1912 Bianchi Militare Model C with Front & Rear Suspension

EXTRACT FROM ‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: MILITARY BICYCLES IN THE GREAT WAR’

by Colin Kirsch. Due for publication January 2017

The first Italian military folding bicycle from the turn of the century is what I describe as a ‘V frame’ (above). I’ve not yet found any Italian records to see if it has a model name. Bianchi updated their military folding bicycle in 1912, adding suspension front and rear, and this folding ‘Model 1912’ was supplied to the Italian cycle corps (Bersaglieri) with solid tyres for troops and pneumatic tyres for officers. They also built some military bicycles without the folding frame, but retaining the front and rear suspension forks. This was designated the ‘Model Militare C’. This example was acquired after the war by an Italian farmer. His son used it with a trailer for delivering milk. You can see the fitting behind the saddle to attach the trailer. The son also carried a large milk churn, secured by a strap around his neck and resting on the top tube; the top tube is dented from years of milk churn abuse. My friend Alain bought it in Italy from the farmer’s family.
The suspension is interesting on a Bianchi, as the company was a pioneer in this field. The front suspension is unique. The rear suspension is similar to the American ‘cushion frame’ – essentially what we would later describe as a shock absorber. As you can see from the close up photos, it pivots at the top of the rear stay and also at the bottom bracket. The first model (C) has an integral front brake (i.e. the rod passes through the steering head), whereas the 1914 Model – described as ‘Tipo Speciale a Telaio Rigido’ – has a conventional front brake.

 1912 Bianchi Militare Model C

with Front & Rear Suspension & Integral Front Brake

22″ Frame

24″ Wheels (Tyres 24 x 1 3/8″ or 600 x 35A)

Frame No 40547

1914 BIANCHI CATALOGUE EXTRACTS

 

INTEGRAL FRONT BRAKE

ABOVE: Brake not applied

BELOW: Brake applied

FRONT SUSPENSION

PIVOTING at the BOTTOM BRACKET & REAR STAY