The Allroad is Italian company Bianchi's all-new entry into the widely popular adventure bike market. It has built a bike that is aimed at being right at home on and off-road, with hydraulic disc brakes, wide tyre clearance, a solid Shimano 105 groupset and, most controversially, a dropper post, one of the very few road bikes we've yet seen with an instant height adjustable seatpost.
Road bikes are rapidly evolving. Endurance bikes are getting increasingly capable and able to tackle a wider range of terrain than ever before, while adventure bikes are tapping into a growing desire among cyclists to plan multi-day cycle tours, with panniers swapped for bikepacking bags, and a focus on getting away from congested roads.
The Allroad fits into the latter category. It isn't a cyclo-cross bike – Bianchi has that market covered with its Zurigo Disc, which we tested last year. The Allroad is aimed squarely at the adventure road bike market, dominated by the likes of the GT Grade and Specialized Diverge.
Frame and equipment
Bianchi has constructed a frame from 6061 aluminium with a hydroformed down tube, sloping top tube for increased standover height, a tapered head tube and external cable routing. The fork is carbon fibre and Bianchi has stuck with conventional quick release axles rather than adopting thru-axles, which would certainly be expected by some potential customers. There was no detriment to frame and fork stiffness and the front end tracked sharply with no detectable brake rub.
While most new disc-equipped road bikes are going the flat mount route for attaching the callipers to the frame and fork, the Allroad uses the older post mount standard. There's nothing wrong with it from a functional point of view, with adjustments easy to make compared with flat mount; it just doesn't look as smart as the smaller flat mount callipers.
Most adventure bikes are designed with half an eye on the commuting, touring and audax customer, and so Bianchi has given the Allroad a full complement of rack and mudguard mounts.
The bike is specced with a Shimano 105 groupset and an R500 chainset in compact 50/34 configuration, paired with an 11-32t cassette. A compact is fine on the road, but even with the 32t sprocket the bike was still sometimes over-geared on a few of my steepest off-road climbs. That aside, the drivetrain produced clean shifting throughout the test.
Shimano's RS785 brake callipers are operated by the new RS505 brake levers. Say what you like about their appearance, what matters most are the ergonomics and here they score very highly. Your hands fall very naturally in the curve between the handlebar and brake lever and they're very comfortable to grasp, with the brake levers easy to reach. With 160mm disc rotors front and rear, braking power is plentiful with all the modulation needed to prevent accidentally locking a wheel, even on very fast and loose terrain.
There's clearance in the frame and fork for up to 35mm tyres (probably wider still) and Bianchi has fitted Kenda Happy Medium tyres in 35mm width. Tyre choice dictates the sort of riding an adventure bike is capable of, and the Happy Medium tyres strike a good balance that suits predominantly road use and occasional off-road cycling. It is a cyclo-cross tyre, but the low-profile centre tread ensures they're nippy on the road, and in dry off-road conditions they grip well. The aggressive shoulder knobs provide something to lean on in the corners, and you can get away with using these tyres in looser conditions, but they are not designed for mud. Your top speed will be clipped compared with a slick tyre, but there's nothing to stop you fitting slicks if you're looking at the Allroad as a commuting option.
The tyres are fitted to Reparto Course aluminium rims with Formula 32-spoke hubs and regular quick release axles. They proved to be tough and durable wheels for the sort of mixed terrain riding the Allroad is designed for and didn't need any attention during the test period. They're strong, too, withstanding some heavy impacts with rocks and roots in the off-road segment of my test route.
In the flared drop handlebar and dropper seatpost you can tell Bianchi has specced the bike for someone who really wants to make the most of the off-road ability of the Allroad.
Handlebars with flared drops are a good thing on this sort of bike. Get it onto a steep and fast descent with lots of corners and get your hands onto the drops and you find the extra effective width provides more control and extra stability at higher speeds; it's less twitchy than a regular handlebar. You can still work the gears and brake levers from the drops. I'm a fan.
So. Dropper post. On a road bike. Bianchi isn't the first to do that, Specialized offers its top-end Diverge with a dropper post, and there are bound to be a few people who have tried homebrew setups. Bianchi has opted for a KS E-Ten seatpost and it provides 100mm of 'infinite' adjustment (which means you can lower it the whole way if you want – some dropper posts have stepped adjustment).
A dropper post essentially allows you to lower the height of the saddle by pulling the lever under the nose and using your body weight to push the saddle as low as you need. They're hugely popular – almost standard – on mountain bikes, because they let you negotiate very steep descents with the saddle pushed out of the way, so you can make better progress. But does the idea work on an adventure road bike?
For some people, they will be an undoubted bonus, but I was left in doubt as to its usefulness on the Allroad. On smoother descents, there's really no benefit to having the saddle lowered, and on the sort of steep and technical trails where you really can make use of a dropper post on a mountain bike, the stiffness of the Allroad and the small volume tyres were bigger limiting factors than the height of the saddle. Get onto any terrain where you can drop the saddle and the Allroad will bounce and ricochet from rock to root and have your eyeballs pinballing in your eye sockets. To make the most of the dropper post, what this bike needs is a suspension fork, but if you're regularly riding that sort of terrain you might be better off on a lightweight 29er mountain bike.
The inclusion of the dropper post also adds substantial weight (723g) and cost compared with a regular seatpost.
