From the Archives: The Benotto
As poor as it is, this is the only photo I have showing the Benotto. It was a late-80s frame which, I am almost positive, I purchased in 1989. The frame was grey at the head tube, fading to black on both the top and down tubes. The fork was chromed. The saddle was a Concor - what else would it be from that time period? The white Look's were probably my first pair of clipless pedals. I am not exactly positive, but the brake levers look like Campy Ergo levers. I got my first pair of those in 1992 (Athena's) which may date this to that year, or 1993, but no later. Of course, if there are down tube shifters on it, then this photo is likely from 1989 or 1990. I got the ol' yellow Basso in '91, but kept the Benotto built up as a backup bike and to use on rollers during the winter. I can't imagine I would have brought the Benotto on my annual Autumn trip to June Lake after I had the Basso, which makes the later dates seem unlikely. I still can't shake the idea that those are Ergo levers though. At the end of 1994 I bought a GT, the Basso was packed away for future use, and the Benotto was sold to a teammate, Dennis.
I have always considered the Benotto to have been my first higher quality racing bike. There is no question it was a step up from anything I owned previously.
The Benotto story dates back to 1931, the two brothers Benotto (Giacinto and Cesare) began manufacturing bicycles in Torino, Italy; those operations expanded to Venezuela, and then Mexico, under the direction of Felice Benotto, in 1953. The family / management had been very interested in opportunities in the Latin American market since at least 1948, and though Italian production continued until 1983 or 1984, it became overshadowed by the Mexican manufacturing facility. Though it may be tempting to think the move out of Italy had something to do with competition with other established bike makers, it should be noted that Benotto bicycles were ridden with great success by some of the world's best racers, including Francesco Moser and Ole Ritter. Three World Championships were won on Benotto bikes within the company's first twenty years of existence. The first Giro d'Italia following the end of World War II (1946) was also won on a Benotto.