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Bianchi Road ~

Road Bike Action, 11/13/2012


Facts are facts and as far as history goes, there can only be one bike company that can lay claim to the title of being the world's oldest bike brand. And that brand is Bianchi Bicycles. It was back in 1885 that Edoardo Bianchi first opened his bike shop in Milano.

Who would guess that over 125 years later the bikes bearing his name would still be winning races, carrying people to new heights of physical activity, and providing a greener mode of transportation for people the world over. Now located in a slimmed down factory in the town of Treviglio just outside of Milano, Bianchi remains committed to producing bicycles that cater to cyclists of every stripe. Best of all, they have also maintained the brand's commitment to racing.  

We dropped by the factory on the same day that they were throwing a big party for one of their most revered riders, Felice Gimondi (see below). We took a quick tour of the factory to see bikes being assembled and tested in the lab. Although the bikes are a far cry different than those that rolled of the production line one hundred years ago, it's hard to not be impressed at the legacy that the Italian brand has created for itself. 

As the world's oldest bike brand you'd be correct in assuming that Bianchi is proud to show off it's legacy. Of all the Bianchi backed riders, none is as famous as Fausto Coppi who terrorized the peloton in the 40's.

Many people don't know that motorcycles were a big part of the brand's history. Although company founder Edoardo Bianchi started slapping motors onto bicycle frames in the 1890's, it wasn't until the period of 1920-1930s with riders like Tazio Nuvalari, that they excelled in racing. The motorized side of the business came to an end in 1967.



While the bulk of Bianchi's bike production is from Asia, a handful of high-end models are assembled and painted at the factory in Treviglio.   





Here is just one of two shipments of frames returned to Bianchi from the Vaconsoleil team.



Formerly a Pinarello project, for 2013 Campagnolo chose Bianchi to build their ESP demo bikes.




Bianchi sells three versions of ther top-end Oltre XR as complete bikes: the $13,500 version with Campagnolo Super Record EPS drivetrain, the $13,000 model spec'd with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and the Shimano Ultegra Di2 equipped bike for $8500. The XR frame has a new carbon composition that Bianchi claims is 30 grams lighter and 25% stiffer than the previous version. 

No other bike brand is as closely affiliated with a single color as Bianchi is with the color celeste. There are many different versions of how and why the color became so significant for the bike company.   


The Bianchi Oltre is also available is a limited tri-colore edition version marking the 2012 National Championship won by Franco Pellizoti.





There is still plenty of handwork to be found throughout the factory.

As with most modern bike companies, Bianchi houses their own in-house test & Quality Control lab where everything from frames to components has a special test dedicated to the part.




If you are a true fan of Bianchi bikes you might be interested in this limited edition Oltre XR that celebrates the 70th birthday of another famous Bianchi pilot, Felice Gimondia. Only 70 versions will be made and we caught up with this bike (the #1 bike) that was to be presented to Mr. Gimondi just a few hours later at a special presentation in the mountain town of Bergamo Alta Cita'. Included in the price is a special Gimondi 70 riding kit from Santini.



Similar to the Eddy Merckx 525 graphics that celebrate all of the Belgian's wins, all of  Gimondi's wins are also included for easy road side reference.


The nicely colored detail found on the frame and fork represents the colors of all the major jerseys that Felice wore in his career (Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta Espana, World Championships, Italian National Championships). The Oltre runs with an integrated seat binder that from a distance gives the look of an integrated seat post. Note the interesting brake bridge design on the seatstay.

Bianchi did a nice job carrying the Gimondi theme throughout the bike. From the bike bag that is included to the Campy Bora wheels and the Selle San Marco Concor Carbon saddle, it's a classy detail.

 Each of the seventy Bianchi Gimondi 70 bikes gets a certificate of authenticity. As fitting, Felice received bike #1.



For more info: Bianchi Road