Bianchi Breaks with Tradition with an e-Bike

Ansys exhibits new Bianchi bike at CES 2023.

The only tradition followed by Bianchi with its new e-Omnia e-bike is the celeste color. One of the bikes was on display at CES 2023. (Picture courtesy of Bianchi.)

The only tradition followed by Bianchi with its new e-Omnia e-bike is the celeste color. One of the bikes was on display at CES 2023. (Picture courtesy of Bianchi.)

Ansys had Bianchi’s new bike in its booth at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2023, which was recently held in Las Vegas.

Why is a preeminent simulation software company at a consumer electronics show? And why would a simulation company be proud to display a bike, the ultimate in low-tech transportation?

Perhaps because Bianchi’s latest bike, the e-Omnia, is an e-bike meant for consumers? Having an e-bike in the product portfolio is matter of survival for bike manufacturers these days. The market for e-bikes is growing rapidly with a million e-bikes sold in the United States in 2022, an increase of 240 percent. Compare that to only a 15 percent growth (from 2020-2021) for the oveall bike industry. There are more e-bikes sold than pure electric and hybrid cars put together, according to a 2022 report by an Atlanta-based Georgia news station.

With the e-Omnia, the oldest bike company in the world (Bianchi was founded 1885 in Milan) enters the 21st century. Bianchi bikes are easily identified by their trademark celeste, a shade that once meant sky blue but has wavered between blue and green through the years. As famous for its bikes as Ferrari is for its cars, Bianchi has had a racing team (Team Bianchi, naturally) on and off throughout its history. Celeste bikes are seen all over the world under casual riders, and amateur and professional racers, where they are ridden on roads, mountains and gravel. Bianchi bikes have won every major bike race, including Italy’s penultimate road race, the Giro d’Italia, as well as the Tour de France, ridden by some of the biggest names in cycling: Jan Ullrich, Mario Cipollini, Laurent Fignon and Marco Pantani, to name a few. Marco Pantani’s bike on which he won both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France in one year (1998) is proudly displayed at Bianchi’s new headquarters in Treviglio, Italy, just 30 miles from Milan. 

Bianchi used Ansys for the simulation of the e-bike, reducing the number of prototypes made by 70 percent, according to the press release. 

We imagine that most of the structural simulation was of the Bianchi e-bike’s frame. The diamond shaped frame, arguably the optimum shape, and as stiff and light as possible, has been used with little modification for most bikes since the company’s inception. The diamond shape was hacked for the e-Omnia C-Type, the city model, and the top tube of the frame was removed. Was it for convenience, designed like a scooter so that ladies didn’t have to swing their legs over the seat? The top tube in a diamond shape frame is essential to the rigidity of the frame. In compression from the weight of the rider, a round top tube, which is supremely effective against torsion, also works to keep the frame twisting along its forward axis. Without a top tube, Bianchi had to make what is left of the frame, notably the down tube and seat tube, considerably more substantial, expecially where the two parts join. 

This may be less of a problem with e-bikes as the inner voids of overly large down tubes can be used to house the bike’s battery and the huge bottom bracket, the electric motor. 

Bianchi's 26-pound Aria E-Road is an e-bike. Really. (Picture courtesy of Bianchi.)

Bianchi’s 26-pound Aria E-Road is an e-bike. Really. (Picture courtesy of Bianchi.)

Alternatively, if you don’t want to be seen riding an e-bike but still don’t want to be left behind on group rides, you’ll need Bianchi’s Aria E-Road. The tubes of the Aria E-road are no bigger than the tubes found on aluminum frame bikes. lists Bianchi’s “stealthy e-bike integration” as a negative that could be “considered dishonest,” but what can you do when you have told everyone that they could shoot you if they ever see you on an e-bike? 

Bianchi used SpaceClaim, Ansys’ solid modeler, to model the frame and a human rider. Presumably, in the case of nonmotorized road racing bikes, it was used to help understand the power necessary during different parts of the race, whether it be a time trial stage or a flat stage with a sprint finish. In the case of the e-bikes, Ansys Mechanical was most likely used to design the suspension and understand how lightweight materials would react to heavier weight.