We take a look through the road bike range from the Italian marque that claims to be the world's oldest surviving bike manufacturer
Bianchi bikes is a brand that dates back to 1885. Founded in Italy, its headquarters and culture has remained rooted in its homeland.
The bikes are designed and pieced together in its Treviglio factory, though the majority of production now takes place in Taiwan.
Synonymous with Bianchi is Celeste. Also called ‘Bianchi Green’, almost all frames come available in the customary hue. Surprisingly, it has changed slightly over the years – but it’s always recognisable and the brand has its own flock of fans who wouldn’t think to ride a bike in any other colour.
In its early days, Bianchi produced motorbikes as well as bicycles – tying up with Fiat and Pirelli to create Autobianchi – but this arm was eventually sold to Fiat, leaving the bike makers free to focus on people-powered machines.
The Bianchi range is far reaching, consisting of aero race bikes as well as those with an emphasis on endurance. In most cases, performance remains a hefty part of the remit; a Bianchi is not typically the first port of call for a commuter looking for a value option.
More bike guides for shoppers
Bianchi Dama Bianca bikes
Bianchi doesn’t alter its geometry for female riders. Instead, it produces ‘Dama Bianca’ bikes – named in reference to Italian Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winner Fausto Coppi’s lover Giulia Occhini.
These come with female specific touch points – narrower handlebars, women’s saddles, shorter stems and in some cases shorter cranks. Only the endurance focused models are available in a Dama Bianca build, but since the geometry is unchanged, all of them could be made so with a few component adjustments.
Bianchi bike sizing
Bianchi has always been proud of its sizing range – with some models available in up to nine sizes, from 44 to 61 – meaning it’s easy for most people to find a comfortable fit.
All bike brands measure their sizes slightly differently, but it’s fair to say that Bianchi bikes come up fairly big when compared to the American giants.
Bianchi first introduced Countervail technology embedded into its Infinito frames. The material was patented by the Materials Sciences Corporation, and has elsewhere been used in military helicopters to reduce vibration. Its use for bicycles was developed by Bianchi and tested in NASA aerospace operations. Sounds high tech right?
In short, Countervail technology is a process of manufacturing that sees a viscolelastic resin used in conjunction with structural carbon.
The result is a dampening effect that Bianchi says cancels out 80 per cent of vibration whilst increasing stiffness and strength.
The Bianchi 2019 range
Bianchi Specialissima (race)
The Bianchi Specialissima is the brand’s lightweight race bike. The geometry is designed for pros, and though an oversized head tube and bottom bracket offer ample stiffness, the claimed frame weight is as low as 780g (in a size 55 with black paint) and our last review model came in at 6.6kg.
Comfort isn’t forgotten – Bianchi has woven its Countervail tech into the frame, with the aim of reducing fatigue and helping riders to go harder and faster for longer.
The Specialissima bucks current trends, by being disc brake only – but of course this does suit its lightweight credentials.
Testing the £8,750 Campagnolo SuperRecord build, our reviewer gave the bike a 9 our of 10, commenting: “The Bianchi Specialissima is a truly special bike, where beautiful good looks are balanced with a raw, stiff frame.”
A Shimano Dura-Ace build with Fulcrum Racing Nite wheels will cost you £8500.
Bianchi Oltre XR3 and XR4 (race)
The Oltre is Bianchi’s aero race pedigree, but it’s available in two different frame options. The XR4 is the top of the range choice, raced by pro cyclists on team Jumbo-Visma.
Where many aero race machines provide a harsh ride, Bianchi bucks the trend, adding Countervail technology to create a smooth passage, whilst aero tubing and an integrated Vision Metron 5D aero bar/stem combo slice through the air. The head tube takes notes from Bianchi’s Aquila time trial bike, and you get all the aero nods you’d expect such as a hidden integrated seatpost clamp.
A size 55 frame comes in at 980g, and the geometry is race inspired and places the rider in a long and low position.
The XR3 does use different tubing to its bigger sibling, but the down tube and chainstays are identical and it still carries pronounced aero shapes, just minus the integrated bar/stem combo. You still get the buzz-reducing Countervail, too.
Our last Oltre XR3 review model achieved 8/10, with the comments: “[The Oltre XR3 is] an attractive option if you’re looking for an aero bike, as it does make riding more comfortable on typical UK road surfaces… The XR3’s handling characteristics are excellent. How you regard the value proposition of the Oltre XR3 depends on the store you put in the Bianchi marque. Many other brands will offer you a higher spec package at this price.”
Both the Oltre XR3 and XR4 bikes come with rim or disc brakes to suit your preferences.
The XR3 models start at £2800, with Shimano 105, whilst an XR4 frame alone costs £3400.
If the Oltre range is out of reach, then the Aria is the alternative. Design cues from the Aquila time trial bike are still present, including an aero fork plus integrated seatpost clamp.
