Bringing the Bianchi Mega Pro-L Back to Life

Having achieved success with the Dean’s fork-ectomy, the sticker-job on the two Calfee single bikes and scoring a win with the new Campy Eurus wheelset, I was still feeling like I needed another bike project.

What Harm Can Come From Spare Parts?

While searching in vane for a spare 1″ threaded headset for the Dean back on 14 August before breaking down and ordering a new one, it dawned on me I still had an awful lot of spare bicycle parts packed away in nicely organized containers and storage cabinets.  I’d done a purge a while back, discarded the “junk parts” and held on to others that I might someday need or could sell on ebay.  Of course, with the acquisition of the Campy Eurus G3 wheels, I now had the “extra” Campy Chorus/Mavic CXP33 wheelset I still needed to find a place to store.  It was at that point I realized I had nearly enough compatible parts to build up an entire bicycle.  All I needed was a bare frame and fork.  Well, I actually had two.

The Proper Number of Bicycles is Always (N)+1, Where (N) = the  Current Number of Bicycles You Own

Stored away in an upstairs closet was Debbie’s now retired Ritchey Logic Pro that gave up it’s parts for the Erickson back in 2016, but there’s no point in building it as Debbie’s not about to ride anything other than her Calfee. However, hanging next to it was a 1998 Bianchi MegaPro-L, 7000 series aluminum Mercatone / Uno Tour de France team bike frame I acquired back in November of 2003.

The Bianchi had been built up briefly in 2007 for a back-to-back test ride comparison of the Calfee (carbon), the Erickson (SL steel) and the Dean (Ti) so aluminum could be represented.  After confirming the Calfee was the real deal — clearing the way for a custom-designed Calfee tandem — the Bianchi was stripped of parts and went back into storage along side the Erickson which had been replaced by the Calfee Tetra Pro as my daily ride.  Debbie was still riding her Ritchey Logic Pro at this point, not having experienced what it felt like to ride a Calfee; that would come six months later.

A few years later I made a weak effort to sell off the Bianchi frame, as well as the Ritchey and Erickson, but there just wasn’t a market for them, at least one that reflected the value I saw in those somewhat rare, handmade custom frames.  Yes, even the Bianchi was one of a very low number of hand made frames that came out of Bianchi’s Reparto Corse shops in Italy.

However, I was able to reduce the bicycle fleet by selling off our 1998 Erickson Signature tandem to friends in Florida who wanted to have a second tandem at a second home while they were in an 18-month transition to retirement.  It has since been re-sold by them to other friends from Georgia who spend several months a year at a parent’s home in California, and that’s where it is now.  I miss looking at it, but we simply never had a reason to ride it given how much we enjoyed riding the Calfee.  But, I digress… back to the Bianchi

The Bianchi Takes Shape 

I delayed the start of the Bianchi project until I’d gotten the Calfee’s re-done and finished the fork replacement on the Dean, as I really didn’t have a place to put the additional frame / bike as of yet.

It was on 8 Sep, the day after my shake-down ride on the Dean, that I brought the Bianchi frame down from my office closet and began fitting parts to it.  It didn’t take long before I had a nearly complete bicycle in the work stand.

I poached a pair of old gum wall Vredestein tires off my Bianchi Pista as that’s what the silver Mavic rims were calling for.  All I was lacking was a complete headset. I had the upper and lower bearing cups, a fork base plate and a stem cap, but the bearing cap had gone missing, which is really odd.  Were it not for that, I could  have finished the build-up and taken it for a ride that afternoon.

Of course, me being me, and seeing how nice that frame looked fitted with components, my shopping list got a little bit longer as there was, in fact, a very specific color-matched ITM stem that was produced for this bike and the handlebars I hand on hand were just too narrow at 39cm; I needed a black short reach, 26.0 x 42cm wide bar.  And, of course, I want to use the correct Celeste Green colored handlebar tape instead of black tape which I always have on hand.  So, within a week I should have the silver headset, some properly sized handlebars and the bar tape. The long pole will be the arrival of the 25.6 / 120 / 8* headset from Denmark.  Until then, the Bianchi will be hanging in a new location, along side the Pista… having re-arranged a few things to free up those storage hooks.

