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Verdict: 
Comfortable and stable sportive/gran fondo bike that's nimble enough to keep the speed merchants happy
Weight: 
8,930g
Contact: 

The new Bianchi Infinito XE is a stable, comfortable endurance road bike with a dialled back geometry that makes it especially suitable for sportives and other long rides.

  • Pros: Comfortable, cheaper than the CV model, great groupset
  • Cons: Wheels lag behind the rest of the spec

The Infinito CV has been in Bianchi's range for a few years now, but the Countervail technology incorporated into the frameset, designed to damp vibration, jacks the price up, hence the introduction of the Infinito XE (XE stands for Xtra Endurance, by the way).

> Find your nearest dealer here

The Infinito XE replaces the Intenso in Bianchi's lineup. It's neither a rebranded Intenso nor an Infinito CV with the Countervail taken out, although the geometry is very similar; it comes out of new moulds.

The ride

The easiest way to describe the Infinito XE is to say that it feels a lot like a traditional race bike but with tweaks that add stability, a more relaxed riding position and a little extra comfort.

With some brands the difference between the low-slung race bike in the range and the endurance road bike is vast, but Bianchi keeps them relatively similar – or, at least, they're not a million miles apart. Bianchi turns the dials down but the Infinito XE is still a bike with a focus on getting there fast.

Bianchi Infinito XE - riding 2.jpg

Put the power down and there's very little flex at either the bottom bracket or the tapered (1 1/8in upper bearing, 1 1/2in lower bearing) head tube. Weighing 8.93kg (19lb 11oz), this isn't the lightest bike in the world (Bianchi claims a frame weight of 1,100g, and 420g for the fork, compared with 1,020g for the frame and 390g for the fork of the Infinito CV), but don't get too hung up about that – it responds well to increased effort.

The compact chainset (with 50-tooth and 34t chainrings) – which is what the vast majority of brands fit to their endurance bikes – is matched to an 11-30t cassette, and this combo is likely to get you up most long and/or steep climbs without too much trouble. If not, you could always swap to a cassette with a 32t or even a 34t sprocket relatively easily because Bianchi has specced the necessary medium cage rear derailleur.

Bianchi Infinito XE - drive train.jpg

The Infinito XE does offer you more stability than something like Bianchi's Oltre XR4 aero road bike (which is a bike I've ridden loads, so I'll use it as a point of reference). Whereas the Oltre XR4 feels highly flickable, manoeuvrable and jump-about-able, the Infinito XE is a steady Eddie that prefers to keep things straight down the line. That can be a welcome feature when you're getting in the big miles.

Bianchi Infinito XE - riding 3.jpg

One of the biggest differences between the Infinito XE and the Oltre XR4 aero road bike is the riding position. It is built to what you might call a granfondo geometry (that's identical to that of the Infinito CV in some sizes, and so close as to make no difference in the others).

I've been riding the 59cm model, which is a very different size from a 59cm frame from other brands (59cm refers to the effective seat tube measurement – the length the seat tube would be if the top tube were horizontal). This bike has a 575mm top tube and a 195mm head tube, a head angle of 72.5 degrees and a seat angle of 73 degrees. The stack measures 600mm and the reach is 391mm, giving a stack/reach of 1.53.

Bianchi Infinito XE.jpg

For comparison, the Oltre XR4 has the same length seat tube and effective top tube but the head tube is 2cm shorter. The stack on the Oltre is much lower at 575mm and the reach is greater at 398mm, giving a stack/reach of 1.44.

If you've had enough of the figures – and who could blame you? – all of that means that when you sit on the Infinito XE your riding position is a little less stretched and a little more upright than on a traditional race bike. The level of aggression has been pacified a bit.

> What are stack and reach and why are they important?

Bear in mind that this is an Italian-style endurance geometry, though. I could be wrong but I get the feeling that Bianchi has reluctantly accepted that some misguided folk can't understand that a full-on race geometry is always best, so it had better show willing by whacking a couple of extra centimetres on the head tube. "There you go. Happy now? I'll see you at the cafe stop for a cappuccino, but only if you get there before 11."

Some endurance bikes will put you into a much more upright riding position. A Specialized Roubaix in a similar size (you can't compare across different sizes) has a stack/reach of 1.61, and it's 1.65 for a Trek Domane. Bianchi doesn't believe that if your riding position is too upright you'll carry too much weight through your lower back, and power transfer and handling will be compromised.

