The new Bianchi Infinito CV is the Italian company's refreshed endurance bike that features cutting-edge carbon fibre technology to dampen high frequency vibrations to produce a smooth ride while still delivering all the stiffness you need for a superbly responsive and direct ride.
It's a bike that we've been eagerly awaiting since its first public outing at the Paris-Roubaix race earlier this year and the worldwide launch, where Mat had a first ride over some cobbled roads. It's only once you've spent some serious time on familiar roads that you get a really good feeling for a bike, and in my time with the Infinito CV I've been hugely impressed.
Where Bianchi's Oltre XR is light and stiff, the Infinito CV aims to be a more comfortable ride over long distances. That's not to say it's not stiff, because it is in the right places. It's different both in terms of geometry - higher at the front - and carbon frame design to offer a bike well suited to anyone who wants to ride fast in relative comfort.
At the heart of the Infinito CV is a viscoelastic material incorporated into the carbon fibre layup, which Bianchi call CounterVail Vibration Cancelling Composite Technology. Or CV for short. Bianchi reckon this helps the frame to reduce high-frequency vibrations compared to a regular carbon frame, by as much as 75%. They claim it's more effective than other designs that use 'rubber inserts' or 'isolators'. You can see who they're having a sly dig at there. CounterVail is used in just a few places in the frame, mostly in the fork blades and in the rear stays of the frame, but they won't reveal the exact extent of its usage.
The profiling of the tubes is also integral to the frame's ability to tame bumps. Naturally, the seat stays are extremely skinny, and curve around the rear wheel. The top tube is a slender shape too, but flares to meet the tapered head tube. The head tube is pinched in at the middle, giving a very elegant appearance from the front. The downtube is a mirror opposite of the top tube, with a huge diameter throughout its length. This oversizing continues into the fat chainstays and Press-Fit BB30 bottom bracket. The frame is fully compatible with both mechanical and electronic shift systems, with internal cable routing.
The new full-carbon aero fork, which uses a 1 1/8in upper bearing and 1 1/2in lower bearing, weighs under 400g. The CounterVail adds very little weight to the frame: a 55cm weighs a claimed 950g. It's carrying a bit more weight than an out-and-out race bike, but it's still competitive in the endurance market. Certainly, the bike in the photos is light at just 6.99kg (15.41lb).
While many manufacturers are opting for 27.2mm seatpost (and Cannondale 25.4mm with their new Synapse a bike that uses a similar technology), Bianchi have instead fitted a 30.8mm post. Most manufacturers are switching to skinnier seatposts because they offer better lateral deflection than larger diameter posts, for dealing with big hits. With the Infinito CV, Bianchi are really focusing on reducing high frequency vibration and feel a wider seatpost is a better way of dissipating that vibration.
As well as the clever carbon technology, the geometry also differentiates this bike from the racier Oltre XR. Sitting in Bianchi's Coast to Coast range, the Infinito CV has the outright aggressiveness and savagery of a race bike diluted so you could ride it hard all day in relative comfort. We all want to ride the bikes and extreme positions of the pros, but if you're riding maybe 6-8 hours a week, compared to a pro's 30+ hours, then you're not likely to have the flexibility or time required to get accustomed to such a position. The Infinito CV heads up the growing number of endurance road bikes which are aimed at normal cyclists.
Bianchi have given the CV a taller head tube, then; the 55cm bike here has a 17cm head tube. That's not especially tall, indeed it's a similar measurement to some race bikes, and is a fair bit lower than many other endurance or sportive labelled bikes but it is taller than the Oltre their all out performance bike.
The wheelbase has been lengthened out to 100.2cm, achieved with longer chainstays, which gives the bike a bit of increased stability at higher speeds, so it'll feel less nervous and pointy than a race bike. As well as the extra stability, those longer chainstays will also contribute to the CV's comfort. The longer chainstays place the rider further forward and away from the rear axle, and allows the rear stays to dissipate some of the high frequency vibration before it reaches the saddle.
The other key thing to note about the CV, and bikes of this ilk, is the capacity for wider tyres. There's space between the rear stays and fork for tyres up to 28mm wide. Tyres are the biggest contributor to bump absorption on a road bike; a tyre with a bigger volume will afford more comfort. With the Veloflex Arenberg 25mm tyres fitted to the test bike there was bags of space. 23mm tyres are almost lost in the space.
Bianchi is offering the Infinito CV in seven builds in the UK, starting at £3,500 for a Campagnolo Athena build riding to £5,300 for Dura-Ace and £5,600 for Super Record. The bike we have in here is a Campagnolo Chorus 11-speed mechanical build that, with the optional Racing Speed XLR carbon fibre tubular wheels, costs £7,100. Yes, that's a big pile of cash, but fitted with the regular Racing 4 wheels the bike costs a more agreeable £4,200.
There's clearly a lot of investment in the latest carbon technology to take into account when viewing the price. This is class-leading design and there is only one other big manufacturers who has so far developed a bike using this sort of carbon layup technology. That's Cannondale, as I've already mentioned, with their new Synaps which is comparable on price for the hi modulus version.
The Infinito's Campag Chorus groupset offers excellent shifting with crisp gear changes every time. The level of feedback compared to the quietness of Shimano is something you very quickly warm to, there's no questioning you've just changed gear. The thumb shifter paddles on the insides of the hoods takes some getting used to and are easy to access in certain hand positions.
The rest of the build is top-drawer stuff, with an FSA SL-K stem, bars and seatpost and Fizik Aliante saddle filling the contact points. As I usually do on test bikes, I swapped the stem for a longer one to give me my desired bike fit.
It's no exaggeration to say that we were excited about riding the new Infinito. Mat came away impressed with its smoothness on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, but it's only on familiar roads and after logging many miles can a full bodied verdict really be reached.
