Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mystery Bianchi Decals

In the course of the Cannoli Project (the restoration of a 1970's Bianchi folding bike), I was on a mad search for Bianchi frame decals. I explored many avenues with most ending up at eBay. There seem to be many do-it-yourself entrepreneurs who "recreate" decals for many popular brands. There are also the purist collectors that have the real deal, but usually charge a limb (which, depending on the limb, may pose a problem when the goal is to ride the bike that you just built).

As I saw it I had two options:

1) Splurge and get the real deal
  • PROS: Authentic, accurate, detailed, thin to apply before a final clearcoat
  • CONS: Not forgiving (due to fragility from being a thin film), requires significant scrilla

2) Get a vinyl decal recreation
  • PROS: Forgiving, cheap as a date night at In-N-Out Burger, many size options
  • CONS: Less detailed graphics, potentially as lame as a date night at In-N-Out Burger (although Animal-Style never disappoints), Requires multi-layered painting using the decals as a negative stencil

I decided to go with a combination of the two - vinyl recreation templates for the down tube and a thin-film decal for the head tube badge. It turned out quite nicely, but did require a fairly involved stepwise painting process.

In my decal search, I also sent a request to a general information e-mail address on Bianchi's "Contattaci" web page. I gave the description of the bike, era of manufacture, and even a photo of its original state. I heard nothing back, so I assumed that I was on my own. Well, about 6 weeks later, I received an envelope from Italy... Inside was a stapled plastic bag filled with some Bianchi stickers that I've never seen before:

These were stickers (not decals) and the head tube badge was quite thick (2-3mm). They also came with some crazy wavy graphics that look pretty awkward. I'm not sure what I'll use these for since the project is finished. I guess I could get a cheap Huffy from Craigslist, slap on some stickers, and pawn it off on an unsuspecting newbie. However, I have a soul (and steadfast velo-ethics to boot). I could search for another Bianchi in need of a new life, but a set of free stickers is a terrible justification to purchase another bike (...maybe). So, if any of you out there are interested and have a worthy cause (no Huffy re-badging), e-mail me at: dylan (at)

Finally, I would like to say that even though it took awhile, Bianchi responded to my inquiry and gave me some free loot. I appreciate any company that will do that for a customer 7000 miles away.


-d said...

Holy crap! After my posting, I just noticed that the photo of the vinyl decals are missing some dotting of the "i"'s. The vinyl decals that I bought (not the ones in the photo) were quite accurate, but BEWARE of scammers when you take this route!

-p said...

I'm still wondering what the wavey stickers are about, but it was cool that they gave you some free stuff including a head badge. Perhaps the wavey stuff could be used to soup up a neighborhood kid's like-a-bike.

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