A look into real world cycling aero gains – Part 2 on Body Position

Welcome to part 2 of how cycling aerodynamics effects the real world. This article will look at body position, training and most importantly how these translate into real results for you.

Introduction – Why I’m posting on this.

Part 1 – Aero gains for clothing

Let’s begin. The Perfect Body Position for Aero Savings

Aerodynamic savings on bicycles can cost a small fortune. What I love about getting gains from body position is that it is 100% free.

It seems pretty intuitive that lowering your body will reduce drag as you are making yourself a smaller object. But, which position is really the most efficient? And does fatigue impact aerodynamics? And when does vascular restriction outweigh the benefits from an aero position?

It turns out these all play important factors, and it’s not as simple as slamming a stem or using the drop bars to get gains. (I’ve tried both of these options).

What does David Miller have to say?

David Millar is a Scottish former professional road racing cyclist. He’s no saint, having admitted to using EPO, but he was the first British rider to have won the leaders jersey in all three Grand Tours. He was also the British Time Trial and Nation champion and has worn of all Tour de France Jerseys.

And, most importantly, he’s the most winningest time trialist that I know of who has shared his training techniques.

David Miller Time Trialist

A1 coaching did a series of videos with David Miller. And he’s surprising forthright of his experiences with aero testing. He shared that he’s learned, that, “You can acquire as much data as you would like, be it from a home trainer or a wind tunnel, but when it comes down to it, it’s that course on a road where you will be able to gauge [the benefits of position] most consistently.”

He tells a story of working on his aero position with coach Peter Keen who did a lot of research and testing using wind tunnels and science. David thought that he also needed to do a lot of science to get his position right. But Keen said, “You look fast David, pretty much that’s what we’ve learnt. If you look fast, generally you are fast, and you can’t do much more about it.”

BikeRadar’s testing confirmed this line of reasoning. They showed that even though Ben Delaney could ride for a short time in a more aero position, he was actually losing aero performance (from lateral movement and constant adjustments) because his body wasn’t relaxed in that position.

So before we get into which position is most efficient. Here’s what David says are the five things he focused on to improve his position and performance.

Number 1: Get a course, so that tests are repeatable outdoors.

Number 2: Focus on your current position on your current equipment to get a benchmark.

Number 3: Apply training around the course you are trying to improve your time on.

Number 4: Make sure you have all the equipment that suites the course and temperature you are riding in.

Number 5: Race strategy. Your pre-race should be the same for every race.

Using David’s system in the real world

As a result of David’s interview I focused my training around my position. I dropped my stem to a position where I was just comfortable and began adding drop-position sessions into my weekly training.

Here’s what I learned. It’s hard to sustain the same effort in a more compact position. The reason was that my heart rate was higher at the same effort/pace with my body in a more compact aero position. With training I was able to increase high effort segments from 1 minute to 8 minutes on the handle bar drops. 12 minutes short of my 20 minute goal at my desired effort.

Was the training worth it?

Yes … and no.

Yes it was worth it for position training. One year on and I am much more comfortable in that new position. However, the performance gains I did experience from this kind of training did not translate into performance gains for century type rides. My original goal was to improve my functional threshold power FTP as well as my aero position. Instead I improved my anaerobic lactate threshold and my aero position.

As you will see below, it may have made more sense to focus on a less aggressive position.

Both GCN and BikeRadar have posted interesting studies on which body position on the bike is the most aero. However they took different approaches.

GCN did a test where they held the same watts over time and then tested for time savings. Whereas BikeRadar tested various positions and tested for watt savings. I think they are both equally interesting.

GCN’s Body Position Test & Results

GCN tested riding with straight arms on the tops of the bars (non-aero position) versus riding with bent arms with hands on the drops. They saw a significant savings between the two.

Non-Aero Position:

  • 200W – 30.2KPH
  • 300W – 36.1KPH
  • 400W – 39.9KPH

Aero Position

  • 200W – 33.4KPH
  • 300W – 40.1KPH
  • 400W – 43.6KPH

Clearly, riding with your hands on the drops is much faster than riding with your hands on the top bars. But is it the most efficient position? BikeRadar helps answer that question below.

GCN non-aero position vs aero position test results

BikeRadar did another test in which they tested 4 positions.

Position 1: Straight arms with hands on the tops.

Baseline

Position 2: Bent arms with hands on the tops.

It lowered his back angle significantly and took his arm angle out of the wind.

Saved an average of 94 Watts which translates to 362 seconds over 40KM at 250 Watt average.