To give me a comparison, I first rode a test loop comprising a variety of road surfaces on a Cannondale SuperSix Evo and the latest BMC TeamMachine SLR01, two very light and very stiff road bikes. I then took the Infinito CV out and immediately, at the same speeds and width tyres, the difference is noticeable. You still get plenty of feedback from the road surface through the controls, but the CV simply removes the harshness, damping the vibrations and delivering a smoother ride.
The benefit of the CV technology is that it's always working. Even out of the saddle on the climbs, the frame is muting vibrations. An area where the CV really shines is on fast and steep descents with an unpredictable road surface. The combination of the CounterVail technology and the geometry gives outstanding balance, equipping the rider with bags of confidence. It's an easy and confident bike to ride fast.
For all its ability to reduce vibrations, the CV does not give up much in the stiffness department, and here is the most remarkable trait about the bike, it's very responsive and direct. Pedalling input is efficiently transferred to forward motion, and with the deep-section wheels in it's as fast as any regular race bike.
Dynamically, the Infinito CV is a delight to thread along country roads. The steering is well balanced, not too fast yet neither slow. The bike tracks through a range of corners, from flat and slow to fast and cambered, with a real surefootedness. There's no lack of stiffness from the front-end when pushing hard on the handlebars, nor is there any detectable flex or squirm in the bottom bracket when loading up the power.
'Comfortable' isn't the right word to describe this bike. A sofa is comfortable. Riding a road bike isn't the most natural position for the human body to adopt, but by adjusting the geometry the CV is less uncomfortable than a regular race bike like the Oltre XR. The changes to the geometry aren't so extreme that anyone with any interest in riding fast or even racing will be put off; that 17cm headtube is still comparatively short.
The wheels contributed to the ride in a very positive way. They're extremely quick, good acceleration and great at maintaining momentum. The 25mm tubular tyres clearly added to the smoothness I detected on early rides, so a quick call to Bianchi and set of Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels with Hutchinson Atom 23mm clincher tyres arrived. I wanted to see for comparison purposes just how the bike would react with a set of regular wheels and tyres.
The difference wasn't as significant as I thought it might be. There's an obvious tradeoff in speed and acceleration between the two wheelsets, but in comfort terms the difference was very slight. On the roughest roads in my area, and a couple of rocky byways that I regularly use to test bikes, the difference became more detectable. Even so, with the skinnier tyres the CV tech still isolates a lot of the vibration. It doesn't handle the bigger impacts, such as when you catch the edge of a hole, though. That's likely because the large diameter seat post transmits big hits right up your bum. CounterVail is really best at dealing with high frequency vibrations than bigger impacts, and this showed in testing.
Bianchi make a big deal out of the CV's ability to isolate the rider from vibrations which can, over longer rides, cause muscle fatigue and discomfort. We've all finished rides with aching arms, sore necks and a general feeling of fatigue, as much from the position of road bike as the physical exertion. While it's not conclusive, I certainly noticed I was left feeling fresher and less tired in the arms, shoulders and back when riding the CV. When four, five or six hours into a ride, I didn't feel as beaten up on the CV as I might have expected had I been on a typical carbon race bike designed for speed and lightness.
Combining the speed of a race bike with the comfort and geometry that better suits everyday cyclists, and packing some impressive carbon technology that genuinely works, the new Infinito CV is in a class of its own. It's one of the finest riding bikes in this market. It's fast and pacey, with stability and comfort and the well balanced geometry that makes it a delight to ride.
Judged as a whole there's no doubt the CV is a class leading bike, and is worth every pound of its asking price.
Fast, comfortable, fatigue-reducing and stylish, the Bianchi Infinito CV delivers an astonishing ride.
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Make and model: Bianchi Infinito CV
Size tested: 55cm
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Bianchi says: "Bianchi collaborated with Materials Sciences Corp. to develop our innovative and exclusive application of the patented Countervail® integrated vibration canceling system for cycling. The result is the new Bianchi Infinito CV."
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?
Specific geometry for endurance ride
- Innovative material technology and aero shape
- Maximum performance with minimum stress
- The best shock absorbtion to improve comfort and stability
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Excellent finish and build quality.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
CounterVail Vibration Cancelling Composite Technology is used in the carbon fibre layup to help reduce high frequency vibrations.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
A taller head tube and longer wheelbase promotes comfort and increased stability.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Compares will with other endurance bikes, even though it's taller at the front, it's not excessive.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes the CounterVail does contribute to a smoother ride quality.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
When you want to accelerate hard and fast the frame responds, it's no slouch.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes very efficient.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Balanced
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is sublime, it's a good bike for long rides where comfort is high on the list.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The 25mm tubs and carbon wheels were very fast, tested with alloy clincher rims and 23mm tyres didn't negatively impact the speed or ride comfort as much as I thought they might.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The compact chainset gives a good range on climbs. It you're new to Campagnolo it takes a little while to get used to the shifters.
Incredibily fast wheels.
The 25mm tubs are fantastic on bumpy roads. Fast, too.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The 25mm tubular tyres contributed to the smoothness I detected on early rides, so a quick call to Bianchi a and set of Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels with Hutchinson Atom 23mm clincher tyres arrived. I wanted to see for comparison purposes just how the bike would react with a set of regular wheels and tyres. The difference wasn't as significant as I thought it might be. On the roughest roads in my area, and a couple of rocky byways that I regularly use to test bikes, the difference became more detectable. Even with the skinnier tyres, the CV still isolates a lot of the vibration.
Not a Fizik Aliante fan so changed the saddle for an Arione. Also changed to a longer 13cm stem.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes very much so.
Would you consider buying the bike? If I had the money, yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? My non-racing friends, yes.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.