[CR]Impression: 1951 Bianchi Paris-Roubiax (kinda long).

Example: Racing:Roger de Vlaeminck
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 09:55:14 -0700 (PDT)
From: "dave martinez" <dmart84815@yahoo.com>
To: CR List <ClassicRendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR]Impression: 1951 Bianchi Paris-Roubiax (kinda long).

Hello All,

It was an impossible dream that came true, I now own a 1950 Bianchi Paris Roubiax. Previously, the closest that I had ever got to one was a wonderfully original 40s Bianchi Cambio Corsa that was enjoying an extended stay at a friends machine shop. Unfortunately that bike became a charred and unrecognizable victim of the Oakland hills fire of 1991.

It was a matter of sending the right email at the right time. In a impulsive moment an email was sent to New Jersey inquiring about any chance knowledge of a 50s Bianchi for sale. I was surprised to receive a return email minutes later.... Yes! Hes expecting a Cambio Corsa and a Paris-Roubiax Bianchi from Italy. They should be arriving any day. Pics and a description was sent, then money.

In a week I was anxiously unpacking the Bianchi. It had been repainted and decaled in Italy. The original chrome was for the most part very good, with the exception of the fork crown, which had been blasted and painted over. The decals were wrong. I was fortunate to get correct reproduction decals. I removed the paint from the crown and as expected, the chrome on the crown was mostly gone. I attempted to resuscitate the chrome with polish, and it actually turned out OK.

Aldo Ross helped me out by demystifying the Campagnolo P-R. It was the moment of truth.... Inflate the tires, way loosen the the toe clip straps, study Aldos notes one more time, and off I went. Reaching towards the rear of the bike, trying to maintain a straight line, blindly searching and feeling for that all familiar tactile feel of the Campagnolo lever. Maintain balance while shifting weight back, a quick glance to the rear.... There, got it! Watch out, a parked car! I swerve, miss it. I loop around the street and try again. Some of the neighbors stop their Saturday gardening routines and watch. They probably wonder why I dont buy a normal bike like Lance. I try again, feel the lever, stop pedaling, open qr, pedal back, find gear, stop pedaling back, close qr, pedal forward and watch out for the parked car. Wow! I noticed that the rear wheel would move to one side of the triangle after each shift. Upon closer examination, It seems that the drop outs were missing two teeth. What to do? I put the bike away and decide to save for a proper restoration in which the crown could be re chromed and the drop outs could also be repaired.

A year had almost passed when I had saved enough dough for a restoration. I make arrangements with our local premiere frame restorer/builder to drop it off the following day. That evening I stripped all the parts off the bike. That morning I awoke with a 102 fever. The frame sat on my work bench for months. In the meantime, I spent the restoration dough on a Gianni Motta tricolor for my wife (it was her birthday, and she always wanted one). The Bianchi languished on the work bench. I thought it was time do something, Jim McCoin offered to precision weld two tiny beads on the dropouts. That done, I filed the welds to match the contours of the existing teeth. Rebuilt the FOM pedals (very strange, yet cool), replaced all the bearings and carefully lubed the Campagnolo P-R. It was truly remarkable that bearing surfaces that are over 50 years old were still in excellent condition. They showed wear but no pitting and everything was adjusted to run perfect for another half century. I even left some of the 54 year old crud on the bike, I just didn't have the heart the remove it with some ecotech cleaner.

It was time for my second attempt at riding the Bianchi Paris-Roubaix. It was night when I finished, the chrome on the head lugs glistened under the streetlights and the fresh white handlebar tape made me think of Coppi. Off I went, the bike felt remarkably like the '61 Specialisma (I wonder why?). It felt wonderful. A shift completed, then another shift! Then a missed shift and the wheel lodges forward. Adjust the cone on the qr and try again...better.

The Bianchi Paris-Roubiax is both fun and challenging. Its aesthetic in its simplistic beauty and it has very rich racing history. I would heartily recommend any P-R or Cambio Corsa bike, just make sure its complete and it functions.

Dave Martinez