• The Whit

Benotto Bicycles........


This is Giacinto Benotto with a really nice Modello 3000 built with Campagnolo Super Record, Cinelli and Regina. This is the perfect Italian bike in the early 1980's. He knows it too, see that look in his eyes?


I fell in love with these bikes sometime in my youth. I have little doubt that I ran across a picture of Roger De Vlaeminck riding a bike like this one, with his tell tale rounded criterium handlebars and wearing a Sanson Team jersey. That may have done it. The "Gypsy of Flanders" was a hero to me. Sanson was a "Super Team" back then, put together to try and defeat Eddy Merckx as often as they could, especially in the greatest of the Spring Classics, Paris-Roubaix. The team also included another hero of mine, Francesco Moser. The bikes were lovely in the classic champagne color, and they held up in competition. There was a lot for a kid to like. I dreamed of riding one someday.


It took a while, but I did. I purchased a brand spanking new Model 3000 in 1981. It was a fine bicycle, and won and placed in quite a few races throughout the Midwest until it was stolen from my vehicle the morning before a race. I replaced it with another after the theft. I still have that bicycle today. That one is a fine bicycle also.


Mr. Benotto had an interesting philosophy on bicycle design, production and sales. This was in the days when everything was steel. Gary Klein was building cool aluminum bikes that cost a fortune, Teledyne did some titanium, but steel was king.


If you look at the sports/touring/racing bikes, you will see his design theory at work. there was a desired geometry for the frames, all offering superior handling and providing the same handling and appearance as a high end Italian racing bike. The differentiating factors were the quality of the tubing, bottom bracket, lugs and dropouts, as well as the components and wheels.


Production entailed International operations. The high end bikes and frames were made in Italy, and the more widely produced bicycles would be built in the Benotto Factory in Mexico City. Benotto had a wide presence in Mexico, Panama Europe. This was the early 1970's, and it appeared he was positioning for the big Kahuna, the US market.

I visited a Benotto dealership in Mexico City when I visited with my Brother in Seventies. It reminded me of a Schwinn Shop back home, or a Trek store more recently. One Store, one line of bikes and accessories. Shoes, clothing, bikes, all under the Benotto sign.


Of course, nothing is ever that simple, but the theory sure seemed to make sense to me at the time.


Next: The Bikes.....


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