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Volpe side view

Another day, another bike post!  This is my geared touring bike that I built up from a 1998 Bianchi Volpe frame. I wanted to build a geared bike for century rides and other rides where a single-speed wouldn’t be the best choice.  I also wanted to try out a bullhorn handlebar setup, which I enjoy.  It’s very stable and perfect for when you really want to go fast.  This bike is still sort of a work in progress; it’s comfortable and fit to me but I’d like to replace the stem to match the rest of the white & blue theme.

More details and pictures after the jump…

The only original parts are the frameset and the Shimano RSX group.  I replaced the rear cassette and chain with the same spec’d parts, and added a set of bar-cons instead of the stock brifters.  The wheelset are WTB dual-duty rims with Shimano hubs, nothing special.   The white Vittoria Rubino Pro tires and white SKS speed fenders really set off the whole color scheme though.  It has MKS Sylvan track pedals with MKS toe cages and white leather straps.

The current stem is a 130mm Cinelli Frog with Origin 8 bullhorns.  The saddle is a Brooks deluxe B-17 on a Nashbar suspension seat post.  I know the seat post and stem don’t match the rest of the bike, but I chose them for comfort over style.  In the future I may end up replacing them, but rideability always trumps fashion.

front angle

rear angle


10 Responses to “Bianchi Volpe touring bike”

  1. Rob says:

    Hi – I realise this is an old(ish) post, but wondered what brake levers are you using? Thanks

  2. naptrax says:

    Hi Rob, the brake levers on the Volpe are Soma Urban Cross levers in silver. I highly recommend them. I also have a pair of Cane Creek’s “Crosstop” levers which are similar and are just as good. You can buy the Soma’s here: http://store.somafab.com/urcrle.html

  3. Adam says:

    Hi, I stumbled across this post, but I wanted to say that your Volpe looks great! I have a 2007 that I am slowly upgrading.

  4. tony says:

    hi, really cool bike, did it come with those fenders? or where did you get them?

  5. naptrax says:

    The fenders were purchased at Bike Habitat in NYC on Lafayette St.

  6. Bob Brown says:

    Stylin’ ! Molto coolo.

  7. I just stumbled on this post because I just got done with my first long tour and realized I do not lot drop bars while touring. I was looking into doing something like this but keeping my Shimano road shifter/brakes and my in-line MTB brakes. Any advice?

  8. naptrax says:

    my advice would be first of all, don’t build a touring bike with aero bars like I did! In retrospect that was a pretty silly thing to do, but I was still new and inexperienced as a mechanic and I’ve always been stubborn when I get an idea in my head.

    regarding your question, if you are using brifters (combination shifter / brakes) then you will have to use drop bars. You could try to mount them on a Nitto albatross bar, but the way brifters work means that they generally must be mounted vertically in order to allow your hands to operate them properly (since the shift levers swing side-to-side). If you dislike drop bars, I would recommend you give up the brifters as well and try riser bars with thumb shifters. That will give you an upright riding posture, allow you to keep the inline MTB brakes, and still have the shifters close to your hands. You can also try more modern MTB trigger or grip shifters with your risers.

  9. Jeff says:

    I dig the bike. I have a 1984 Centurion Le Mans with a bull horn setup. Rather than having the bar end shifters though I’ve got time trial brake levers on the ends of the bull horns with stem shifters.

    I’ve got a tour coming up in Q2 of next year. Was thinking of switching to bar end shifters with the same brake lever set up you’ve got.

    Sounds like you may have regrets though? Could you elaborate?

    Referring to:
    “my advice would be first of all, don’t build a touring bike with aero bars like I did! In retrospect that was a pretty silly thing to do, but I was still new and inexperienced as a mechanic and I’ve always been stubborn when I get an idea in my head.”

  10. naptrax says:

    Hi Jeff, when I built that Bianchi Volpe, I had never actually ridden a tour before. Since then, I have done several tours in the 300-500 mile range.

    The reason why bullhorns are not good for touring is that they have a limited number of hand positions – on the tops, the sides, or stretched out.

    A good set of touring drop bars like Nitto B135’s will give you those three positions plus 2-3 more hand positions down in the drops. Also, drop bars will allow you to position the aero brakes in a more comfortable reach than bullhorns.

    Bullhorns are good for racing and commuting, but I wouldn’t want them on a bike that I’d be spending many hours and miles on each day.

    Check out the articles I’ve written on the Surly Long Haul Trucker and Bridgestone RB-T to see some examples of touring bike set ups that are better than the Volpe.

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