Bianchi’s Aquilotto, Bianchina & Falco
With Phil Aynsley
Following on from the previous column (A short history of Bianchi Motorcycles) I thought I’d round out the look at Bianchi with some of their post war bikes.
During the 1930s the company started producing trucks but the factory was destroyed by bombing during the war. To re-establish the company, the Aquilotto (Eaglet) clip-on motor was put into production. This 48 cc 2-stroke motor was designed to be attached to a bicycle in much the same way as Ducati’s Cucciolo motor, to provide basic transportation.
A full motorcycle, the 125 cc Bianchina 2T, appeared in 1947 and proved to be a success, also helping the company recover from the destruction of their Milanese factory and the death in 1946 of Edorado Bianchi, the founder of the company.
Lino Toni was employed in 1950, and together with Sandro Colombo, designed a 250 cc parallel twin 4-stroke for GP competition, this proved to be too heavy and was subsequently enlarged to a 350 cc then a 500 cc machine – in which guise it did show some promise.
Several were campaigned by privateers and the design formed the basis of the Paton 500 twin racer. The example seen here was photographed outside the Sammy Miller Museum during its restoration in 2015.
Back on the street a wide range of models were produced in the ‘50s and ‘60s. This Bernia is from around 1963 and had a 125 cc OHV 4-stroke motor. It and the 173 cc Tonale, also a 4-stroke single but with a chain-driven OHC, were two of the best known of the company’s later models.
The Falco moped used a licence built Puch 50 cc 2-stroke motor. An interesting fact is that many small capacity Bianchi two-stroke bikes were sold in the US as Montgomery Ward Riverside models.
The motorcycle part of the company ceased trading in 1967 leaving the original bicycle concern to keep the Bianchi name at the forefront of a different section of the two-wheeled world.