This is part of my series on practical bikes I've seen around Tacoma that are helping people get around without cars.
photo by Bianchi
What: Bianchi Milano
Where: 5-Mile Drive, Stadium District, UPS campus
Why: The bike has a Nexus 8-speed hub, chain guard, fenders, and some comfy tires. You get a similar gear range to a mountain bike, which means you can tackle most of the tough climbs in town, but while wearing regular clothes, in the rain, and still be comfortable. When asked, a Milano commuter at the top of the St. Helens hill said that she did the climb up from downtown every day, and felt that the gearing was fine.
I'm a sucker for step-through frames, but there's also a regular diamond frame, and both are available in black or polished aluminum. I think the step-through model would be an excellent candidate for and Xtracycle conversion.
The ones I've seen around town are a few years old and are the traditional Bianchi Celeste color. Twice I've seen the same guy racing through Point Defiance on one of these, with clipless pedals and some little grips added near the stem for a more aero position. It's an impressive sight, and one that proves the versatility of this bike.