Last summer Jason’s dad, John, picked up a Bianchi “Randonneur” on Kijiji, dating from the mid-eighties.
The bike is typical of touring bikes of the era: braze-ons for multiple bottle cages, racks, and fenders; cantilever brakes; and relaxed geometry.
When researching the model, we discovered that the forks had been recalled in the early nineties due to their tendency to fail at the crown brazing.
Needing to replace the fork we cut our losses and went all out with a 650b conversion, bringing the bike closer to the pedigree the name implies.
We sourced a vintage 650b fork, then had it and the frame stripped. We had the rear brake bosses moved, then had our painter do it up in metallic
John was used to the rapid-fire index shifting on his mountain bike and wanted to upgrade from the Bianchi’s Suntour friction set up, so we matched a set of Sora brifters to a vintage Deore drive train. The Jim Blackburn front and rear racks were on the bike when he found it and we replaced a very worn set of plastic Bluemels with some Velo Orange hammered alloy fenders. We sourced out some very stylish Bianchi stickers and a chrome headbadge and finished everything off with a honey Brooks Professional saddle and matching cloth tape.
What is really special here, however, is that the conversion allowed us to fit the 650b Grand Bois Hetre tires, with their stunning brick tread and gum sidewalls. They inflate to an ultra-smooth 42 millimetres wide making for a luxurious ride on any surface without sacrificing performance.