Bianchi – an Italian motorcycling legend

Pete Kelly delves into the Mortons Archive once again to recapture the spirit of the road and racing machines that were produced by one of the most famous names in Italian motorcycling history.

Italian motorcycling pioneer Eduardo Bianchi, born in 1865 and brought up in an orphanage, was in business by the age of 20 making kitchen utensils and medical instruments and, by 1897, he was producing bicycles of his own.

Pressed steel was much in evidence on the four-cylinder Bianchi of 1939.

After dabbling with motorised versions (and also finding the time to build a car) he produced his first proper motorcycle, a 498cc single, in 1905, and by the outbreak of the First World War Bianchi was a leading manufacturer selling a well-respected range of twin and single-cylinder machines.

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Some brilliant racing machinery appeared both between the wars and into the 1950s and ’60s, and while motorcycle production finally ended in 1967, when the rights were passed on to Innocenti, high-specification racing bicycles in Bianchi’s trademark Celeste livery remain a potent force in major tours.

Bob McIntyre is seen in action on the DOHC 350cc Bianchi twin during the 1961 TT.

The assault on motorcycle road racing was fully underway by the mid-1920s, and the Mortons Archive has turned up some brilliant photos from the 1926 TT showing the Italian racing team in action in what looks like the yard of the late-lamented Douglas Bay Hotel.

Read more and view more images in the May 2019 issue of OBM – on sale May 4!

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