New life for old bicycles

The start of it all.

Really, the story begins with a 2020 Bianchi Torino Dama. Which, you may notice, isn't a vintage bike at all. What it is, however, is conpletely unavailable. My spouse decided if she was going to start riding a bike again, that's what she wanted for Mother's Day.

Coincidentally, Mother's Day was also right about when the bike stores across the U.S. ran completely out of Bianchi stock. There were no 2020 Torino Damas. Or 2019. Or anything else Bianchi. Soon, few bikes of any kind would be on the shelves.

With patience growing thin and waiting times growing longer, it was time to find a stopgap bike. So I started scouring the local classifieds on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. After a couple of weeks, I spotted a scruffy KHS Aero Sport.

The KHS, as found.

The Aero Sport featured a mostly chrome moly frame and reasonably workable Suntour components for its time, and was a good example of a late-'80s lower-mid-range Japanese bike. This one appeared to be pretty solid, despite a lot of grime and neglect, and the mixte-like lines led us to believe it could be a very pretty neighborhood bike. So we struck the deal and brought it home.

Before it could even come in the house, though, we gave it a quick initial clean, removed the crumbling foam grips and worn-out wicker basket, and then stepped back to get a sense of what we were working with.

The KHS on day one.



The rebuild #

With apologies for the dearth of photos in this first rebuild, it went something like this: First, I stripped everything, all the way down to the bare frame. I could tell that the dingy tan color wasn't not what KHS intended, so I did a deep and vigorous scrubdown with Turtle Wax Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound and discovered originally it was a very nice metallic pearl. It took a lot of scrubbing, but eventually the paint came back to pearlescence nicely.

I also stripped the KHS decals. They sure weren't adding anything to the aesthetics. Goof Off helped remove the sticker residue, but honestly, it didn't work as well as I wanted it to. If anyone knows of a better product, I'd love to hear it.

With the frame and fork properly shined up and ready, it was time to begin the rebuild in earnest.

I rebuilt the existing bottom bracket, cleaning everything thoroughly, then packing the bearings well with Finish Line teflon grease.

The cleaned-up crankset.

I replaced the 52/42 Biopace chainrings with a nice set of pretty 50/40 rings I found on Ebay, and both the original Sugino VP cranks and the new rings took a nice shine, thanks to Mother's aluminum polish. The photo here shows it all after the first round of polishing, with the new KMC chain. I subsequently ended up removing the chain to go in for a second round of polishing.

The original headset and stem also cleaned up well with a bit of Mother's. The headset, like the bottom bracket, was repacked with teflon grease.

Aluminum Origin8 pro-rise bars replaced the original steel bars, along with new clamp-on leather-look grips and -- of course -- a quick polish on the original brake levers and brakes. Jagwire celeste brake cables and shifter cables were used all around. Of course, new brake pads were fitted, too.

Rear end.

Both wheels were cleaned up and repacked with teflon grease, and a new Shimano six-speed freewheel gear cluster was fitted. I love the chromed chainstay protector KHS fitted on these. You can also see the Schwalbe tires I picked up before it became so hard to find tires and tubes. 2020... sigh. Speaking of tubes, I did manage to find new ones and felt lucky for it.

Ring ring goes the bell.

This stylish little bell proved to be a delightful detail.

Principessa decals.

As were the custom printed "Principessa" waterslide decals, which really helped complete the theme.

The first iteration done.

A big, comfy brown seat (no longer available), celeste water bottle holder and not-scary plastic pedals were also requested. With their installation, the first iteration was complete.

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See all the KHS Aerosport posts.

Tags: khs principessa