Well, That’s Odd???

With the weather and pollen not cooperating, I found myself fiddling with the Bianchi again on following day.  More to the point, I decided to go ahead and run the derailleur and brake cable housing and cables so I could make sure there weren’t any other surprises awaiting me, such as clearance issues, balky derailleurs, shifters, etc.    As I was running the cables through the “Record” shifters — remembering these were spares that had come off the Calfee tandem back in October 2015 when I refitted it with Ultegra 6500 components — I noticed the right hand shifter/brake body was clearly a Chorus grade model, but with a Record branded lever.

It finally dawned on me, back in October 2018 Debbie’s Calfee’s right hand/rear Chorus derailleur shifter/brake lever got bound-up and needed a rebuild. Since I didn’t have a rebuild kit on hand and she was actively riding, I pulled the now spare Record shifter/brake that was in good shape out, swapped the brake levers so the “logos” would match and life was good.  The plan was to do the rebuild on the Chorus body — which I did — and then swap them back-out.  Well, I did the rebuild, but never did the swap-out.

Thankfully, Campagnolo’s shifters are very easy to pull apart and service, which is why I was able to swap out the shifter/brake bodies and exchange the “branded” lever arms so her bike would look normal, even though it was sporting a high-end “Record” level shift/brake body with all of the cool titanium parts. So, today it was just a matter of pulling the shifter off her Calfee and the one off the Bianchi, swapping the levers back, and then reinstalling them. Yes, I relish this stuff.

So, here’s the Bianchi sporting the matched pair of Record shift/brake levers on the temporary ‘front end’ set-up. In a week the headset, stem and handlebars I’ve used so I could sort out the shifting alignment will get swapped out with some new-old-stock (NOS) parts from the 1990’s which will keep the bike closer to the way it would have looked back in the 1998 Tour de France era as an authentic team bike replica.

The “Other Parts” Begin To Trickle In

The Origin-8 el-integrated, sealed-bearing headset arrived on 12 Sep.  In my search for headsets, 1″ threadless silver headsets were far and few between, unless you were willing to shell $150 to $200 for a new Chris King or NOS Campy model.  And, while that was tempting, until such time as I ‘really’ believe I’ll ride this bike more or less than the Calfee or Dean, the value-priced Origin 8 will be more than adequate and looks just fine now that it’s installed.

The new-old-stock, short-drop Cinelli Diet Eubios handlebars arrived on Monday, 14 Sep along with a set of carbon headset spacers that should look about right given I’ve fitted the bike with an Easton EC90 carbon seatpost and the black handlebars are fitted with the black and carbon Campy Record shifters.  Yes, the bar has a clamp diameter that’s a bit larger than the stem’s, so it’s going to be interesting to see if the stem has enough “give” to work. I did a test fit of another 25.6 stem on the bars and while it was a snug fit that needed the help of a wedge to open up the bar clamp enough to slide over the center, clamping section of the bars, it did fit. Of course, that was a steel stem and the ITM is aluminum, so we’ll see. If need be, I’ll just find either a 26.0 or 25.6 set of bars.

Still no sign of the ITM stem having been shipped, but the Cinelli Celeste Green bar tape finally was posted and should be here later this week.  Anticipation… don’t you know.

However, all of that said, with the headset installed and the new spacers on hand, I was able to take the Bianchi out for a short ride around the house yesterday, albeit with naked bars and exposed cable housing held against the bars by electrician’s tape.  The conventional wheelset on the bike gave it a very plush-feeling ride, far more so than I recalled from 2007 when it rolled on the original set of Campy Eurus G3’s, which are not exactly plush-riding wheels.

To Be Continued…

The gentleman from whom I bought the ITM Stem in Denmark via ebay back on 8 September apparently “forgot” to send it.  I’m not sure how that’s possible, given how many reminders ebay sends to sellers once a sale is completed, e.g., send an invoice, generate a mailing label, update your listing to reflect mailed, etc.  Regardless, this will easily push back completion of the bike by at least another week as I’m guessing even though I paid an obscene amount for shipping, it will come by the least expensive and slowest means possible.  95 times out a 100, ebay is awesome.  It’s that 5% that grates on your nerves.

About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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