The icon of an iconic color gives a lesson in Casually Deliberate. 1

Celeste

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In grade school, a teacher once asked me to name my favorite color, a query to which I responded with the only logical answer for any prepubescent boy surrounded by scary girls in a small classroom: “Celeste.”

“No, you have to pick a real color.”

While the rest of the world believes the most iconic color in Cycling is made-up, our little world is fascinated by it’s legend. Bianchi once proposed to do away with the color and replace it with another more usual hue and the public overwhelmingly rejected the notion, permanently cementing that particular shade of hangover-green as the official color of the brand.

No one knows the origin of the color, but there are two prevailing theories on the matter. The first is that Eduardo Bianchi matched the color to the Queen of Italy’s eyes, whom he was teaching to ride a bicycle. I don’t buy this theory, personally. I mean, this was before color photography or the internet and no one has a good enough memory to match a color to anything without having a photo to work from. It’s too far-fetched.

The other theory is that Eduardo needed paint and was feeling a bit pinchy with the pennies when he came across an enormous quantity of gray and blue paint at a price – possibly from the Italian Navy which was trying to unload an inventory of paint after it realized that fighting a war on the seas is the worst kind of war you can fight because you have to ration the vino rosso. Eduardo mixed the two colors and out came this iconic shade.

My beloved Bianchi TSX is red, a fact which has me constantly wondering whether I should have it repainted in celeste. A red Bianchi? I love that bike, but who let that sneak out of the factory? My other beloved Bianchi, my XLEv2, is black and yellow with celeste lettering. When I ordered it, the owner of the bike shop – Grand Performance in Saint Paul, Minnesota – pressed me on the fact that only the black frames were available as all the celeste ones had been sold. He wound up giving me a discount out of pity.

I love the fact that no one I interact with outside the Cycling world has any idea that this color exists, or that legends have formed around its existence. These are the sorts of things that separate us from the masses. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

1 Fausto is not, in fact, riding a Bianchi in this photo. The photo is simply too rad not to use, and its black and white.

// Folklore // La Vie Velominatus // Nostalgia

  1. The plate just before the white truffles were served in Bianchi’s Milan store. My hosts kindly invited me for a business dinner in the cycling store – great food! The Bianchi marketing manager told both stories behind the Celeste colour scheme – so it must be true then!

  2. @frank

    @ChrisO

    @frank And Aubergine is a gourd and is disgusting. Both not colors.

    I don’t think it is a gourd – it’s actually a fruit.

    Well, it’s still fucking gross.

    Hey hey, I won’t hear a bad word against egg plant!

  3. I have had my Bianchi for two years now, had some assistance from a friend when selecting as it was my first road bike, amongst his technical advice was ‘also it is cool, 100% cool’ he was right as the predominant Celeste colour made it so and still does. Soon Rule #12 will come into play and my second bike will also be Celeste.

  4. @brett

    @frank

    @ChrisO

    @frank And Aubergine is a gourd and is disgusting. Both not colors.

    I don’t think it is a gourd – it’s actually a fruit.

    Well, it’s still fucking gross.

    Hey hey, I won’t hear a bad word against egg plant!

    said every veggie…

  5. @piwakawaka

    *Yawn.

  6. @frank

    An Aubergine is what North Americans call “eggplant” and is edible in the strict sense that it may be chewed and swallowed. Nasty business, these.

  7. @frank

    I just came across this picture too! *spooge*

  8. @Richard P

    I have had my Bianchi for two years now, had some assistance from a friend when selecting as it was my first road bike, amongst his technical advice was ‘also it is cool, 100% cool’ he was right as the predominant Celeste colour made it so and still does. Soon Rule #12 will come into play and my second bike will also be Celeste.

    For a long time, all I could ever imagine buying were Bianchi’s. It might be time to start thinking about trying them out again; they are doing some interesting stuff that seems to be serving Sep pretty well on the rough stuff.

  9. @Michael Arant

    @frank

    An Aubergine is what North Americans call “eggplant” and is edible in the strict sense that it may be chewed and swallowed. Nasty business, these.

