A few years back I wrote about a 1970’s Benotto that an acquaintance had entrusted into my care for safekeeping. She finally decided to sell the bike to me, and now I’ve had a chance to disassemble the frame to begin the restoration process.
For a long time I wasn’t sure what model and year this Benotto was. However, from the Campagnolo component group, with its helpful date codes, I was able to determine that this is a 1972 or 1973 model. Meanwhile, over the years several enthusiasts have written to me, suggesting this is a 1972 Model 2500 and after looking at the few catalogs available online, I believe I agree.
This interesting lug design, beautifully chromed, has been used on much earlier models as well.
While this model doesn’t have the fancy cutouts in the bottom bracket shell, it is still nicely brazed, with chrome Campagnolo dropouts and fork ends. It also has eyelets front and rear, adding to its utility.
I’ve been preparing the frame for some touch-up painting. Fortunately, the areas of paint loss are minimal and pretty contained. I also encountered a bit of rust on the fork and bottom bracket threads, so I also treated the frame with FrameSaver to prevent any further rust (after thorough cleaning of course).
As expected, the frame was built up with a full Campagnolo groupset. The components are in very nice condition. The above photo was taken before beginning the clean up and you can see that my job looks pretty easy.
The crankset (pictured before cleaning) is just a work of art!
The gearing is racing oriented, with a close ratio Regina 5 speed freewheel and 52/42 rings up front. Likewise, the high-flange Campagnolo Record hubs laced to Fiamme tubular rims speak to this bike’s original function as a racing bike. And therein lies my dilemma: what to do with this fine old machine? Tubulars are just not practical for most cyclists, so one thought I had was to re-lace the hubs to 700c period correct rims (I’ve got a nice NOS set of Mavic’s ready for this purpose). Alternatively, I could replace the wheelset entirely. However, I recently read an interesting article by Jobst Brandt about how to re-lace to a new rim without removing the spokes from the hub. The process involves lining up the replacement rim’s “key hole” with the current rim, and, one-by-one, unlacing the spoke from the existing rim and lacing into the replacement. Sounds interesting and even more Zen-like than regular wheel building!
Fortunately, this bike is blessed with rear spacing that will accommodate a 126mm hub. I tried fitting one in and it floated up into the dropouts with no trouble at all, even though the spacing measures at 123.5mm. That means that a 6 or even 7 speed freewheel is a possibility. Likewise, clearance at the fork crown and rear brake was large enough to accommodate a 700c 32mm tire and fenders, based on a preliminary dry mount of an alternative wheelset. So that makes for a lot of reinterpretation possibilities.
However, maybe this is a bike that should be left as is. A new owner could decide on the tires and wheelset. But, since my focus is on making vintage bikes accessible and rideable, I’m leaning toward something else, but I just don’t know what that is yet. Any ideas are welcome!