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Bianchi Specialissima Super Record EPS review

A precise, responsive and controlled superbike, that blends Bianchi's race-bred lineage with contemporary design

Bianchi Specialissima Super Record EPS
(Image: © Aaron Borrill)

Our Verdict

Fast and precise in any situation, the Bianchi Specialissima has rewritten the script for super-bike performance

For

  • Telepathic handling
  • Responsive drivetrain
  • Stiff-yet-compliant ride quality
  • Classic looks
  • Cable-free facade

Against

  • Wheels could be better

Throughout Bianchi's illustrious history, the Specialissima nameplate has been reserved exclusively for its best lightweight bikes. The all-new Specialissima was first revealed back in late 2020 with the biggest news being its move to disc-brake-only configuration - something we've seen employed en masse among all major manufacturers. While this would have undoubtedly brought with it a weight penalty, Bianchi's engineers have managed to retain all the feathery attributes that have made it such a popular bike among enthusiasts and professionals alike by improving the frame structure and carbon-fibre recipe - and you can feel this through its underpinnings.

A bike as pedigreed as the Specialissima pictured here needs to be respected and tested in equal measure. As a result, we set out to establish just how good it is - not only at overcoming gravity but at descending tricky switchbacks and devouring flat and choppy terrain, too. 

The test bed? You guessed it. The leg-sapping topography that makes up the Surrey Hills region.

Design and aesthetics

The Specialissima is available in three distinct colourways: Celeste (pictured here), greenish-blue and ultra-light black, the latter of which saves 80g owing to a paucity of paint. It looks absolutely superb in Celeste, a colour that dominates most of the frame real estate owing to the hologram-like mermaid scale Bianchi keyline wordmark on the downtube. In terms of design, the tube profiles have been reshaped with chamfered edges, and all the cabling has been tucked inside the frame, resulting in improved aerodynamics and lateral stiffness - attributes borrowed from the Oltre platform. 

Despite the improved lateral stiffness and disc-brake mount reinforcement on the rear triangle and fork, Bianchi quotes 750g for a size 55 frame. That's pretty feathery by modern standards and fairly impressive considering the new frame architecture has been constructed using Countervail vibration-damping technology. That said, it's still fairly dainty in appearance with frame angles and shaping that harks back to the round-tubed climbing bikes of yesteryear. In fact, unlike some of its rivals that can accommodate a wide range of tyre widths - the Merida Scultura Team has room for 30mm - the Specialissima tops out at 28mm.

In terms of the geometry numbers, the Specialissima is a pure-bred race bike. On my 55cm test bike, the head-tube and seat-tube angles are practically parallel to each other at 72.5- and 73.5-degrees respectively, placing you directly over the bottom bracket and allowing a more aero riding position. It's all very racy - a fact further illustrated by the 43mm fork offset and 59mm trail number which makes for an incredibly nimble and lively performer.

Specifications and build

As you'd expect from a bike of this calibre, the Specialissima is a handsomely appointed bike and features Italian-only componentry. While the range spans a host of build options including Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra Di2 12-speed and SRAM Red eTap AXS, our bike has been built around a Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset. A compact 50/34T crankset drives an 11-29T cassette via 172.5mm carbon cranks - it's a stunning assembly and the perfect companion for this particular build.

As a result, the Campag paraphernalia is complemented by a stem, bar and seatpost arrangement designed in collaboration with FSA. Dubbed Reparto Corse, the CNC-machined 6061 aluminium stem clamps down on a unidirectional carbon-fibre bar. It's all very light, foregoing the chunky trends in favour of slimmed-down architecture. A carbon Fizik Antares R1 saddle clad in Alcantara rounds off the touchpoints.

Perhaps the item most at odds with the rest of the build is the Fulcrum Wind 40 DB wheelset. While relatively lightweight and perfectly adequate for the job at hand, something more premium and more in line with the groupset is what's expected here - perhaps something from the Bora WTO range. In fact, it appears as though the entire range is lacking in the wheel stakes with Vision being the other provider.

Ride, handling and performance

As previously mentioned Bianchi has made a concerted effort to dial as much of the learnings from the Oltre into the new Specialissima and the results are tangible. Having spent time on the previous version, the new Specialissima is head and shoulders above its forebear when it comes to ride compliance. Of course, this is largely down to the Countervail frame tech but this has done little to affect the racy character of the bike. If anything it feels livelier and more hungry to clock up miles at speed. At a smidgeon over 7.2kg, it's naturally very comfortable when the road points upwards and accelerates without hesitation.

