Italy’s Bianchi was founded way back in 1885 and, rather than relying solely on its heritage, it continues to produce some of the most technologically advanced bikes out there.
It has a large road bike lineup designed for various different types of riding, with prices from £850 right up to £12,000, so there are options for most budgets.
Here’s what you need to know in order to choose the right option for you.
The Specialissima is the lightest road bike in Bianchi’s range with a claimed frame weight of just 780g (55cm model in black finish) and a fork weight of 340g. It’s built to a race bike geometry and is one of the models that uses Countervail (CV) technology.
Countervail is a structural carbon system with a viscoelastic resin from Materials Sciences Corp that’s embedded within the frame’s carbon layup. The idea is that it cancels out road vibration to reduce muscle fatigue and save energy while improving handling and control. Countervail is exclusive to Bianchi in the cycling industry.
“The Countervail soaks up road vibration, all that little buzz that you don't really pay attention to, but once it's gone it's a marked improvement,” said road.cc’s Stu Kerton when he reviewed the Specialissima. “It means you can get on with the business in hand of getting the bike to the bottom of the hill as quickly and as easily as possible.
“The benefits are noticeable, especially towards the end of an 80-mile ride. You don't get so much fatigue in the arms and upper body.”
Our review bike, built up with Shimano’s Dura-Ace components, weighed just 6.35kg yet the frame was very stiff.
“Acceleration is phenomenal,” said Stu. “Power down, the legs spin, 'snick', the chain drops a cog and the Specialissima surges forward, optimal cadence is passed, 'snick' again, and the whole process recurs. It becomes addictive and so much fun that you actually look forward to stopping so you get to do it over and over again.”
The Specialissima is one of the bikes that has been ridden by the LottoNL-Jumbo World Tour team, — to be known as Team Jumbo-Visma in 2019 — and nothing raced at that level is ever cheap! It’s available in various different builds, all of them based around either Shimano Dura-Ace, Campagnolo Super Record or SRAM Red eTap groupsets, the highest level offering from their respective brands.
Even the most affordable complete bike is going to set you back £8,500 — that’s with Dura-Ace and Fulcrum Racing Zero Nite wheels.
Buy if: You’re after a lightweight superbike that’s fast and reactive... and you have a high disposable income!
Bianchi now has four Oltre framesets in its range: the XR3 and the XR4, each in rim brake and disc brake versions. The XR1 and the XR2 have both dropped out of the lineup. The Oltres are race bikes with aero features, including tubes that are shaped to reduce drag, an aero-profiled seat tube that’s cutaway around the leading edge of the rear wheel, an aero seatpost, a slim-legged fork and a fork crown that integrates into the frame.
Both the XR3 and the XR4 feature Countervail technology in the frame and fork (see Specialissima above). The Countervail is designed to help you remain in an aero position by cancelling vibration and thereby increasing your control, reducing muscle fatigue, and keeping you comfortable.
You'd have to say that the Oltre XR3 does provide a smooth ride by race bike standards. As far as we can tell without taking it to the lab, the Countervail does have a positive influence on the way the bike feels, but don't expect miracles. You're going to get a little less buzz than you'd otherwise get, not a totally different ride experience. Don't expect the Countervail to do anything to soften the blow if you rattle through a pothole or hit a big bump in the road. It might dissipate vibration but it can't smooth over major irregularities.
Bianchi says that although it doesn't match the more expensive XR4 (see below) in the wind tunnel, the XR3 still puts in an efficient performance (no comparative figures have been published).
The Oltre XR3 feels super-stiff when you dish out the watts. There's little flex either through the centre or the front end of the frame. You get the feeling that your effort is getting turned efficiently into forward movement rather than flexing the various parts of the frameset around.
The fork is a full-carbon integrated design (the shape of the crown flows into that of the frame's head tube and down tube) with a tapered steerer (1 1/8in upper bearing, 1 1/2in lower bearing) and wide legs. It takes you exactly where you want to go no matter how hard you lean the bike into a corner.
Bianchi claims a frame weight of 1,110g (+/-5%, 55cm model) and a fork weight of 370g. The complete 59cm bike we reviewed, built up with a Campagnolo Potenza groupset and Fulcrum Racing 7 LG wheels, was 8.06kg (17.8lb).
