Here at Budget Bicycle Center, we have always embraced history. We love looking back at the development of bicycle technology and where it will take us into the future. While we have the pleasure of working with several companies with a great and storied history, none is so respite with heritage, palmarès, and innovation as Bianchi. In 1885, Eduoardo Bianchi, a 21 year old medical instrument maker opened a small bicycle repair shop on Via Nirone 7 in Milan, Italy. 125 years later, Bianchi is the oldest bicycle company still in production today.[caption id="attachment_125" align="alignleft" width="158" caption="Bianchi logo with Queen Maghareta's crown"][/caption]
Eduoardo introduced the first bicycle with equal sized wheels in 1886. He was the first bicycle manufacturer to use pneumatic tires, later using John Dunlop’s tires. Around 1895 Bianchi built one of the first woman’s specific bicycles. He presented the bicycle to Italian Queen Maghareta(namesake of the Maghareta pizza), famously teaching her how to ride. The adventurous queen was so grateful that she bestowed her crown unto Eduoardo’s marque. In 1896, Bianchi opened the Reparto Corse (race department). The idea was to use races as a testing and proving ground for new technologies. This concept, now commonplace among bicycle, motorcycle, and automobile racing companies alike, was groundbreaking in the 19th century. Bianchi’s Reparto Corse had early success, with Giovanni Tommaselli winning the Grand Prix of Paris, a precursor to the Tour de Fance. In 1911, Carlo Galetti won the Giro d’Italia on a Bianchi.
Bianchi grew exponentially through the early 20th century, building a reputation as the premier racing bicycle company. By 1914, Bianchi was producing 1,000 automobiles, 15,000 motorcycles, and 45,000 bicycles per year. Given their manufacturing prowess, the Italian government compelled Bianchi to produce arms and gear for the military. In 1913, over 60 years before Gary Fisher ever rode a Klunker down Mt. Tam, Bianchi produced the first mountain bike. The model 1912 was a full suspension off-road bike that folded small enough for a soldier to carry as a backpack.[caption id="attachment_126" align="alignleft" width="144" caption="The cambio corsa"][/caption]
Bianchi enjoyed many race victories after WWI, most notablyTano Belloni’s 1920 Giro win. In 1935 Bianchi became the first to use Campagnolo’s Cambio Corsa, a rod operated gear changing system. That same year, Giuseppe Olmo broke the hour record on a Bianchi.
In 1940 Il Campionissimo, Fausto Coppi joined team Bianchi, ushering in one of the most dominant professional cycling careers ever. Coppi became the first rider ever to with the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in the same year (1949). This feat was (and largely still is) thought to be impossible. The last person to win the double was Marco Pantani in 1998. Like Coppi, Pantani won on a Bianchi.[caption id="attachment_130" align="alignright" width="218" caption="Il Campionissimo"][/caption]
Copi went on to win 5 Giros d’Itaia, 2 Tours de France, and a multitude of other major one day races. Since Coppi, Bianchi has provided winning bicycles to Giro, Tour and World champions alike. Names such as Felice Gimondi, Moreno Argentin, Jan Ulrich, Danilo di Luca,Julien Absalom, and Mario Cippolini have all ridden to victory aboard Bianchis.
Bianchi’s leading technology and Reparto Course tested still lead the peleton today. For 2011, Bianchi is sponsering two of Italy’s best professional teams. Italian pro continental team Ceramica Flaminia had a very impressive 2010 season riding the Bianchi 928, and is looking better than ever for 2011. Bianchi is also sponsoring the Androni Giocattoli team for 2011. Led by director sportives Gianni Savio and Marco Bellini, the Italian pro continental team finished the 2010 season ranked 17th overall, garnishing better results than several Pro Tour teams. For 2011 the team will be led by cagey veteran Michele Scarponi and poweredby the Italian rocket ship - Bianchi Oltre.
Led by the Oltre, Bianchi is introducing several new cutting edge bicycles for 2011.A bit more affordable, the Sempre is Bianchi’s new carbon race machine featuring Bianchi’s proprietary UTSS seat stays, nano power carbon frame, and super stiff BB30 bottom bracket. Bianchi has also released a new carbon fiber cyclocross bike and has updated its stage race and all day ride, the Infinito. In addition to these great road bikes, Budget Bicycle Center also stocks the super sleek and fun Milano Alfine, an 8 speed internally geared cafe racer. Its great for city and bike path riding and looks fantastic in Bianchi’s signature celeste color with matching fenders.[caption id="attachment_131" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Bianchi Milano"][/caption]
And what of that signature color? Bianchi began using their emblematic minty green color after WWII. There are several prevailing legends regarding the color’s origin. Some believe it is modeled after Queen Maghareta’s eyes. Others say it is the color of Milan’s sky. My favorite story is that after WWII, Bianchi was overloaded with olive drab paint that they used while manufacturing for the army. Bianchi simply mixed this paint with white, and celeste was born. Whatever the origin, celeste has come to stand for Bianchi’s (and indeed Italy’s) cycling heritage. It is a color that instantly recalls the greatness of Coppi, Pantani, Bartagli, Gimondi, and of course Eduoardo Bianchi himself. At Budget Bicycle Center, we are proud to carry on Bianchi’s proud tradition by offering you their fast and gorgeous bikes. 125 years in business and still going strong. Forza Bianchi!
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