Position 3: Straight arms with hands on drops.

Saved an average of 67 Watts which translates to 214.85 seconds over 40KM at 250 Watt average.

Position 4: Bent arms with hands on the drops.

Saved an average of 112 Watts which translates to 442 seconds over 40KM at 250 Watt average.

However, even though it saved him wattage, he was moving around a lot and it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to stay in that position over 40KMs.

The overall winner?

It turns out that the most efficient position for Ben was Position 2. It saved him slightly less time than position 4, but because it was more sustainable and comfortable, overall his body would be significantly less fatigued holding it over the course of 40 km’s and would give him the greatest gain.

 

Here’s both BikeRadar and GCN’s videos:

BikeRadar – Finding the perfect cycling position

GCN – Aero challenge. How much time can you save?

A look into real world cycling aero gains – Intro and Part 1 on Clothing

Aerodynamics is a bit of a black art when it comes to cycling. It’s possible to purchase an aero frame, aero helmet, aero bars, aero wheels, aero clothing, and the list goes on. But it’s unclear which offers the greatest benefits.

For example, Specialized claim that their latest Venge bike can save you a whopping 5 minutes over 40km’s. But what is that primarily due to? The frame, the bars, the wheels, or the riders body position? It’s hard to know and Specialized doesn’t release that information.

Furthermore, most cycling conditions are anything but what are offered in wind tunnels. Terrain is often undulating and intermixed with steep hills, rolling descents, rain, crosswinds, potholes, traffic lights, rough surfaces, and bare tarmac.

Is it faster to get a lighter bike? Or is it better to get a more aero one?

Throw in group rides, drafting and tight cornering in crits, and one wonders if all the “science” is truly relevant to the real world.

I’ve ridden a 2005 Trek 2100 for the past 12 years. It lacks a lot of the features found in modern bike design. Yet, during group and solo rides alike, my times are very similar to riders with much more aero setups. Which has got me wondering, what are the real advantages to aero? And is there a clear cost/aero equation one could use to ensure they really are getting the best bang for their buck?

See that sweet lookin’ classic Trek ride on the far left

Intro

Welcome to part 1 of a multi-part series on aero dynamics where I will be sharing what I’ve learned through the tests of others and personal experiences. This will be an attempt to reconcile industry tests/results with the real world.

I will be starting with the cheapest options for aero savings (clothing and body position) and working my way eventually to what I’ve learned about aero frames.

Click here to scroll down to see GCN’s results on cycling aero performance savings with regards to loose fitting versus form fitting clothing.

When did aero first become important to me?

Watch World Tour cycling and it’s perfectly obvious why aerodynamics is important when race leaders are separated by seconds and time trials can split the field.

But what about the recreational racer?

In 2016 I road what was to be my second last event of the year. The morning started as many epic autumn rides do; with light sprinkles of rain and the threat of more to come. I put on a blue Sugoi cycling jacket gifted by my parents. It’s a great design (or so I thought). The arms and back are held together by magnets and literally peal away if needed to reveal a vest.  It’s perfect for layering.

A Wet Salmon Arm Bike For Your Life Century Ride

The peloton split early. I joined the front group as we attacked the first climb. I’m a climber, I don’t have a specialty per se, but if I did it would be climbing. I noticed immediately that the ride was feeling tougher than usual. I took note that my legs weren’t as recovered as I thought they would be. Slowly I lost touch of the riders. Dropping back about 200ft.

We hit the flats and I felt confident that I would find my rhythm and catch them. It was an out of town event, but a strong rider that I knew had also lost the front group, so I intended to catch his wheel and then catch the front group again.

Salmon Arm Bike For Your Life Century Ride Route

Unfortunately neither of those scenarios panned out. Riding on a relatively flat section I was easily 3km/hr slower than I would normally ride and was feeling frustrated at my apparently tired legs.

The leading pack was long gone and soon I was caught by a strong chasing group. To make matters worse my father was in it (he’s a very fit father *cough). By now the rain was beginning to open up and soon it was pouring down. I joined the second group. And by the latter leg of the race my pace was closer to normal.

Looking at the times at the end of the day it turned out that my father and I finished just 4 minutes behind the race leaders. How could this be? I thought, clearly the front group had been riding much stronger.

The reason should have been obvious, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Later some of the riders came up to me and joked about my parachute. Unbeknownst to me, the clever 2 part design of my jacket had caught the wind and converted the top layer into a perfect parachute.

It wasn’t until the rain started pouring that the jacket was soaked enough to stay compact.