Bianchi Infinito XE - riding 4.jpg

You might well find that the Infinito XE's geometry asks a lot less of your back and neck than that of a full-on race bike. More comfort comes courtesy of the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres. They're 700 x 28s although they measure 30mm across on the Fulcrum Racing 918 Disc wheels, and both the frame and fork will take 32s if you want to go wider.

Bianchi Infinito XE - rim.jpg

I can't say that I got on especially well with the Selle Royal SR Asphalt GF saddle, although that's always a matter of personal taste. There's nothing particularly offensive about it but the shell is quite flexible and the padding is fairly deep, and that combination was just a little bit too sweet for me. I'd have been happier with one or the other. I found that there was too much bouncing around going on when I was trying to concentrate on laying down the power. If, on the other hand, you prefer a marshmallow-soft perch, you're in luck.

Bianchi Infinito XE - saddle.jpg

The frame

The Infinito XE is made exclusively for flat mount disc brakes – there is no rim brake model – with thru-axles front (100x12mm) and rear (142x12mm).

Bianchi Infinito XE - rear disc brake.jpg

The gear cables and rear brake hose run internally, entering the frame at the top of the down tube, while the front brake hose nips inside the top of the fork leg and emerges down by the brake calliper; nothing unusual in any of that.

Bianchi Infinito XE - cable route.jpg

As mentioned above, the head tube houses a 1 1/8in upper bearing and a 1 1/2in lower bearing while the bottom bracket is BB86, pressed into an oversized shell. I can't vouch for the long-term but it didn't creak during four weeks of testing.

Bianchi Infinito XE - bottom bracket.jpg

The frame uses a wedge-type seatpost clamp, the bolt positioned at the top of the top tube and covered by a rubber shroud. The profile of the Bianchi-specific alloy seatpost is rounded at the front and chopped square at the rear – a lot like many aero seatposts, although Bianchi doesn't make any aero claims for this bike. It's the same profile as used for the carbon seatpost of the Infinito CV, so you can upgrade in the future. Some non-round seatposts have a habit of slipping in use but we didn't have any worries on that front here.

Bianchi Infinito XE - seat tube junction.jpg

The headset cover and carbon spacers are't round in profile, they're egg-shaped – broad at the front, tapering off towards the rear – to fit with the elongated section at the rear of the alloy stem. Bianchi says that this makes for a better head tube connection. I guess it neatens things up a little, and this design also integrates with a Vision Metron 5D handlebar/stem, although that aero option wouldn't be the obvious choice for a bike of this kind.

Bianchi Infinito XE - head tube.jpg

Out back, the chainstays are 415mm across sizes 47cm to 57cm, extended to 420mm on this 59cm model and the 61cm version too, the idea being that the bike handles the same whatever the size.

Bianchi Infinito XE - rear.jpg

Despite their similar names, the Infinito XE doesn't come out of the same mould as the existing Infinito CV. The geometries are similar but the tubes are shaped differently and the CV has an integrated fork crown, the junction between the seatstays and the seat tube is lower on the XE, and so on.

The other difference, of course, is that the Infinito XE lacks the CV's Countervail technology.

"Countervail is a patented carbon material with a unique fibre architecture and viscoelastic resin that cancels 80% of vibrations while increasing the stiffness and strength of our carbon frames and forks," according to Bianchi. "Countervail is embedded within the layup of Bianchi CV high-performance models." 

My view is that if you ride an Infinito XE and an Infinito CV back to back, you'll notice a difference between them, but that the difference isn't massive. On a bike of this kind, where you could reasonably fit anything from, say, 25mm tyres right up to 32s, the model, width and pressure of those tyres will have a bigger influence on ride quality and associated fatigue, and the saddle will also play a part.

Components

The Infinito XE is available in two different builds: this Shimano Ultegra model and a Shimano 105 version (£2,700). There's no Campagnolo option for the Italian brand aficionados.

Bianchi Infinito XE - crank.jpg

We've reviewed second-tier Shimano Ultegra separately elsewhere so I won't go into much depth here, but it is absolutely excellent across the board. Top-level Dura-Ace might be a few grams lighter, but in terms of differences that's about yer lot. It's not like a whole world of new technologies await if you spend more money – certainly not until Shimano launches a new version of Dura-Ace, which will presumably be some time in 2020.

Bianchi Infinito XE - rear mech.jpg

Looked at from the other angle – and more relevant to this particular bike – you could say the same about the differences between 105 and Ultegra. They are minor, and mostly come down to materials and weight.

