Bianchi, due to their very long history and famous Celeste paint jobs, have always gathered a lot of fans in the cycling world - they make a nice looking bike, and to my eyes at least the Bianchi Infinito is the real looker of the current crop. The Infinito's combination of slender tube profiles and smart paint job makes certainly do it for me, and I'm equally attracted by what this bike is all about - long distance rides, fast.
The Infinito is part of Bianchi's C2C (Coast to Coast) line-up. What that means is a fast and light bike that has some of the outright aggressiveness and savagery of a race bike diluted, so you could ride it hard all day in relative comfort. So it's aimed at people who take their cycling seriously and do a lot of riding, but perhaps don't race, and want a bit more comfort. Sounds like a sportive bike then? Well yes, but this is the Italian take so it isn't super upright, yes it's more upright than an Oltre, but not much more upright.
The Infinito offers comfort with a geometry that is based on a race bike but ever so slightly taller in the head tube and longer between the wheels. Most of the extra height in the head tube is actually in the extension above the top tube, so you can have the stem higher without a ghastly stack of headset spacers.
If you need any proof, look no further than the 2012 edition of the Tour of Flanders, a race in which Vacansoleil-DCM's Stijn Devolder, a twice winner of the race, chose the Infinito over the Oltre. Here's his bike.
The frame is made from Toho Um 40 high modulus carbon fibre with nano carbon added to the resin. This decreases weight and and with a higher quantity of carbon in the resin that bonds all the various parts of the frame, creates a stronger frame.
The frame say Bianchi hits the scales at 1,080g, so it's light but it's not going to trouble the lightest frames in the world right now. Besides, Bianchi have their top-end Oltre XR for its lightest carbon frame construction if weight is a big concern for you. Sling a Campagnolo Athena groupset on it and the all-up weight is 7.6kg, a very respectable number I'd say. Let's just say it won't be the bike holding you back on the climbs.
The rear of the frame, the seatstays and chainstays, have been shaped with what Bianchi label Bianchi Active Technology, or BAT for short. The profiles have been shaped in a certain way so as to allow them to 'tune' the degree of compliance afforded by the rear half of the frame. They've also added Kevlar inserts to the fork blades and seat stays (which you can see in the photo above), which is claimed to help the frame better absorb vibrations, but I'm not convinced it contributes a great deal to the ride of the frame. But more of that later.
Inside the tubes is a central spine which adds strength and allows the use of thinner wall thicknesses. It's a technology we've seen on other bikes like Cube and Merida. All cables are routed internally, the gear cables through the downtube and the rear brake cable in the top tube.
Bianchi offer the Infinito in seven sizes from 47 to 61 cm. I tested the 55 cm size, which has a 55cm effective top tube and a 17 cm head tube. It's not as short as some out-and-out race bikes, but is shorter than many 'sportive' bikes which, on some occasions, have head tubes getting on for 19 and 20 cms. Head angle is 72.5 degrees and the seat is 73.5, so it's a little slacker up front and steeped in the seat tube than the more common 73/73 geometry.
It's an elegantly proportioned frame and has some typical Italian flair. The slight bulge of the head tube and the posh silver headbadge, a bow shaped top tube with a sculpture shape. The stays are of the curvy variety with wishbone seatstays and kinked chainstays providing loads of heel clearance.
The Infinito arrived with a full Campagnolo Athena 11-speed build and a £2,850 price tag. The company offers five builds, including Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Athena EPS models, with prices for the entry-level Veloce model starting at £2,275. Athena is a good groupset with great ergonomics and slick shifting. It doesn't take long to get very used to having 11 sprockets to choose from, and the discernable factor is the smooth transition across the range of the cassette.
The bike rolls on Fulcrum Quattro wheels (I've tested and ridden these a lot and have been impressed with their all-round suitability) and Hutchinson tyres, and FSA supply the custom painted bars, stem and saddle. A comfortable Fizik Aliante saddle completes what is a 7.68kg (16.75lb) bike on the road.cc scales. That weight gives you a fighting chance of getting up Alpe d'Huez in well under an hour or keeping up with the front of the bunch in a hilly road race.
The comfort on this bike comes not from a frame designed to completely mop up all the vibrations that reach your hands and bum, but from the slightly taller front end and longer wheelbase, which makes it a more relaxing ride than a fully fledged racer. And the theory goes a more relaxed leads to comfort as you pile on the miles.
Indeed, the carbon frame is stiff and provides incredibly detailed feedback on anything but smooth roads - I'm struggling to remember one that's communicated more about what's going on on the road beneath me. On smooth contiental tarmac that's probably all to the good, on my usual loops around Surrey and Kent, with a few London roads thrown into the mix, pretty much all of which is on poor roads, you can suffer informatin over-load. These roads highlight the Infinito's lack of smoothnes. It just wasn't as smooth as I was expecting it to be, with all the talk of Kevlar inserts and shaped stays claimed to increase compliance.
It's not necessarily a bad trait, some people may prefer a communicative bike that lets them feel what the road surface is doing under the tyres. If you're hoping for a bike that completely isolates you from the vibrations caused by rough road surfaces, there are smoother riding bikes out there.