I thought long and hard about the results of that ride and have since learned that clothes can make a significant difference to aero performance.

GCN posted an excellent video evaluating the speed difference between a loose fitting cycling jersey (say 1 size too big) versus a snug one at the same watts. The results were surprising.

This was a real world test held at 3 different intervals of power.

GCN results on aero clothing for cycling
GCN results on aero clothing for cycling

As you can see by this picture. At just 200W average a rider has a 0.8km/hr advantage with a tight shirt versus one with a relaxed fitting shirt. This goes up to 1.8km/hr at 400W.

When one considers the times they are pulling at the front of a group, closing down on a leading peloton or attacking solo, these numbers suddenly become much more important.

What have your experiences been with aero? Have you noticed a major performance advantage or disadvantage? Cycling is as much about science as it about personal stories, please share yours in the comments below.

Watch the full video here.

The Wilier Triestina Zero.9

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The 2014 U.S. National Road Cycling Championship was a lively race, full of unexpected twists, attacks and breaks. When Eric Marcotte crossed the finish line and won the title, he was riding his trusty stead the Wilier Zero Nine.

The field was strong. He was racing against favourites like Taylor Phinney, Ben King, Phil Gaimon and Alex Howes.

It was an exciting finish. After a gruelling final climb which stretched the already tired front group Zwizanski attacked. Semper grabbed his wheel and Jones and McCabe joined.

2014 US National Road Cycling Championship
What’s left of the field nears the top of the last climb of the 2014 US National Road Cycling Championship

Jones attacked again with just 2km to go. But the chasing group wasn’t far behind.

Finally, in the last corner the attackers were caught by the chasing group.  With Jones, Wren, Stemper, Kyer, Marcotte, Howes, Zwizanski, Rathe, McCabe, Miller, Butler, Reijnen and Busche coming together, it came down to a sprint finish.

2014 US National Road Championships
Eric Marcotte sprints to the win on the left

It was a fitting end to the season for both Marcotte and the Wilier Zero 9. By the end of the year they had seen numerous podium finishes. Something race journalists may not have expected for the Wilier Zero.9 – the Cinderella in the family of Wilier pro bikes.

Wilier Zero.9 Part of the Wilier Triestina Racing Division

In 2015 Outside Magazine ranked the Wilier Zero.9 2nd after the Specialized Tarmac and above the Trek Emonda. Dramis wrote, “It seems like every year Wilier sends a bike to the Test is another year a Wilier makes it into the Top 3. Every Wilier I’ve ever tested has been a standout, from the Cento 1 to the incredible Zero.7, they’ve all been winners. The Zero.9 continues that tradition.”

Unlike its two racing siblings (The Zero.7 and the Cento Uno) the Zero.9 had been largely missed by journalists, due in part to their enthusiasm for the Zero.7, and by some pro-racers as they moved towards specialization.

The reason, you ask? It was partly because of marketing and partly because of its name Zero.9.

The Zero.7 is an excellent climbing bike weighing in under 790 grams and less, hence the name Zero.7. While the Cento Uno is an aero bike weighing just under 1300 grams.

Because the Zero.9’s frame weight was also under 1000grams, it was given the same Zero. naming style. With a size M weighing in at 940 grams.

But the name created confusion in the market place. With many people assuming that Zero.9 simply meant it was a heavier version of the Zero.7. Much like the Trek Emonda SL is a heavier variant of the Trek Emonda SLR.

But Wilier had built a very different bike. They tried to describe it in their marketing by comparing it to both the Cento 1 and the Zero.7.  It was a bike for climbing, like the Zero.7, but it’s stiffness wasn’t limited by the hill climber’s 790 gram limit. And unlike the Cento Uno, it wasn’t an outright aero bike either.

With a race geometry, an oversized bottom bracket, and the same carbon construction as the Cento Uno, Wilier seemed unsure of where to place it in an increasingly specialized field.

Wilier Zero 9 geometry
Wilier Zero 9 geometry

But the Zero.9 has yet another surprise. It’s an incredibly good road bike.

Road.cc wrote, “The Wilier Zero 9 is a performance orientated road bike … for people who want to get around the course as fast as possible.”

In 2015 Outside Magazine ranked it 2nd after the Specialized Tarmac and above the Trek Emonda. Dramis wrote, “It seems like every year Wilier sends a bike to the Test is another year a Wilier makes it into the Top 3. Every Wilier I’ve ever tested has been a standout, from the Cento 1 to the incredible Zero.7, they’ve all been winners. The Zero.9 continues that tradition.”