> Buyer's Guide: 12 of the best Ultegra-equipped road bikes

Groupsets aside, the two different versions of the Infinito XE are exactly the same, including their Fulcrum Racing 918 Disc brake wheels. These come with 25mm-deep aluminium rims (19mm internal width), J-bend round spokes (28 front and rear) and sealed cartridge bearings.

Bianchi Infinito XE - fork detail.jpg

The wheels are 2-Way Fit which means that you can run them tubeless if you like, although you'll need to change the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres first. I'd be inclined to do that as soon as they wear out, if only to minimise the chance of punctures.

Bianchi Infinito XE - tyre.jpg

These wheels don't match the quality of the groupset, by any means – they're pretty basic, truth be told – but they've been free of issues during testing and a quick check reveals that they're still perfectly true. Better wheels would lift the overall performance a notch, but these are competent enough to be going on with.

Money bit

We've not reviewed many bikes around this price point on road.cc recently, although the Ribble Endurance SL Disc that Liam reviewed a few weeks ago was £2,929. It's similar to the Bianchi Infinito XE in a number of key ways, most notably in boasting a carbon fibre frame and fork and a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes. That bike came with Mavic Ksyrium Elite Disc wheels and was a little lighter than the Bianchi Infinito XE at 8.28kg – although it was a medium, whereas the Bianchi is a 59cm.

> Buyer's Guide: 22 of the best 2019 & 2020 sportive bikes

The BMC Roadmachine 02 Two that Dave reviewed earlier in the year was £3,300. It came with a carbon frameset, a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes, and Mavic Aksium Elite Disc wheels.

Specialized's Roubaix Comp is £3,400 and Trek's Domane SL 6 is £3,200. Each of these bikes has a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes, although they differ from the Bianchi Infinito XE in having features that offer travel/movement that's designed to soak up the lumps and bumps in the road.

Conclusion

If you find that some endurance bikes are too heavily focused on sitting you up in the saddle at the expense of speed, take a serious look at Bianchi's latest offering. The Infinito XE's geometry isn't as upright as you find on endurance bikes from many other brands, it offers plenty of stability and comfort, and its overall character is racy enough for those with a need for speed.

Verdict

Comfortable and stable sportive/gran fondo bike that's nimble enough to keep the speed merchants happy

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Bianchi Infinito XE Ultegra

Size tested: 59cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame Infinito XE Disc Carbon, tapered head tube 1.1/8in-1.5in, mechanical/electronic Di2 shifting compatible, compatible with 32in tyre, Pressfit 86.5x41mm BB, thru axle 12x142mm, sizes 47-50-53-55-57-59-61cm

Fork Bianchi full carbon disc, 1.5in headset, thru axle 12x100mm, compatible with 32in tire

Shifters Shimano Ultegra ST-R8020 2x11sp, hydraulic disc brake Shimano Ultegra ST-R8025 2x11sp, smaller lever size for sizes 47/53cm

Rear derailleur Shimano Ultegra RD-R8000 GS 11sp

Front derailleur Shimano Ultegra FD-R8000

Crankset Shimano ultegra fc-r8000 50x34t, hollowtech ii, crank length: 170mm-47/53cm, 172.5mm-55/59cm, 175mm-61cm

BB Shimano SM-BB71-41B, Pressfit

Chain Shimano Ultegra CN-HG701-11, 11sp

Sprocket Shimano Ultegra cs-R8000, 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-24-27-30t

Brakes Shimano BR-R8070

Wheels Fulcrum Racing 918 Disc Brake

Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700x28

Stem Reparto Corse, 3D forged alloy 6061, rise +/- 7°, 1.1/8in, Al6061 faceplate, ext: 70mm-47cm, 90mm-50cm, 100mm-53cm, 110mm-55cm, 120mm-57/61cm

Handlebar Reparto Corse Compact, flat top, alloy 6061 diam. 31,8mm, reach 80mm, drop 130mm, size: 400mm-47/53cm, 420mm-55/59cm, 440mm-61cm

Handlebar tape La Spirale ribbon cork

Seatpost Reparto Corse, AL2014 shaft, AL6061 head, 25mm offset, length: 350mm-47/57cm, 380mm-59/61cm

Saddle Selle Royal SR Asphalt GF, Filo rail, 280x149mm

Rotor Shimano SM-RT800 center lock, diam. 160mm

Waterbottle Bianchi Loli 600ml

Waterbottle hanger Elite Paron Race Composite

Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Bianchi says, "The Infinito XE is a new addition to the family. It's the same superlative frame design of Infinito CV but built for a less extreme rider, allowing more people to experience the ultimate in endurance. For the rider who may never race a monument, but is still deadly serious about performance and aesthetics.

