Bianchi has released an updated Specialissima all-round race bike in three different frameset levels, claiming that the new designs are significantly more aero than previously and that the flagship Specialissima Reparto Corse (RC) complete bike comes in at just 6.6kg (in a 55cm size).
The new Specialissima sits at the top of Bianchi’s road range alongside the aero Oltre that was launched last year. Whereas the Oltre is designed to be at its best on flat and rolling roads, the Specialissima is intended to come into its own on climbs. That said, Bianchi says that the Specialissima’s aero gains give it the ability to save watts on flat stretches too.
“If the Oltre RC was about starting a revolution in the way we think about aerodynamics, the Specialissima is intended to give cyclists the very best tool for mountains and steep gradients,” says Bianchi. “The Specialissima RC is the choice for Grand Tour general classification riders, ultra-light and with world-class stiffness-to-weight. It is built to take up the task on parcours where an aero bike is no longer able to support the rider as needed.”
Bianchi says that the Specialissima RC hits the scales at a weight of 6.6 kg (for size 55), and that its stiffness-to-weight ratio is “market-leading”, although it doesn't provide lab data to support that claim.
“The project's goal was to enhance aerodynamic performance without compromising weight and responsiveness while providing a competitive edge — even on less severe inclines,” says Bianchi.
“Reparto Corse [Bianchi's racing division] achieved this by shifting the parameters of slope and power with which the Specialissima offers an advantage over a pure aero bike. This is what we call the tipping point, the level at which one bike becomes more functional than the other.
“While the previous Specialissima needed an 8.8 percent slope to offer an advantage [over the heavier but more aero Oltre RC] to pro athletes, Reparto Corse has lowered this threshold to 6.2 percent.”
This is for a top-level athlete putting out 420 watts. For an athlete putting out less power, the tipping point where the Specialissima RC gains an advantage over the Oltre RC comes sooner.
Compared with the previous Specialissima, Bianchi says that the new version provides an 8.7-second advantage over 10km to an athlete producing 200 watts on a 6 percent climb.
On flat roads, the advantage for a 200-watt output increases to 31.19 seconds over 10km, according to Bianchi.
“For the world's strongest climbers – those capable of reaching 30 km/h on a 6 percent climb – the new Specialissima saves a remarkable 3.6 watts of power,” says Bianchi.
How come? Bianchi says that it has learnt lessons from the development of its Oltre RC.
“The join between the fork and head tube was a key area of focus, with the fork now effectively integrated into the frame for minimal drag,” says Bianchi. “The sculpted blades of the Specialissima’s new fork are also inspired by the Oltre.”
You can see that the profile of the head tube extends slightly beyond the front of the fork crown. Bianchi describes this as a “front beak with aero sled” and says it is designed to channel airflow in that area. The D-shaped seatpost profile is aerodynamically optimised too.
Bianchi says that it has incorporated wider aero sections at the front of the bike – the fork, top tube, head tube and down tube – while keeping the rear as light as possible, so you see very slim seatstays and chainstays.
“Dropping the seatstays allowed Reparto Corse to shed material and weight from the back end of the bike, while preserving the vital stiffness required to explode into climbs, or chase down attacks,” says Bianchi
It has even used a minimalist finish on the Specialissima RC to save an additional 40g.
In terms of components, Bianchi says that the Specialissima RC's full-carbon integrated handlebar (73mm reach, 125mm drop, 2° flare) is crucial to the overall performance. It weighs a claimed 330g (for the 110mm x 380mm option) and is compatible with Acros internal cable routing. You don’t get the Specialissima RC handlebar on the more accessible Pro and Comp models but they are compatible should you wish to upgrade in future.
The Specialissima RC is equipped with Bianchi Reparto Corse wheels with 33mm tubeless-ready rims that are compatible with tyres up to 32mm, and Ceramitech hubs. The wheelset's weight is a claimed 1,380g.
As well as the top-of-the-line RC model, Bianchi is also offering the Specialissima Pro and the Specialissima Comp.
Both the RC and Pro models use carbon that’s described as HM – high modulus – whereas the Comp doesn’t get that designation. The Pro frame is the only one to feature Bianchi’s CV (CounterVail) technology that’s deigned to reduce vibration for extra comfort.
Bianchi hasn’t supplied frameset weights although it gives these figures for complete bikes:
The Specialissima RC features the Specialissima RC handlebar, Reparto Corse 33R wheels, and RC139 saddle. It is available in a single lightweight finish.
The Specialissima Pro gets Velomann Palladium wheels and a Velomann Mitora Hyper 139mm saddle. It is available in two finishes: Metallic Celeste with carbon black accents and Mystic Grey with carbon black accents.
The Specialissima Comp features Velomann Palladium wheels and a Mitora H1 139mm saddle. It’s available in two glossy finishes: Celeste and Graphite.
The Specialissimas are available in these builds:
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
SRAM Red eTap AXS
Shimano Ultegra Di2
SRAM Force eTap AXS
Shimano Ultegra Di2
SRAM Rival eTap AXS
Shimano 105 Di2
No option of builds from fellow Italian brand Campagnolo, then. You’ll notice that all of these groupsets are electronic. Specialissima isn’t compatible with mechanical shifting.
Some prices would be handy, wouldn't they? We've requested them.
All versions of the Specialissima are available in sizes 47, 50, 53, 55, 57, and 59.
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.