Bicycling Magazine concluded, “If you want a bike to toe the start line and be a contender at the finish—just add your pedals and bottle cages, and the Zero.9 is ready to go.”

So what made the Zero.9 so good? Wilier, an Italian Bicycle company since 1906, is known for producing top-end road bikes. They take what they learn from each model and improve the next. In recent years they invented the asymmetrical chain stay to improve power transfer from the chain to the rear cassette and the 386 bottom bracket to reduce the flex from the pedal to the bottom bracket.

When they made the Zero.9 they continued in this tradition. The Zero.9 geometry and the Zero.7’s are virtually identical. Also, like both the Zero.7 and the Cento Uno, the Zero.9 uses the high-modulus 60-ton carbon fibre in its construction. Making it a very strong, lightweight, and responsive machine.

2015 Wilier Zero 9
Wilier Zero 7 Geometry
2015 Wilier Zero 7

But they also improved the Zero.9 where they could. With a spec at just around 960grams, they had room to improve stiffness with the addition of carbon layups where it was most needed. And they kept the 386 bottom bracket. The outcome was a balanced bike that rides confidently in descents and sprint finishes.

Wilier Zero.9 386 Wide Bottom Bracket

While the Zero.7 was heralded as one of the world’s best climbing bikes, due to the fact that it is one of the most balanced lightweight frames in the peloton, it did have one flaw – a bit too much flex.

The Zero.9 fixes that problem. Brad Ford of Bicycling magazine remarked, “Through turns and on descents, I could pilot the Zero.9 with confidence.” And the power transfer of the 386 bottom bracket with the Asymmetrical chain stays makes it incredibly light and responsive when attacking.

Wilier Zero.9 Asymmetrical Rear Arm Top View

But one of the best surprises of the Zero.9 is the comfort. For a bicycle designed to be stiff and lightweight, the geometry and carbon do an excellent job of providing a comfortable ride. This was one of the things I noticed during rides.

Eric Marcotte shared with Bike Radar that if he were to have the opportunity to ride the Zero.9 again he would. “Haven ridden and trained on this frameset for a year now, I’d choose it myself. Super responsive, great position and comfort for me on the bike, good positioning over the bottom bracket for cornering, stiffness in the bottom bracket, and sharp front end.”

Eric Marcotte’s Zero.9 special paint after winning the U.S. National Championship Road Race

In the Dutch magazine Bike & Trekking, the Zero.9 was also well received. They wrote that out of the 3 Italian race bikes they reviewed Bianci Intenso, Olympia Ikon and the Wilier Zero.9, it was “the Zero.9 that would have a permanent place in my shed.”

Conclusion

In an age where manufacturers are searching for marginal gains and aggressive frame redesigns the Zero.9 continues in the tradition of the pure race bike. Wilier has taken great bicycles and improved on them year over year. The result? An Italian bicycle that evokes emotions with a design that places emphasis on form, function and history.

While the Zero.7 and Cento Uno find themselves neatly in the categories of Climbing and Aero frames, the Zero.9 defines its own. It is uncompromising in its power transfer, comfortable over diverse terrain, and light enough to crest any climb at the head of the pack. It is a Racer’s bike.

I’ve found this bike to be perfect for the hilly countryside of my area. And as a bike that is on the rarer side, if you do have an opportunity to ride it, I would highly recommend you take it.

Benotto Bicycle 1979 Catalogue

Thank you to Steve Whitmore for sharing this Benotto catalogue from 1979. This is part of the attempt to document all pre 1985 Benotto models. Hopefully this will help others identify or restore their 1979 models.

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 1 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 2 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 3 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 4 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 5 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 6 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 7 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 8 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 9 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 10 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 11 of 12 Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 12 of 12

Here are links to the PDF versions of these files:

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 1 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 2 of 12_0001

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 3 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 4 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 5 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 6 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 7 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 8 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 9 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 10 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 11 of 12

Benotto Catalogue 1979 page 12 of 12

Hans Hartmann, classic design and Machiine

is Machiine
If you don’t mind being embarrassed, you can learn anything.

What is it about some designs that they become more beautiful as time goes on. The same could be said of some artists, and some musicians and some songs. It’s true too of some humans. I think of Mahatma Ghandi or Mother Teresa or Nelson Mandela.

If there is one consistent theme to this blog, it is this: If you don’t mind being embarrassed, you can learn anything.

While playing with the above design on photoshop I stumbled upon the work of late Swiss designer Hans Hartmann.

