Bianchi Restoration Project - Award Winner At L'Eroica 2014
In early 2014, one of our customers, Kim and her husband Paul (from Lincolnshire), bought a Bianchi Rekord 745 from the mid 1970’s from us at Retrospective Cycles. Whist this vintage Italian cycle was in great condition, it was intended to be a first restoration project for Kim to get her hands dirty with.
We were sent regular photographs of the bike as the restoration project progressed and, we could tell this was going to be an extremely thorough project. What’s more, it was almost all done at home (often in the kitchen).
Well, dial forward about 6 months to June 2014 and we were thrilled to meet up with Kim, Paul and the fully restored Bianchi at the wonderful L’Eorica Britannia 2014 event held in the UK for the first time in the wonderful town and national park around Bakewell in the UK’s Peak District.
This bike was wonderful, and there were literally thousands of vintage cycles on show at the event (around 3000 in total). During the festival weekend, judges wandered through the crowds looking for the best cycles that were to fight it out for the title of Best In Show. Half way through the weekend we were excited to hear that Kim and her Bianchi had been “spotted” and asked to progress to the judging stages.
Here on in the competition was even tougher with many rare and unique bikes fighting it out for the top three Best In Show spots.
Finally, the judges came forward to announce the winners and, we were thrilled to hear that Kim, her flowered headband and her restored Bianchi Rekord had won 3rd place overall. Quite an achievement for someone so new to vintage cycle restoration (in fact new to any sort of restoration).
So, we thought you may want to gain some insight into how the project went and what drove Kim to start on this slippery slope of a passion for vintage road bikes. Below are the results of our Q&A with Kim (with some input from husband Paul too, who has recently bought another bike from us to restore in time for next year’s event.
1. So, who is Kim and what is her history with cycling?
Kim is from Lincolnshire, husband Paul got her into cycling couple of years ago. Paul decided to get Kim a 'cheap' vintage bike so she could join him at L’Eroica 2014. That was four months before the event and she then got totally hooked. She found the Bianchi at Retrospective Cycles. Kim is an administrator by day & now a bike restorer by night!
2. What bike/model/groupset/size etc is it that you restored and what was its age/condition when you started?
Research on internet lead Kim to discover it is a 52cm Rekord 745 from around 1975-77? It has a mixed group set: Campagnolo Valentino gearing, Universal brakes and Ofmega chainset which all just needed cleaning up, well that was the plan!
The Frame was definitely showing signs of its age and I was originally just going to clean & conserve it rather than fully restoring it, but when I came across a new copy of the exact set of the original decals on ebay things took off & I decided on a full respray.
3. Why you chose this bike to restore?
As soon as I saw it at Retrospective I fell in love with it. I love the Bianchi Celeste colour and the decals are more eye catching than many other models.
4. What was the most difficult/complex task was about the restoration?
Nothing major, just took detailed pictures of everything before I stripped it down so I knew how it went back together!
5. Who you chose to do the respray and how you got the colour matched etc?
I wanted to keep the original Celeste colour which has changed many times over the years, but many of the 'big' named framers/ sprayers did not colour match or were very expensive. It was eventually Jason Rourke from Brian Rourkes that did the excellent job at a reasonable price and the colour was identical to the original.
7. Did you have to replace any parts and if so where did you source them?
Front mech as it was very worn and affecting the gear change. Seat stem which was very badly scratched, wheels needed refurbishment but the 4 speed freewheel would not separate from them after nearly 40 years together! So they were fully replaced, instead with a 5 speed freewheel and Maillard 700 Pro wheels with large flange hubs. Pedals & toe clips were past their best and replaced like for like. Seat was replaced just because I had to have a Brooks saddle with matching Brooks bar tape! Added extras were Bianchi dust caps, water bottle and vintage bell. Everything was sourced online from Hilary Stone, Universal Cycles, and mostly sourced on ebay from UK, Italy, France, Poland & Canada!
8. What will/has the bike been used for this summer?
Specifically bought for L'Eroica but love it so much I now prefer it to my modern bike.
9. What is your next project?
A detour now as I also love motor bikes and want to create a Cafe Racer from an old Honda.
10. What other bikes do you have?
Specialized Hardrock mountain bike & Specialized Dolce Sport racer.
11. How did you find out about Retrospective and what do you like (if anything) about them?
Paul found them on the internet when he was looking for his own vintage bike & found Niall very helpful and easy to deal with over the phone. We like the fact their vintage bikes are all sourced locally in Italy and are sold in their original condition for the new owner to decide what level of restoration or conservation they wish to carry out. Ordered the bike from Niall on a Thursday afternoon and he got it to me the next day so I could make a start that weekend.
12. Any final thoughts?
L'Eroica Britannia was amazing and we cannot wait until next year. Paul already has his next project, a Marastoni, again from Retrospective which he plans to conserve rather than restore.
Big thanks to Kim and husband Paul for all their efforts to restore the bike and for supplying us some wonderful pictures. We look forward to seeing the motorcycle sometime!
Pre-Restoration Bianchi Rekord 745 (Mid 1970's)
The restored Bianchi
Stripping and hand polishing every part.
Starting to put things back togeter again!
Best In Show Winners at L'Eroica 2014