Originally manufactured in the early 1950s, Bianchi launched an updated version of the Specialissima all-round race bike last week. However, we are going back eight years to see how this previous model stacks up.
Fausto Coppi rode a Specialissima in the 1950s, but it's undergone a significant evolution since then. Although the Specialissima name was shelved in the late 1980s, in 2015 Bianchi wowed the cycling world and revived this classic as a lightweight all-rounder. The complete bike we reviewed with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset weighed in at 6.35kg on the road.cc Scales of Truth.
Comparing that to the latest flagship Specialissima Reparto Corse complete bike, it now has a claimed weight of 6.6kg (both in a 55cm size).
This weight difference is partly due to the fact that the 2015 model was equipped with rim brakes, which are typically lighter than disc brakes because they require fewer components.
In 2015, the Specialissima had more build options available too, including both electronic and mechanical shifting options from Shimano and Campagnolo. Like many bike manufacturers now, the 2024 models are only available with electronic groupsets.
The cheapest version of the 2015 Specialissima was equipped with a Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed mechanical groupset, priced at £7,000, and the most expensive model featured Campagnolo's Super Record EPS (electronic shifting) priced at £9,900.
We are still waiting for the release of pricing details for the most recent Specialissima models to see how these prices compare.
In 2015, the Specialissima frame was made from lightweight high-modulus carbon fibre and Bianchi added a special ingredient into the mix in the shape of its CounterVail (CV) technology.
Essentially, the idea was that the CV stopped a lightweight bike skittering about on uneven roads, and allowed you to descend fast because you were subjected to less vibration.
As you'd expect, the geometry was pure race. A size 55cm had a 550mm effective top tube, 550mm seat tube, and a 145mm head tube. The stack height (the vertical distance between the centre of the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube) was 545mm and the reach (the horizontal distance between those points) was 388mm.
Compared to now, the frame didn't feature dropped seat stays, and there was also less integration.
The profile of the tapered head tube drew inspiration from the Aquila CV time trial bike; it’s 1 1/8in at the top flaring out to 1 1/4in at the bottom. At the time many brands went wider, but Bianchi kept an eye on the scales.
For the finishing touches, the wheels were Fulcrum Racing Zero Nite aluminium clinchers, while the handlebar and seatpost were carbon-fibre options from FSA’s flagship K-Force line-up.
Bianchi didn't cut corners on the saddle either, speccing a Selle San Marco Aspide Carbon FX Open with carbon fibre rails and a carbon fibre reinforced shell.
Lastly, the 2015 Specialissima was handpainted in Italy and no decals were used; all the logos were produced by masking and painting, which gave it a classic appearance while keeping the weight down.
Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.
Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…