Little is known about Hans Hartmann. Yet his work evokes the sense that their must be a compelling understory to his work.

Einspuren - Spur Halten (1963)
Einspuren – Spur Halten (1963)

“Einspuren – Spur Halten”, which roughly translates as “Meshing – Keep Track”. That is according to Google. It’s a telling image.

Sometimes I try too hard to create perfect solutions that will stand the test of time. It’s an easy trap for me to fall into, whether programming or renovating my home.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you will notice that the posts are on seemingly random topics. The reason for this is that I want this to be an outlet for writing and sharing that will remain relevant as time and my interests change. While I was advised to write on just one topic, it doesn’t work for me. And, in return I’ve been very lucky. Machiine has had over 300,000 visitors and 536 interesting comments.

I think it comes down to this. If I wrote about a specific topic, I would be doing it for some result, such as to generate web traffic. Whereas, by writing about any topic that I’m actually interested in, I keep writing irregardless of the traffic. Any extra outcome is just a neat bonus.

So, I’ve just been writing and the themes that show up have been occurring naturally. Today, I had the thought about the heart of Machiine. It comes down to a natural interest in classic designs, in true and meaningful biographical stories, and sharing/recording what it is I am learning.

Thank you for your visits, comments and emails. They are appreciated. Most of all, I hope that you find the articles on this blog useful and meaningful to you.

Triangle of Change: How To Achieve The Improbable

In 2012 British cycling amazed the world by claiming the prestigious Tour de France and 70% of the Olympic cycling podiums. Never before had an English rider won the Tour de France nor had their cyclists performed so well in the Olympics.

July 22, 2012 Team Sky Procycling rider and leader's yellow jersey Wiggins of Britain cycles during the final 20th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Rambouillet and Paris
July 22, 2012 Team Sky Procycling rider and leader’s yellow jersey Wiggins of Britain cycles during the final 20th stage of the 99th Tour de France cycling race between Rambouillet and Paris

At the heart of British cycling is Dave Brailsford. He and his team around him set an ambitious goal. They proclaimed that they would have a British cyclist win the Tour de France in just 5 years of creating the new Team Sky. Continue reading “Triangle of Change: How To Achieve The Improbable”

Benotto Bicycle Restoration – Sanding and Primer – Part 3

Benotto restoration

The restoration is coming along nicely. Ordered some NOS Benotto forks and they arrived safely today. The forks are made of Columbus SL tubing, the kind found on Benotto modelo 2500 and 3000. Part 1 and Part 2 of the restoration are here.

Step 1: Sanding (3-4 hrs)

I started with 180 grit sandpaper. Because I had previously sprayed the bike black, I wanted to make sure I got all the old layers of paint off to bare metal.

Next I switched to 200 and then 400 grit sandpaper.

Sanding the bicycle frame
Sanding the bicycle’s frame reveals metal in great condition.

I used 400 grit sandpaper on a drill wheel to clean the brazed areas.

Sanding revealed a really nice metal frame. Almost made me want to clear coat the whole frame.

Step 2: Cleaning (20 min)

I don’t like using water on freshly sanded metal as it creates rust. So I started off with a cotton clothe and wax and grease remover. Went over the frame about 3 or 4 times until the rag came out clean. I wore gloves while doing this to prevent the oil from my hands getting on the bike frame.

Step 3: Taping (5-10 min)

Once the frame was clean I taped the bottom bracket area as I didn’t want the threading painted. I also taped part of the rear dropout.

Step 4: Metal Adhesion and Primer (10 min)

To help the bare metal areas that I will be clear coating I sprayed some metal adhesion promoter first. I will be sanding this again prior to clear coating.

Next I did 2 coats of primer over the frame. When using spray paint shake the spray can really well for about 60-120 seconds.

When spraying hold the can about 8inches away from the area and use smooth sweeping movements. Start the spray before you move over the part to paint and release the spray after completing the pass.

Start with the intricate areas first. I sprayed the bottom bracket, lugs, and dropouts first.

Next I did the frame by sections, spraying with the length of the tubes.

Step 5: Wait 10-15 minutes for the primer to dry (15 min)

Step 6: Second coat (10 min)

Spray the sections of the frame a second time.

Bike frame primed
Bike frame primed, doesn’t look like the same bike

Step 8: Go for a long ride (4-8hrs)

I wanted the primer to set well before sanding to get the best finish, so I left it overnight and went for a ride on my Trek.

