13 February 2013

Celeste, Rescued: My First Bianchi

Yesterday I wrote about a "rescued" bike.  Today I'm going to tell you about another one.  The difference is that the one I'm going to describe today is one I rescued.

It's also the first of four Bianchis I've owned in my life.  This is an old-fashioned made-in-Italy bike.  I'm not sure of the exact model, but I know that it was probably made in the 1970's or early 1980's, as the frame was made of Columbus "Aelle" tubing.  If I recall correctly, the dropouts, headset and seatpost were all made by Gipiemme, an Italian company that was influenced by, or copied outright, Campagnolo's desgins.  The name, interestingly, is the phonetic Italian pronunciation of GPM which, if I'm not mistaken, was the monogram of the company's founder.

The headset and seatpost were the only items that were on the frame when I got it from Toga Bicycle Shop near LIncoln Center.  I was friendly with one of the mechanics, a salesperson and with the owner, Len Preheim, to the extent that one could be friendly with him.  They were cleaning out the store's basement and unearthed the frame, which I got in a trade for, let's just say, something non-bike related.

I was glad that the seatpost came with the bike, as it was one of those non-standard diameter.  The headset worked after an overhaul; even if it hadn't, it wouldn't have been difficult to replace.  

Anyway, this became a "parts-bin bike."  By the time I got the frame, I had a pretty fair-sized trove of parts, most of which I stripped from bikes I had at one time or another.  

In its original iteration, the bike was intended as an entry-to-mid-level road bike.  Being made of Aelle tubing, the least expensive frame material Columbus made at the time, It was a bit heavier than the higher-level Bianchi road bikes.  So, perhaps, it wasn't quite as quick as a Columbus SL frame (of which I've owned two:  the Trek 930 and a bike I'll write about in the near future).  However, it gave a pretty stable and fairly nimble ride.

As you can see, I fitted a rear carrier to the BIanchi.  I rode the bike to and from work, and to classes during my first year and a half of graduate school.  I also took it on a couple of weekend trips in which I packed a change of clothes, a book or two, my camera and a couple of other items.

Although I rather liked the bike, it was too big for me: I think it was a 58 cm (about 23.5") frame, as measured from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the top tube.  I normally ride a 55-56 cm, depending on the design of the frame.  

It size exacerbated another problem I had with that bike, and other road bikes I rode before I went for a custom bike: The top tube was pretty long.  That meant using a stem with a shorter extension than I might have otherwise used, which blunted the bike's handling. Later, I would try to solve the problem by going to smaller frame sizes (53-54 cm) and using a longer seat post.  When I did that, I missed the stability and the fullness of pedal stroke I could achieve with the slightly larger frames.

Anyway, I apologize for not having a better photo of the bike.  When I got it, the paint was in rough shape, though still unmistakably "Celeste".  

Because of its less-than-ideal fit, I was going to sell the bike.  However, someone got it for free when I parked it outside CBGB.  Hmm, maybe if I'd told Joey Ramone, he'd've done a song about it.

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