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New Life for an Old Bianchi

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New Life for an Old Bianchi

Old 09-06-20, 05:23 PM
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New Life for an Old Bianchi

New life for my Old Bianchi road bike: Is it truly a Specialissima?

The time has come to breathe some new life into my old 1963-64 Bianchi Specialissima road bike (SN: 164715). I’d like to ask for some help and advice from the members of Bike Forum C&V as I work my way through the restoration process, and to gain insight from your collective guidance and expertise as I get started on this overdue effort.

I purchased the bike in 1974 when it was about 10 years old, and it had already had a long working life with multiple owners and upgrades by the time I began to ride it as a teen-ager in central California. I bought it in Pacific Grove, CA from a guy who was working in his apartment on a Volkswagen engine, and the Bianchi had already been stripped of original paint and decals. Several of the components had already been swapped-out and upgraded by the previous owners. At the time that I bought it the elegant steel frame was painted uniformly with a simple slate-gray color.

I was told that the bike was a “Bianchi Specialissima / Team Issue” racing bike from Italy, and that it was once owned by “that Italian guy that owns the Italian Restaurant in Carmel” (more on this in a later post). No receipt, no invoice, and no real certainty about the history of the Bianchi before I took it into my possession for the next 46 years. I repainted the frame “Sunshine Yellow” in 1974, and then “Ferrari Red” in about 1979 which is how it remains until now.

My first question as I get started on this restoration is simply: Is my old Bianchi truly a “Specialissima?”

The steel frame is stamped with SN: 164715 (which I believe indicates manufacture in 1963-64), and it has the characteristic Bianchi integrated headset. The round metal headbadge is authentic vintage Bianchi, the headtube has the threaded oil port, and the lugs and fork crown look like Bianchi framework from the era. Underneath the paint the entire frame is covered in chrome, and some sections appear to have been polished while other sections are more rough. There are lots of rust spots underneath the flaking paint, but hopefully they can be addressed during the prep work for repainting.

I’m not sure about the particular characteristics of the old Bianchi frames that are specific to the Specialissima. Are there any specific features or details that I can look for to determine if my frame is truly a Specialissima? And what (if anything) is meant by the descriptor of “Team Issue?”

It is my understanding that the old Bianchi Specialissima bikes that were imported into the USA in the early 1960s carried the round metal headbadge, and some of the frames were painted green, blue, black, or root-beer with some exposed chrome on the forks, chainstays, and seat tube and a set of characteristic Bianchi decals. I’ve been told that the “Team Issue” bikes were painted celeste, and that the headtube carried a decal rather than the metal headbadge. Not sure about that...

But without the original paint, decals, or component groupset, I’m not sure how to figure out if my old Bianchi frame is truly a Specialissima.

Any advice or guidance you may have to offer will be greatly appreciated and will help identify the model and provide the overall vision for the end-point that I will try to achieve with the restoration and renaissance of this noble steed.

Thanks in advance for your help!



1963-64 Bianchi, overdue for a full restoration


1963-64 Bianchi head tube with integrated headset and "oiler port"


1963-64 Bianchi SN: 164715


1963-64 Bianchi headbadge


1963-64 Bianchi seat stay and lugwork

Last edited by SewardRum; 09-06-20 at 05:47 PM. Reason: correction of typos
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Old 09-06-20, 06:01 PM
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The frame looks correct for a circa 1964 Specialissima. Head lugstyle and integrated headset with oil port is correct. Fork crown is correct. Seat and stay cap treatment is correct. Blade end treatmnet appears correct. Appears to have correct Campagnolo forged dropouts. Seat post appears to be in the 27.0-27.2mm range, which would indicate Columbus SP or SL and also be correct.
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Old 09-06-20, 06:22 PM
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For a Specialissima of this time one would expect to see the Campagnolo-Bianchi integral headset.

The frame wears the Bianchi integral headset of the day and not the Campag one.

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Old 09-06-20, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
The frame looks correct for a circa 1964 Specialissima. Head lugstyle and integrated headset with oil port is correct. Fork crown is correct. Seat and stay cap treatment is correct. Blade end treatmnet appears correct. Appears to have correct Campagnolo forged dropouts. Seat post appears to be in the 27.0-27.2mm range, which would indicate Columbus SP or SL and also be correct.
T-Mar - Thanks so much for your speedy reply and detailed assessment. I too think that my old Bianchi is truly a Specialissima, and I have held to that understanding over the past 40 years. Now I have to make the decision about what type of '63-64 Specialissima I'll work to achieve with the restoration.

