Just in: Bianchi Infinito
Bianchi's endurance racer arrives for testing
This Celeste beauty is Bianchi’s Infinito. It comes from the Italian company’s Coast to Coast (C2C) range, reserved for those bikes designed for covering long distances in relative comfort.
With a slightly taller head tube and longer wheelbase than the racier Oltre XR we reviewed recently, it’s a bike that should be comfortable and stable on long rides and won’t leave you needing to visit a chiropractor. It’s not a sportive bike, it’s an endurance race bike, designed for Gran Fondos, not Grand Tours.
The Infinito does have proper racing credentials, though. During the Giro d’Italia in 2009, the year the bike was launched, Robbie Hunter (then racing for Barloworld) chose the Infinito, and it didn’t hold him back. It’s clearly no slouch. It’s a UCI certified frame; there’s a sticker on the top tube saying as much.
Sportive bikes, since I touched on the subject, are generally defined by the height of the head tube (though there are other important factors). The head tube on this 55cm frame measures 17 cm, which sits between the 15cm head tubes of race bikes and the tall 19-20 cm head tubes we’ve seen on bikes clearly aimed at the sportive market. Much of the height of the head tube is the extension above the top tube, to avoid the necessity for lots of spacers.
The frame is made using a monocoque construction method with high modulus carbon fibre. Bianchi add Kevlar material in the fork and seat stays, to help the frame absorb vibrations from the road. Claimed frame weight is 1,080g, and while it may be just over the magic 1kg marker, it's still light.
Compared to some of the recent arrivals into the office, the Bianchi is beautifully proportioned. The small diameter tubes lend the bike an elegant and classical look. There’s a regular non-tapered head tube up front and the top tube has a graceful curve that, helped by the paint finish, flows smoothly into the wishbone seatstays. The smooth lines are further enhanced by the use of internal cable routing.
The rear stays continue the undersized trend set by the front half of the frame, and almost seem puny in comparison to some recent test bikes. There’s a lot of profiling in the seatstays and chainstays though, the latter kinking in dramatically halfway along their length and flowing into the regular bottom bracket. An Italian threaded external bottom bracket does make for easy maintenance.
Bianchi offer several builds. We have the £2,850 Campagnolo Athena 11-speed model. Athena doesn’t have any of the carbon weight savings and decorative quality of the costlier groupsets, but from a functionality and performance standpoint it shifts and brakes with equal precision. There's a Chorus 12-25t block and matching chain.
We’re seeing a lot of Fulcrum’s Racing Quattro wheels on test bikes at the moment, and that’s no bad thing. They’re a fine set of wheels with low price tag. They’re fitted with Hutchinson tyres, an Equinox 2 on the front and a Fusion 3 on the rear.
FSA have supplied custom Celeste coloured finishing parts for the Infinito. An aluminium Wing Compact bar is wrapped with white bar tape. You get a carbon Team Issue stem and a carbon SL-K twin-bolt seatpost holds the custom Fizik Aliante Delta saddle. A nice touch. All that gives the bike on out scales a weight of 7.68kg (16.75lb).
Looking at the Infinitos places in the market and trying to draw some comparisons, bikes like the Wilier GranTurismo, Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse and even, possibly, Trek's Domane, spring to mind. How the Bianchi stacks up against such rivals will be interesting to assess.
Infinito, by the way, means 'never ending' or 'infinite', as you could probably guess. All that remains is to fit some pedals, and go see if the ride matches the looks. We'll let you know.