Specialissima Bianchi X-4 Argentin

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.

The top eye’s 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.

Stef's Bianchi Argentin X4, showing the two major differences to other Bianchi X4 bikes. The external fork crown with engraving that you'd expect to find on an internal Bianchi X4 fork crown. Different top eyes, no engraved and gold painted cursive Bianchi script.
Stef's Bianchi Argentin X4, showing the two major differences to other Bianchi X4 bikes. The external fork crown with engraving that you'd expect to find on an internal Bianchi X4 fork crown. Different top eyes, no engraved and gold painted cursive Bianchi script.

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, potentially a one off. Yet 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”.

I reckon Stef’s Bianchi Argentin is the real deal, check out the photos and let us know what you think.

Of interest are two details on the top tube of the Stef’s Argentin X4. It’s possible that this X4 was a Bianchi team bike, it has a braze on number hanger and is devoid of a pump peg. 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. If Stef’s Bianchi was a team bike, this may explain the difference in the seat stay attachment too, as it could well have been a personal preference, specified by the original rider or even a test bike.

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.

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.

Debut of the Argentin Bianchi X4, early 1986 Sammontana Bianchi, months later Moreno Argentin would win the world championship at Colorado Springs.
Debut of the Argentin Bianchi X4, early 1986 Sammontana Bianchi, months later Moreno Argentin would win the world championship at Colorado Springs.

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.

Milan Bicycle Show 1985, Bianchi advertisement for the Centenario, inserted into the catalogue. The end of an era, the Bianci x3 was about to be retired and replaced with the next Bianchi experiment in steel, the Bianchi X4. The Centenario was the flagship version of the X3 and X4 Bianchi's, representing one hundred years of Bianchi production. A few months later the Sammontana Bianchi team would appear on the roads of Europe riding the black and celeste version, a combination of engraved Centenario parts on an X4, which was subsequently promoted by Bianchi as the X4-Argentin.
Milan Bicycle Show 1985, Bianchi advertisement for the Centenario, inserted into the catalogue. The end of an era, the Bianci x3 was about to be retired and replaced with the next Bianchi experiment in steel, the Bianchi X4. The Centenario was the flagship version of the X3 and X4 Bianchi's, representing one hundred years of Bianchi production. A few months later the Sammontana Bianchi team would appear on the roads of Europe riding the black and celeste version, a combination of engraved Centenario parts on an X4, which was subsequently promoted by Bianchi as the X4-Argentin.

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.

BJ Sport Japan Inc, 1988 Bianchi X4 catalogue lists lists two versions of the Bianchi X4, including the X-4 Argentin. The black and celeste Bianchi team bike, available to the public and officially named the the X-4 Argentin.
BJ Sport Japan Inc, 1988 Bianchi X4 catalogue lists lists two versions of the Bianchi X4, including the X-4 Argentin. The black and celeste Bianchi team bike, available to the public and officially named the the X-4 Argentin.

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.

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All photograph's below of Stef's unique Bianchi Argentin, by Stef.

