Last Updated 23 May 2018
Stef dropped me a line and some pictures of his Bianchi X4 Argentin, with a question …. “hello,i’m from belgium and this is a great input to read !, i was longtime searching for a bianchi argentin, I finally find one but i dont know if it is the real thing,can you help me ? because some parts are not pantographed in the same way on the frame ,if you can help me,how can i send you pics ? many thanks,stef”
Stef then sent me some photos of his black and celeste Bianchi in the hope that I might help him identify whether the frame is actually a Bianchi Argentin X4 or not. There are two features on Stef’s X4 that are different to what you’d expect.
1. The top eyes aren’t the engraved version that you see on all Bianchi X4’s, the unembellished top eye (seat stay end) styling on Stef’s Bianchi are more reminiscent of the Proto Max or later Bianchi’s when lugs began to give way to lugless frame construction.
2. Then there’s the fork crown with the same Bianchi engraving as the rare internal fork crown Bianchi X4’s, yet it’s an external crown. The fork blades are the same perfectly shaped airfoil blades found on Bianchi X4’s. Apart from those two details Stef’s Bianchi checks out to match the requirements outlined in “The Bianchi X4 Code”.
This Bianchi Specialissima X4 is from a run of Bianchi X4's from the early 1990's, all of these X4's have the identical fork crown and seat stay top eyes. Under the bottom bracket you will find a completely different serial number starting with BCOC. All other Bianchi X4's have a run of serial numbers beginning with B. in 1986, by late 1992 the serial numbers had progressed right through C. D. E. F. G. and then H. for the very last Bianchi Specialissima X4's. C. serial numbers were also used on the last of the Bianchi X3's, simply crossing over with the new C. numbers onto the first X4's.
Of interest are two details on the top tube of the Stef’s Argentin X4. It’s possible that this X4 was used for racing, it has a braze on number hanger and is devoid of a pump peg. I've found three of these with number hangers. Stef reckon’s the paint is the factory original Bianchi Reparto Corse paint, it looks that way, especially with the Bianchi Reparto Corse decal. I know from my own experience just how difficult it is to reproduce this exact decal.
From 1988, Bianchi X4’s were built with an internally routed rear brake cable, Stef’s Bianchi Argentin has a slight variation, as the front braze on for the cable routing is located underneath the top tube instead of on the top. With these BCOC X4 variants, cable routing is always internal, and varies from frame to frame with routing through either the top or the bottom of the top tube.
When Stef sent in the pictures of his X4, the first photos showed the bike built up with Shimano components. Once we’d agreed that this frame was an important example for it’s deviation from the norm, Stef then stripped down the frame and cleaned it up to deliver the images you see here. A big thanks to Stef for going the whole hog. Stef won’t have this any other way and has assured me that once this Argentin X4 frame is rebuilt, it will be completed with all Campagnolo components.
I’m often asked, what’s the difference between a celeste Bianchi X4 and the Bianchi Argentin version?
Bianchi produced the Specialissima X4 for six years between 1986 and 1991. To this day some believe that the X4 was the finest and most beautiful steel race bike ever produced. Obviously others would place completely different brands and bikes at the top of their list, but it’s fair to say the Bianchi X4 has captured the imagination of Bianchi aficionados worldwide.
Undoubtedly the celeste and chrome X4 represents a pure version of the hundred year Bianchi history up to 1985, yet for some Bianchistas, the Bianchi Argentin X4 is their numero uno.
Early in 1986 pro riders on the Sammontana Bianchi team were seen and photographed on the new celeste and black Bianchi team bikes. At the same time consumer versions were beginning to be sold and were listed in January 1986 Bianchi catalogues and price lists. At the Milan show in 1985, Bianchi had listed in their price guide, only the Bianchi X3 and the Centenario, with no hint of an X4 in sight. These two things give us an almost definite date of January 1986 for the launch of the Bianchi X4.
The X4 was displayed at the Cologne show around that time, Bicicport magazine didn't make a big deal of the X4, reporting only that there were many new Bianchi models including mountain bikes. In the beginning, it seems the legendary Bianchi X4 was ushered in, to a quiet start.
Moreno Argentin won the 1986 monument, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, then the defining moment for the “Bianchi Argentin” version of the X4 came on the 6th of September 1986. Crossing the finish line on a black and celeste Bianchi X4, Moreno Argentin cemented first place at the 1986 World Championship road race, ensuring the reputation of this now famous team bike. Run around a hilly course at the Air Force base near Colorado Springs, Argentin defeated Charly Mottet who’d sat on Argentin’s wheel and would not come through for a turn at the front in the last kilometres. Once the last two hundred metres were in sight, Argentin made his dash for the line, Mottet’s legs held no answer. Since that day Argentin’s world championship winning Bianchi X4 has been made available for public display. The bike shows it’s link to the Centenario, with it’s 3ttt AR LA 84 stem engraved with “Bianchi Centenario 1985". A top tube decal pays homage to the Bianchi Centenario with “Centenario 1985”. Argentin’s seat stay top eyes also had the word CENTENARIO cast or pantographed into them. These rare pro team bikes state clearly the link between the Centenario and the X4.
Despite the fact that Argentin's Sammontana Bianchi team mates were racing in 1986 on the same black and celeste X4 bikes, Argentin’s wins in the Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the world championship overshadowed the exploits of the other Bianchi team riders, aligning this famous team bike with his own name, and it stuck.
The following year a group of three bike shops in Los Angeles convinced Bianchi Italy to ship fourteen exact replica Bianchi Argentin’s to the United States. In 1988 you could buy an Argentin X4 in Japan, officially listed as a Bianchi - X-4 Argentin in the 1988 Japanese Bianchi catalogue, next to it was the standard X4 version.
Almost thirty years on and the Bianchi Argentin black and celeste paint scheme has become a popular choice, with some celeste and chrome Bianchi X4’s being converted over to the Argentin paint scheme. Whether you prefer your Bianchi X4 in celeste and chrome, or it has to be an X-4 Argentin, one thing is certain …. neither of these rare Bianchi’s are easily found for sale.