Writers’ Rigs Questions
Name: Location: Richard Pestes, Vancouver BC
Bike: 2005 Bianchi 928 Team Liquigas Special Edition in Pearl White
Groupset: SRAM Force
Wheels: Zipp 303 clinchers
Saddle: Fizik Arione “Celeste”
Other: Bianchi Celeste Bar tape
Weight: 15-16 lbs (6.8 – 7.3kg)
When did you buy it?: Early 2006
Readers’ Rigs has become one of our most popular features since Chris approached me with the idea several months ago. The mix of bikes, a bunch of bling, and a whole lotta love has made for some pretty good reading and even better bragging rights – best laid down at your post-Saturday ride coffee stop.
So I wanted a piece of the action too. It’s true that over the past decade I’ve had more than my fair share of cool bikes to ride, but not all of ‘em made it to our pages. This is one that I built up just for myself and was my first ‘cool bike’ indulgence.
What made you choose this bike?
I was always partial to white bikes (still am…), and was on the look out for something unique, different from the bikes in my area, and … white. In 2005 Danilo Di Luca was winning a bunch of races, and this was back when my glasses were still pretty rosey – ok – we gotta jump in the Way Back Machine here and transport ourselves to a time when pro cycling was… let’s say ‘different’ from today. And while Di Luca has since proven himself deserving of his lifetime ban from cycling, back then I was a fan of “the Killer”. I liked his attacking style – I thought he rode with a lot of panache, and he had one of the best grimaces in cycling. He was on one of his “up” years and had won Liege, and was leading the old WorldTour points competition, so he got to wear the UCI’s white leader’s jersey.
Disgraced riders aside, the pearl white Bianchi 928 looked great under any anyone.
He was riding for Liquigas, and Bianchi made this pearl white 928 for him – accented with the Liquigas green and Bianchi Celeste colors – it was beautiful. When I saw it I ordered one right away from Glory Cycles (in December), but it didn’t arrive until late May 2006. The finish was gorgeous – that pearl white had a deep sparkle, and the touches of color really set it off.
Putting this bike together was a fun exercise in picking the coolest parts from some of the best manufacturers, and (I’ll be the first to admit) taking full advantage of the contacts and reputation we’d earned in the cycling biz.
One of the first SRAM Force gruppos went on this bike.
What components did you run?
Here’s one time when the stars really aligned for me – SRAM was getting into the groupset biz and had just launched their Force gruppo. We got one of the first test groups and their pr man – Michael Zellmann – actually came to PEZ HQ (ie: my house) and personally installed the gruppo on my frame. I was so excited, I spent hours cleaning up my workshop so he’d have a clean place to work.
I was building a special rig and really wanted the parts to be as new and unique as the frame, and Zipp had just introduced their first 303 wheel – it was a carbon & aluminum hybrid that was a long way from their current technology, but was still a great wheel. The technology of the day did not allow for satisfactory full carbon wheels as the carbon braking surfaces available in 2006 did not dissipate heat well enough to ensure the inner tube would hold up under heavy braking (a common problem was hot rims causing the tubes to expand and explode inside the tires). I reviewed the 303’s here, and while they weren’t the lightest wheels around, they offered some good aerodynamics and great ride quality, and looked damn cool.
I managed to procure a pretty rare Fizik Arione saddle in Bianchi’s Celeste green with the dark blue stripe down the middle (they were sponsors of the Liquigas team, and I still have the saddle somewhere), some Celeste bar tape to match, and I was set.
This bike was a blast to ride around the hills of south eastern Holland, and got me handily over the brute called ‘La Redoute’. I swapped wheels to Bontrager’s Aeolus 5.0′s with a PowerTap hub.
How was the ride?
I rode the bike for at least two seasons, logged around 5000km on it, and loved every minute. The ride qualities of the frame left a lot to be desired though – at least by today’s ‘stiff but comfortable’ standard – the 928 was ‘stiff but stiff’. It was after all, built as a race bike for Pro Tour riders, but carbon technology and production was not as advanced then either. The frame was a lugged carbon design, which meant lots of material was used especially at the joints – so it was really stiff, and pretty heavy too. The tube shapes looked cool, but were shaped for stiffness – not compliance. Nor did the high-modulous carbon allow any room to smooth out the ride.
Favorite riding experience on your bike?
I took this bike on some awesome rides – most notable was a trip to the Ardennes Classics in 2007 with Velo Classic Tours. We rode the Amstel Gold cyclosportif, parts of the Fleche Wallone course (including the Mur du Huy – brutal), and a bunch of other great rides in the hills of south eastern Holland. The day before Amstel Gold Race, late in the afternoon, I rode the bike over to the race headquarters to pick up a media pass. The sun was shining, and there was a lot of activity as team personnel arrived to pick up creds and car passes for the next day’s race. I distinctly remember a few heads turning as I rode by – checking out the bike which positively gleamed in the warm Spring sun. (In the words of Joey Tribbiani: “How YOOOU doin..?”)
Alas, I eventually parted ways with the Bianchi, after my workshop became too crowded with other dream bikes. I did find it a good home with a friend of mine, who also rode it for a good couple of seasons – until the frame broke. I don’t know the circumstances behind its demise, but my heart still sinks a little knowing she’s not on the road anymore.
This one came with a way cool stamped metal headbadge… remember those?
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