Mid way through the bike ride
This was mid way through the afternoon bike ride

Step 9: Wet sanding (10 min)

1 day later (tonight) I prepped the frame for the second coat of primer. Once your primer is set, you will want to wet sand the frame. I used 400 grit sandpaper, a bowl of water and a cotton cloth. Keep the sand paper wet at all times while working over the paint. Primer is easy to sand and you don’t need to press too hard.

I used a rounded block to keep the sanding as even as possible.

After wet sanding all the tubes I then sanded the lugs and more detailed areas.

Once everything is smooth and your hand glides easily over the paint, it’s time to prep for the next coat of paint.

Wet sanding the benotto frame
Wet sanding the benotto frame

Step 9: Clean and prep (5-10 min)

A cotton rag with wax and grease remover works well to clean sanded areas. You want to use a lint free rag. It took about 3 passes for the frame to come clean.

Step 10: Final coat of primer (10 min)

I did one more coat of primer, the same way I did the first one. Starting with the bottom bracket, dropouts and lugs. Next I used smooth sweeping motions to paint the frame tubes as evenly as possible.

Step 11: 

Next you are ready for the base coat, I haven’t got the paint yet, so I will need to wait for the next step. I plan on sanding one more time prior to the base coat. It’s not necessary… but hey it’s a classic.

Part 1: The story

Part 2: Identifying the frame (sorta.. it’s a work in progress)

Benotto Bicycle Restoration – How to identify a vintage Benotto bike frame’s year and model – Part 2

Benotto restoration

I made the mistake of painting my Benotto black after first getting it about a decade ago. Today I’m restoring it back to something fitting of the Benotto name. But first I wanted to research and find out the model of my bike. It’s proving really difficult so I’m documenting what I’m learning about Benotto’s and hopefully it will help others identify their bikes in the future. Also, thanks to Kris for commenting on part 1 of the restoration, that encouraged me to document in more detail about the frame.

This bicycle restoration is turning out to be a bit addictive. Here’s a quick recap thus far. At first things were going pretty well, stripping the frame for sanding went quickly. Then, tragically while sanding the frame to prepare for paint the centre cable guide snapped off. I rotated the frame in my bike stand unfortunately catching the cable guide.

As a kid I learned to play the violin. My violin was the least expensive model from our local music store, but for my parents it was a big purchase. It was the middle of the day, a few years after first getting it, and I sat down on the edge of my bed, not noticing my violin behind me. I snapped the bridge. I was devastated. At that time of my life my violin was hugely important to me.

I remember my mom walking into the room, looked at the violin, looked at me, and said the last thing I could have expected, “Jon, you need to look at this as a positive thing. Be thankful that you broke your violin.” None of those words made any sense to me in that moment, yet I chose to follow her advice.

We went back to the local music store. The owner was standing behind the counter, he took a look at my violin, and calmly told us, “I may be able to fix this.” He rummaged around the supplies in the back corner and came back with a new bridge. “Ahh, I’ve got one, perfect.”

Taking my violin, the new bridge, and a small file he immediately went to work. About 15 minutes later my violin was back together, tuned and ready to play. I played a chord, it had never sounded so rich. A year or so later my instructor would marvel at the violin, she would go on to ask me how much I paid for it. After telling her, she responded that I must have gotten very lucky as it had a better sound than many violins thousands of dollars more expensive.

My mother’s comment now made sense.

So last week I took a deep breath and ground off the last 2 remaining cable guides from my Benotto. I looked online, found some new braze-on cable guides that I could purchase, but they would be different to the originals. Later, while watching the classic Paris-Roubaix documentary “A Sunday In Hell” a new idea formed.

Benotto used cable guide clamps until 1976-77. After which they moved to braze-on cable guides. Because I had already removed the cable guides, why not use the vintage cable guide clamps and restore the bike to be like the one used by Francesco Moser in the 1976 Paris Roubaix race.

With that decision made, it’s back on the restoration train.

Identifying 1979-1980s Benotto’s by the frame and fork:

In part 1 I explained why the original model and year is unknown. Also, some of the components are original, and some are not… all of which makes identifying the bike just that much more challenging.

Step 1: Benotto Chainstays

Benotto 3000 chain stays are diamond shape. All other models had the “eye” indents. Quick look at history, the Benotto 2500 was the highest model until the early 1970s, then by the late 1970s Modelo 3000 was the top model.

Benotto 3000 diamond shaped chain stay
Benotto 3000 diamond shaped chain stay

My Benotto’s chain stay definitely would indicate a model 2500 or lower.