Bianchi X4's from 1988 to the final year of production in 1991 had an internally routed rear brake cable. An easy to spot an X4 and get rough idea of it's production year, 1986 and 1987 Bianchi X4's had the old school top tube eyelets.
Bianchi X4's from 1988 to the final year of production in 1991 had an internally routed rear brake cable. An easy to spot an X4 and get rough idea of it's production year, 1986 and 1987 Bianchi X4's had the old school top tube eyelets.
Silva brake bridge on the Argentin Bianchi X4, with Bianchi cursive font. Some Bianchi X4's brake bridges were engraved with a sans serif font like Arial, and some are engraved on both sides of the bridge. The bridge used in this X4 is still available today from Silva Cod 211 or 452. Some 1986 X4's, probably the first production versions were kitted out with a different Silva bridge, Ponticelli - or Square Bridges .. Cod : 205.
Silva brake bridge on the Argentin Bianchi X4, with Bianchi cursive font. Some Bianchi X4's brake bridges were engraved with a sans serif font like Arial, and some are engraved on both sides of the bridge. The bridge used in this X4 is still available today from Silva Cod 211 or 452. Some 1986 X4's, probably the first production versions were kitted out with a different Silva bridge, Ponticelli - or Square Bridges .. Cod : 205.
Nice clean lines with Bianchi X4 investment cast bottom bracket. Black paint on the chain stays, some X4's being restored today which once had chrome chain stays and only celeste paint are being converted over to the Bianchi Argentin black and celeste paint scheme. A lot less work than restoring the chrome.
Nice clean lines with Bianchi X4 investment cast bottom bracket. Black paint on the chain stays, some X4's being restored today which once had chrome chain stays and only celeste paint are being converted over to the Bianchi Argentin black and celeste paint scheme. A lot less work than restoring the chrome.
A defining feature of the Bianchi X4, B cast into either side of the investment cast BB. It's difficult to keep the gold factory paint on the B lettering, a few coats are required to give the gold depth.
A defining feature of the Bianchi X4, B cast into either side of the investment cast BB. It's difficult to keep the gold factory paint on the B lettering, a few coats are required to give the gold depth.
This Bianchi Argentin X4 may have been a team bike, it has number clip braze on. Showing also the internal routing for the rear brake cable.
This Bianchi Argentin X4 may have been a team bike, it has number clip braze on. Showing also the internal routing for the rear brake cable.
Investment cast bottom bracket, chrome under the Bianchi celeste paint. Some Bianchi frames were entirely chromed under the paint. A lot of work polishing to get the quality paint finish over the top of the chrome.
Investment cast bottom bracket, chrome under the Bianchi celeste paint. Some Bianchi frames were entirely chromed under the paint. A lot of work polishing to get the quality paint finish over the top of the chrome.
Silva brake bridge on an SLX Columbus Bianchi X4 Argentin.
Silva brake bridge on an SLX Columbus Bianchi X4 Argentin.
Defining features that make this Argentin Bianchi X4 different. Seat stay top eyes are not engraved /pantographed. The fork crown is an external fork crown with engraving / casting of the word Bianchi. Some very early 1986 Bianchi X4's were shipped with an internal fork crown and the same engraved or cast Bianchi detailing.
Defining features that make this Argentin Bianchi X4 different. Seat stay top eyes are not engraved /pantographed. The fork crown is an external fork crown with engraving / casting of the word Bianchi. Some very early 1986 Bianchi X4's were shipped with an internal fork crown and the same engraved or cast Bianchi detailing.
As a rule of thumb, from 1988 two changes to the Bianchi X4 remained until 1991. One was the internally routed rear gear cable, the other, most Bianchi X4's after 1988 appear in catalogues as being available in Columbus TSX. Pre 1988 versions were generally offered in Columbus SLX and even Colmbus SPX is noted as an option in the 1987 American Bianchi catalogue.
As a rule of thumb, from 1988 two changes to the Bianchi X4 remained until 1991. One was the internally routed rear gear cable, the other, most Bianchi X4's after 1988 appear in catalogues as being available in Columbus TSX. Pre 1988 versions were generally offered in Columbus SLX and even Colmbus SPX is noted as an option in the 1987 American Bianchi catalogue.
Those airfoil shaped seat stays compliment the aero shaped fork blades, a defining feature of all Bianchi X4 variants.
Those airfoil shaped seat stays compliment the aero shaped fork blades, a defining feature of all Bianchi X4 variants.
The mid 1980's Bianchi decals moved to the "winged" variant. Apparently the gold and blue sections complimenting the font on the decals is a modern styling of the wings on the Bianchi coat of arms.
The mid 1980's Bianchi decals moved to the "winged" variant. Apparently the gold and blue sections complimenting the font on the decals is a modern styling of the wings on the Bianchi coat of arms.
Reparto Corse Bianchi decal on the non drive side chain stay. One of hardest details to get right if you are re-painting a Bianchi X4. Reparto Corse decals are either not included in decal sets, or they're the wrong size and interpretation of the original.
Reparto Corse Bianchi decal on the non drive side chain stay. One of hardest details to get right if you are re-painting a Bianchi X4. Reparto Corse decals are either not included in decal sets, or they're the wrong size and interpretation of the original.
Unique detailing, you'd expect the top eyes to match other Bianchi X4's yet this Argentin X4 variant is devoid of the gold painted cursive script. Still an X4, despite the lack of this subtle detail.
Unique detailing, you'd expect the top eyes to match other Bianchi X4's yet this Argentin X4 variant is devoid of the gold painted cursive script. Still an X4, despite the lack of this subtle detail.
If you know the speed bicycles Bianchi X4, or are familiar with the 1986 catalogue version, you'll know the internal fork crown has the same engraved or investment cast Bianchi font. Yet this Bianchi X4 Argentin has an external version of the same fork crown concept, making it a unique version.
If you know the speed bicycles Bianchi X4, or are familiar with the 1986 catalogue version, you'll know the internal fork crown has the same engraved or investment cast Bianchi font. Yet this Bianchi X4 Argentin has an external version of the same fork crown concept, making it a unique version.
The Bianchi "B" contained within the investment cast Bianchi Argentin X4 lug.
The Bianchi "B" contained within the investment cast Bianchi Argentin X4 lug.
Right up to the 1991 final year version of the Bianchi X4, the frames were supplied and fitted with Campagnolo Corsa Record, friction shift levers. This was one constant for the entire six year production run. The Bianchi X4 fits squarely at the very end of the down tube friction gear shift lever era.
Right up to the 1991 final year version of the Bianchi X4, the frames were supplied and fitted with Campagnolo Corsa Record, friction shift levers. This was one constant for the entire six year production run. The Bianchi X4 fits squarely at the very end of the down tube friction gear shift lever era.
Drive side of Bianchi X4 investment cast bottom bracket.
Drive side of Bianchi X4 investment cast bottom bracket.
Campagnolo dropouts, other Bianchi models of the era were kitted out with Gipiemme or other dropouts. The Bianchi X4 internally routed rear derailleur cable exits neatly near the end of the chain stay.
Campagnolo dropouts, other Bianchi models of the era were kitted out with Gipiemme or other dropouts. The Bianchi X4 internally routed rear derailleur cable exits neatly near the end of the chain stay.
Black, celeste and gold a popular colour scheme for Bianchi X4 aficionado's.
Black, celeste and gold a popular colour scheme for Bianchi X4 aficionado's.
Edoardo Bianchi engraved - pantographed head tube in black and gold on Stef's Bianchi Argentin X4 Specialissima.
Edoardo Bianchi engraved - pantographed head tube in black and gold on Stef's Bianchi Argentin X4 Specialissima.