The cheapest Oltre XR3 full bike is £2,800. That one is built up with Shimano’s mid-level 105 groupset and Fulcrum Racing Sport wheels. If you have more money to spend, the top model comes with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and Fulcrum Racing 418 wheels. That one is £4,700.
Buy if: You want a fast-reacting aero road bike with a high ride quality.
Oltre XR3 Disc
Bianchi launched a disc version of its Oltre XR3 in 2018. As well as the brakes, the bike has a new fork and a tweaked rear end for the flat mount callipers. It is a smooth-riding speed machine that just devours the miles.
The most affordable Oltre XR3 Disc comes in a Shimano 105 build for £3,300, while the range goes all the way up to £4,900 for Shimano Ultegra Di2 model. If you want to stick with the Italian theme, a Campagnolo Potenza build is available for £4,100.
Buy if: You're after a fast bike with a very high ride quality.
The XR4, which was released before the XR3, is the top-level Oltre and was the road.cc Superbike of the Year 2016-17. We had only good things to say when we reviewed it.
“The Bianchi Oltre XR4 is a lightweight race bike that puts in a superb performance. It's agile and mega-stiff with pin-sharp handling, and it's comfortable enough that you can thoroughly enjoy long rides rather than counting down the miles until it's time to get off,” we said.
It’s another of the bikes to feature Countervail technology.
“The Oltre offers a ride with a marked absence of vibration,” we said. “Everyone who has ridden this review bike has said the same thing unprompted. There's just a bit less flutter than usual coming though to the contact points. Whether that's down to the Countervail we can’t tell you for sure, but this is a super-smooth bike.”
The XR4 features an aero head tube inspired by Aquila CV time trial bike profiles and you have the option of a Vision Metron 5D combo handlebar/stem to give an integrated front end.
You get direct mount brakes, the rear one completely shielded by the wishbone seatstays, and a wedge-type seatpost clamp with the bolt tucked inside the top tube. Bianchi says that all of this reduces drag.
One area where the Oltre XR4 really scores is in its frame stiffness. There's virtually no flex through the centre of the bike, even when you get out of the saddle and sprint. It's a similar story up front where the steering is excellent, giving you the courage to slam the bike hard into corners and jump about in a group of riders knowing that you'll end up exactly where you want to be.
Raced on the world stage by the LottoNL-Jumbo team (Team Jumbo-Visma in 2019), the Oltre XR4 is never going to be cheap. The least expensive complete bike, with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 or a Campagnolo Chorus groupset, is £5,200.
Buy if: You’re after the performance of a pro-level race bike and can afford to pay for it.
Oltre XR4 Disc
Bianchi announced a disc version of the Oltre XR4 in 2018. At the time of writing, we have one in for review at road.cc, but we've not completed the process.
The Oltre XR4 Disc is available in several builds, starting out with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 version for £6,500. If you fancy the top-level option with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components, it'll set you back £10,000.
Buy if: You’re looking for a superbike performance with the control of disc brakes.
The Aria is an aero road bike that features technology that has trickled down from Bianchi’s Aquila time trial/ triathlon design.
“Aria delivers ultimate aerodynamic performance with expertly balanced combination of race-focused geometry and wind tunnel proven design,” says Bianchi.
“To overcome wind resistance, the Aria has a precision-engineered frame and integrated fork with advanced aerodynamic shape and racing geometry.”
Bianchi says that the Aria’s design has been “heavily inspired” by its wind tunnel testing and co-operation with pro riders.
The tapered head tube has an aero profile, for example, as does the seatpost which comes with a wedge-type clamp that’s recessed into the top tube and a 20mm offset (the distance the saddle clamp is set back from the centre of the post).
The seat tube is cutaway around the leading edge of the rear wheel in time honoured aero road bike fashion, and the deeply profiled down tube is cutaway around the front wheel. The seatstays are slim to reduce drag and the same goes for the fork legs.
Bianchi claims a frame weight of 1,100g (+/-5%) for a 55cm model. That’s not ultralight compared to the brand’s Specialissima, for example, but it’s certainly not heavy for a deep-tubed aero road bike. The fork has a claimed weight of 370g.
