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Bianchi, a Tradition of Innovation - Part 1

Author: admin / Comments: 0

Bianchi, the world's oldest bicycle manufacturing company still in existence, will be celebrating its 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.

Edoardo Bianchi personal photo.

The history of Bianchi:

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.

  • The first idea!
  • 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.

  • The first bicycle with tyres
  • The "little blacksmith” produced, in 1888, the first bicycle with tyres, a recent invention by the Scottish veterinary Dunlop.

  • The first bicycle for ladies
  • In 1895, Edoardo Bianchi created, especially for the Queen, the first lady's bike. Since the very beginning of his activity, Edoardo Bianchi had been very keen-witted about innovations and watchful about the sports sector. Bicycle competitions were just the perfect chance for the young manufacturer to test his new technical solutions before taking them to production.
    Bianchi's first international sport success dates back to 1899, when Tomaselli won the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris. This is how Bianchi's adventure started: sports competitions fuelled the growth of an enterprise which was born just four years before as a workshop, but was going to become one of the most important industries in the world.

  • Inventions keep coming… first cardan joint transmission, front brake system…
  • In 1901, Edoardo Bianchi presented the first bicycle ever featuring a cardan joint transmission.
    In 1913 he invented the front brake system;
    By 1914 Bianchi was a famous and reputed manufacturer: in just one year, production settled on extraordinary figures: 45.000 bicycles, 1.500 motorbikes and 1.000 cars.
    Industrial successes, anyway, didn't stop him from research and innovations.

  • Army bikes
  • 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.
    Bianchi's successes in the sport went along with those achieved at industrial level and the 'celeste' bicycles kept winning all around the world.

  • Success in sports
  • The first great champion, whose name remains forever bond to Bianchi's history, was Costante Girardengo.
    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.

    1939 squad of Leoni, Lunardon, Bini, Gosi, Olmo, Bailo, Romanatti, Marabelli, and Bergamaschi. Fausto Coppi's adventure with Bianchi started in 1940, with his first victory at the Giro d'Italia. His second big deed occurred in 1942, when he got the world hour record title. In 1947, Coppi became World Champion in the pursuit race and also gained his second Giro d'Italia.

    Coppi 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. Also in 1949, he gained the World Champion title in the pursuit race for the second time.

    In 1952, the Tour organizers tried to enliven the Grand Boucle race by introducing some special prizes. And again, Coppi took the win of the Tour and the Giro in the same season.
    In 1953, he won the on-road World Championship and his 5th Giro: these 5 successes, unique and incomparable for manner and style, inspired popular tales, as well as the literary and movie worlds.
    In 1973, Bianchi won its second World Championship title with Felice Gimondi. Two more will follow in 1986 with Moreno Argentin and in 1992 with Gianni Bugno.

    In 1980, the Bianchi trademark was taken over by Piaggio Group.
    In 1982, Bianchi launched on the European market the "BMX": special bikes designed mainly for youngsters to perform off-road acrobatic feats and thus set a trend.


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