    Fucking disgusting, as I’ve had the pleasure of saying three times now. FFS.

    Besides, you’re likely to be bitten by a black snake if you try to pick one up at the grocery store. That’s one of nature’s little warning systems right there.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2913463/Fruit-vegetable-store-worker-bitten-snake-unpacking-box-eggplants.html

  10. I find myself loving the colour one day and hating it on others. My local shop near my work is a Bianchi dealer and I will likely be buying a new bike about this time next year. The question for me is can I handle riding a celeste bike every day? Am I better off getting a black Oltre with celeste highlights? Given my opinion of the colour changes with my mood at the time this makes it a tough question. That and I do like the look of the Propels…

  11. @wiscot

    Out of respect, no other bike manufacturer should use celeste. I’m looking at you, Condor.

    Or, worse, Trek Factory Racing 2013:

    Yes, it’s a shade more blue than true celeste, but sweet Merckx, Coppi, and Gimondi — have some respect.

  12. A vintage steel Bianchi can only be one colour – Celeste, but a modern carbon

    … you have options there. Eg;

  13. Have 4 Bianchi, Steel celeste, Carbon Celeste, Carbon black with Celeste markings and Aluminum with no celeste but at least has classic panels. In a world that was Titanium grey for years and now is Black or Flat Black it still stands out even when unpopular. Ferarri Red, Mercedes Silver, Belgian Blue, Merckx Orange, Wilier Copper, etc. Who will remember Specialized black, BMC Black w/red, Trek USPS Blue?

    Think Ulrich in that classic Bianchi retro jersey. Maybe not the best, cutting edge bike, but they handle great and everyone who buys a non-celeste always regrets it.

  14. @wilburrox

    My name just happens to be Celeste. Really. So I can only love the color. And my bike is a Colnago, and it is pink. Tragic, no?

  15. @frank

    @Michael Arant

    @frank

    An Aubergine is what North Americans call “eggplant” and is edible in the strict sense that it may be chewed and swallowed. Nasty business, these.

    Fucking disgusting, as I’ve had the pleasure of saying three times now. FFS.

    Besides, you’re likely to be bitten by a black snake if you try to pick one up at the grocery store. That’s one of nature’s little warning systems right there.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2913463/Fruit-vegetable-store-worker-bitten-snake-unpacking-box-eggplants.html

    Ah but the Italians call it melanzane (mel-uhn-ZAR-nay) and it just sounds delicious. Properly prepared they have a beautiful creamy texture and can soak up flavours.

    Aubergine is the essential ingredient of moussaka, which is an authentic classic so if you think you have more culinary nous than two thousand years of Greek and Italian grandmothers then you go right ahead and tell them.

    As for being bitten by snakes, in Australia you can suffer multiple deadly injuries from snakes, spiders and crazy birds just walking to the bus stop. Fucking attention-seeker.

  16. @Teocalli

    This is all a plot to remind me how stupid I was to sell mine before I found The Way.

    that´s exactly what I thought. i had a nice steel lugged one from probably the 70-es, but was way to young to appreciate it. then swapped it for another steel one in celeste but with the yellow fading paint scheme like il pirata had on his one after he won the giro and the tour.

    i´ll have to give the new owner a call these days…

  17. Here are my Bianchis, both built with identical 1997 Columbus TSX-UL frames.

  18. That’s one lovely bike, but I’m also hugely impressed by the massive cactus in next-door’s garden!

  19. @Oli

    pardon my Shamal-bone. More awesome steeds!

  20. @cognition

    @1860

    … I love the fact that there is a debate how the color now is not a true celeste (which I agree but it still looks awesome)…

    It’s true, though — or at least in a way. The hue of celeste has changed over the years. In some years it’s more blue, in some closer to a true green, in some more vivid and in some more pastel. Perhaps it depends when you first fell in love with a Bianchi, although I’ll still claim that the 1980’s celeste (it of the semi-infamous 1983 ad campaign) is the truest!

