Great frame let down by indifferent spec
Comfortable, compliant frame
Tiagra groupset is a bit below par at this price
The frame is undoubtedly the star of the Bianchi Intenso Tiagra. It may not feature any of the impressive (and expensive) anti-vibration Countervail technology of its big brother in Bianchi’s endurance range, the Infinito CV, but it can hardly be described as backwards.
Italian though it may be, this seems to be a bike designed with British roads in mind. The fork and rear stays both feature Kevlar inserts that improve ride quality and help to smooth road surface imperfections. The fairly relaxed geometry with a tall head tube also helps to improve comfort on long rides.
If the frame is the highlight of the Intenso, then the specification is the lowlight. Seeing as both the Specialized and the Cannondale come with 105, and the Norco even manages to throw in Ultegra shifting, to see Tiagra is a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, Shimano Tiagra is a great groupset, with decent shifting, but is definitely more at home on less expensive bikes and seems more than a little out of place on a frame of such high quality.
Most of the finishing kit comes from Bianchi’s in-house Reparto Corse range, and does a good enough job.
The same can be said of the Shimano R501 wheels, which are never going to set the world alight when they weigh close to 1,900g, but for long rides on dodgy roads they do a good job and complement the vibration-damping frame when shod with the 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres.
I’m not sure whether it’s really those Kevlar inserts, but the Bianchi certainly offers a comfortable ride. Vibration cancelling might not be quite up there with the Cannondale and the Specialized, but this is balanced out with superb handling for a bike that is just as at home sweeping down steep, rough, decidedly British descents, as it is on the silky smooth roads of its Italian homeland.
I was also impressed with its performance going uphill, barely noticing the handful of grams that the Bianchi gives away to some of its competitors.
While the frame certainly hits the mark, the Tiagra groupset means the Bianchi loses out on value. For an extra £350 you can get the same frame but equipped with Shimano 105. I think this spec would much better match the quality of the frame, and would represent better value too.
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