What’s in a name? Apparently a lot when it comes to brands. How many gyrations has the Schwinn name, the Raleigh name, etc., gone through since inception? The brands lives on, but the owners change hands faster than you can say farfegnugen.
Bianchi celebrated 125 years in 2010, which gives pause. Let’s see, when was the bike invented? Founder Edoardo Bianchi was truly an inspiration. Left to grow up at an orphanage in Milan, the young sprite saved every penny in his youth.
By the time he was 20, he had saved enough money to strike out on his own. He had a vision of building quality products and he was honest, which can get you in trouble when you run a business, but Eduardo stayed true to his values throughout.
In cycling, his claim to fame was building bikes with wheels of equal size, something of a novelty at the turn of the century. He also chose a rather unusual color for his bikes — celeste. I’ve never liked it, but when you see that color you instantly know it’s a Bianchi.
Bianchi is now owned by an Italian who immigrated to Sweden, under the company name Grimaldi Industries. I own a Bianchi Castro Valley, a smart commute bike.All this history leads me to the point of the story: What I like about Bianchi is that it hasn’t given up on steel. Carbon fiber (and aluminum) has its place, but so does steel. Bianchi not only has two beautiful, high-end steel frames, it offers an affordable road bike, with down-tube shifters no less! Apparently there is a warehouse somewhere… The Bianchi sales rep at Interbike Las Vegas said the bike was spec-ed this way at the request of many bike shop owners.
This comes as no surprise. The majority of bikes are made of steel. The higher end has given way to carbon fiber in the past decade, but a lot of riders just want reliable steel bikes costing $700-$1,200, or more if they can find it.
I also ran across a steel frame from Colnago, amongst the Italian company’s many carbon-fiber bikes on display. My favorite bike was a 1980 Colnago — black frame with a gold Ofmega headset and yellow decals. Bellissima!