...the more I like the idea of working on the Bianchi to make it more personal for me.
I'm thinking that I'll, for the most part, ride it as is this summer...but this winter I think I'm going to go ahead and give it a bit of an overhaul.
The one thing that I am going to do to it pretty quickly is switch the handlebars from the typical "Tour de France" style "drop bars" to some bullhorn handlebars. I have ridden road bikes before, and I simply don't find the drop bars to be very comfortable. They are typically for sprinting and high speed. The bullhorn bars will give better leverage for gaining speed and climbing. They will still afford me several hand positions, but most of all they will look fairly unique. The nice part about having the OLD style friction shifters on the bike is that I don't have to worry about mounting shifters anywhere on the bullhorns...which is typically a problem when switching to these types of bars.
In case anyone doesn't know, this is what bullhorn bars look like.
A nice (and cheap) way to get a set of bullhorns is to do what's called a "flop and chop." That's where you take the handlebars that are already installed on the bike, cut them off at the drops and flip them over. I'm not sure if I want to do that, because I don't know if the "savings" are really worth it. With the flop and chop you obviously could never put those bars back to the way they were...you'd have to buy new ones if you ever wanted to go back to the drops. I can get a set of decent bullhorns off of Ebay for around $25 shipped...so I think I'll just end up buying some instead of ruining the bars that are on the bike now.
Once I've got the bullhorns installed, I'll probably be upgrading the brake handles. I like the Cane Creek 200tt model brake levers, and they seem to be the perfect match to bullhorn bars. They actually mount INTO the holes that would be at the end of the bars. The cables are then routed down the bars and to the brakes, so it ends up looking very clean.
The next thing that I will do right away will be to lighten the bike up a bit. This will actually be accomplished by REMOVING the rear brake. I know this might sound crazy, but from my experience on motorcycles (and what I've been reading about bikes) the front brake is really all you need on just about any two wheeled vehicle. The back brake's effectiveness falls of drastically due to simple physics. When you're slowing something down, weight shifts to the FRONT of the vehicle, which inherently puts LESS weight on the back. So stopping a wheel that isn't bearing any weight doesn't do an awful lot to actually stop the vehicle.
So going with just the front brake will do a couple of things. One, it will lighten the bike up just a touch. Not really much, but a little. And every little bit counts. Two, it will make things "simpler" on the bikes...less cables, less moving parts, less things to worry about maintenance on. Three, and I admit this is a bit cheesey, it's "cool."
After that I will be getting a new seat for it. The one that's on it seems to have the cover coming loose. I may try to find a Bianchi Celeste colored seat...but that's not that big of a deal.
Those will be the main changes that I do to the bike relatively quickly, once I get it back from the shop.
Now, for over the winter, I will probably go a bit crazy...because it gives me something to do. And in the winter in Michigan, it's always important to have something to do!!!
I have found decal kits on Ebay that will replace all the decals currently on the bike. This means I can strip the bike down to just it's frame and then get it painted or powdercoated. Right now I'm leaning towards powdercoating it yellow. I think it would look great in yellow, and yellow would be a perfect color to clash with the Bianchi Celeste colored parts I'm going with for the rest of the components.
The other major thing that I would be doing would be upgrading the wheels to something a bit more modern. I'm thinking something a bit lighter with a few less spokes. Something like this.
The nice thing about those more modern wheels is that they accept more modern rear cassettes (the thing the gear cogs are mounted on). That would allow me to up the speeds on the bike very easily from 12-20 if I wanted to. I will have to measure some things when I get it back to figure out exactly what kind of wheels I can go with...if any at all...but I'm guessing that there will be some options out there for me to upgrade to. I believe that the current derailleurs on the bike would still work just fine with more gears on the back, but I'm not 100% sure on that. I've sent a couple of messages out to guys I know that KNOW bikes to find out for sure.
The best part of all of this?? It will upgrade an already decent bike really well...for not a ton of money.
The bullhorn bars will cost me about $25 and the Cane Creek brakes will cost me another $25. The brake cable and housing to replace the cable that's already on the bike will be another $10 or so. The bar tape to give the bars some comfortable padding will be another $10 or so. That's a total of $70 to upgrade the bike immediately to what I want it to be.
Then this winter, the cost of the decals is about $10, the powdercoating (I'm guessing) will be about $50, the wheels cost $100, and the higher speed cassette costs around $30. So that would be a total of around $190 to get the bike completely updated and looking HOT this winter.
Add that to the cost of tires that I just put on it ($60) and I'll have a VERY nice road bike for a grand total of $320. That will have many modern components on it and still come in at a price point of well over $200 less than what I would have spent to get a comparable modern bike. That, and it will already be personalized to exactly what I want it to be.
The stuff this winter is still really debatable...but I think I'm definitely going to go for the early stuff. The bars and brakes will be great...and I already need new bar tape anyways. The brake cables that are on it MIGHT still work, but I kind of wanted to get some crazy colored one to go on there!!!