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.
Here are links to the PDF versions of these files:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can see the original gold/champagne colour remained hidden beneath some of the parts.Sanding begun. You can see Benotto’s signature heart cutout. The quality of a Benotto bicycle can be seen everywhere. Here are the cast rear wheel dropouts.
As the black paint is removed, more quality craftsmanship is revealed. Here you can see the nicely built seat stays.
Then 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.
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
The 1960s to 80s were the golden years of Benotto bicycles. By the mid 1980s Benotto had numerous 1st place titles including 11 world championships and countless local, national and international competitions such as the Giro d’italia. In 1968 Ole Ritter famously broke the hour record while riding a Benotto Bicycle. He road a staggering 48.653 kms in one hour. It took four years before the great cyclist Eddy Merckx was eventually able to beat that hour distance riding 49.431 kms. Wikipedia
Benotto Bicycles History And Timeline
Giacinto Benotto, a young Italian racer, aspired to build great bicycle frames. In 1931 he founded Bicicletas Benotto in Turin Italy, the year that Francesco Camusso won the gruelling 1931 Giro d’Italia.
“Typical of great cycling frame makers, Benotto grew out of the passion of racer Giacinto Benotto who was 24 years old in 1931 when he established the business in Turin.” Retrospective Cycles Amazingly, by 1951 Benotto bicycles had already competed in 3 world championships.
Another famous Italian frame builder Cino Cinelli also started first as a successful racer riding for Frejus (1938-39), Bianchi (1940-43) and Benotto in 1944.
In 1948 Giacinto Benotto had read of the newly discovered oil in Venezuela and thought it a good opportunity to bring cycling there. Eager to expand into emerging markets he took with him a shipment of 200 bicycles. At first he encountered opposition in Venezuela as he was told they “drive Cadillacs” not bicycles, but it wasn’t long before he began getting popular press excited about the Benotto Bicycles.
It seemed with each move Benotto’s success continued. In 1951 Antonio Belivacqua rode a Benotto to win the famous Paris-Roubaix.
Felice Benotto, a family member, was engaged in the cycling scene in Venezuela and was able to get a team to Mexico by October 1950. By 1953 Benotto expanded operations into Mexico as they rapidly became Latin America’s most popular cycling brand. At this point Benotto split their operations between Italy and Latin America.
The Benotto brand continued to grow. Francesco Moser later won his World Championship in Cristobal Venezuela on a Benotto, in 1977. Then in 1978 Roger DeVlaeminck won Milan San Remo riding a Benotto in ’78. In that same year Moser went on to win the Paris-Roubaix.
Benotto was now known as a serious bicycle among the cycling community and was being used by team riders everywhere. As was the case with heroic riders like Freddy Maertens who rode a Benotto in the 1980s SanGiacomo team and Moser who road a Benotto during the 1975 Tour de France.
The production of all high-end racing bicycles remained in Turin until 1983/84. Around this time Benotto made a decision to move both European and Latin American production of bicycles to Mexico.
By 1985 it is reported that all subsequent bicycles were manufactured in Mexico with the possible exception of the Modelo 5000. Steel Vintage
1984 is the last year of the historic “Italian Made” Benottos. Unfortunately some of the Benotto’s built in Mexico during this time suffered from the bottom brackets or head tubes cracking. This was due to inexperienced fabricators overheating the steel during the brazing process. The majority of Mexican Benotto frames on the road today were built well and others have reported that repairing the crack was a simple matter of rebrazing the cracked areas with bronze.
Some models like the Modelo 800 and 5000 were unaffected. Modelo 800 was made with Hi-Ten steel which can handle a little more heat and abuse while the Modelo 5000 was unaffected as it was still made in Italy during this period. Also, Benotto forks are outstanding forks. So if you do happen to own or come across a cracked Benotto that you don’t care to repair, salvage the forks.
At this same time Benotto was at the height of its success. For many of the cyclists from this era a Benotto is a representation of the heart of cycling in the 1970s and 80s. It represented a time of quality craftsmanship meeting beautiful design that enabled human’s to go beyond their natural capacity. In the words of Nigel Dalton, “To be accurate, they are beautiful things” and “a bike dear to [Rob] from the early 1980s in Europe.” (source)
Benottos are famous for their racing geometry and quality of steel. Their bikes were designed for racing, with almost all models having the exact same geometry. The only difference between the frames was the type of metal used. This is a large reason for their popularity today as their frames are iconic of brilliant bicycle design and continue to be excellent frames for fixies and restorations.
In 1981 the elite US Amateur team was sponsored by Bicicletas Benotto along with other leading Italian cycling brands: Gipiemme components, Ambrosio rims, Hutchinson tires ad IscaSella Saddles. (flandireacafe.com) The team issue Benotto bikes were a mix of diamond and oval shaped chainstays, a testimony to their tradition of handbuilt machinery.
Benotto’s influence in the world cycling scene could even be witnessed on the handlebars of competitor cyclists. Benotto Handlebar Tap was the the handle bar tape to have in the 1970s and 80s. It was light, strong and bold and dominated the landscape.
US team rider Fast Eddy wrote on his personal blog that he didn’t know where his bike was built and it didn’t matter to him, all that mattered was they were riding the same frame as the bike featured in the opening sequence of the documentary “A Sunday in Hell” and the same frame that Moser won his World Championship in Cristobal Venezuela on, in 1977. They were riding a Benotto.
Yet by 1986 the glory days of Benotto were fast ending. Coincidently a change was taking place in the cycling scene as a whole. Many attribute 1983 as the last year of classic cycling. 1983/84 marked the beginning of clipless pedals, click shifting, the death of Tullio Campagnolo, a move away from brazing steel frames to welding, introduction of cycle computers, and along with it Benotto’s move to Mexico.
In the following years Benotto attempted to enter the Triathlon and 7-speed market with the Shimano 600ex, but it was too little too late having not resolved the bottom bracket cracking problem.
Today Benotto’s classic bicycles are a reflection on a different time. Classic cycling events like L’Eroica that are “born out of that love for cycling” are trying to bring back some of the magic from pre ’84 cycling. In many ways a classic Benotto embodies that pure heritage and passion for cycling and the drive to create the perfect man-powered machine.