I have toyed with the idea of buying an Italian thoroughbred for some time now. Every time the moment comes that I have sold my latest bike, I start shopping for a boutique branded machine to race, there have been plenty on the list including Time VXRS, Look 695, Willier Cento Uno, De Rosa King3 RS the new Supersix Evo Ultimate of course the Specialized Tarmac Sl4 … but one bike caught my eye at its launch and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect this time around.
I remember the first glimpse of the Bianchi Oltre stirring my emotions, I loved its lines, its aggression and the way it all integrated. I watched videos on the history and dramatics of the Italians and the brand pillars of Italy. I watched again. I read reviews, I spoke to anyone and everyone that had ridden one for a first hand account but I didn’t really need more convincing, I knew I wanted one… but wait there is more…for my patience I was rewarded with the release of the Nero Limited Edition. Ahh yes…I had to have it.
I placed the order and waited impatiently, luckily I had some weekday racing to keep me occupied, but once the box stood in front of me I couldn’t wait any longer, I tore it open to reveal one of the best looking frames I have ever seen. I was like a little boy on Christmas morning. i took the rest of the day off work and hurried home to begin building.
I weighed all the parts meticulously first and documented them, the claimed weight for my 57cm was correct to the gram. The Limited Matt Black paint helping attain a 100g weight loss over the standard model. The finishing kit all beautifully crafted and anodised in matching Celeste by Carbon Ti.
The build went without a hitch and I had her up and running in no time, I fitted my race rig and went for a 5km shakedown test. My legs were horribly sore after the mornings training session so I couldn’t get a good power transfer feeling but the handling was razor sharp. I made some fine adjustments to the shifting and parked it for the night. I stopped at the pharmacy on my way home and even the people queue at the teller couldn’t help remarking on how beautiful my bike was.
On Saturday morning I went out for a light spin, into a serious headwind at first, but once I had turned and started back with the wind, my enjoyment lept up 1000%. It was smooth and fast and silently deadly, It responded to every effort and turned like a knife. My biggest fear was under-steer, but that was quickly put to rest and I zig-zagged in delight. I went up a size, the Specialized’s I have always ridden were 54’s but this was a 56, effectively 12mm longer on top so I ran a shorter stem by 10mm and also benefited by having the steeper head-tube angle to quicken the steering on this model over it’s 55cm counterpart. My homework was spot on, and it fitted like a glove. I effected some more front derailer fettling as I neared home as I had some rub on the blades under full gas. Once that was fully sorted I cruised back home.
On Sunday it made it’s debut at the Medallion Tour De Stellenbosch amid lots of ooh’s and aaah’s it was definitely a head turner. Performance on the day was spot on, it felt perfect in every way and the climbing ability was well shown as I went over strong in the second bunch, not quite ready to hang with the climbers.
It’s sure footed in descent, stiff at the BB and still a pleasure to ride. It really goes “Beyond” what you can expect from your bike. Bianchi is doing it all right. I absolutely love it.