The key loss is that of Countervail technology, so the ride will be a little harsher, and of course the carbon is of lower spec so a little heavier. This said, the claimed frame weight is 1,100g for a size 55 so it’s hardly a heavy machine.
Like the Oltre, the Aria can be purchased with rim or disc brakes. It’s also available in a ‘Triathlon‘ build, with short reach Vision Team Mini TT Clip-On TT bars in 170mm length.
Models start from £2300 with Shimano 105 and Vision Team 35 hoops.
Bianchi Sempre Pro (race)
For those seeking Bianchi performance with agressive geometry, at a more wallet-friendly price point, the Sempre Pro rounds off the race range.
The carbon frame boasts plenty of stiffness, with an oversized bottom bracket, though there’s no real aero claims and Countervail tech isn’t on offer.
The price tag is pretty friendly, by comparison, though – at £1800 for a Shimano 105 build.
Bianchi Infinito CV (endurance race)
The Infinito CV – available with rim or disc brakes – moves into endurance territory. However, it’s ‘endurance race’ – meaning that although you’ll find a higher head tube, longer chainstays and longer wheelbase for greater comfort and stability when compared with models like the Oltre XR4, it’s still designed to make the rider feel fast and agile.
We awarded our last test model and 8/10, concluding: “A versatile and comfortable bike you could ride all day but one that’s still raceable with a bit of stem slamming. Plenty of comfort thanks to the Countervail tech, but it’s no lightweight and the price tag carries the Biachi premium.” A Campagnolo Chorus disc build weighed in at 7.8kg.
Prices start at £3600 for a rim brake model with Campagnolo Potenza or Shimano Ultegra, and disc brake models start at £3800.
Bianchi Intenso (endurance race)
The Intenso is an ‘endurance race’ model, with the same geometry as the Infinito, but a slightly lower price point due to the lack of Countervail tech.
Models start at £1650 with Shimano Tiagra, and there’s rim and disc brake options.
Bianchi Via Nirone 7 (endurance race)
The Bianchi Via Nirone might be the entry-level choice in the stable, but named after the address of Edoardo Bianchi’s first workshop in Milan, it’s a model with a lot of heritage and thus it’s received some very careful design attention.
There’s five Via Nirone options, plus one ‘All Road’ version for venturing off the beaten track.
The frame now uses 6061 aluminium that is hydroformed and triple butted, meaning there’s three tube wall thicknesses to allow it to be as light but stiff as possible.
Whilst you can’t have Countervail tech, you do get kevlar inserts (K-Vid) inside the carbon fork, dampening out some of the buzz.
In our last review, we were impressed by the frame but less so the finishing kit, commenting: “The ride quality of the exceptional frame is ace, but the slightly lacklustre components like the wheels, tyres and brakes not only bring the weight up but hurt its handling a little bit.”
You can pick a model up from £850, with a Shimano Sora groupset.
Bianchi Aquila CV Time Trial bike
Bianch’s Aquila CV time trial bike is an agressive beast. Available in sizes Extra Small to Large, the Small enjoys a stack and reach of 492/403. Though we’ve yet to put one to the test at CW we reckon you can expect a decent drop.
The Aquila’s tube shapes provided the inspiration for frames like the Oltre – so of course you get aero shapes including an hourglass shaped head tube, bowed forks, plus an integrated bar and stem set up using Bianchi’s own custom handlebar design.
A Shimano Ultegra build retails at £5500.
Bianchi Pista Sei Giorni and Bianchi Pista Steel
The Pista models are both singlespeeds, but with very different objectives.
The Pista Steel uses butted steel and comes with a flip-flop hub, so it can be ridden as a singlespeed as opposed to fixed. The Sei Giorni comes with an aluminium frame, and is designed to be used as a track bike – though both models come initially specced with 48T chairings and 16T rear cogs, which creates a rather small 82in gear that would need to be swapped for the boards.
With the 2018 RRPs of £850 for the Steel and £950 for the Sei Giorni, the models received 7 and 6 out of 10 respectively when we put them to the test – both losing marks for being a bit heavy and underspecced for the price.
Bianchi makes some thrilling geared road bikes which have dwelled more in the 9/10 arena when reviewed. Those looking to invest in a Bianchi might be better off shopping within the brand’s specialism; we’re not sure its focus is quite so well placed in the singlespeed arena.
Bianchi L’Eroica vintage
Last but not least, the L’Eroica couldn’t be ignored. The traditionally built frame acknowledges the history of the brand with lugged Columbus Zona tubing, albeit double butted, plus down tube shifters for the 10-speed Campagnolo groupset.
The tyres are Vittoria Rally 25mm tubulars, set on Ambrosio Montreal wheels.
This bike is fit for riding the Tuscan classic, L’Eroica sportive, and costs £2700.