    A proper TSX frame:

    @frank,

    If you do end up looking for a repaint on either frame, Allan Wanta does gorgeous work (although I’d argue that the Bianchi he shows is a little too blue…).

    I will need to find a crowned fork as well; I have the fork @Oli has on the Bianchi photographed on the top above. I love how the one you’re showing has the chromed crown. Beauty.

  21. @cognition

    @wiscot

    Out of respect, no other bike manufacturer should use celeste. I’m looking at you, Condor.

    Or, worse, Trek Factory Racing 2013:

    Yes, it’s a shade more blue than true celeste, but sweet Merckx, Coppi, and Gimondi — have some respect.

    That’s turquoise not celeste, but I agree; a non-Bianchi brand doing a celest-ish color is similar to one of us tools riding around in the rainbow jersey.

  22. @Oli

    Here are my Bianchis, both built with identical 1997 Columbus TSX-UL frames.

    Damn Oli, is that your garage door with all the tags on it?

  23. @Phillip Mercer

    I find myself loving the colour one day and hating it on others. My local shop near my work is a Bianchi dealer and I will likely be buying a new bike about this time next year. The question for me is can I handle riding a celeste bike every day? Am I better off getting a black Oltre with celeste highlights? Given my opinion of the colour changes with my mood at the time this makes it a tough question. That and I do like the look of the Propels…

    I think if you have a celeste Bianchi, you’d find yourself loving it every day.

    @Bee-An-Key

    Have 4 Bianchi, Steel celeste, Carbon Celeste, Carbon black with Celeste markings and Aluminum with no celeste but at least has classic panels. In a world that was Titanium grey for years and now is Black or Flat Black it still stands out even when unpopular. Ferarri Red, Mercedes Silver, Belgian Blue, Merckx Orange, Wilier Copper, etc. Who will remember Specialized black, BMC Black w/red, Trek USPS Blue?

    Think Ulrich in that classic Bianchi retro jersey. Maybe not the best, cutting edge bike, but they handle great and everyone who buys a non-celeste always regrets it.

    Team Bianchi 2003, such class. The VMH has the XLEV4 of that year, which Jan rode for part of the season but it was a bit light for him so he preferred the XLEV3. The line of bikes from the EV2-EV4 were probably the best-handling bikes I’ve ever ridden, and many of the Pros who raced them echoed the same thing.

  24. @Celeste

    @wilburrox

    My name just happens to be Celeste. Really. So I can only love the color. And my bike is a Colnago, and it is pink. Tragic, no?

    I bet you spend a lot of time in therapy.

    @ChrisO

    I have a funny thing about over-cooked vegetables. High heat, quick sear or go home, I say. Except potatoes and tomato assuming you’re making the tomato into a red or green sauce.

  25. @cognition

    A proper TSX frame:

    Is that real gold inlay or just paint? Either way, it’s Class.

  26. Great thread! And while I don’t for a minute suggest that the new carbon bikes have the panache of the classic photos already posted I thought I’d throw this out. I acquired my celeste frame at a charity auction. It wasn’t even on the radar before I bid on it and I actually had no intention of buying it at the time – I was just trying to get the bids up to the reserve price so that it would sell and the charity would get the money. It has since become my favourite colour.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/101664482593222908911/September302015

  27. Great thread! And while I don’t for a minute suggest that the new carbon bikes have the panache of the classic photos already posted I thought I’d throw this out. I acquired my celeste frame at a charity auction. It wasn’t even on the radar before I bid on it and I actually had no intention of buying it at the time – I was just trying to get the bids up to the reserve price so that it would sell and the charity would get the money. It has since become my favourite colour.

  28. @Hans

    The plate just before the first white truffles were served in Bianchi’s Milan flagship store. My hosts kindly organised a great business dinner in the store plus a tour. I heard both Celeste stories from their EU marketing manager – so it must be true then!

    Wow, I must find this place if I’m ever in Milano again. God help me from putting the plate under my shirt on the way out the door. Outstanding.

  29. @Sue Woollatt

    Everyone loves the cactus! It’s about 40 years old, apparently…

    @wiscot

    Haha! Nope, it’s the garage for a house up the road.

