Bike company names and Logos – Origins, history, explanation.

Where does your bike name derive from? Probably not a question you have asked yourself, but an entertaining one nonetheless. For example, Cervelo is Canadian, but Cervelo clearly isn’t a Canadian word. How then, did they concoct this moniker? Of course, some are just family names, and some have logo’s that are fairly dull. Pinarello, for instance, is a family name, and the logo is a stylised ‘P’. Profound. Still, there are more interesting tales to be told. Read on…



The Italian’s love their country, and their bicycles are an extension of themselves, rather then just sterile implements designed in factories. Wilier is a case in point – Wilier should really be written W.I.L.I.E.R., as it is an an anacronym – it is derived from the fact Italians use the letter ‘W’ as an abbreviation for viva, as in ‘long live’, hence the symbology of the ‘WW’ signs held up following the death of Wouter Weylandt at the 2011 Giro holding a deeper meaning then first appearances give. This is also why there are a great many pictures of roads daubed with graffiti such as ‘W Fausto’ or ‘W Pantani’. The ”W’ itself was a result of a patriotic phrase, ‘W l’Italia, liberata e redenta’, or ‘Long Live Italy, liberated and redeemed.’ As you’ve no doubt noticed, the first letters of each of these words (ignore the ‘l’ in front if Italia) are as follows – W, i, l, e, r. Add the i from ‘liberata’ and you get ‘Wilier.’ As with all anacronyms, it’s not perfect, but it demonstrates the intricate connection between nationalism and Italy through their bicycles.



Colnago is a family name, and the history of how they came to be the behemoth they are today is too long for this piece, but Ernesto Colnago has been linked to his creation since the beginning in 1954. However, the iconic ‘ace of spades’ logo was only introduced in 1970, following the victory of Michele Dancelli at Milano-Sanremo – the first Italian to do so for 17 years, and the first on a Colnago. Given Sanremo was known as La Primavera  (Spring) and traditionally known as the first race of the year as it brought in the Spring with the blooms of the Mediteranean, Ernesto decided to change the emblem of the brand not only to commemorate the moment Italian cycling ahd ‘flowered’, as a journalist, Bruno Raschi, suggested to Colnago that the win was a ‘bicycle in flower.’ It helped of course that the Italian word ‘fiore’ meant both ‘flower’ and ‘clubs’, making it the perfect metaphorical label for the machine. It also reflected Colango’s desire to become an ‘ace’ of cycling. Few would argue they had not succeeded.



Bianchi, created by Edoardo Bianchi, are a company that do have a logo, but hardly need one, as Bianchi’s are more associated with a colour then anything else – the legendary Celeste. As has been discussed on here before, ( ‘moon-mist colour’), this has been subject to much myth making – it is either the colour of Queen consulate Margherita’s eyes (which is wrong, as they weren’t turquoise!), the colour of the Milanese sky (unlikely given the poor number of sunshine hours and storms), the only colour left over from the War as Mussolini had ordered lots of green paint for some reason, and so they mixed it with blue to create a new colour (impossible given adverts reference the ‘celeste’ back in the 1930s) or the more likely explanation that it was just a nice colour that stuck. Whatever the case, Bianchi are stuck with Celeste#227, which shows the Italian affinity for myth and history being rolled into their two wheeled exploits.

De Rosa


Yes, De Rosa is another family name, but their logo, a heart, is encapsulative of the Italian passion for racing bicycles. Novely, De Rosa’s have been most famously slung under the stride of one Eddy Merckx, who had five different frames built just for the 1973 Paris-Roubaix, as well as several forks built just to test for Milan-Sanremo 1975. Such commitment and passion demonstrate the logo is well thought out.



Cervélo is a Canadian company with a name that is half Italian, half French, which is somewhat ironic given their marketing talk now has nothing to do with flair or being particularly ‘Euro’ but is instead obsessed with ‘aero’ and ‘watts’. This sort of comes over in the name though – Cervello is the Italian word for Brain, whilst Vélo, with the accented e, is the French for bicycle. Thus, Cervélo are quite literally claiming to be a ‘brain bike.’ The ‘é’ has since become synonymous with the brand, presumably because the accent conveys something a little less dry then all the aero gain marketing. The ‘Vroomen.White.Design’ is simply the surnames of the founders followed by the word ‘design.’


3 thoughts on “Bike company names and Logos – Origins, history, explanation.

  1. there is a company with a logo born of a card game involving Colnago and, I believe De Rosa?, I found that history an interesting anecdote. Fact or fiction? I’ll leave you to discover it if you dont already know of it.

    1. I think you’re referring to ‘Ciöcc’. which supposedly came about as part of a card game. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to make much sense, as there are only three suits in the legendary game : Colnago are Clubs, De Rosa Hearts and Pinarello Spades (apparently diamonds weren’t important…), and that this somehow explains why Ciocc have a logo with the four suits in it. Unfortunately, it seems to be a tall tale – Colnago didn’t take on the Clubs logo till 1970, and Ciocc was founded in 1969, so it would seem that even if the card game story, which doesnt actually appear to have much to do with anything, were true, it would have to have happenned after the company was formed, rather than before.

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