Bianchi Oltre XR Campagnolo EPS

Bianchi has just allowed us a sneaky peek at its 2013 Oltre XR. The Treviglio-based company has revised its top of the line carbon-monocoque road bike, adding the suffix ‘XR' to its existing Oltre, now three years old and ready to be given the benefits of new technology.

In fact, there have been modification to the headtube, downtube and chain stays. New production processes have been used to increase the rigidity of those areas by a claimed 20 per cent (over the previous model) while simultaneously reducing the frame weight by 30 grams, with a 55cm model tipping the scales at a claimed 895g.

Technology and tradition combine to produce the stunning Oltre XR

There was talk of ‘Nano powder' being added - but this turned out to be powdered carbon which filled in any gaps in the weave, making those treated areas more rigid.

The geometry, carbon seat post and carbon fork are the same as the current Oltre, as are the ‘Ultra Thin Seat Stays' and X-Tex lattice of carbon strips in the headstock area. The carbon fibre spec used for the frame - high modulus UMS40 and CN60 - remains the same too.

Stealthy black or racy red?

"We tried different geometries, we have a rapid prototype facility in Treviglio, but in the end we were happy with the comfort and handling of the bike, so we concentrated on improving power transfer by making improvements in the down tube and chainstays," said Angelo Lecchi, product manager at Bianchi.

Bianchi's ‘riparto corse' recently took delivery of more sophisticated testing equipment - stressing and measuring flex and stiffness more accurately - and the Oltre XR is the first bike developed with the aid of the new technology.  "In the end though, it is still the ride quality that counts," added ex-pro Lecchi, "it's only on the road that you tell if the bike works properly."

Bianchi still uses it's tradtional colours

Clearly, as Lecchi stated, the best test will be on the road rather than on a test bench, but one thing is clear, the Oltre XR is a beautiful frame. Its combination of tapered aero headtube, aero blade forks, a 190g carbon seat post that only looks like an integrated unit and exquisitely delicate seat stays are what you expect of an Italian company. The bike will be available in seven sizes and three colours - red, black and, of course, ‘celeste.'

Electronic Oltre XR

The Oltre XR will be available in nine builds as well as a stand-alone frameset. For fans of battery-powered shifting, there will be a Shimano Dura Ace Di2 11speed compact and double model as well as Ultegra 10 speed Compact. Two Campag models will also be in the dealers, a Super Record EPS 11speed and Athena EPS 11 speed. If you prefer mechanical shifting, there's a SRAM Red option as well as Shimano and Campag equivalents.

Campag's EPS is a prime option

This article was first published in the August 9 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store (opens in new tab).

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