The most affordable Aria is £2,300. That gets you a Shimano 105 groupset and Vision Team 35 Comp. Shimano Ultegra (£2,700) and Ultegra Di2 (£3,700) models are also available, as are ones with Campagnolo Centaur (£2,350) and Potenza (£2,650) groupsets.
Buy if: You’re looking for an aero road bike at a lower price point than the Oltres.
The Aria Disc retains all of the good bits of the rim brake version (above), plus an improved braking performance, especially in wet conditions.
The Bianchi Aria Disc might not offer quite the spark and dynamism of the higher level Oltres, but it's still a very good bike built with tried and tested aero features.
This bike responds quickly and handles sharply. If you're a performance-focused rider – whether a racer or simply someone who likes to ride fast – it's certainly worthy of serious consideration.
Buy if: You want a responsive aero road bike in a race geometry with the all-weather stopping abilities of hydraulic disc brakes.
The Sempre Pro, built around a carbon-fibre frame and a full-carbon fork, is cheaper than the Oltres or the Arias but it's still a fast and agile racer that is comfortable for longer rides.
You get a race geometry with a low front-end that ensures an aggressive and aerodynamic ride position. That allows you to really push the Sempre Pro hard and fast through sweeping bends, over crests in the road and down swooping descents.
It winds up to speed quickly with good stiffness through the frame, helped by the oversized down tube, PressFit30 bottom bracket and a tapered head tube that provides a very taut feel. It's stiff enough for the most demanding rider, but not so stiff that non-racers will be put off.
You can get a complete bike in either a Shimano 105 or a Campagnolo Centaur build for £1,800. Paying £300 extra gets you an upgrade to Shimano Ultegra.
Buy if: You're after a ride that's comparable to that of bikes costing a lot more, with loads of potential for weekend plasts, sportives and racing.
The Infinito CV is an endurance road bike that makes use of Bianchi’s Countervail material technology (see Specialissima above) designed to reduce muscle fatigue and increase control. It’s available in rim brake and disc brake versions, and also in a women’s build.
With a more relaxed geometry than its Oltre and Specialissima race bikes, Bianchi aims the Infinito CV at riders who like to get a move on but don't want to be in a racer's traditionally low slung position. For the equivalent frame size, the Infinito has a longer head tube, which does make you feel a bit more upright, but you can still hunker down in the drops for speed work.
The Infinito CV is rock solid around the bottom bracket junction and at the head tube so you get plenty of efficiency here, and it’s also a very comfortable ride.
In terms of handling, Bianchi has got the balance pretty much spot on, which makes the Infinito CV very easy to ride quickly downhill even if you aren't a confident descender. The steering has been slowed down a little compared with Bianchi's race bikes and this means a lot of the twitchiness has been taken out of it.
The rim-braked Infinito CV is available with either a Campagnolo Potenza or a Shimano Ultegra groupset, each priced £3,600. There's a Dama Bianca women's version of the Ultegra build,
Buy if: You want a high-end endurance bike that offers both speed and comfort.
Infinito CV Disc
When Bianchi added the Countervail technology to the Infinito back in 2013, it also announced disc brake versions of the bike. The Infinito CV Disc carries the same styling cues as the non-disc Infinito CV but more carbon fibre has been added in key places, in the stays and the fork, to handle the forces associated with disc brakes. Fortunately, it offers the same exquisite balance of smoothness and stiffness.
Prices start at £3,800; that's for a bike with a Shimano105 groupset and Fulcrum Racing 618 DB wheels.
The women’s Infinito CV Dama Bianca (£3,600) comes out of the same mould as the standard version but you get a women’s saddle and a handlebar with a shorter reach and drop.
Buy if: You want a high-end endurance bike that offers both speed and comfort.
Intenso and Intenso Disc
The Intenso endurance bikes are built to the same geometries as the Infinitos (above) and share some of the same features, but one of the key differences is that they don’t have the Countervail technology. Oh, and they’re more affordable.
Like the Infinito, the Intenso is available in both rim brake and disc brake versions.
