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 – 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