The rest of the finishing kit is all Bianchi branded, including the stem and comfortable saddle and bar tape.
Performance and handling
The geometry of the Allroad is different to a cyclo-cross race bike and is based on Bianchi's Volpe Disc, which leans more towards a touring bike with a slacker head angle (71.5 degrees) and longer chainstays (430mm). This produces steering that is relaxed and neutral, not fast and whippy like a race bike, and improves confidence on loose surfaces like gravel tracks and fast road descents, where it feels right at home. Stable and surefooted are words that best sum up the Allroad.
As a road bike, the Allroad is very competent and surprisingly nippy: you can get up to some decent speeds if you want to. You do have to put in more effort to maintain high average speeds on the road, though, and on the climbs the 10.6kg weight and semi-slicks work against you a bit. You won't be joining your local club run, but that would be to miss the point of the Allroad. For leisurely rides, exploring and commutes, the bike is right at home.
The Allroad is at its best when you throw in some off-road terrain. The Maxxis tyres effortlessly cope with everything from tarmac to dirt, gravel and grass tracks, and you can go where no road bikes dare to venture, constantly swapping from road to dirt track during a ride. It might not be as nippy as a cyclo-cross race bike but that's not what you want when adventuring unfamiliar paths and tracks.
The position maximises comfort for longer rides, with a reach and stack (the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) that will suit a wide range of cyclists well with a nice upright position – 382mm and 568mm respectively. On short blasts, it's a lot of fun and it's right at home on longer rides as well, though the weight does show its presence when your legs are tired and heavy and you're facing yet another 20 per cent hill to climb.
The aluminium frame and carbon fork give the Allroad a noticeably high level of stiffness, which results in a responsive and very direct handling bike. On the flip-side, it is a firm ride so you have to pay careful attention to tyre pressures. Basically, run them soft to get some much needed cushioning or you'll be nursing a very sore body the next day.
For a bike that can turn its hand to a wide range of uses, from road and off-road to touring and commuting, there's a lot to like about the Allroad, and the geometry and stiff frame provide a characterful ride. I'm not convinced by the dropper post, which also adds weight and cost over a regular seatpost, but that aside the spec is well chosen and everything works well.
Decent handling with on and off-road capability but I'm not convinced about the dropper post
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bianchi Allroad 105
Size tested: 55cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME All Road Hydroformed aluminum, triple-butted
FORK Bianchi Alu/Carbon, 1 1/8"
HEADSET FSA Orbit C-40
SHIFTER Shimano ST-RS505 11sp
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano 105 11sp
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano 105
CRANKSET Shimano FC-RS500 50X34
BOTTOM BRACKET Included w/crankset
CHAIN Shimano 105 11sp
CASSETTE Shimano 105 11-32T
BRAKE Shimano BR-RS785 hydraulic disc
BRAKE LEVER Included
DISC ROTOR Shimano SM-RT66, 160mm
RIM / WHEELSET Reparto Corse DRAW 1.9 Disc
FRONT HUB Formula RX-25 alloy
REAR HUB Formula RX-2611 alloy
TIRE Kenda Happy Medium 700x35
STEM Reparto Corse 3D forged alloy
HANDLEBAR Reparto Corse Aluminum
HANDLEBAR TAPE / GRIP Bianchi Cork w/embossed logo
SADDLE Selle San Marco Era Startup Power
SEATPOST KS E-Ten seatpost
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
The Allroad best suits the needs of riders looking to enjoy endless miles "off the grid" - whether their excursions take them up fire roads, down gravel roads, over mountain bike trails or "all of the above".
The All Road maintains our 130-year racing heritage through the use of lightweight, hydroformed tube sets. We've closely studied the needs of adventure riders and made a few tweaks to help them travel faster and farther over a wider variety of terrain.
The All Road incorporates our tried and true Volpe geometry (with its lower than cyclocross bottom bracket drop), stretches the chainstay a tad farther, and shortens the front-to-center measurement. This allows for a higher level of straight-line speed, added stability, and nimbler handling when the "path less traveled" quickly turns another direction.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very nicely finished, as you'd expect from Bianchi.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
6061 aluminium with hydroformed tube profiles and a carbon fibre fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Based on the Volpe, which is a bit more relaxed than a cyclo-cross race bike.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Fitted very well with a good reach for on and off-road usage.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Provided you run the tyres at low pressures it's reasonably comfortable, but the frame and fork clearly provide a high level of stiffness that can occasionally be jarring.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
No lack of stiffness from any part of the frame; there was too much if anything.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, no power transfer was adequate.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Quite relaxed and stable.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very stable and calm at speed but still agile and nimble when you get off-road into the trees and singletrack.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The dropper post adds weight and cost for little real benefit. It's a nice idea but most people will find it unnecessary.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
I liked the flared handlebar for extra control off-road.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The tyres provided a good balance of grip off-road and rolling speed on the road.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
As I said above, the tyres provided a good balance of grip off-road and rolling speed on the road.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Maybe
Would you consider buying the bike? Probably not.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? To the right person, yes.
Use this box to explain your score
For a bike that can turn its hand to a wide range of uses, from road and off-road, touring and commuting, there's a lot to like about the Allroad, and the geometry and stiff frame provide a characterful ride. I'm not convinced by the dropper post and it adds weight and cost over a regular seatpost, but that aside the spec is well chosen and everything works well.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.