When we reviewed the disc brake model we said that it was a good bike for racking up the miles whatever the conditions. The riding position is performance orientated but a couple of clicks back from full-on aggressive and you get neutral, well-behaved handling.
The Infinito’s Countervail technology drives up the price so Bianchi seeks to provide comfort here through the shaping of the fork and the snaking rear triangle. Kevlar inserts are also added in those areas to provide improved shock absorption and adherence to the road.
We couldn't tell you exactly what mechanisms are at work but we’ve found the Intenso Disc to be a comfortable bike. If you want something that's stable, well behaved and suitable for big miles, it has plenty to offer.
The most affordable rim-braked Intenso is the Shimano Tiagra version for £1,650, while the cheaper of the two disc brake models has a Shimano 105 groupset and costs £2,600.
The women’s Dama Bianca Intenso is a rim brake model with a Shimano 105 groupset. It is priced £2,100.
Buy if: You’re looking for a comfortable, reliable endurance bike at a lower price point than the Infinito.
Via Nirone 7
The Via Nirone 7 is made from hydroformed and triple-butted 6061 aluminium alloy tubing to an endurance-friendly geometry.
Despite being the most affordable road bike in Bianchi’s road bike range, the Via Nirone 7 comes with Kevlar inserts in the carbon legged fork and seatstays – known as K-Vid technology – designed to filter out road vibration for a higher level of comfort and less fatigue.
The cheapest of the Via Nirone 7s comes with a Shimano Sora groupset and is priced at £850. This is available in both standard and women’s Dama Bianca models. The £1,250 version with a Shimano 105 groupset is available in a women's spec too.
Like all of Bianchi’s endurance road bikes, the Via Nirone 7 models come with compact chainsets (with 50/34-tooth chainrings rather than standard 53/39 setups) to help take the pain out of the climbs.
There are three All Road Via Nirone 7s too, that we'll deal with separately below.
Buy if: You want a capable endurance road bike at a reasonable price.
Bianchi offers its Via Nirone 7 and Impulso in what it calls All Road builds.
"These bikes are designed for those who have changed the road racing mentality into something different," says Bianchi. "The All Road is a mountain bike, a road bike a cyclocross and a trekking bike all-in-one. The All Road bikes can be used in a marathon event but also will take you out to explore the raw finish roads."
Each of these bikes is equipped with flat mount disc brakes, a compact chainset and 32mm or 35mm tyres.
The Impulso All Road (£1,900) is built around an aluminium frame and a full-carbon fork. You get a Shimano 105 groupset and space for tyres up to 40mm wide.
The Via Nirone, which is also aluminium-framed, is available in three different All Road builds: Shimano Sora (£1,000), Tiagra (£1,250) and 105 (£1,700). Again, there's space for 40mm tyres.
When we reviewed the Sora-equipped model we said, "The Bianchi Via Nirone 7 All Road isn't a bad all-round package, with a comfortable ride on or off the road and stable handling, but it's a heavy frame, let down by poor brakes and some cheap components when compared against the competition."
Like the other All Road bikes, the one we reviewed had been given the gravel/adventure treatment to create a bit of a do-everything machine. We just felt that its weight (10.7kg/23lb 10oz) took the shine off what is quite a pleasant bike.
Buy if: You want a bike with on and off road capability.
L’Eroica is a retro road bike that’s built around a lugged steel frame. That frame is made from double-butted Columbus Zona tubing and the fork is steel too.
Although it’s a modern bike, Bianchi has worked hard to keep a traditional feel, sticking with features like a 1in threaded headset, down tube-mounted shifters, Dia Compe centre-pull brakes and a leather saddle from Brooks.
The chainset (with 48/36-tooth chainrings) is cold forged aluminium while the derailleurs are from Campagnolo, specially made to look vintage right down to the old-style logos. The distinctly non-retro 10-speed cassette might not please purists but it’ll improve the ride.
L’Eroica is available in just one build at £3,199.99.
Buy if: You want a stunning vintage-looking bike with a few modern touches.