"The Infinito is the ultimate endurance bike. Its geometry has been optimised in the WorldTour in the one-day classics, providing maximum performance with minimum stress for long distance. It also proves to be the ideal granfondo machine.

"For a long day in the saddle the full carbon frame and fork creates a bike that is as good to ride as it is to look at. Available in 47, 50, 53, 55, 57, 59 and 61cm sizes and with a frame weighing just 1,100 grams and the fork 420 grams.

"The Infinito XE is exclusively built for disc brakes, with flat mount calipers. Thru axles both front (12x100mm) and rear (12x142mm) ensure no stress to the frame caused by braking, and with a tyre width compatibility up to 32mm the Infinito XE is capable of taking you further than ever before.

"The clean lines of the bike are maintained with all hydraulic cables routed internally and the dedicated alloy seatpost has been developed for the ultimate streamlined, integrated look. Talking of streamlined, the alloy stem and spacers have been created by Bianchi for a better head tube connection, the 1 1/8in to 1.5in head tube providing stability at speed and under braking.

"The characteristics of the bike are maintained across the frame sizes. The chainstay length of 415mm for the 47-57cm frames and 420mm for the largest 59cm and 61cm models means that the bike behaves the same no matter what size you choose."

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

Bianchi's top-level endurance bike is the Infinito CV which is available only in disc brake format.

The Infinito XE comes into the range in place of the Intenso. Again, it is disc brake-only.

The Infinito XE is available in this Shimano Ultegra build or in a Shimano 105 version (£2,700).

The Via Nirone 7 bikes are Bianchi's cheaper aluminium-framed endurance bikes.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

It's very good throughout.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

They're full carbon.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

I've discussed this in the body of the review. The geometry is more relaxed than that of one of Bianchi's race bikes (such as the Oltre XR4) but there's still half an eye on speed. Other brands give their endurance bikes a much more upright riding position.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

I rode a 59cm frame whereas I ride 57cm (where available) from other brands.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yes, I found the riding position comfortable. You get 28mm tyres fitted as standard but both the frame and fork take up to 32mm.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

It feels stiff both at the head tube and the bottom bracket.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

No worries on that score. The tapered head tube and oversized bottom bracket shell keep everything in check.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

None. Misses by a whisker.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

It's a more stable bike than something like the Bianchi Oltre XR4 – not as agile but more inclined to keep a straight line.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

For what it's worth, I didn't especially like the saddle. A bit too much squish for my taste. We all know, though, that saddles are completely a matter of personal preference.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

The wheels aren't especially light but they're stiff enough.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

The wheels/tyres are fine – nothing wrong with either – but upgrading over time would boost the overall performance.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?

The wheels are competent but nothing to get excited about. There's nothing wrong with them, but you'll want something better to get the most out of the rest of the bike.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
5/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?

These are fairly basic training tyres. They're fine but they aren't especially supple or light. They're okay to be going on with.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Shimano Ultegra is what you'd expect on a bike at this price from one of the major brands. Top-level Dura-Ace is a little lighter, but Ultegra works the same and is cheaper.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Definitely one to consider, yes.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? As above.

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

We've not reviewed many bikes around this price point on road.cc recently, although the Ribble Endurance SL Disc that Liam reviewed a few weeks ago was £2,929. It's similar to the Bianchi Infinito XE in a number of key ways, most notably in boasting a carbon fibre frame and fork and a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes. That bike came with Mavic Ksyrium Elite Disc wheels and was a little lighter than the Bianchi Infinito XE at 8.28kg – although it was a medium, whereas the Bianchi is a 59cm.

The BMC Roadmachine 02 Two that Dave reviewed earlier in the year was £3,300. It came with a carbon frameset, a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes, and Mavic Aksium Elite Disc wheels.

Specialized's Roubaix Comp is £3,400 and Trek's Domane SL 6 is £3,200. Each of these bikes has a Shimano Ultegra groupset, including hydraulic disc brakes, although they differ from the Bianchi Infinito XE in having features that offer travel/movement that's designed to soak up the lumps and bumps in the road.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
6/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

In terms of performance its an 8 all day long, although value can't get higher than a 6. I think this is a solid 7, which equates to 'good' on our marking system.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 190cm  Weight: 80kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.