Bianchi Single Speed Build

Ever wanted to revive a beat-up old classic to restore it to its former glory?

After years of being off bikes in general, I decided to create a piece of  “functional” art fit for our living room.

It started with an advert on Gumtree: “Steel Bianchi for sale, excellent condition. No Wheels. R 1,000 ONCO”.

This is what “Excellent Condition” looks like nowadays:

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Several small touches revealed her heritage though:

Stamped seat stay caps, proudly bearing a “B” for Bianchi…

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More details on the drop outs:

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What is more fun than spending a weekend with paint stripper and a wire brush, turning an old hag into a naked canvas?

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I loved the little bits of copper brazing you can see where the joins are exposed. Artisanal. Here she is, almost ready for the, er, paintshop…

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Lots of pondering, resulting in a final call. The entire shebang will be chromed, fork ‘n all.

Finding a shop to do the job was a mission, but I happened upon a place close to home.

After weeks of waiting, the result came back…

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A couple of blemishes in the finish, with some rough patches, but nothing terminal.

I added some mark-ups to show where decals should go, and where the paint/chrome transitions should be. Reminds of something from the movie “5th Element”…

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Next stop, CycleArt (Webpage here), with a brief: Make it classic please.

While I was waiting for the painting process to complete, I went on a shopping spree, finding a headset and saddle. Both had to be classic and fit the final product.

VeloOrange makes a fully chromed, classic headset, fitting the bill perfectly:

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Additionally, they had a Brooks-like saddle on offer:

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Both pieces were beautiful and perfectly in line with the design direction I was taking.

On one of the most beautiful days of my life, I stopped at CycleArt’s shop out South of Johannesburg to collect the mystery package. Little did I know what was in store…

Drop outs more stunning than the day she was sold:

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Tube-to-lug transitions to make you shed a tear:

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I could have done better with the stickers (will definitely recommend airbrushing in future), but the completed frame and fork was stunning:

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Sadly, the project hit a massive pause here as priorities changed, what with moving house and all that. I guess in a way, I realised this wasn’t going to be a quick back-yard build. All parts would have to be sourced carefully and strictly within the increasingly narrow confines of what my mind’s eye was starting to see. No more Internet shopping for parts, no siree.

About 6 months later, I stumble upon Whippet Cycles in Maboneng district, Johannesburg (Website here). Innocently, I bought a set of handlebars.

Week later, I bought a set of wheels…the project was on again!

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While the project took more than 18 months to complete and suffered many start-stops due to part selection issues, it is likely the most universally beautiful thing I have built to date.

Look.at.it:

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In time, I changed the tires to a more  classic brown sidewall version:

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Dream, build, ride, repeat