For 2014, 80 percent of the Bianchi road range will be new, as will 70 percent of their mountain bike line, with all bikes designed and developed in Italy.
There was a time when Bianchi were global giants in cycling, but things have become very competitive since then, and the Italian company have focused on their history, high performance products and innovative technological development to regain ground. There’s no production line in the Bianchi factory, with just one person building each bike from start to finish. Bianchi say this allows their passion and attention to detail to show through.
2014 road bikes
Bianchi’s road ranges reflect each bike’s intended use: Hors Category (HC), Born For Performance (B4P) and Coast To Coast (C2C). The most important new features are Countervail Vibration Cancelling Technology and disc brakes.
Oltre XR2 (HC)
Launched under a year ago, the Oltre XR has now evolved to offer even sharper performance. A BB386 bottom bracket shell accepts PF30 bottom brackets, and a 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in tapered steerer tube should improve rigidity, while a dropped down tube incorporates a tweaked fork crown to reduce drag between wheel and frame.
Unidirectional, ultra high modulus carbon fibre with Bianchi’s X-TeX cross-weave strengthens layers in critical frame areas, increasing stiffness and impact resistance but not weight. The wrinkleless moulding process reduces excess frame mass.
The Ultra Thin Seat Stays are now 4-5mm wider, to increase lateral stiffness, and the frame is still under a claimed 900g (55cm). The UD carbon seatpost comes in four lengths depending on frame size, and with up to 30mm of setback. The frames come in 47, 50, 53, 55, 57, 59 and 61cm sizes, and are compatible with electronic and mechanical cabling.
The XR2 accepts internal batteries, and the models we saw had Shimano’s Di2 internal battery, plus a working prototype of Campagnolo’s equivalent (being seen for the first time outside of pro teams) with a charging port incorporated on the underside of the down tube, above the bottom bracket.
Consumer specs will be Super Record EPS, Dura-Ace or Ultegra Di2, plus mechanical Super Record, Dura-Ace or SRAM Red 22, with pricing to follow nearer launch time.
Oltre XR Disc (HC)
Fitted with a complete SRAM 22 hydraulic disc brake setup, the new Oltre XR2 Disc wasn’t quite ready to be ridden yet, but consists of a specific and heavily modified 135mm OLD frame and fork, with greater strength in the stays and fork to resist the greater braking forces.
It also does away with the calliper brake mounts, and has internal routing for the brake hoses – the front passing through the left fork leg and the rear through most of the frame. Bianchi expect it to come with Vision Metron 40 clinchers, and are recommending 25mm rubber for a little more contact patch.
Fitting disc brakes on such a rocket ship of a bike is a bold move, but the display bike was superbly executed.
Sempre Pro (B4P)
As ridden by the Bianchi-sponsored Androni pro team, the Sempre Pro is a great combination of performance and light weight, with a 55cm frame weighing a claimed 1,050g.
A 1.5in lower headset bearing and PF30 bottom bracket with large down tube help it go, while Ultra Thin Seat Stays should add comfort. The same full carbon fork is used across all Sempre Pro models, and all are configured for electrical and mechanical cabling.
Five models will be available, topped by SRAM Red 22 and Ultegra Di2 builds.
Infinito CV (C2C)
BikeRadar reported on the launch of the Infinito CV back in April. Its clever Countervail Vibration Cancelling carbon architecture is designed to prevent road vibrations from reaching the rider, while at the same time increasing stiffness and strength.
It’s said to reduce vibration by 75 percent – although we’re unsure what that figure is relative to, it should boost performance by reducing stresses on the body. After completing this year’s Paris-Roubaix, Vacansoleil rider Juan Antonio Flecha was quoted as saying, “That’s the best bike I’ve ever ridden.”
We took one out over some of the Italian countryside’s fractured and broken road surfaces, and the effect was extraordinary, smoothing things out like a 2.5in MTB tyre on a suspension bike, but with 100psi, 23mm tyres on 50mm carbon rims. All that while being race bike fast.
There will be three electronic models – Super Record EPS, Dura-Ace Di2 and Ultegra Di2 – and five mechanical models – Super Record, Dura-Ace, Chorus, Athena and Ultegra.
Alongside the Oltre XR2 Disc, there will also be an Infinito CV Disc model. It wasn’t ready for us to view but features a reworked frame and fork with internal cable and hose routing. We’ll bring you more on this when possible.
With the Infinito CV moving up in Bianchi’s range, the monocoque carbon Intenso takes over its position, offering a 1.5in lower headset bearing, full carbon fork with vibration-damping Kevlar inserts, and a BSA bottom bracket.
