the world's oldest bicycle manufacturing company still in existence,
will be celebrating it's 125th anniversary this year. They recently
signed a new contract with the Italy-based communication and marketing
agency Vitesse. Lets hope that is an indication that special anniversary
products will be coming our way this year.
It was in the year 1885 when Edoardo Bianchi, then 21 years old, started his enterprise as a bicycle manufacturer in his little shop in Milan, at via Nirone. The deep innovative zeal distinguished him above all the constructors of his era.
His first idea, conceived 125 years ago, was to reduce the diameter of the front wheel and balance the gap of the motion with the application of a chain, which had just been invented by the Frenchman Vincent, and then to lower down the height of the pedals. And so “Safety” was born: a safety cycle and the very first modern bicycle.
One of the main advantages of this new means of transport was stability: no acrobatics were need to keep balance. Then Edoardo designed a similar vehicle, whose wheel diameter was further reduced and which had both front and rear wheels almost of the same size. Italy found out the manufacturer that would have marked the Italian production all through the century.
“little blacksmith”, as he was called, moved his workshop from via
Nirone to via Bertani to enlarge it. In this new working place, he
produced, in 1888, the first bicycle with tyres, a recent invention by
the Scottish veterinary Dunlop.
In 1901, Edoardo Bianchi presented the first bicycle ever featuring a cardan joint transmission.
Industrial successes, anyway, didn’t stop him from research and innovations.
In 1915, Bianchi produced a bike for the Army, equipped with wide-section tyres, folding frame and suspensions on both wheels. This original bicycle was consigned to the Royal Light Infantry Corp, the “Bersaglieri”, who used it as an off-road vehicle from the Alps to the African deserts: it was the first mountain bike, the ancestor of all the modern versions.
1916: the three Bianchi logos.
successes in the sport went along with those achieved at industrial
level and the ‘celeste’ bicycles kept winning all around the world.
In 1935, with 50 years of history and experience, Bianchi was a huge company, the absolute leader of the Italian market, producing over 70.000 bicycles a year.
Sales success however didn’t divert Bianchi’s attention from competitions: in fact, sports undertakings got a new drive from Fausto Coppi’s deeds.
won his first Tour de France in 1949, when everybody guessed he was
already out of the game, after the crash during the Saint Malò stage
that loaded him with a huge delay. Instead, he managed to gain one hour
over the little Frenchman Marinelli, who was wearing the yellow jersey
of the race leader, and to catch up with Bartali, who finished second
with a delay of 11’. He was the first rider ever to get the Giro and the
Tour in the same year, an impossible deed in the physiologists’
opinion. Always in 1949, he gained the World Champion title in the
pursuit race for the second time.
1955: Bianchi squad of 1954-1955: Milano, Coppi, Gismondi, mechanic Pinella De Grandi, Gaggero, Favero, Carrea, Filippi
Fausto Coppi didn’t want to win a lot; he rather wanted to win “in a good way”. He was one of the few riders, in all the cycling history, who succeeded in achieving his aim.
In 1973, Bianchi won its second World Championship title with Felice Gimondi.
In 1987, Bianchi took over the Austrian trademark “Puch”.
In 1995, Bianchi re-engineered in-depth its city bike models through the “City Project” aimed to equip them, for the first time ever, with avant-garde frames, built according to the most updated ergonomic parameters.
The year of the triumph. Marco Pantani leaves everybody behind both at
Giro d’Italia and Tour de France: a double win conquered just by few, to
prove himself and the others he’s not only the man of one-day-win and
meaningless mountain escapes. The best Pirate, the portrait of sheer
joy: the man everybody wants and continues to remember.
After 19 years Bianchi is back as first sponsor of a professional
outfit: Jan Ullrich leads the Bianchi team and at the Centenary Tour de
France he stirs the crowd of fans by challenging Lance Armstrong,
defeating him in the time trial race and getting the honour placement in
the overall ranking.
May 1997 F.I.V. Edoardo Bianchi is part of Cycleurope A.B. group, the
Swedish company of the Grimaldi group, known as the worldwide most
important holding in the cycling sector.