Benotto chain stay

Step 2: Seat post opening.

Benotto frames have the same outside diameter. However, the inside diameter changes depending on the metal used. For example, Columbus SL has a seat post diameter of 27.2mm as the metal is 0.6mm thick. Columbus SP has a seat post diameter of 27.0mm as the steel is 0.7mm thick. Columbus Aelle has a seat post diameter of 26.8mm, the steel is 0.8mm thick. Columbus Zeta has a seat post of diameter of 26.6mm, the steel is 0.9mm thick. Finally, Columbus double butted steel and plain gauge steel is 0.10mm thick with a seat opening of 26.4mm.

Benotto racing road bikes are listed from highest model to lowest by numbers. Benotto Model0 100-800 are entry level bikes. The Modelo 850 is the first of the amateur series bikes.

Modelo 3000 used Columbus SL

Modelo 2500 used Columbus SL

Modelo 2000 used Columbus SP

Modelo 1600 used Columbus Zeta or Aelle

Modelo 1500 used Columbus Zeta or Aelle

Modelo 1000 used Columbus Zeta

Modelo 850 used Columbus Zeta

Modelo 800 used Columbus double-butted steel, or straight gauge moly steel.

Model 700 (unknown)

Model 500 (unknown)

Model 100 (unknown, but 1976 catalog says it uses light-weight steel.)

You can view a PDF document outlining all 1979 Columbus steel tubes here.

Measured my seat post and it was 26.6mm. That would put it somewhere between a Modelo 850-1600.

Step 3. Rear derailleur cable guide.

From all the research I’ve done I’ve concluded that Benotto moved their brazed on derailleur cable guides from above the bottom bracket prior to below the bottom bracket in 1979. 1976 and earlier had the clamp on guides.

1978 benotto
1977-78 Benotto brazed on cable holders were above the chain stay and bottom bracket
1979 modello 800
1979 and later models have the brazed on cable holder below the chain stay and bottom bracket

Looking at my bike’s rear derailleur cable guides and bottom bracket would indicate that it is a 1979 and later model.

Step 4. Rear drop outs

Benotto Modelo 3000 has Campagnolo rear drop outs.

Benotto 3000 Campagnolo rear drop outs
Benotto 3000 Campagnolo rear drop outs

Benotto Modelo 2500, 2000, 1600, 1500, 850 had Benotto rear drop outs

Benotto 1500-2000 rear drop outs
Benotto 1500 rear drop out
Benotto 2500 rear drop out
Benotto 2500 rear drop out

Benotto Model 800 and lower had Suntour, Benotto or other rear dropout

Benotto Modelo 800 Suntour dropout
Benotto Modelo 800 Suntour dropout

My bike has the Benotto rear drop outs

Benotto rear drop out

Step 5. Tubing vs Pipe

It’s not always possible to see this. In my case, because I sanded my frame down to bare metal I could make this observation.

Steel Tubing frames are made in forms and molds. Whereas piped frames are rolled metal. From a strength perspective there are tradeoffs. Randy from mytenspeeds.com mentioned that tubing can be more fragile than piping. But Tubing can generally be made to be thinner in some areas and thicker in others to save weight. Piping is uniform in thickness. Columbus frames are made of tubing.

I noticed what appear to be seams in the metal. That would mean that the frame is made of piping. It’s interesting to note that my seat tube was 26.6mm. So perhaps Benotto used a thinner piping. Either way my Benotto must be a Modelo 800 or lower.

Okay, so that’s where I am in the process so far.

More posts to come. Will write a piece about Benotto Forks as that should give some more clues. Will hopefully have the sanding completed and primer soon.

Part 1 – Benotto Restoration – Where the love all started

Benotto bicycle restoration – Where the love all started – Part 1

Ole Ritter breaks the hour record in 1968

The restoration – A background.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a bright sunny morning and I had just gotten a phone call from my friend Ryan, “You’ve got to come quick … there’s another guy that really wants this bike.”

The bike was a $5 Benotto at Ryan’s garage sale. It was a killer deal. Granted this was 10 years ago and the love of all things classic hadn’t yet come into vogue.

Bikes have somehow been involved with all the big milestones in my life. One of my earliest memories is of my dad surprising me with my first bike. He had worked in the garage fixing up and painting it. My family moved countries when I was 8. That was when I sold my then red 6 speed bike. It was the most precious belonging I had. Selling it was a big deal for me – bigger than moving countries. My parents were perhaps aware of this. They let me sell the bike myself, barter for a fair price, and then throw in my lock because I liked the kid.