It has the same geometry as the Infinito, a 55cm frame weighs a claimed 1,230g, and the bike will be specced with Campagnolo Veloce or Shimano Ultegra or 105.
Largely unchanged for 2014, apart from new colours and graphics, this A4 and triple-butted 6061 aluminium frame is triple hydroformed. This means a hydroformed top and head tube, for example, are welded together then placed in another mould for further hydroforming, adding rigidty and improving looks.
Via Nirone 7 (C2C)
This is an all-new model in 7000 series triple-butted aluminium, hydroformed for rigidity. It has a carbon fork with aluminium steerer and will be offered with Shimano 105, Tiagra or Campagnolo Xenon 10-speed, 9-speed Shimano Sora or 8-speed Shimano Claris groupsets.
Dama Bianca (C2C)
This range of C2C bikes is specifically tailored for women, catering for a variety of performance and price needs. There will be the Infinito CV Lady with Shimano Ultegra, the Campagnolo Veloce 10-speed Intenso, an Impulso and a Via Nirone 7 Lady.
Bianchi’s time trial machines are unchanged for 2014, with the Pico Crono Carbon and Crono Tri continuing. However, there will be a new top-end model for 2015.
The aluminium framed Zurigo will now be offered with rim or disc brakes and SRAM Apex. Its 1.5kg (3.3lb) frame is aimed at the crossover market, including rack mounts for versatility. The carbon-framed Caviara, though, is a pure race bike with 11-speed SRAM Force. Its frame weighs a claimed 1kg (2.2lb).
While the majority of Bianchi’s mountain bike range is of the XC/marathon 100mm-plus travel hardtail variety, and the Methanol is the only full-suspension model, more suspension bikes are in development to cover the trail and all-mountain categories.
The Methanol keeps its trusted racing geometry in 26in and 29er formats, and 2014 also sees new 27.5in (650b) SL and SX machines, featuring 12x142 Shimano QR thru axles, a 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in headset, a PF30 73mm bottom bracket and internal cabling.
Bianchi have taken the brave move of anticipating off-road electronic shifting off-road by making the bikes compatible with Di2 and incorporating an internal battery option, which is a first for the MTB market.
A 19in SL frame weighs a claimed 1,185g, and the 423mm chainstays make for a very reactive bike. The rear brake has been positioned to allow a 160mm rotor. The SL will have SHM Toray 40T and 30T carbon fibre, Ti Net titanium netting incorporated into the underside of the down tube to prevent stone and debris damage, and an integrated seatmast that can be cut off carefully if you prefer a conventional 31.6mm post.
Both the SL and SX will have HM700T carbon fibre, a triple-wall down tube with central strengthening rib, Embedded Reinforcement Construction ridges for strength, carbon dropouts and curved, shock absorbing stays. They are intended for high-level competition, and as such are built for uncompromising speed.
Bianchi are the first company to have adopted Magura’s new smart suspension control, and this was its first European showing. The system uses a series of 3D acceleration sensors to measure tilt and impacts, and the eLECT setup responds accordingly, automatically controlling the lockout function depending on terrain.
A manually controlled version (DLO2) works via a wireless remote button mounted on a separate clamp or directly to a Magura brake lever. The technology is retrofittable to all Magura forks.
A full charge via micro USB should give 40-60 hours of operation from the wireless control, and the mechanical DLO2 weighs 108g against the eLECT system, which is 93g.
Methanol 29 FS
Using a 100mm Horst link four-bar suspension system, Bianchi’s full-susser promises great durability and less lateral play as all pivot bearings are widely available SKF units housed in precise CNC-machined mounts.
Also using 12x142 Shimano QR thru-axles, a 73mm PF30 BB, a 160mm rear rotor and 1.5in lower headset bearing, a 19in frame weighs a claimed 1,970g. Though not the lightest out there, Bianchi say it’s the stiffest, and closest to the feel of a hardtail.
The 29.1 (SRAM XX), 29.2 (XTR/XT) and 29.3 (SRAM X9) models are available in 17, 19 or 21in, or as framesets only.
These models are designed to be very racy, but with a more forgiving ride than the Methanol bikes. The 27.5in bikes come in carbon fibre with a 120mm fork and BSA bottom bracket. A 19in frame weighs around 1,370g and includes internal cable routing.
With geometry adapted from the Methanol, the new aluminium Jab keeps a 1.5in lower headset bearing, BSA bottom bracket, 160mm rear disc rotor and internal cabling.
Available in 27.5in and 29er models, a 19in frame in the smaller wheel size weighs 1,670g, with the other coming in at 1,740g. Bianchi say the quality of the Jab’s frame exceeds that of some bikes raced at the 2012 Olympics, which is hard to verify.
For more information on Bianchi bikes see www.bianchi.com.