Bianchi's 2019 road bike range
|Model||Bike type||Frame material||Groupset||Brakes||Price|
|Specialissima CV||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Rim||£12,000|
|Specialissima CV||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Rim||£10,300|
|Specialissima CV||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace||Rim||£9,600|
|Specialissima CV||Road||Carbon fibre||SRAM Red eTap||Rim||£9,500|
|Specialissima CV||Road||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Super Record||Rim||£8,900|
|Specialissima CV||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace||Rim||£8,500|
|Specialissima CV frameset||Road||Carbon fibre||n/a||Rim||£3,800|
|Oltre XR4||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Rim||£9,300|
|Oltre XR4||Aero||Carbon fibre||SRAM Red eTap||Rim||£8,500|
|Oltre XR4||Aero||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Super Record||Rim||£8,250|
|Oltre XR4||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace||Rim||£7,100|
|Oltre XR4||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace||Rim||£5,400|
|Oltre XR4||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Rim||£5,200|
|Oltre XR4||Aero||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Chorus||Rim||£5,200|
|Oltre XR4 frameset||Aero||Carbon fibre||n/a||Rim||£3,400|
|Oltre XR4 Disc|
|Oltre XR4 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Disc||£10,000|
|Oltre XR4 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Super Record||Disc||£9,400|
|Oltre XR4 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace||Disc||£8,000|
|Oltre XR4 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Disc||£6,500|
|Oltre XR4 Disc frameset||Aero||Carbon fibre||n/a||Disc||£4,700|
|Oltre XR3||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Rim||£4,700|
|Oltre XR3||Aero||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Chorus||Rim||£4,300|
|Oltre XR3||Aero||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Potenza||Rim||£3,300|
|Oltre XR3||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Rim||£3,300|
|Oltre XR3||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Rim||£2,800|
|Oltre XR3 Disc|
|Oltre XR3 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Disc||£4,900|
|Oltre XR3 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Potenza||Disc||£4,100|
|Oltre XR3 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Disc||£4,000|
|Oltre XR3 Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Disc||£3,300|
|Aria||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Rim||£3,700|
|Aria||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Rim||£2,700|
|Aria||Aero||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Potenza||Rim||£2,650|
|Aria||Aero||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Centaur||Rim||£2,350|
|Aria||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Rim||£2,300|
|Aria Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Disc||£4,200|
|Aria Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Disc||£3,200|
|Aria Disc||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Disc||£2,750|
|Sempre Pro||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Rim||£2,100|
|Sempre Pro||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Rim||£1,800|
|Sempre Pro||Road||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Centaur||Rim||£1,800|
|Infinito CV||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Potenza||Rim||£3,600|
|Infinito CV||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Rim||£3,600|
|Infinito CV Disc|
|Infinito CV Disc||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||Disc||£7,800|
|Infinito CV Disc||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Disc||£5,700|
|Infinito CV Disc||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Potenza||Disc||£4,500|
|Infinito CV Disc||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Disc||£4,300|
|Infinito CV Disc||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Disc||£3,800|
|Intenso||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Rim||£2,400|
|Intenso||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Potenza||Rim||£2,350|
|Intenso||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Rim||£2,100|
|Intenso||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Campagnolo Centaur||Rim||£2,100|
|Intenso||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Tiagra||Rim||£1,650|
|Intenso Disc||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Disc||£3,000|
|Intenso Disc||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Disc||£2,600|
|Via Nirone 7|
|Via Nirone 7||Endurance||Aluminium||Shimano 105||Rim||£1,250|
|Via Nirone 7||Endurance||Aluminium||Shimano Tiagra||Rim||£1,000|
|Via Nirone 7||Endurance||Aluminium||Shimano Sora||Rim||£850|
|Dama Bianca Infinito CV||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Rim||£3,600|
|Dama Bianca Intenso 105||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Rim||£2,100|
|Dama Bianca Via Nirone 7||Endurance||Aluminium||Shimano 105||Rim||£1,250|
|Dama Bianca Via Nirone 7||Endurance||Aluminium||Shimano Sora||Rim||£850|
|Impulso All Road||All road||Aluminium||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,900|
|Via Nirone 7 All Road||All road||Aluminium||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,700|
|Via Nirone 7 All Road||All road||Aluminium||Shimano Tiagra||Disc||£1,250|
|Via Nirone 7 All Road||All road||Aluminium||Shimano Sora||Disc||£1,000|
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.