I was chatting with my Swiss friend, Thomas, who also happens to be a cycling nut, and I was describing to him the Bianchi I purchased this evening. He said it sounded like an old Swiss Army bike, at which point he showed me a couple of photos of his.
The bike is called a Militärvelo, and is issued to all Swiss men that serve their time in the Swiss Army. Army service is mandatory in Switzerland, and I think it should be in America too, but that's another story for another blog...
So at the end a Swiss man's army service, he can buy his issued bike for very little money from what I've read. The bikes were redesigned in 1995 (after about 100 years of the original design), and apparently not only men have access to the bikes now. Heh.
Thomas told me that the bikes are in the army surplus stores in Swizterland as well. The next time Claire and I go to Switzerland, perhaps I can convince her to let me ship one back... after all, they're really cheap!