Bianchi have announced the launch of a new aluminium bike called the Impulso that fits into the existing C2C (Coast to Coast) long distance racing range and features technology that’s exclusive to the Italian marque.
The Impulso, which will be added to the lineup for 2012, is made from triple-butted A4 aluminium and 6061 alloy that’s hydroformed to improve the rigidity. The most distinctive feature of the design is the inclusion of Bianchi’s new Triple Hydroformed Technology in the top tube and head tube.
The tubes are each hydroformed separately to begin with and then they are welded together. Then the joined tubes are put back into the mould and hydroformed again. This makes the weld completely flat – or near enough that it’s difficult to notice unless you get really up close and personal. This final bout of hydroforming allows Bianchi to extend a ridge in the profile of the top tube right around to the front of the head tube.
Bianchi reckon that the Triple Hydroformed Technology increases rigidity in this area of the bike by almost 10% over a conventional design while also reducing fatigue. It gives the frame a carbon air too; it’s not a normal aluminium shape. Basically, this feature helps the Impulso look more expensive than it actually is, which will doubtless attract many – although if you have an up-close gander it’s not hard to see that it’s alloy. Apart from anything else, Bianchi have written ‘Triple Hydroformed Technology’ on the top tube.
The Impulso’s head tube is slightly extended, in line with the existing C2C bikes, for a more upright ride position than you’ll find on the higher end HoC and B4P bikes, and it’ll be available in nine sizes from 44cm to 63cm – which should cater for nearly everyone.
That top tube/head tube junction is pretty deep but the top tube tapers significantly as it slopes down to the seat tube. Out back the seatstays are skinny almost triangular in section and they snake about along their length – a design that, Bianchi say, adds comfort.
The fork is carbon with an alloy steerer and Bianchi say the frame and fork combo will weigh in at 1,590g.
The price of the Impulso has yet to be confirmed but we’re told that it’s likely to be about €150 (£130-ish) more expensive than a Via Nirone 7 (which continues in the 2012 range). That's a long way from confirmed, though. To give you a rough idea, a 2011 Via Nirone 7 with a mid-range Shimano 105 groupset is priced at £1,125.Apart from the distinctive look your money will also get you a bike with a frame which Bianchi say is around 150g lighter than a Via Nirone 7.
Bianchi haven’t altered their top-line road bikes massively. The super-light, super-high end Oltre, the no-compromise performance bike in the range, now comes in a new 47cm version, taking the number of size options up to seven, and it also gets a new head clamp on the carbon seat post. Last year’s clamp didn’t fit some non-standard rails but Bianchi reckon you can now use pretty much any saddle with this one-piece forged alloy design. Apart from that, the Oltre just comes in new finishes for 2012, including a black carbon model.
The B4P (Born For Performance) Sempre gets new colour options too. The idea of this carbon monocoque is that it’s light and comes in a racing geometry but that it offers a little more comfort than the Oltra. It’s still a very high performance bike with Bianchi’s Carbon Nano Tech technology used to prevent spaces in the carbon, avoid micro cracks, and generally add toughness.
The higher-end Sempres with Shimano Ultegra and SRAM Red builds, get full carbon forks while the cheaper models get an alloy steerer tucked away inside the head tube. The naked carbon model, with just logos and celeste trim, looks particularly cool, especially as Bianchi have colour-matched flashes on the wheels and saddle.
If none of these bikes are quite exclusive enough for you, Bianchi have teamed up with Gucci – yes, that Gucci – to produce a Gucci by Bianchi bike. Or is it a Bianchi by Gucci bike? Probably the first one. Details are sketchy; it hasn’t been launched yet. But it’ll be available in high-end stores – posh shops, to you and me, sometime soon. Expect to pay about a zillion Euros for a slice of Italian designer weaponry.
In other news, Bianchi have gone all digital and now have a Facebook page. Get online (oh, you already are, obviously) and hit the 'Like' button for celeste-based news updates. They have an iPhone app that’s been downloaded almost 5,000 times in the last few weeks too and they’ll be on Twitter any time now.
We’ll be back with news of the Impulso ride as soon as possible. Ciao.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, 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 youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.