The History of BIANCHI, world’s oldest bicycle manufacturing company still in existence. It has over 128 years of history in bicycling and bicycle racing.
Started in 1885, Bianchi’s founder, Edoardo Bianchi, began his enterprise as a bicycle manufacturer in his little shop in Milan at Via Nirone. His first idea, in 1887, led way to the very first modern bicycle. His innovations – reducing the diameter of the front wheel and balancing the gap of motion by using a chain, which had just been invented in France, and then lowering the height of the pedals – created a ‘safety’ bicycle, one that was now stable, and eliminated the need for the acrobatics required to keep balance on earlier versions of the bicycle. Edoardo’s next step was to further reduce the wheel diameter and have front and rear wheels almost the same size.
Bianchi’s history of innovations continued. In 1888, Bianchi produced the first bicycle with tires, a recent invention by the Scotts (Dunlop). In 1895, Bianchi created the first women’s bicycle, specifically for Queen Margaret who was eager to learn how to ride. Bianchi presented the first bicycle featuring a cardan joint transmission in 1901. In 1893, Bianchi invented the front brake system. By 1914, Bianchi was a reputable manufacturer of bicycles, motorbikes and cars. In 1915, Bianchi produced a bike for the Army, equipped with wide-section tires, folding frame and suspensions on both wheels. This original bicycle, which was used as an off-road vehicle from the Alps to the African desert, was the first mountain bike, the ancestor of all the modern versions.
Today Bianchi is the flagship brand of Cycleurope A.B. Group – Swedish company of the Grimaldi Group – known as the worldwide most important holding in the cycling sector.
Tradition of Excellence Since its very beginning, Bianchi was aware that races offered the perfect opportunity to test out new technical solutions before taking them to production. Thus was born Bianchi’s support and collaboration of riders and teams in the racing circuit. Bianchi’s first international success was in 1899 when Tomaselli won the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris. Races fuelled the growth of an enterprise that was born just four years before as a workshop but was quickly becoming one of the most important bicycle companies in the world.
The first great champion, whose name remains forever bond to Bianchi’s history, was Costante Girardengo. Then came Fausto Coppi whose adventure with Bianchi started in 1940, with his first victory at the Giro d’Italia. In 1949, he became the first rider to win the Giro d’Italia (his third victory there) and the Tour de France in the same year, what had been previously considered an impossible feat. That year he also won his second World Champion title. In 1953, Coppi had his fifth Giro win and another World Championship title.
In 1973, Bianchi won more World Championship titles with Felice Gimondi in 1973, with Moreno Argentin in 1986 and with Gianni Bugno in 1992. Then in 1998, Marco Pantani, the “Pirate,” won both the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, being the first Italian since Gimondi in 1965 to win the Tour. In 2003, Jan Ullrich did the Bianchi team, defeating Lance Armstrong in the time trial event and placing second overall after Armstrong.
Bianchi’s success in the racing world extended beyond road racing. In 1991, Bruno Zanchi won the MTB World Championship for downhill and in 1993, Dario Acquaroli won the MTB World Championship for cross country. More wins and titles follow for Bianchi. Their Motorex-Bianchi team, with Julien Absalon, netted over 20 wins in one year and Absalon won both the MTB Cross Country Olympic Competition and the World Championship. Cristian Cominelli of Bianchi-Agos Junior rode to victory at the Pupils Cycle-Cross Italian Championship and the MTB Cross Country Italian Championship.
Passione Celeste While Bianchi has a deeply rooted history of innovation and tradition of excellence, one area where the Italians, and particularly Bianchi, dominate is in passion. Bianchi’s mission is to create the best bikes in the world, particularly high-end road carbon frames. They are driven to this mission by focusing on innovation, carbon technology, exclusiveness, quality and passion. While passion is listed last, one would be hard pressed to argue it is not first and foremost. It’s 2012 catalogue opens with, “Bianchi. Official Supplier of Your Emotions.” Like a true Italian masterpiece, all the technology that goes into a bicycle would be pointless if it didn’t move you.