Learn about the history, trials and tribulations of the enigmatic bike brand that is only known as Bonelli.
The Life and Times of Bonelli bicycles-Part 1
By: Lino Barretto
The brand of Bonelli bicycles, albeit, not the most recognizable brand worldwide, does bring more to the table than any other bicycle brand on the market today. History! And not just countless years of quality bikes which, in turn, have created joyous memories for millions (potentially) of people both young and old. I mean real history….like grade 10 history, where you learned about the Mesozoic era and Pangea. Ok, maybe not that far back, but how about we drop a little bit of its history on you.
Although the first documented bicycle dates back to 1817, there is indisputable (allegedly) evidence of bicycle use by the cavemen all the way back in 4000BC (give or take a couple of centuries). However, evidence showed that the square wheel hindered performance when rolling and therefore, the project was put on the backburner[i]. It was only centuries later that the round wheel was created and that the real bicycle started to take shape.
The story of how this took shape can be traced back to a small village in northern Italy. Giovanni Bonelli, a local unsuccessful pineapple farmer with an ever increasing bitterness towards life was nearing his end. He grew impatient with his daily walk to the local tavern which was 25km away frequented by passer byers and locals. This was his only sniff of freedom from the constraints of farming and household chores. His startling lack of yield from his pineapples from his tropical challenged village started to wear on him, tugging him into a depression. On top of that, the constant nagging from the only other village resident, his wife Maria, took its toll on his sanity. Finally, one year during the winter, when roads were no longer accessible and covered with snow, his patience running thin with Maria, he took to his man shed. ‘I have had enough of these pineapples that don’t grow’ Giovanni probably said. He was determined to set off south to find new products more adaptable to his climate. For months and months, he spent his time trying to perfect the wheel while incorporating it into some kind of seated apparatus to haul back items with him from his trip. And on top of that, somehow, someway he was going to cut down his commute time to the tavern. It should be noted that it is heroes like this that helped shape the world. He was the Steve Jobs of his time. After tinkering, and making modifications from stone wheels to wood wheels, his creation was complete. And so, the first undocumented use of the bicycle had taken form. Word of his creation had spread to other villages and people came from far and wide to get a glimpse of this two wheeled, seated crotch rocket. Demand for this ‘bicycle’ skyrocketed with requests coming from Caesar himself in the Roman Empire. Another rarely documented piece of history was the use of the bicycles during the games at the Coliseum. The races often took place on the bicycles instead of horses. Only the greatest of gladiators would be bestowed the honor of riding the two-wheeled rolling rocket.[ii]
And so, for centuries after that, the name Bonelli became synonymous with innovation, quality and fun. The use of the bicycle spread throughout the Empire, Europe and even the Orient (where it is still the main means of transportation today). Bonelli bicycles would result in the greatest invention since fire.
Ask yourself, as you consider purchasing your next bike. Has the bike brand been tested through the history of civilization? Has it helped build pyramids, raced through the bloody sands of the Coliseum, or jumped the Grand Canyon? If your answer is no to all the above, then you are looking at the wrong bike.
Be a winner and stick with a brand that raises above the rest…..Bonelli.
Stay tuned for more on the history and evolution in the innovation of the Bonelli brand.
[i] Someguy, Joseph- It’s hip to be square, Nowhere, USA, pg 34, 1979
[ii] Scarface, Giuseppe, Babati, Boopiti, Spaghetti, Italy, pg 287, 1956