This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
Bianchi has a new climbing bike called the Specialissima that uses the viscoelastic Countervail technology the Italian brand first introduced in its Infinito CV endurance bike.
Bianchi partnered with US composites group MSC on the patented Countervail material used in their frame and forks. Initially the Viscoelastic material was sandwiched between hi-mod carbon layers in a unique lay-up that Bianchi claimed reduced the length of vibrations from the road by up to 80 per cent. Bianchi also uses Countervail on its TT machine the Aquila CV, where Bianchi says the decrease in vibration allows a rider to hold their best aero position for longer.
The Specialissima uses a new formulation of Countervail that retains the damping qualities of the Infinito’s composition but increases stiffness, Bianchi says, to create a bike that’s all about handling prowess downhill, and reactive acceleration going up.
The key goals in the Specialissima's design were lightweight and rigidity. Bianchi tested a number of lightweight framesets and found that trading stability in favour of lightness can create a bike with nervous handling traits when descending.
By using the Countervail material Bianchi still gets the weight down to a very respectable 780g (in a 55cm frame), with a matching Countervail-infused fork adding 340g. Bianchi claims the Countervail makes the Specialissima ascend with urgency but descend better than any comparable lightweight race machine.
Speaking of weight, we put a complete 57cm bike with Campagnolo Super Record EPS on the scales, and it came in at 6.19kg, and the mechanical version just 6.08kg.
The Specialissima frame has a cleaner, simpler look than the Italian brand's previous top-flight racing weapon, the Oltre, but get up close and you’ll see the tubes have a subtle diamond shaped cross-section. The top tube tapers and narrows where it meets the 27.2 seat post, the bottom bracket shell is built to accept a press fit 86.5 x 41 BB, and the sharply tapering chainstays flow into carbon dropouts with alloy inserts.
The bike is available in both electronic and mechanical guises, both fully internally routed, but the mechanical version routes the rear derailleur cable externally when it reaches the chainstay to remove the chance of any efficiency-compromising friction.
Up front, the tapered 1 1/8in-to-1 1/4in head tube borrows heavily from the aerodynamic lessons learnt from the Aquila, with the head tube showing a slight arrowhead shape and the flush-form fitting smooth integration of the fork adding another nod to cheating the wind.
Geometry-wise, the Specialissima mirrors the Oltre’s pro race set-up, so a 55cm frame features a 72.5 head angle, 73.5 seat, combined with a short wheelbase and a low 145mm head tube. It’s available in seven sizes stretching between a tiny 47cm to a 61cm. The range in noticeably high end, with only Super Record (EPS and Mechanical) and Shimano Dura-Ace (Di2 and mechanical) models available, wheels are options of a deep Campagnolo Bora Ultra, or Fulcrums Racing Zero Carbon shallow rim. Crank options of 50/34 or 52/36 are also available.
All Specialissimas are masked and painted in their Italian facility, so the bike is the first from Bianchi to not feature any decals whatsoever, and whilst the standard bike is available in either black or the brilliant new Fluro take on classic Celeste called CK14, Binachi has also launched a full custom project called ‘Tavolozza’ (Italian for painter's palette) where you can choose from more the 20 custom colours in matt or gloss finishes for both paint and graphics, or any combination you can dream up.
Pricing has not yet been announced.
Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the new Bianchi Specialissima.