Bianchi have embraced the future by giving their highly regarded Infinito CV a disc brake makeover. The result is an impressively capable bike providing all the benefits of disc brakes with the same silky smoothness and ride performance of last year's road.cc Bike of the Year winner. It's not cheap though and neither is it very light.
With a longer wheelbase and taller head tube than an out-and-out race bikes, the Infinito CV Disc is a bike for going the distance, for long days in the saddle when comfort is a priority over speed.
Bianchi's Coast 2 Coast (C2C) geometry means the Infinito CV Disc has a 2cm taller head tube than their Oltre XR2 race bike - it's 17cm on this 55cm frame. The wheelbase is longer at 100.2cm. It's a geometry that toes the line between race bikes and more relaxed sportive bikes, providing a position that will appeal to those that still want to get reasonably low and stretched.
Handling balance is spot-on, with good reactions through the corners and solid stability at higher speeds. Direction changes don't come with the same immediacy as you'd expect from a race bike, but it is far more forgiving when the pace heats up, especially through fast corners. And when the road gets rough the Infinito CV Disc remains stable and composed.
Despite the changes to account for the disc brakes, the Infinito CV Disc offers the same exquisite balance of smoothness and stiffness as the regular Infinito CV. The Vision wheels provide a touch more stiffness than the Fulcrum tubular wheels on the regular Infinito CV I tested last year, but the difference is very slight. The main thing to take away here is that the Infinito CV Disc offers a very smooth ride when the road surface gets rough and broken.
On the scales the Bianchi weighs 8.2kg. That's not exactly heavy; it's in the ballpark for a carbon fibre bike with an Ultegra Di2 disc build, and much of the weight difference compared to the Infinito I tested last year will be down to the difference in the groupsets and wheels. Compared to similar specced bikes the weight is on the money. However compared to non-disc bikes at this price the Infinito CV Disc does look heavy, and for anyone placing a lot of importance on weight, this might be a concern. I didn't find the weight a huge issue when riding the Infinito CV Disc, even on some of the longer climbs around Riccione in Italy and up some of the Cotswolds steepest ascents. If you want a lighter option, then at present a hydraulic disc bike probably isn't for you.
Shimano R785 hydraulic disc brakes
Disc brakes on road bikes are a controversial technology at present. Bianchi offers the Infinito with a choice of brakes so you can take your pick, depending on your preference. You'll know if you want disc brakes or not, and if you do the Infinito CV Disc integrates Shimano's R785 disc brakes very well, with internal hose routing and the use of Shimano's recommended 140mm rotors (160mm rotors can be used with adaptors) used on Shimano hubs laced to Vision Metron 40 carbon fibre clincher rims.
Shimano's R785 hydraulic disc brakes (/content/review/114970-shimano-br-r785-road-hydraulic-discs) are the current benchmark. We've yet to thoroughly test SRAM's revamped hydraulic discs to see how they compare. Much has been written about Shimano's brakes previously. Suffice to say, performance is highly impressive. Lever action is firm with good feel in all situations. Decent modulation makes it really easy to feed in just the right amount of braking power for any given situation, from high speed braking to slow speed adjustments.
The Shimano discs are most impressive when descending mountain roads with tight hairpins requiring heavy braking to scrub off a lot of speed in a short space of time. Compared to riding the same descents on carbon fibre clinchers with regular rim brakes, there really is no comparison, the disc brakes are far better. They simply provide more confidence in being able to slow down when approaching a corner that requires you halving your speed before you turn in.
I had no issues with overheating during some of the longer and faster descents on the Italian roads used to test the Bianchi, nor any concerns with an excess of braking power forcing lockups. There was also no brake rub during general use.
However, there was a small amount of brake rub from the front brake during out of saddle climbing. It's not enough to measurably slow your progress, but the sound is annoying. Clearly the fork isn't stiff enough, despite Bianchi having developed a new one for this bike. Would a thru-axle boost stiffness enough to resist the small amount of twist that is exhibited in this fork? Probably, but without trying such a fork in this frame it's difficult to say for certain.
Frame and fork
The Infinito CV Disc frame carries all the same styling cues as the non-disc Infinito but there are a few changes. More carbon fibre has been added in key places, in the stays, to handle the forces generated by the disc brakes, and in the new fork too.
While the new fork looks the same, is has the hydraulic hose routed inside the left leg - the frame also features internal brake hose routing. It's all very nearly done, and the frame is compatible with mechanical groupsets as well - Bianchi will offer an Ultegra mechanical build of this bike. Post mounts are used at the fork and in the rear triangle for mounting the Shimano disc calipers and regular quick release axles are used, with rear wheel spacing the now standard 135mm.
