from a junk bin. I vaguely recall Bianchi randonneur bikes having bars with an engraved crest, but it's been a long long time, and that could be wrong.

Despite the name, I've never heard of anyone riding brevets in the 80s, at least in the US. Centuries, yeah.

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Old 01-24-20, 08:50 AM
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Used to see bars bent exactly like that back when I worked in bike stores in the '70s. Always cheap aluminum bars drawn in an unvarying small diameter.

If you ever wondered what phenomenon prompted the development of bulge-formed or sleeved, larger-diameter handlebars, you're looking at it.

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Old 01-24-20, 03:45 PM
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Here are a couple of additional photos. Ruling out a grid on a piece of cardboard was mildly satisfying, but I think we're still left with, "yeah, those look like they might possibly be bent a little bit, maybe. Or not? Hard to say."

I'm going to call them wall hangers and move on. Nice Weinmann levers, though.

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Old 01-24-20, 05:04 PM
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That's an impressive shape. Heat could help do that. Maybe he rode to Hell and back.
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Old 01-24-20, 05:27 PM
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It still appears to be bent
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Old 01-24-20, 05:52 PM
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Does anybody really know what time it is?
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Old 01-24-20, 05:55 PM
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With the picture and grid, it looks a little too even to be unintentional. Those are usually more irregular. Looks like someone bent the drops of a rando bar down until they were parallel, and ended up with a weird and slightly irregular track bar.
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Old 01-24-20, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care?
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Old 01-24-20, 08:03 PM
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looks to me like a 'track/pista bend' and soft alloy bars where one side got shoved forward so the bar ends aren't on the same line. Not the kind of bend you want for touring/radonneur because of limited hand positions IMO
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