1911 Costa Military Folding Bicycle (Italian)

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I started researching military cycling history in 2011. At first all my research material was piled up in cardboard boxes. But when i was approached by a publisher to write the book that became ‘BAD TEETH NO BAR: A History of Military Bicycles in the Great War’, it started to turn into print. Meanwhile, I became very busy finding and restoring relevant bicycles and remanufacturing cycle accessories to militarize them. Even when the book was finished, I still found more military bicycles that I wanted to include. By this stage the publisher was fed up with the fact that the book had grown so big and that I was still adding bicycles. This 1911 Costa was the last photo I managed to squeeze in, just days before it went to press.

This is an important early military bicycle, being Italy’s first practical design, predating the better-known Bianchi that was used during World War 1.

The Russians created their own military folding bicycle for World War One along similar lines.

When I spotted this one for sale in an auction in Milan, Italy, I immediately recognised it as the elusive model I’d been hunting for years. Luckily for me, the auction mostly comprised exclusive classic cars that sold for millions of euros. By comparison, the three bicycles in this lot went for a reasonable price, and my friend George who lived nearby picked them up for me and, with some effort, managed to squeeze them into his car and take them back to his apartment.
It made its public debut on my stall in the Author’s Pavilion at the War & Peace Revival on 25 July 2018.
I initially thought it was an earlier version of the Bianchi military folding bicycle. But, after sharing its pictures on Facebook, an Italian enthusiast confirmed its identity as a Costa.
At the War & Peace show in 2018 I demonstrated how to fold the 1911 Costa and fit it to a soldier’s back ready to be carried

 

1911 Costa Military Folding Bicycle

17″ Frame

24″ Wheels with Solid Tyres

Bianchi Saddle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOLDING THE COSTA