  30. @Stephen

    Sorry about the double post above – just new to the website. This is what I was trying to post.

  31. @Stephen Schwartz

    @Stephen

    Sorry about the double post above – just new to the website. This is what I was trying to post.

    That’s a beauty and the photo reminds me of Portet d’Aspet in the South of France, just over the Col from Aspet. Stunning!

  32. My old faithful #1. 2008 928 T Cube frame. This model was good enough for Michael Matthews to win his U23 Road Worlds title in 2010, and still used by Continental teams in 2012. So obviously good enough for me…

  33. Hotness.

  34. Felice Gimondi at L’eroica (picture by L’eroica)

  35. @Teocalli
    He is amazing.

  36. @wiscot

    And you, Meh-cialized.

  37. @frank

    It feels like Bianchi and Colnago are the only two big players that have maintained an element of their heritage in the modern world of cycling. Many boutique brands can offer that chichi bike, but few large companies.

    Notice you are at The Rouleur Classic event. I look forward to it.

  38. @frank

    You are absolutely right. That photo was taken this past summer during mid morning espresso at a tiny outdoor “cafe” in the square of a small town en route from Bagneres de Luchon to Saint Girons via Portet d’Aspet, Col de Menthe & Port de Bales. I don’t remember the name of the town.

    If you’ve ridden in the area you might also appreciate this photo taken the day before:

    Superbagneres

  39. @Tartan1749

    @cognition

    A proper TSX frame:

    Is that real gold inlay or just paint? Either way, it’s Class.

    I’m quite sure it’s paint. (Personally, I think gold inlay would be over the top, and more befitting something like a Colnago or a Tomassinni or Somec; your opinion may vary)

  40. @Mark

    @frank

    It feels like Bianchi and Colnago are the only two big players that have maintained an element of their heritage in the modern world of cycling. Many boutique brands can offer that chichi bike, but few large companies.

    Notice you are at The Rouleur Classic event. I look forward to it.

    I will be indeed and I’m looking forward to it! It will actually be my first trip to London!

  41. @Stephen Schwartz

    I’ll have to go find my photos of portet d’aspet, because I’d place some money on that being the town! All told I’ve spent about 8 weeks riding those roads. Superbagniers is one of the best!

  42. @Bianchi Denti

    My old faithful #1. 2008 928 T Cube frame. This model was good enough for Michael Matthews to win his U23 Road Worlds title in 2010, and still used by Continental teams in 2012. So obviously good enough for me…

    Quoting just because we need to have more of this hotness on here. Fuck me.

  43. 2001 Aluminum with 11 speed Ultegra as it came with full 9 speed Ultegra when new. Bad #baaw photo, but we’re just talking color here.

    2004 Aluminum and carbon. Now it has gears. This version was an interesting ride, I’ll say. Again, let’s focus on the color.

    I’m really enjoying the celeste in this thread, thanks!

  44. @frank

    I spent 12 days riding in the Pyrenees this past July. Hot and hard but gorgeous. The locals were friendly and encouraging, unlike local riding. They shout ‘Allez allez’ instead of ‘douchebag’ for example. I’d love to go back and do it all again. I’ll send you a lot of no to some more photos if you like.

  45. @Bianchi Denti

    My old faithful #1. 2008 928 T Cube frame. This model was good enough for Michael Matthews to win his U23 Road Worlds title in 2010, and still used by Continental teams in 2012. So obviously good enough for me…

    It’s about time you got rid of that shitty seatpost though bro…

  46. @logan.sholar

    I like the amount of seatpost you’re showing, my good man.

  47. @frank

    Yeah, you know the game. Downsize and stretch it out. I could always ride a bigger frame, but then I’d be riding a bigger frame. Shudders.

  48. @frank

    Look at everyone else on their climbing wheels. Fuck yeah Yarny!

  49. @Beers

    The guys in front seem to be on Ksyriums and Hincapie is on Bontragers – I’m betting Jan’s Lightweights are the lightest wheels in that picture!

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