The improved shaping of the tubing - read: aero - and cableless cockpit has helped with its slipperiness and boosted its aerodynamic efficiency as a result. This means the Specialissima feels as urgent on flats as it does on climbs or rolling terrain. With a front 50/34T chainring configuration driving an 11-29T rear cassette, the gearing favours climbs over flat terrain. As a result of this, it feels somewhat under-geared but is still able to munch away at the horizon line, albeit at a much higher cadence. As far as handling goes, it's one of the livelier bikes on the market - able to change direction with ease and corners almost telepathically. The Pirelli P Zero Race 26c tyres are sublime and, despite needing to run higher pressures than the tubeless equivalent, fosters impressive levels of grip across both wheels.

The Fulcrum Wind 40 DB wheels did a stellar job and the gloss-varnished aesthetics look superb against the Celeste frame but feel this bike could have been specced with something more exclusive. In terms of their performance, there was some flex during out-of-the-saddle accelerations and descending at speed, but the Fulcrums behaved on the whole. I just found them somewhat at odds with the balance of the build, especially considering the five-figure asking price... The Campag Hydraulic Disc brakes are some of the best I've sampled, delivering crisp and precise stopping power, and incredibly detailed modulation control. I did feel the Campagnolo 03 AFS 160mm front/rear rotor configuration was a bit overkill - especially given its lightweight credentials - but then again the descending confidence afforded by this set-up is superb.

 

Bianchi Specialissima Super Record EPS

With a front 50/34T chainring configuration driving an 11-29T rear cassette, the gearing favours climbs over flat terrain (Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Verdict

A high-end bike of this nature is never going to come cheap and before passing judgement on the stratospheric £12,578 / €12,314 sticker price, it's worth noting it's by no means intended for the everyday rider but rather the purist or professional. It's a superbike designed for winning races and excelling in the high mountains of grand tours - it's an absolute pleasure to ride. It's fast, precise and nimble, and delivers one of the better ride qualities in the segment thanks to the advancements in the carbon-fibre layup and tube shaping used in its construction.

Factor in its svelte Italian styling cues, trademark Celeste paintwork and well-balanced geometry, and it's hard not to fall in love with it. While it scored highly over our testing benchmarks, it could have done even better if it came fitted with something a little more premium than the Fulcrum Wind 40 DB wheels featured on our build. Is it a deal-breaker though? No, not at all. The Bianchi Specialissima Super Record EPS is a genuine challenger for the best lightweight bike crown. It's simply brilliant.

How we test

For information on Cyclingnews' testing protocol and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

Testing scorecard and notes
AttributesNotesRating
Design and aesthetics A stunningly designed bike blending contemporary frame material and construction with classic geometry and colour theory. Faultless 10/10
Components Top-drawer Italian components such as Campagnolo Super Record EPS feature heavily in the build. It's ultimately let down by a wheelset that's not in the same league 8/10
Performance, handling and geometryFast, balanced and nimble in all situations, the Specialissima can do everything asked of it and more9/10
WeightComing in at 7.25g, it's not very heavy for a disc-brake-equipped bike but could have been lighter9/10
Value for moneyIt's pricey and that's going to be hard to swallow for most enthusiasts but after considering its purpose, spec level and superlative riding performance - it's undoubtedly going to find favour with cyclists looking for a pure and unsullied bike experience 9/10
Overall rating90%

Logbook: Bianchi Specialissma Super Record EPS 

  • Temperature: 10 to 29 degrees
  • Weather: Dry, windy, sunny
  • Road surface: Mixed surfaces
  • Route: Tarmac, B roads, rolling topography
  • Rides: 18
  • Mileage: 1026km

Tech Specs: Bianchi Specialissma Super Record EPS 

  • Price: £12,578 / €12,314
  • Frame: Specialissima Disc carbon w/Bianchi CV
  • Size: 55cm
  • Weight: 7.25kg (actual without pedals)
  • Groupset: Campagnolo Super Record EPS
  • Crankset: Campagnolo Super Record ultra-torque CT TI Carbon 50/34T 
  • Cassette: Campagnolo Super Record, 11-29T
  • Wheels: Fulcrum Wind 400 DB
  • Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Race 26c
  • Brakes: Campagnolo Hydraulic Disc 
  • Bar: Reparto Corse by FSA Compact HB-RK-222S/CCH/Di2
  • Stem: Reparto Corse by FSA NS ACR
  • Seatpost: Reparto Corse by FSA K-Force Light SB25
  • Bottle cages: Elite Custom Race Plus
  • Saddle: Fizik Antares R1

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Aaron is Cyclingnews' tech editor. Born and raised in South Africa he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former gear and digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's been writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 16 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic and completed the Haute Route Alps. When not riding, racing or testing bicycles in and around the UK's Surrey Hills where he now lives, he's writing about them for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect


Height: 175cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale SuperSlice Disc Di2 TT, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Ultegra Di2 Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

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