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Verdict: 
Fast and agile racer that is comfortable for longer rides
Weight: 
7,930g
Contact: 

Sitting one rung below the range-topping Oltre XR2 in Bianchi's range, the Sempre Pro is a seriously capable bike for racing or simply riding fast, with much of the performance of the Oltre but with a far more wallet-friendly price tag.

The geometry mirrors that of the Oltre XR2 so you get a similarly short head tube, providing a low front-end and ensuring an aggressive and aerodynamic position. That allows you to really push the Sempre Pro hard and fast through sweeping bends, over crests in the road and down swooping descents.

It winds up to speed quickly with good stiffness through the frame, helped by the oversized down tube, PressFit30 bottom bracket and tapered head tube providing a very taut frame when pushing it close to the limits. It's stiff enough for the most demanding rider, but not so stiff that non-racers will be put off.

It's not at all uncomfortable, despite the oversized 31.6mm seat tube - many manufacturers are adopting smaller 27.2mm seatposts as a way of boosting comfort - and on many road surfaces it settles down into a smooth patter at pace. It's not as silky smooth as the highly impressive Infinito CV when taking to rougher roads, but the gap between the two isn't as large as you might imagine.

The short wheelbase keeps the handling nimble and it has an energetic, keen and flighty personality that quickly wins you over. You could easily race the Sempre Pro in a criterium or open road race, but it's also a fine sportive and distance bike if you aren't a fan of sportive bike geometry, which typically raises the front-end, lengthens the wheelbase and shortens the top tube. It's traditional race bike geometry then, but wrapped up in a bike that isn't limited to racing.

I'm a fan of Campagnolo components and of the ergonomic changes the Italian company have made to the thumb shifter; it's now pointing downwards, mimicking a change first introduced on their electronic groupset, EPS. Gear changes, whether in the hoods or on the drops, are much easier, and create a far more pleasant experience, and certainly has the capacity to win over even the staunchest Campagnolo critics.

The Athena derailleurs offer an 11-speed setup with a 12-27 cassette marrying up to an FSA Gossamer 50/34 chainset providing a good spread of gears, which combined with the 7.93kg weight makes the Sempre Pro a decent climber. It's a shame not to see an Athena chainset however. Similarly the FSA brake calipers produce good braking performance, but they are a noticeable measure taken by Bianchi to hit this £2,300 price.

We're seeing more 25mm wide tyres fitted as standard to road bikes, even to bikes as racy as the Sempre Pro, so it's nice to see the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 25mm tyres. However, they measure closer to 24mm on the Vision Team30 rims, showing that rim width is more critical in attaining increased tyre width than merely fitting wider tyres to regular narrow rims.

The Vision Team30 wheels feature CNC machined aluminium hubs laced with bladed spokes to 30mm deep aero rims with machined braking surfaces. There are 20 radially-arranged spokes in the front wheel and 24 in the rear, in an asymmetric 2:1 pattern. They weigh a claimed 1,770g for the pair and were perfectly competent and resilient throughout the test period, surviving the rough potholed roads in my small part of the world.

The finishing kit is from FSA too. The compact Vero handlebar is a comfortable shape with easily accessible drops, and the generously padded San Marco saddle with cutaway channel was very comfortable even on the long haul. The only thing I had to change on the bike was the stem, and that was simply to fit a longer one to achieve my desired fit.

The frame and fork are nicely shaped with well proportioned tube profiles, with a PressFit30 bottom bracket providing a large junction for the oversized down tube. The head tube is similarly oversized with a tapered steerer tube on the fork.

Providing just enough compliance to take the edge off rougher roads are the slim seat stays that join the seat tube with a wishbone. The frame is well matched with the slender fork which deals well with harsh roads and smoothes out the most offensive bumps and wrinkles in the tarmac.

The frame has full internal cable routing for the mechanical groupset on this test bike, and it has the necessary drillings for an electronic groupset giving it upgrade potential. Bianchi claim a weight of 990g for a size 55cm frame which makes it competitive with bikes costing a fair whack more.