And in the Infinito's case I'm not sure that a change of wheels and tyres will make much of a difference .I know that the Fulcrum Quattro wheels fitted to this bike are far from the most forgiving, but I've spent enough time on them on other bikes and know it's not the wheels contributing to the occasionally unforgiving ride experience. In fact it comes with more or less the same wheel tyre combo as my own bike, a Cannondale SuperSix and that filters out all but the loudest road chatter. Don't get me wrong most of the time the delivery of feedback is just right, it's just that it can easily tip over into the too much category the rougher the roads get.
Of no doubt in my mind is the speed of the Infinito. It's much closer to the geometry of a race bike (my personal preference) than a sportive bike, and it suited me very well. For long training rides and short blasts around the lanes, the Infinito is quick. Proper quick. It delivers speed in a very immediate fashion with little hesitation.
Descents are the best place to assess a road bike's handling. On some of my fastest and swoopiest descents the Infinito is a blast. It feels very stable at high speeds, changes direction easily and holds a line around a sweeping bend with confidence. It's very well mannered in such situations.
If you wanted a bike you could do the occasional race on, with the confidence it won't be outclassed, yet still look after you in on a long ride through the French Alps, this is a serious contender. The Italians really get this sort of bike, a fast road bike with a slight concession to comfort, that suits those who like to ride hard and fast.
An engaging, fast and lively bike but don't expect a magic carpet ride, it informs you in detail of the road surface you're riding over, which isn't to everyone's tastes. For a bike as capable of racing as it is, conquering the mountains, it's a very nice packaging. Stick some fast wheels in for racing and it'll be a veritable rocket of a bike. And it looks oh so lovely.
Fast and engaging handling but isn't the smoothest ride on rough roads
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bianchi Infinito
Size tested: 55
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
INFINITO C2C Carbon with Klar insert
Bianchi K-VID Full Carbon with Klar insert 1 1/8"
Campagnolo ATHENA 11sp
Campagnolo ATHENA 11sp
Number of Gears:
Campagnolo ATHENA 11sp
Campagnolo ATHENA POWER-TORQUE system CT Carbon 11s
Campagnolo CHORUS 11sp 12-25T
Campagnolo CHORUS 11sp
FSA Wing Compact Custom colour and graphics
FSA OS 190
FSA Orbit CE Plus
Fulcrum racing Quattro
Hutchinson Fusion 3 700 x 23
Hutchinson Fusion 3 700 x 23
Fi'zi:k Aliante Delta - Custom colour
FSA SLK - Carbon - Custom colour and graphics
Fulcrum racing Quattro
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?
A UCI-certified frameset featuring Nanotech carbon technology, the Infinito combines race-proven engineering with Bianchi's Coast-to-Coast geometry, serving up a rare blend of performance and comfort.
Crisp cornering, quick acceleration, and stable descending - hallmarks of Bianchi racing geometry - are not compromised to achieve a smoother ride. Comfort is delivered via a slightly taller and more relaxed head tube paired with slightly longer chain stays. Unparalleled compliance is delivered through Bianchi's exclusive BAT sculpted stays and K-VID Kevlar inserts in the seat stays and fork.
Infinito literally means 'never ending' in Italian. The Infinito provides never ending enjoyment!
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Excellent build quality and attention to detail
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from Toho Um 40 high modulus carbon fibre with nano carbon added to the resin.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Geometry is similar to a race bike, but with a taller (17cm) head tube and longer wheelbase.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
I put a longer, 13cm, stem on and that provided a good reach.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
For short and long rides alike it was very comfortable, with the slightly taller front end contributing to a comfortable position on the bike. As for ride smoothness on rough roads, it wasn't good.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
In regard to handling and power transfer it was very good.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, very little hesitation.
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? Responsive, direct at high speeds.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
I really liked the Infinito's handling, direct and engaging. Very good on descents.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I changed the saddle (to a Prologo Scratch) and fitted a longer stem.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
A carbon fibre handlebar might dampen some of the vibrations that reach the hands.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Some lighter and faster wheels would be a good upgrade if you wanted to race it or take it up some mountains.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It all worked flawlessly
Wheels and tyres
The Quattro wheels are very good, but I might expect some lighter wheels at this price.
The Hutchinson tyres are very durable at this time of year.
The Quattro's are a little portly
The Quattro's are also a stiff wheelset - a change here might help with the ride smoothness.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
If I was racing or heading to the Alps for an event like the Etape or Marmotte with this bike, I would be tempted to fit some lighter wheels. It's a good enough bike to handle such an upgrade, and keep the Quattro's for training and winter riding.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
No issues with any of the control points
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes it was a lot of fun.
Would you consider buying the bike? It lacks ride smoothness for me personally, but I really liked the geometry, fit and speed.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? For the right person, yes probably.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
If I lived somewhere with smoother roads, the Infinito would be getting a higher rating. With the state of my local roads though, all that feedback all the time would be just tiring.
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, mtb,