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.
It’s an important early military bicycle, being Italy’s first practical design, and the one that was used by the Russians to create their own military folding bicycle for World War One. 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.
1911 Costa Military Folding Bicycle
24″ Wheels with Solid Tyres
FOLDING THE COSTA