Did you see that I posted a photo of the Serial Number for my 1987 Bianchi Portofino touring bike (SN: KS548272 / 7 / Made in Japan / Tange 900 Cr-Mo steel tubes and forks). Hopefully that SN will help with your database on the made-in-Japan Bianchi frames.

Thanks again for your assessment of my old Bianchi.
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Old 09-06-20, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
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For a Specialissima of this time one would expect to see the Campagnolo-Bianchi integral headset.

The frame wears the Bianchi integral headset of the day and not the Campag one.

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Juvela - Thanks for your quick response. I remember that I had to special order a VAR Pin-Tool to make adjustments to the integrated headset on my old Bianchi. I still have that pin-tool and hope that it still works!

Thanks again for looking at my old bike, and I'm sure that I will uncover some more info about it as I strip it down again this next time around.
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Old 09-06-20, 07:11 PM
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Not trying to tear the machine down.

Owned a black Specialissima from this time which was all original.

It wore the Campag-Bianchi headset.

One way to spot them is the Campag name on the edge of the washer.
AFAIK they appear in no Campag catalogue. Surprisingly, a shop near my home had them in stock up into the later 1970's.

They also have a somewhat nicer finish.

Specialissima is one of those totemic names. It gets thrown about a good deal. Somewhat reminds me of those new forum members who hope that the experts will ID the Peugeot U08 they got at a garage sale over the weekend to be a PX-10.

Am wondering if your example may be one down from the Specialissima but am certainly no expert on Bianchi. Many other members shall be able to give you far better information.

You probably already know what the original kitting would have been from your prior researches -

Campag Record Chainset
Campag road pedals
Campag Gran Sport gear ensemble
Campag Record large flange 36 hole hubs
Campag saddle pillar
Universal 61 brakeset
Ambrosio Champion stem/bar set
Italia or Rosa conventional leather saddle
FIAMME Red Label tubular rims
Regina drive chain and gear block
(if a 1964 model the rear mech would have been a Record)

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Old 09-06-20, 07:19 PM
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OK thanks for that info. I'll look closely at the washers and parts of the headset as I take it apart.
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Old 09-06-20, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SewardRum View Post
OK thanks for that info. I'll look closely at the washers and parts of the headset as I take it apart.
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Forum member bulgie gives detailed information on these head parts here -

Bianchi Specialissima and Gran Sport headsets


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Last edited by juvela; 09-06-20 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 09-07-20, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela View Post
-----

Forum member bulgie gives detailed information on these head parts here -

Bianchi Specialissima and Gran Sport headsets


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I took a close look at the integrated headset on my old Bianchi, and the top screwed race has 4 holes for the pin-tool adjuster. So I think the 4 hole design is consistent with the Specialissima - Campagnolo headset. I'll look closely at the surfaces of the other parts of the headset when I get it out of the frame.

Thanks again for the tips about where to look for clues!

1964 Bianchi Specialissima: Integrated Campagnolo headset / top screwed race with 4 holes for pin-tool adjuster
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Old 09-07-20, 06:11 PM
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when you are able to get the parts out the Campag ones, if present, shall be marked with the <C> symbol

it may be that the Campag HS is not needed for a "real Specialissima" - it may have been employed only for certain years

other readers are sure to know the exact date for the discontinuance of the integral HS by the manufacturer

repacked mine in 1976 or 1977 and it remains the smoothest operating HS have ever serviced in half a century of cycle work

spanner twisitn' tip -

in case you wish to remove the pressed-in head races it can be done with a Campag Nr. 723 tool or one of the several similar implements. one needs to press something down into the tool to force the tines open so they can catch the very shallow edge which is present. i use a socket from a socket set for this.





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Old 09-08-20, 11:59 AM
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Did you check to see if the fork has a Columbus steerer tube, which would indicate a full Columbus tubeset? A Columbus fork will have the dove logo stamped on the outside of the steerer tube. If you can't remove the fork, check inside the bottom of the steerer tube for five helical ridges per the attached photo. They're only about 3.5mm wide and 0.35mm thick, so they're easily obscured by rust, dirt or other foreign material, especially on a frame this old. Examine closely with a good light. There may be a wooden dowel that you'll have to remove.
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Old 09-11-20, 01:35 PM
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Juvela - Thanks for this additional information about what to look for when I remove the headset, and for the tip about which tool to use to tap out the race.
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Old 09-11-20, 01:36 PM
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T-Mar - Thanks for this tip about how to ID the Columbus tubing.
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