1999 Bianchi Milano
Sometimes old dogs can learn new tricks.
Bianchi is the oldest bicycle company that is still making bicycles today. They were founded in 1885, and being over a hundred years old, most people wouldn’t expect anything terribly innovative from them.
Bianchi surprised everyone in the 1990′s as they showed off a number of new tricks. With a half-dozen models that debuted between 1992 and 1999, Bianchi pushed the bicycle industry to try new things and reinvent itself in different ways.
There was the Bianchi Pista, which was really the only off-the-rack track bike available for nearly a decade. There was a Bianchi cyclocross frame and a complete cyclocross racing bike in an era when only obscure one-off imported versions were available. Bianchi made a commuter-style road bike in the late ’90′s called the Castro Valley that sported a single front chainring (the latest 1x drivetrain anyone?) and a generator-powered headlight. There was the Bianchi BOSS (Bitchin’ Orange Single-Speed) and its siblings; single-speed mountain bike framesets and complete bikes that were fun to ride, good looking, really light, readily available and quite affordable.
There was the Bianchi Milano. It made waves as a really cool “hybrid” bike. It was a utility bike so different and attractive that even the most snobbish bicycle racers wanted to ride one. Not only was the Milano a success for Bianchi, it was a suggestion for other bike brands to follow Bianchi onto radical new paths. Commuter bikes that looked fun. High-performance hybrids. Silly gimmicks (a saddle with integrated lights?) that weren’t all that silly.
This Milano is from 1999 or 2000. The bike is built around a 7000-series aluminum frame (with either an arched top tube like this one or with the top tube inverted to make a low step-over frame) and a cromoly steel fork. There’s a Shimano Nexus 7-speed rear hub to handle the shifting and rear braking duties, cleaning up the lines of the bike and providing some extra foul-weather protection for what is still essentially a bike designed for utility. There’s a chain guard! Faux leather-wrapped foam grips! A sweeping arc handlebar that complimented the sweep of the top tube and rake of the fork.
Thanks to Bianchi and the success of the Milano, it is now possible to buy a carbon-fiber cruiser. Big bike brands now offer cyclocross bikes (and track bikes, and triathlon bikes, and snow bikes). People who love the technical aspect of bicycling can get good-looking high-performance bikes in all kinds of random usage niches.
Want one of these for yourself? This Milano is for sale for only $499