Bianchi's Infinito CV combines Countervail technology with 'endurance race' geometry to reveal a versatile machine
Bianchi’s road bikes are broadly broken into two key geometry styles: race and endurance race.
The Infinito CV slots into the latter – which means it’s designed for long days out but still aims to be nippy enough to keep racers feeling at home.
Part of the bike line-up used by Dutch pro team LottoNL-Jumbo, this model has been raced in cobbled Classics but it’s not as often seen in the pro peloton, with all-out speed machines such as the Oltre XR4 and Specialissima taking centre stage.
The Infinito CV I’m testing has been fitted with a Campagnolo Chorus Disc groupset and has an estimated build cost of £6,500. It’s not available off the shelf – in stores you’ll find the bike built up with Shimano Ultegra for £4,300 or Di2 for £5,400 while a frameset costs £2,800.
Bianchi Infinito CV disc frame
The endurance frame is complemented by Bianchi’s much loved unique selling point, Countervail technology.
In case you’ve missed it in nearly every other Bianchi bike review, Countervail was developed with the Materials Sciences Corp and it’s a composite material that combines carbon with viscoelastic resin, cancelling out a claimed 80 per cent of vibrations while also lending it extra stiffness and strength.
The aim of the game is to absorb vibrations. Bianchi aims to kill the accepted belief that comfort and performance are dichotomous, claiming that the fatigue busting technology also creates a faster rider.
Countervail – used elsewhere on NASA aerospace applications – carries the added benefit of smoothing out road imperfections that might otherwise impair handling.
Again, there’s an emphasis placed on speed here: a rider who isn’t worried about being dislodged from the bike thanks to poor resurfacing or gravel is going to take the bends and descents faster.
Whilst the Infinito isn’t marketed as a slouch by any means, it is significantly more relaxed than the sort of fit you might find on one of its ‘race’ models like the Oltre XR4 with a reach of 373 as opposed to 384 and stack of 537 to the Oltre’s 499.
Interestingly, the stated head and seat angle stay the same between the Infinito and the Oltre XR4 in a size 50 – 71.5º up front and 74.5º at the rear – implying handling that’s going to feel quick footed across the models. The Ininito CV disc has a longer wheelbase, though, which should provide a healthy dose of stability.
The Infinito CV disc is available built with Shimano Ultegra or Shimano Ultegra Di2. However, most Bianchi dealers will help you build a bike up: we tested one with Campagnolo’s new Chorus Disc groupset.
An off-the-shelf build won’t come with this spec, and if you’re creating your own jigsaw bike you’ll probably have your own preferences – but a brief word on the spec we rode.
Campagnolo’s hydraulic discs were a long time coming, only arriving in May 2017. However, what it’s produced alongside German brake and suspension manufacturers Magura is impressive. We’ll review the groupset separately, but it is fair to say the brakes are quick to ping into action without being grabby.
The discs are rounded in an attempt to improve safety and you can select your lever postion, thanks to the Adjustment Modulation System (AMS).
The hoods have remained slim in the style of Campagnolo, though the hydraulic discs see an 8mm increase to hood length, which doubles up as providing an aero advantage.
Our model came with Campagnolo Zonda disc wheels, shod with Vittoria Rubino pro tyres in 25c and FSA finishing kit.
Pretty much every time I rocked up at a group ride with this bike, it attracted compliments. Indeed, Bianchi’s country manager Andrew Griffin told me he reckoned it was the best looking in the 2018 line up.
Personally, I don’t dispute that it’s a nice looking bike but I was always pretty surprised by the volume of compliments. Anyway – the images should help you make your own minds up.
Having ridden Bianchi’s Oltre XR4 for a few months last year, I was intrigued to see how the Countervail would perform on this more endurance focused model.
Oddly, though unmissable, the dampening effect of this space-age tech was less marked to me on the Infinito CV.
I reckon this is because comfort such as this is pretty unique on an aero bike. Put it on an endurance bike, and at this point in frame development it’s sort of taken as a given. My expectation was met, however – the frame brushed over imperfections even on the aptly named ‘sandpaper section’ of my favourite test route.
On my early rides on this bike, I set several descending PR’s – notably on the gravel-laced 20 per cent-plus descent close to my home (the one with the barking dog at the top and the eternal 50 per cent chance of meeting an oncoming car on the corner). Despite obstacles, the Infinito CV disc felt determined and stable. Cornering was quick, too, but those Zonda wheels probably had some say in that.
I didn’t take the Infinito CV to the races, but I did enjoy chucking a leg over on those pre/post race chill out rides that become a staple of the mid-summer season, plus a few longer club runs.
On short out-the-saddle rises, it didn’t set my world alight. The quick footed punch that makes a frame come alive for me wasn’t quite there. However, not everyone wants this all day – and the ride certainly wasn’t floppy or lacklustre as can be a danger with some endurance machines.
The geometry is versatile. With the bars at their highest point, the bike felt pretty upright – compact, comfortable but not particularly fast.
However, there’s 35mm of drop available. Slamming the stem gave way to a very different ride – one which, though short, allowed me to get low enough to feel fast. It would be easy to swap the 90mm stem specced for a longer version, and I’d without a doubt swap the 40cm bars for 38 or 36s which will always make a huge difference.
Climbing on the Infinito CV disc felt OK but not quite as thrilling as I might like when riding a £6k+ bike.
At 7.8kg in a size 50, it’s a tad on the heavy side. Not obese, more right on the margin where it might be kind to suggest laying off the extra biscuits. Bianchi says the frame weight is 1,020g, so some of the heft may have been down to the finishing kit.
Shifting was reassuringly mechanical with that pleasant Campag ‘clunk’, especially when mass jumping from large to small ring in that perfectly easy way that Campag allows for. The shifters, as always with Campagnolo, fitted like my hands were their own purpose designed gloves.
The brakes did squeal a bit on early rides in the wet. However, once settled, the braking was excellent: sharp without being grabby.
Bianchi does not make a name for itself in value for money, choosing instead to focus on the premium end of the market and this model is no exception
The frame technology – such as Countervail – is still something the brand that made celeste famous is expecting you to pay for.
Explaining the price tags attached to its bikes, Griffin told me: “One of the reasons Bianchi is more expensive is that we don’t have one frame design that covers several models”, something he claims is unique, clarifying that “no model frame shares parts with any other model frame.”
“The cost of moUlds being what they are, this automatically increases the cost per model. The testing of individual frame shapes also takes time and costs money” – all that adds up when you’ve got eight frame sizes per model to ensure customers can find the right size, as Bianchi does.
Campagnolo is never a budget choice, either.
You could get a bike with similar spec and a lower weight for less, but you’d be sacrificing that trademark green/blue hue and your place in the Bianchi owners club.
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.