It’s back, baby!
So, I had a call from Dan at Bool’s to say the Bianchi was ready to go, so off to Bristol I went to collect it… and boy, did it look good.
A little research on the Historic Bianchi Register revealed that, based on the serial number, this was a Folgorissima, not a Folgore. Certain other details gave it away, too: the seat clamp, the front and rear mudguard eyes and the lugs. Of course, the Folgorissima (Super Lightning) quickly became renamed as the Paris-Roubaix, after Coppi won the 1950 race on one. It was also equipped with the Campagnolo Paris-Roubaix gearing, with one lever, not the 2-lever Cambio Corsa version.
On went the Paris-Roubaix-equipped wheelset (Record Export clincher rims laced to Campagnolo PR_hubs) and we were in business.
The photos are from the Retro Ronde van Vlaanderen, Eroica Britannia and my back garden. I rode the bike in all three, including the cobbles of Flanders.
It was impeccably well behaved and managed to get half way up this beast, the Koppenberg before my legs ran out at the point in the second photo.
I was passed at this point by a group of lads over from the UK for the weekend (but not the Retro Ronde) and when we met up at the top they were fascinated by the Paris-Roubaix gearing. I suggested they take it for a spin, and they duly did – surprised by how sprightly and modern the bike feels, for something made in 1951.
My lovely wife has bought me, from Italy, a copy of the book “The Bikes of Coppi” which is full of detail and pictures of Il Campionissimo and his bikes, including the Paris-Roubaix-winning bike. Next project may be to set this one up as close as possible to the original Paris Roubaix. In the meantime though, I’ll still ride the snot out of it!