“Hope” is the thing with feathers, That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops ... at all - Emily Dickenson

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

M.Bonvicini Transfers

Among other vintage bicycles, I own a 1948 Italian road bicycle labeled as an "M.Bonvicini - Bologna" (differentiating it from another unrelated Bonvicini bicycle company from Torino). It has an M.Bonvicini brass headbadge, M.Bonvicini labeled crankarm and seatpost collar, even a B on the stem bolt.

It came to me with a painted front stub fender, but currently has a full set of reproduction fenders which required some modification of the stay lengths to fit the Cambio Corsa rear dropouts. Eventually they will be painted and pinstriped to match the original stub fender.

By dating the spokes, which are 1952+ vintage and the rims, it would appear that the wheelset was rebuilt in about '52, replacing the tubular tire rims with clincher rims. Other than that this bicycle is pretty much original except for the consumables - tires, bar tape, brake pads and cables.

1. What I know:

Marino (aka Mario) Bonvicini was a bicycle racer specializing in one-day races. In 1927 he was on the a Giro d'Italia team with Giovanni Brunero, Tullio Campagnolo, Alfredo Binda and brother Albino Binda. Marino placed second in the first stage and eventually Alfredo Binda won the overall, as he often did.
Within three years Marino Bonvicini had given up bicycle racing to race motorcycles. After the depression and WWII intervened he launched the BM Bonvicini motorcycle company, which from 1952 to 1970 manufactured elegant lightweight motorcycles and mass market mopeds.

BM Bonvicini Jaguarino
Marino Bonvicini died in 1984. 

2. What I suspect: 

This bicycle seems to be a one-off, at least I haven't been able find another and I have seriously scoured the internet searching for one or reference to one. I believe the frame was actually built by Francesco Galmozzi. I have owned three Ciclo Galmozzi bicycles, one of which was the same era. This has an identical seat cluster, lug style and thickness, and the distinctive Galmozzi signature cut and drilled fork crown.

Whether it was Bonvicini's personal vanity bicycle or a prototype for a line of bicycles that never came to be, we will likely never know. The clincher tires plus a rear reflector mounted on the brake caliper would seem to indicate that it eventually became a daily rider for someone. Whoever did own it, rode it and maintained it well. And misplaced the fenders in an Italian garage or basement ;-)

3. Decals:
It all began when I went looking for a rim decal to replace the one missing from the front rim. There are few people who make vintage bicycle decals, but none for this rather obscure rim. I was connected with Mr. Gustavo Salmon who had me photograph and measure the existing rear decal. Within a few days I had two new decals.

Then things started to get really serious. There was the ghost of a missing star decal on the seat tube and the remaining decals were seriously degraded.

How does one reproduce missing or degraded decals on a one-off bicycle? There are no others out there to copy to get it right. Gus drafted iterations of the star. While he had my poor photo to work with, I could actually see the vague outline. Eventually I sent him photos of the headbadge which had the same "B" on a chain-ring which was on the star ghost.

The game was on. Those degraded silver shield blob decals were also represented on the headbadge. I made a graphite rubbing of the headbadge and sent a photograph of it with careful measurements to Mr. Salmon, who was able to reproduce it.

The down-tube lettering was easier to reproduce. I took a decent photo and measured the lettering height and length. Gus seemed to embrace concept of conjuring something from the past out of almost nothing as a challenge.

This is a much abbreviated tale of the time and labor required on both ends. A thank you to Mr. Gustavo Salmon. Normally he could catalog a decal set for the potential next buyer. For this set he spent a lot of his time, sweat and skill on a set of decals that he will never sell again.
- Gunnar


George A said...

Having little mysteries to figure out are sometimes the best part of collecting. They force you towards a deeper understanding of what it is that you're attempting to restore. The twists and turns can, at times, be startling.

Unknown said...

Super thankful to be a part of this project and very flattered to be trusted with such beautiful bike preservation.