Tina’s Benotto

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While I have known my friend Tina for decades, I didn’t know she was a bike racer back in the day until a few years ago.  Probably all of us have done some interesting things in our youth (some best forgotten), but I was really impressed to discover that Tina owned this beautiful Benotto, which she acquired new back in the 1970’s.  She competed in the races of the time, in her home state of California, on this extraordinary 20 lb full Nuovo Record Campagnolo machine, riding tubular Fiamme rims laced to high flange Campagnolo Nuovo Record hubs.

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When she stopped racing, she swapped out the wheelset for a more useful clincher set with a wider gearing ratio, shown below.  The bike is 100% original, except for the early Terry saddle added later, and these photos show its condition, unrestored, after decades of storage.  Amazingly, it is still lovely and appears easily restorable to its original glory.

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Extra clincher wheelset – Wolber T430 Alpine rims laced to Shimano 105 hubs

Since Tina doesn’t ride this bike any more, she asked me to evaluate it, and to see if any of my readers were interested in buying it from her.  Such a bike, if sold on eBay, would simply be stripped into its separate parts and re-sold at a profit, because it is now true that a complete bike is worth less than the sum of its parts.  But, not for Tina.  She would like the bike to go to someone who will keep it intact and enjoy riding it.  And that’s where I come in.

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I have no prior experience with Benotto’s, so my first task was to determine its provenance and date of manufacture.  The bottom bracket shell shows a 460 serial number.  Unfortunately, I learned that Benotto serial numbers, much like Peugeot’s aren’t really reliable for determining the model year of the frame.  Other clues included the chromed, forged Campagnolo drop-outs, the weight of the machine (20 lbs), the style of the fork and head lugs (chromed lugs, with chromed sloping fork crown), and the appearance of the components. Unfortunately, there are no tubing stickers present on the frame.

At first, I thought this bike dated to the late 1970’s, but Tina wasn’t quite sure in what year she purchased the bike. The above photo shows that the Campagnolo NR rear derailleur has “Patent-73” stamped into its body.

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This derailleur style was later replaced in the late 1970’s.  The presence of cable clamps provides further proof that the bike is earlier than late 1970’s because at that point, all the higher end Benotto’s had brazed on cable guides.  So, it is likely that this is a mid 70’s model.  But what model is it?

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Chromed head lugs with blue accent paint

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Head tube badge in great condition

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Seat tube logo

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Chromed sloping fork crown, blue accent paint, Campagnolo NR headset

Fortunately, I recently discovered some new information on the web that helped in my quest to correctly identify this Benotto. I think it is most likely a Model 2500 or 2000 based on the fact that the seatpost size is 27.2, which means that the tubing used is Columbus SL, a theory further supported by the incredibly light weight of the bike.  Although I haven’t found any catalogs which show this particular bike as configured, the chromed head lugs and fork crown indicate that it was one of the higher end models. Here are photos of the components:

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The frame size is 54 x 54, with a 100 cm wheelbase.  There are single eyelets front and rear.  There are no other braze-ons or bosses.  Components are:  Campagnolo NR:  brake levers, brake hoods, brake calipers, pedals, seatpost, cable clamps and cable guides, headset, bottom bracket, shifters, derailleurs, crank arms and rings, hubs, and quick releases. The shifters and quick releases are color matched with Campagnolo red covers. Other components include 3TTT bars and stem, Christophe toe clips and straps, a  Regina 5 speed freewheel, and of course that beautiful and iconic blue Benotto bar tape.

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There are some condition issues with the bike.  The Benotto logo on the down tube is in bad shape, and there is paint loss around the seatpost clamp. Overall, this bike is in amazing shape for being 4 decades old, and unridden for a couple of those decades.

I welcome any assistance on further identifying Tina’s Benotto.  If you are interested in purchasing it, please contact me – I have included a widget below to allow you to send me a private email.

1977 Jack Taylor 650b Tandem

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This is an unrestored Jack Taylor Touring Tandem, built for 650b wheels.  I had it shipped from England several years ago, but haven’t started work on it yet.

Even in its present state, it’s quite a pretty bike.  The frame color is silver, but with plenty of bright highlights that include red, yellow, green, blue and white.

The frame is built with Reynolds 531 tubing, and is fillet brazed.  It features a sloping top tube, giving 23″ and 21″ seat tube lengths for the front and rear positions.  Components include Maxi-car hubs, Campagnolo shifters and derailleurs, Weinmann 650b rims, Taylor Bros hammered fenders, front and rear constructeur racks, Mafac cantilever brakes, plus a front Maxi-car drum brake.

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Double front brakes – cantilevers + drum; Mafac levers and hoods in great shape.

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Jack Taylor transfers in really nice condition

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Smooth brazing and a U.K. touring club sticker

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Simple cable stop,, elegantly brazed seat stays

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Reynolds transfers in great shape

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Pin striping is still in really nice shape

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Maxi Car hubs, Campagnolo dropouts – with SN 7183

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TA crankset – there are two cranksets and each has at least one chain ring mounted on each side

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A type of presta valve I hadn’t seen before – there’s nothing under this cap – just an open valve – but I popped my presta fitting on anyway and pumped air into the tube.

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TA triple crankset with 50/40/28 rings

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Eccentric bottom bracket plus internal routing for the dynamo wiring

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Redundant chainring on the drive side front crank

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Campagnolo front derailleur

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Very cool Zefal pump

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Mafac cantilevers

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Campagnolo Rally rear derailleur, with Suntour Perfect 14/24 freewheel

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Color matched Milremo stem, Stronglight headset

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Dynamo and wiring

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Brooks saddles – a B-72 in the back and a B-17 in front

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Some pitting in the top tube’s stoker section.

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Fork blades feature brazeons for the drum cable routing.

One of the things that surprised me about this bike was how similar it is in many ways to my 1973 Jack Taylor.  That bike is is also fillet brazed, and sports the exact same lighting system and rack design as this tandem.  In fact, its rear reflector is also broken, just like this.

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Another broken reflector

However, this reflector got broken in the shipping process.  One thing that I did was to have the bike shipped intact from England.  It boarded the Rio Mediera in Southampton, but was detained when it reached port in New York as suspected contraband.  The large container, built by Sheffpack, bore a suspicious resemblance to an arms shipment, and so it had to be x-rayed before it could continue its journey to the Port of Portland.  Consequently, the bike spent many weeks inside its shipping container, before it was finally literally broken open by port workers using hammers and tire irons.

However, it is safe and sound now, and with the fall and winter months looming ahead, this might be the perfect project to occupy the colder and wetter days ahead.