Later at the iconic age of 16 I got my first “real” mountain bike. It was a Giant ATX 870. Our family had moved again (we moved around a bit growing up – which may explain my nomadic inclinations). Shortly after arriving in the new town I got this beautiful machine. It was my pride and joy. I liked that it was a hard-tail and I liked that it was a bit more technical to ride down some trails. I took care learning to do drops and my first gap jump. I never dropped the bike, never crashed, or endoed. It was the perfect bike for me. Then it was stolen.

The next day my dad called to let me know he saw a guy riding downtown on a bike that looked identical. But the guy disappeared and that was the last time I ever heard about it.

I learned a valuable lesson. If you value something – look after it. Instead of looking after this bike I had left it behind a friends house because I didn’t want to bike back up the hill home. That’s where it was stolen.

Skipping a few years and I’ve been without a bike for about 3 years. That was when my friend Ryan called. He knew that I had been looking for a road bike and a family member had donated this bike for his garage sale. So I headed over there and closed the $5 deal.

For me this Benotto represented more than a bike. It felt like a gift from God. It was just what I needed that summer.

It was late spring when I picked up the bike and the weather was warming up. That bike became my primary mode of transportation. In those days I was working on a construction site. I would bike to the job site early in the morning, work through the day, and then ride back through the town, cross the bridge and then up the long steady hill climb home. The Benotto took me on weekend adventures, peddling up the roads with friends to explore and climb nearby mountains.

I didn’t know anything about the bike, all I knew was that I loved the way it was to ride.

Earlier that year I had helped out briefly at a local bike shop as a bike mechanic. As the shop was on my route home I swung by to give the bike a tune up. It was the guys there that let me know just how special the Benotto was – and how rare it was to find. Apparently Benotto was one of the best bike makers in the world from 1930s to the 1980s. Benotto team riders lead the world’s cycling scene in the 1960s to 80s – breaking records and winning races.

This was all news to me. I liked the frame and had sprayed it black right after getting it. Later converting it to a single speed and using it as my town commuter. Turns out this was a mistake. Benottos are like the holy grail – not to be tampered with.

This faithful bike has been with me now for about 10 years, through thick and thin, rain or shin, and I feel it deserves a new life – one fitting of the Benotto name.

So this week I’ve started the restoration. It proved really challenging to identify the model and year having removed all decals when I first got it (I did leave the front decal). Despite its legendary status there is surprisingly very little information available about the Benotto. I’ve tried to document what I’ve learned as I go and share that with the world on this site. You can learn more about the history of Benotto here.

The restoration – Part 1

First the dismantling. This is the fun part. Stripping off all the parts revealed some really nice brazing in the bottom bracket.

Benotto bottom bracketYou can see the original gold/champagne colour remained hidden beneath some of the parts.Benotto frameSanding begun. You can see Benotto’s signature heart cutout. Sanding the bottom bracketThe quality of a Benotto bicycle can be seen everywhere. Here are the cast rear wheel dropouts.Benotto rear dropout

As the black paint is removed, more quality craftsmanship is revealed. Here you can see the nicely built seat stays.

Benotto seat staysThen tragedy strikes. I accidentally broke one of the cable guides on the top tube with my bike stand’s clamp. Was hoping to braze it back in place, but it’s broken into 3 pieces. Not sure what I will do. Might grind off all the cable guides and replace them with new ones. Or I use the old fashioned cable guides. Will see what comes to mind tomorrow.

That’s all so far. Part 2 to follow shortly.

Part 2 – How to identify a Benotto frame

Benotto Classic – a growing list of Benotto Bicycles from 1931-1985

Benotto

This is an attempt to document all of Benotto’s pre 1985 models. I need your help, if you have a photo of a Benotto and know the year/model please send it to me or share a link to it in the comment section. That will really help out the community.

About 10 years ago I was lucky enough to pickup a Benotto of my own at a local garage sale. Having ridden many local hills and windy roads on this beautiful vintage frame I have personally experienced the esteem and fondness that Benotto owners and admirers have for these bikes. Benotto is a true Italian classic. The only problem is that there is very little information about them online. So this is an incomplete list at best, but hopefully it will help you learn more about your bicycle.

If you have any question, ask me in the comments below and I will try my best to answer them.

1931 Bicicletas Benotto was established by 24 year old Giacinto Benotto

1948 Benotto

1948 Benotto

Continue reading “Benotto Classic – a growing list of Benotto Bicycles from 1931-1985”