Of course it's painted in Bianchi's legendary Celeste blue finish, and it's without doubt a classy and elegant-looking bike. It won't be to everyone's taste - you'll know if you like or dislike it - but the general consensus among people who saw me riding the Sempre Pro was a thumbs up. It's certainly an emotive colour.

Conclusion

The Sempre Pro may lose out against better specced rivals at this price point but it offers a great ride that is comparable to bikes costing a lot more, with loads of potential for someone wanting to take up racing or simply as a very fast all-rounder, for sportives and weekend blasts. Bianchi's 130 year history, multiple race wins and the iconic colour will have a lot of sway with many cyclists too, a quality that's hard to put a price on.

Verdict

Fast and agile racer that is comfortable for longer rides

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Bianchi Sempre Pro

Size tested: n/a

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Engineered as a carbon monocoque design to combine rigidity and lightweight, featuring Bianchi's racing geometry. Versatility is the key to this bike; created to meet the needs of different types of riders. New big sections in important areas such as the down tube/head tube, 1.5" lower headset and bottom bracket for better rigidity and handling. Oversized chain stays for direct power transmission. Double compatibility with both mechanical and electronic groups and internal cable routing finish off this design.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Exemplary build quality and high finish.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Full carbon fibre monocoque with "Carbon NanoTube" technology adding carbon to the resin to improve the strength to weight ratio.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

It's the same geometry as the top-end Oltre XR2.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

It's what is best described as an aggressive fit, with a 145mm head tube on the 55cm test bike ensuring a low front-end, perfect for racing and riding fast where aerodynamics matter.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Not as comfortable as some, not as comfortable as Bianchi's own Infinito CV, but it's not a harsh ride, those slim seat stays help a lot.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Taut through the front-end and bottom bracket.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Very stiff but not overly so, a nice balance. Rewarding when you put the power down.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Agile and lively, a delight to ride.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Lively and agile, very responsive, not the calmest bikes to ride but a lot of fun, full of fizz.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The Vision wheels aren't the lightest but didn't blunt the performance too much, but some lighter and more aero wheels would be a good upgrade for untapping more of the Sempre Pro's performance.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

Shame not to see a full Athena groupset but the FSA cranks and brakes, in their defence, worked well.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
7/10

25mm tyres are actually closer to 24mm because of the narrow width of the rim.

Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
8/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
9/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.

Would you consider buying the bike? Possibly.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? If they wanted a bike that could be raced or ridden hard and fast, yes.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
8/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

The Sempre Pro may lose out against better specced rivals at this price point but it offers a great ride that is comparable to bikes costing a lot more, with loads of potential for someone wanting to take up racing or simply as a very fast all-rounder, for sportives and weekend blasts. Bianchi's 130 year history, multiple race wins and the iconic colour will have a lot of sway with many cyclists too, a quality that's hard to put a price on.

Overall rating: 8/10

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.

7 comments

Avatar
Jack Osbourne snr [772 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

That's how a Bianchi should look... All Celeste with simple decals. Nice to see they've gone back to the blue version of Celeste too.

Not that I'm set in my ways or anything...

Avatar
Jack Osbourne snr [772 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

That's how a Bianchi should look... All Celeste with simple decals. Nice to see they've gone back to the blue version of Celeste too.

Not that I'm set in my ways or anything...

Avatar
Jack Osbourne snr [772 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

That's how a Bianchi should look... All Celeste with simple decals. Nice to see they've gone back to the blue version of Celeste too.

Not that I'm set in my ways or anything...

Avatar
vbvb [621 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Completely agree, Jack, though I like the odd red Bianchi too, a bit like a yellow ferrari!

I think my own Bianchi, a Sprint 28c (£135, Halfords, 1982ish) was one of the more green ones but had the same lightweight sticker headbadge as yours appears to have. It was the only bike in the shop without steel rims, iirc.

Avatar
darrenleroy [323 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Saw a beautiful silver Bianchi in Richmond Park today. Mine's Celeste though.

Avatar
Shamblesuk [174 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Not exactly full internal routing given that the rear mech cable sits outside of the chain stay. Why didn't they just put inside like on most internal routing machines.

Avatar
Dobbo31 [8 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

This is how a Bianchi should look.........