Under the paint the new disc frame utilises the same CounterVail Vibration Cancelling Composite Technology. This is a viscoelastic material within the carbon fibre that aims to dampen vibrations caused from riding over rough roads. As I found with the regular Infinito CV, it's a technology that works well and in the the disc version has lost none of the smoothness. Rough roads, from rippled tarmac to cracked roads highlight the Infinito's ability to filter out the harsh vibrations and provide an impressively smooth ride.
Shimano Ultegra Di2 really needs no explanation, in fact you could just read my review of it here. An 11-speed groupset, with the compact 50/34 chainset providing a good spread of low gears in combination with an 11-28t cassette. The frame has internal wire routing and the battery is concealed inside the seatpost.
The bike gets an FSA and Vision build. Vision supply the Metron 40 Disc carbon fibre clincher rims laced to Shimano CX75 disc hubs. The Vision rims, as their name suggests, are 40mm deep and have a fashionably wide profile. They're fast wheels and cope well in blustery wind conditions with very good stability.
The wide rims provide a good base for the 25mm Hutchinson Fusion 3 tyres that come fitted, with a smooth transition from rim to tyre. The tyres provide good grip and at 100psi good bump absorption over a variety of road surfaces, with good rolling resistance too.
FSA's Wing Compact handlebar is made from aluminium and the short reach and drop is comfortable and makes it easy to ride in the drops for extended periods. An FSA Team Issue carbon stem and SL-K carbon seatpost complete the build. The Fizik Aliante Gamma saddle is as comfortable as we've come to expect from the Italian company. Considering the price of the bike we might reasonably expect some slightly higher grade components, particularly a carbon fibre handlebar.
The Infinito offers a good balance between high speed performance and long distance ride comfort, with engaging handling for the more enthusiastic cyclists. It might not be as light as some other bikes at this price, but it's not exactly heavy and for many the benefits of the disc brakes will outweigh the small weight penalty. Apart from a small amount of brake rub when out of the saddle, the disc brakes provide compelling performance in all situations that really makes it hard to ga back to a regular non-disc bike.
That just leaves the price. £5,600 is a lot of money, and is brought sharply into focus when compared to the similarly specced Orbea Avant I tested earlier this year: it costs £1,150 less. There's a big difference in wheels though, the Avant's Shimano RX31 wheels compared to the Bianchi's Vision Metron 40 wheels which have a list price of about £1,500. It's a serious upgrade and the wheels do have a positive impact, and the Bianchi edges the Orbea on performance and ride smoothness too.
Smooth ride and racey performance with the benefits of disc brakes, but it's not exactly cheap and the fork isn't stiff enough
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bianchi Infinito CV Disc
Size tested: 56
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
New for this season and designed to cover long distances with maximum performance/minimum stress. All thanks to Bianchi's special frame design/geometry and different material combination. This carbon frame is constructed using Countervail ; a cutting edge composite material used in the aerospace industry. Used exclusively in the world of cycling by Bianchi. Suitable for those demanding a high performance bike and tested under racing conditions in a UCI World Tour Classic. Equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset and new hydraulic disc brakes with Vision Metron 40 full carbon clincher wheels.
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?
Bianchi collaborated with Materials Sciences Corp. to develop their innovative and exclusive application of the patented Countervail® integrated vibration canceling system for cycling. The result is the new Bianchi Infinito CV. Scientific studies prove that long term exposure to vibration, typically absorbed by the rider, causes muscle fatigue and discomfort, resulting in reduced performance.
Traditional passive damping of the frame using superficial rubber inserts and isolators are only marginally effective compared to the integrated carbon Countervail® system developed by Bianchi and proven in the extreme conditions of NASA aerospace operations. With its patented carbon fibre architecture and viscoelastic material, Countervail® carbon material is actually embedded within the unique Infinito CV carbon layup, immediately cancelling vibration while increasing the stiffness and strength of the entire frame.
Maximized ride control and handling under normal to extreme vibration loads
Reduced muscle fatigue and increased energy savings in distance rides
Increased rigidity and peak power output over long distances
Tech specs of Infinito CV:
Carbon Monocoque frame with tapered head tube 1 1/8" - 1 1/2" & PressFit 30 BB
Double compatibility mechanic and electronic groupset
Down tube dimension optimized on the different sizes
(New) Full carbon aero fork shape with straight blades
Higher head tube and longer chain stay
Internal cable routing
28mm tubular/clincher compatible
Frame and fork
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Racier geometry than many sportive and endurance bikes will suit racers and those wanting a reasonably stretched and low position.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Swapped the stem for a 12cm and the reach was spot-on.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Offers the same smoothness as the standard Infinito CV despite the changes made to account for the disc brakes.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes plenty of stiffness when pedalling hard but the fork is lacking stiffness to prevent twist when out of the saddle.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Not until Bianchi address the fork stiffness.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Maybe.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The Infinito CV Disc so nearly ticks all the boxes but it's expensive and the fork is lacking stiffness when climbing out of the saddle. It's still a very impressive package though with great ride smoothness and long distance comfort, and corners confidently
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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,
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.