1994 Bianchi Osprey… my first “real” MTB?

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  • So I picked up a beat up (beausaged?) 1994 Bianchi Osprey MTB frame yesterday to replace my Clydesdale forked bent Specialized Rockhopper kid carrier. Of course in my rush of buying it from the local bike co-op, I neglected it I pick up that it’s 1” threadless and my Clydesdale is 1 1/8”. Great. So what do I do now? I considered selling it to a mate for what I paid for it, or storing it and doing something with it down the track, but I got to tinkering this afternoon and ended up doing some parts swapping with my bikes. I was looking at this Bianchi that I bought and had an idea.

    Firstly the Clydesdale fork went onto my All City Spacehorse. That’s 1 1/8”, so it was a straight swap. I was hesitant to put the Clydesdale on that frame because I don’t love the way they look with 700c rear wheels and 20” front wheels. I saw this Blue Lug build and didn’t mind it and there also this Crust Romanceur on IG and even though it’s not a 700c rear wheel (it’s 650b so just a touch bigger than 26”), it looks good. So the forks were swapped. Still need to do some finishing touches on that with spacers, pedals and the front brake. That’s also 1x10, with decent gears and rear rack mounts that I can carry my son on if I want, so that’s sorted. Currently it’s winter here and we’re barely riding together anyway.

    That left the Specialized fork-less. No biggy, the frame was bent anyway. As much as I tried, I couldn’t bend the seatstay back. I still have the original fork (no 1 1/8” threaded headset though), so I’ll hold on to this frame for the time being.

    As I was lying in bed half-listening to my 5 and a half year old son talk about Minecraft instead of going to sleep, I thought about the Bianchi some more. What will I do with this build? I don’t need another bike and barely have the space for one, but it’s a cool frame and I haven’t built up a bike from the frame up for a while now, so here’s the plan:

    Currently I’m riding my Paconi gravel bike a lot on all sorts of stuff. Gravel, single track, mellow MTB trails…. Some of that riding isn’t that great with 700 x 40c tyres and cantilever brakes. It’d be nice to have something with even bigger tyres and the stopping power of v-brakes. In comes the Bianchi to do some “mountain bike” riding. I’ve never had a mountain bike to do this kind of riding. Granted it’s a 90’s rigid steel frame, but that’s gotta be better than trying to do some of this riding on an old touring frame.

    All the parts currently on the Specialized Rockhopper will swap straight on to the Bianchi.

    • Frame and fork: 1994 Bianchi Osprey with Tange MTB tubes
    • Headset: 1” Ahead (came with the frame)
    • Wheelset: Alex rims (I think?) with Shimano hubs.
    • Tyres: Not sure. Maybe big Maxxis Ikons or something similar with grip
    • Cranks: Sugino Triple
    • BB: Unknown. Probably Shimano UN whatever
    • Pedals: Either Shimano clipless or some flats
    • Front derailleur: Shimano Alivio
    • Rear derailleur: Shimano Sora
    • Cassette: Shimano 11-36 9 speed
    • Brakes: Tektro v-brakes with salmon Kool Stop pads
    • Saddle: Beat up Selle Italia Flite
    • Stem: Nitto UI-5eX, if not long enough, Velo Orange
    • Bars: Sim-Works “Get Around” bars
    • Shifters: Shimano Alivio 3x9 trigger
    • Brake levers: Shimano Alivio
    • Grips: Ergon GA3 grips
    • Bottle cages: Velo Orange “Moderniste”
    • Bell: Rockbros Spurcycle copy

    I might put the Soma Porteur rack and Wald 137 basket from the Spacehorse on here as well. I am so used to having a rack and basket on my Paconi I’d be lost without it. Just gotta make sure the rack will be okay with 26” wheels. I may also go full mudguards as well. I love the look of knobby tyres and mudguards.

    I need to buy a shim for the stem (I think I might have one though), figure out the seat post size and buy that and buy a seat post binder bolt / steal one from another one of my bikes for now. I’ll also have to buy all new cables.

    The frame is cool. All top tube cable routing, a subtle metallic paint and it’s “lugged” (Bianchi Superlug construction: A 1/2 lug was brazed to the tubes then tig-welded to the head tube and seat tube. The idea being that it made a better than joint with a lighter tube than just tig-welding). I’m going to try and clean up the frame and make sure that all the threads are okay. I also have to try and dig out the front wheel that has been packed away for a year.

