Bianchi has expanded its aero road bike line-up with the introduction of a new Oltre Race and also updated its Sprint, the all-rounder that’s based on the top-level Specialissima. In doing so, Bianchi has inadvertently suggested that the launch of a 12-speed Shimano 105 groupset is imminent. We’ll explain why in a mo but let's check out the bikes first.
Bianchi updated its Oltre aero road bike range last October with the introduction of three different platforms: Oltre RC, Oltre Pro and Oltre. The Oltre RC is the model with Air Deflector tech on the sides of the head tube, the idea being to channel airflow, create a low-pressure zone at the rear of the tube, and reduce drag.
Although lacking the Air Deflectors, Bianchi says that the new Oltre Race has been inspired by the Oltre RC. As The Infamous Grouse points out in the comments, below, it looks a whole lot like the Bianchi Aria – but with internal cable routing. Even the frame geometries are identical .
“Oltre Race offers a suitably adapted set-up to make it accessible to a broader audience,” says Bianchi. “Aero tube shapes and integrated cable routing declare its racing pedigree.”
The frame and fork are both carbon and the bike is available only with disc brakes.
The Bianchi Oltre Race is available in Shimano 105 mechanical (€3,399) and Shimano 105 Di2 (€4,349) builds, and in both Celeste and Graphite finishes.
As mentioned up top, the Sprint is a road bike that Bianchi says is modelled on the Specialissima, and it has been given an update.
“The new Sprint is the result of meticulous engineering and an aesthetic restyling of the popular model in the all-rounder range,” says Bianchi. “The lightweight carbon monocoque frame is rigid for adequate power transmission, and now features integrated cable routing and an updated setup.”
Two versions are available. As with the Oltre Race, you can have the Bianchi Sprint built up with either a Shimano 105 Di2 (€3,849) or Shimano 105 mechanical (€2,549) groupset.
The two colour options are Celeste and Pearl White with purple/green iridescent accents.
We all pretty much know that Shimano will add a mechanical shifting option to the R7100 groupset it released as Di2 only last year – we’ve seen the pictures and everything – and Bianchi’s new launch all but confirms it. How come?
First, if you go to Bianchi’s website, and tap in ‘Oltre Race’ you get this:
Bianchi lists “105 Di2 12sp” but it doesn’t give a number of speeds for the mechanical version. It’s conspicuous by its absence.
Go to the spec list for this bike and it just says “Rear Derailleur: Shimano 105”. Bianchi usually lists a complete part number such as “Shimano 105 RD-R7000 SS 11sp”. Again, this information is conspicuous by its absence.
Also, check out the URL for the Oltre Race 105 mechanical: www.bianchi.com/store/int_EN/ytb8d-oltrerace-10512sp-5.html
There's a reference to 105 12-speed hidden away in there.
Go over to the Sprint section of Bianchi’s website, click on the 105 mechanical model and there's more evidence:
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano 105 12sp, direct attachment, max 36T
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano 105 12sp, top gear 50-54T, 16T capacity, for rear 12-speed
Again, check out the 105 12-speed reference in the URL: www.bianchi.com/store/int_EN/ytbr5-sprint-10512sp-9.html
Could all this be down to admin errors? That's pushing it. To us, it looks very much as if someone has removed the part numbers when making a spec list suitable for public consumption but accidentally left in the fact that it’s a 12-speed setup.
The website pics don’t help us here, by the way. The new Sprint Race is shown with a Shimano Ultegra groupset – and that’s not even an option you can buy.
We couldn’t tell you for certain that Shimano 105 12-speed mechanical groupset is on the way, but all the evidence points in that direction. When will it arrive? That we don’t know.
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 over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.