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.
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.
That’s all so far. Part 2 to follow shortly.
11 replies on “Benotto bicycle restoration – Where the love all started – Part 1”
Hi Id really love to get your inputs on a Benotto frame I’m about to buy, im trying to reasearch but one feature negates other feature when im trying to match it on a certain model. one big issue was the bottom bracket is not a heart shaped one but long lines. all other benotto stamping and marks are present. I hope i could send you some pics.
Hi Norman, not all Benotto frames had a heart shaped cutout. What model do you believe it is?
I’ve found a 1984 Benotto 850 that I want to restore. Unfortunately the frame has a considerable amount of rust and, when I manage to free the stuck seatpost, will need a repaint to look decent.
I have no experience painting bicycles, but I’m determined to do it.
Which method did you use to sand the frame?
I used the elbow grease method 🙂 It’s pretty easy to sand and repaint. Consider using a paint stripper as it will make the job much easier. Start with 180 grit sand paper. But don’t sand too hard, you don’t want to leave scratches. Sand until it’s smooth. Then move to 400 wet sand paper. Clean off all the dust. Use wax and grease remover to get all the residue off. Let it air dry then you are free to apply your primer. Usually 2-3 coats of primer. Light first coat. Then you’re good to paint with your top coat. Even strokes. And presto. Here’s an article of how I resprayed a scooter https://machiine.com/2013/how-to-paint-your-scooter-using-spray-paint-at-home/
Hello there! Was a good read on restoration. I have also a Benotto bicycle i bought new in 83 or 84 and it’s an 850 model. Light sky blue. My question, paint, what type of paint did the original manufacturer use? I am planning to strip too and restore. Since after 37 odd years I still have it but have not rode it since my teen years being in a cycle club. It’s been scratched to high heaven from moving around so much all these years. Could you tell me? Is it powder coated? Spray painted? Lacquer? Enamel? Also decals, does anyone make originals or where can I obtain? I have the Paris Roubaix set. Thank you!
Hi Michael, Congrats on having your bike for this long. I did find some decals on eBay for my project. Not sure if they are still available. But I would start a search there. As far as paint, you can use automative paint and you will end up with the same finish. It was definitely sprayed and not powder coated.
Thank you for the response! I believe there are several vendors that still produce them Benotto decals on eBay and elsewhere by Googling it. Maybe they’re not the originals from the factories of the day, but should be good enough if the quality is good. Only thing I cannot find is the small “Modelo 850” oval decal, so may have to find a way to reuse my original one. Also the square gold/white Dove decals which typed the frame steel, usually were water adhesives, like the “Columbus Zeta” , can be had online too. So I think I may get them now while supplies last and save until restoration of my bike. Thank you again!
Hi Michael, I agree. I think that’s a good idea to get it now so you have it when you need it.
Good luck on the restoration. If you post more detailed pics of the lugs and chainstays it may help to identify the model and year. Seeing as it has Benotto dropouts it probably isn’t the 3000 which had Campagnolo dropouts.
It’s definitely not the 3000 as it doesn’t have the diamond chain stays. I believe it is likely somewhere between an 800 to 1500. I’m going to measure the seatpost size tomorrow. The model 800 was 26.4 and the models 850-1500 were 26.6cm. I don’t mind which one it is other than nice to know. I understand the frame weight of these models are nearly identical +-100grams.
Here’s an update on the Benotto. Measured the seat post size and it’s 26.6 so it’s somewhere between an 850-1600. Will post more detailed pics in part 2.