    Funnily enough when I bought this frame I was wearing a Drive Like Jehu “Yank Crime” t-shirt, which came out in 1994.


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  • Superb.

  • I also really like this Bridgestone. I have a soft spot for steel MTB’s (don’t we all?).

    Also this build for basket MTB inspiration.

    And some more of a similar Bianchi Osprey.

  • Subbed, looks like a cracking frame and now I know that 1" threadless was a thing.

  • It was a strange time for headset sizes… there was 1” and 1 1/8” threaded as well as threadless. It all depends on the manufacturer at the time. The Specialized was a touch older, and that was 1 1/8”, but threaded.

  • Great looking frame. I’m convinced it will end up a great looking bike!

  • Here’s some more photos of the “Superlug”, which is a weird tig weld lug hybrid. I also measured the seat tube and I think it’s a 25.4mm seat post.

    Also found a 1” > 1 1/8” stem shim online for $6 with free postage, so I’ll order that this week.

    Because we’ve moved in with my mother-in-law (very long story), some of my tools are packed away, plus any spare parts. I need to dig through some boxes to find some spacers and my crank puller as well. I didn’t think I’d be building another bike while living here.

    Looking forward to building it up. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to properly scrub it up tomorrow morning. Loving the Tange MTB decals and other decals on it.

    EDIT: Did some googling about the “Project Habitat” decal and came across this.

    “For the last few years, we at Bianchi, have named our mountain bikes after rare and endangered animals to remind everyone that care should be taken when riding through sensitive habitats and to promote minimum impact cycling.”

    ”Apparently Bianchi did its part with its Project Habitat program, helping scientists with bicycle donations to research projects.”

    “In the 90s, Bianchi mountain bikes were all named after endangered species. The lineup at the time of this particular bike, from entry to top, was Ocelot, Nyala, Ibex, Osprey, Peregrine, Grizzly, and Super Grizzly.”


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  • This is gonna be dope. Looking forward to the build!

  • followed

  • subbed - love that frame

  • Most important component purchased tonight... 20 of these in pink.


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  • Second exciting part ordered. A steerer shim to go from 1” to 1 1/8”.

  • I’ve been thinking about the cables on this bike. Not sure if I’ll run white ones to match the decals or that will be too stark against the dark blue frame, or I just go boring black.

  • Maybe something silver like the Velo Orange kits?

  • Yeah, I like that top one.

    I remember seeing a floral cable kit on Instagram a while back, but I have no idea what account it was on, or where to get it.

  • I reckon pink cables could work as well. Or even bianchi green!

  • Hmm. I have pink cable ends. I’m scared it might turn into HHSMTB with coloured cables.

    I like this though.

  • I think you're too afraid of the blue lug/hybrid wanker aesthetic :D (Truth be told I just ordered at roll of 10m black compressionless jagwire housing and use on all of my bikes)
    But the black and silver option doesn't look half bad either

  • I’m okay with the Blue Lug vibes. I don’t have enough MUSA parts though.

  • Yeah.. that's always the issue isn't it? :D

  • I saw these floral cable outers on IG, and I’ve messaged them to see where they got it. I remember seeing it was an eBay thing, but no idea what to search.


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  • Picked up two of these today for $70 AUD. Wire bead but whatever.

    Also considering one of these racks for the front basket instead of the Soma Porteur rack.

  • I have a very similar Osprey. I believe mine is a bit more recent model, it has stickers for "superset2"-tubing, probably the same tubes to be honest. My GT Ricochet from same year weights nearly the same (5.2lbs) and it features Tange MTB double butted tubes. Sheldon Brown (himself) has some version of the Osprey listed in his history of bikes, if it is good enough for him...

    I suggest try to find a skinny stem to go with the shim. The tubes are quite thin in this and in my humble opinion most of the 28,6/31.8 stems don't fit the aesthetic as well. Looking forward to see you put this one together...

    First time visiting this forum and I feel the urge to post my bikes... Not much effort put into this one but it is still one of my favourites. Frame is not the lightest but I dig the geometry and lugs are cool. My gf rides it nowadays as I have spiraled deeper into the retro mtb madness.

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1994 Bianchi Osprey… my first “real” MTB?

Posted by Avatar for Verbs_&_Nouns @Verbs_&_Nouns

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