The Bianchi Intenso Disc is a comfortable endurance bike that offers a well-balanced ride and consistent braking in all weathers.
Note: the 2017 version of this bike comes with Fulcrum Racing Sport Disc Brake wheels rather than the DT Swiss R24 Spline wheels fitted here, and it's priced £2,600.
The Intenso Disc is a good bike for racking up the miles whatever the conditions. The riding position is performance orientated but a couple of clicks back from full-on aggressive, the components score highly for reliability, and you get neutral, well-behaved handling here.
To me, the Intenso Disc lacks the excitement of Bianchi's Oltre XR1 (the equivalent version built up with Shimano 105 components is priced £2,400), but maybe that's not a fair comparison because they're quite different bikes. Whereas the Oltre is aimed at all-out speed, the Intenso is billed as an 'Endurance Racing' bike.
What's the difference? The main thing is the riding position.
I won't go too deeply into the figures because, well, geometry talk is a bit boring to be honest, but our 59cm Intenso Disc has a 200mm head tube, a 598mm stack (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) and a 391mm reach (the horizontal distance between those two points). That's exactly the same geometry as you get with Bianchi's Infinito CV bikes – both the rim brake and the disc brake versions.
The Oltre XR1, for comparison, has a 180mm head tube, a 580mm stack and a 397mm reach.
That means that the Intenso Disc puts you into quite an upright riding position by road bike standards. Granted, many other endurance bikes are more upright – Italian brands tend to be conservative in this respect – but I did occasionally find myself wanting to get more tucked up and aero.
That's not a criticism, by the way. A riding position that's slightly more relaxed than traditional is exactly what many people are after in order to maintain comfort for longer. It can definitely be a positive, depending on what you're after.
Bianchi has sought to provide more comfort by adding Kevlar inserts into the fork legs and seatstays. We've written loads on road.cc about the CounterVail (CV) technology that Bianchi adds to its higher end frames to reduce vibration and fatigue, and improve handling and control. The trouble is, CV drives prices super-high so Bianchi sticks with what it calls BAT - K-VID tech on the Intenso.
BAT stands for Bianchi Active Technology and K-VID is short for Kevlar Vibration Isolating Device. The idea is that the shaping of the fork and the snaking rear triangle, along with Kevlar inserts in those areas, provide improved shock absorption and adherence to the road.
I couldn't tell you exactly what mechanisms are at work but over the past few weeks I have found the Intenso Disc to be a comfortable bike. I mean, you don't find yourself sitting there thinking, 'Wow, those K-VID inserts are really working hard alongside the Bianchi Active Technology to keep road vibration down to a more than acceptable level', but you do notice that you're not getting a boot in the seatpad every time you hit a less than perfect road surface (which is nearly all the time).
I wouldn't say that the Selle San Marco Era Startup Power saddle is anything special but it's not offensive either, and one thing we know is that saddles are very much a matter of personal preference.
The Intenso Disc is stable at speed without any twitchiness, and it corners beautifully thanks to its well-balanced setup. If you do find that you've overdone the speed going into a bend, the Shimano BR-RS505 hydraulic disc brakes will get you out of trouble.
I'm not an ambassador for disc brakes. Personally, I think they're a great addition to many bikes but not the perfect solution in all situations (at least not in their current form). Here, I think they make a lot of sense.
Take yesterday evening, for example, when I got caught in rain that was so hard it was hitting the tarmac and bouncing back upwards in a comedy fashion. These brakes carried on working almost as well as in dry conditions. Yes, before anyone says it, the weakness in the system is the grip of skinny tyres on the road surface – that's true – but these brakes start to bite immediately even when it's wet, unlike rim brakes that need to squeegee off the braking surface first. I just think that good disc brakes are an excellent choice on a bike like this.
The Intenso's disc brakes are Shimano flat mount standard and Bianchi uses 12mm x 100mm (front) and 130mm (rear) thru axles. They're not quick-release, as such. You get a single hex key that slots in place in one of the axles, which you can pull out when you need to remove a wheel. It sits in there securely and doesn't rattle.
The disc brakes do add some weight, though, and it has to be said that this isn't a particularly light bike. Although Bianchi claims a 1,100g (+/-5%) frame weight, our complete bike hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at a fairly portly 8.7kg (19.2lb) without pedals. Weight isn't the be all and end all on an endurance bike (or any other bike, come to that), but all other things being equal you'd rather it was a touch lighter.
Groupset, wheels & finishing kit
The RS505 brakes are essentially 105 level to match the derailleurs, 105 being Shimano's highly reliable mid-level groupset. The chainset is a downgrade to Shimano RS500, though, which is a shame because the 105 version is one of the best components in the groupset.
That RS500 chainset is a compact (50-tooth and 34-tooth chainrings) matched up to an 11-28-tooth cassette. Gearing is always going to be a matter of personal preference but a setup like that will probably suit most people on most terrains. Some of you might prefer a wider ranging cassette, depending on your fitness and the roads you ride.
The wheels on our review bike are DT Swiss R24 Spline but they've been changed to Fulcrum Racing Sports for 2017. The tyres are Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks in a 25mm width – 25mm being the new black. Not so new anymore, come to think of it.
The handlebar, stem and seatpost are all aluminium in-house options that are ripe for upgrading over time. There's nothing wrong with any of them, but if you want to save weight this would be a good place to start.
One other component that's worth a mention is the Shimano BBR60 bottom bracket. It's of the screw-in variety. Although pressed-in bottom brackets and oversized axles can add stiffness, threaded bottom brackets don't have nearly as many issues with creaking, and as long term sufferers will attest, that can be good news for your mental health.
The Bianchi Intenso Disc is a good endurance bike that offers comfort, reliability and exceptional braking in all conditions. It didn't get my pulse racing in the same way as other models in Bianchi's range – it lacks the excitement of the Oltre, for example – but it's not that kind of bike. If you want to get your head down and go flat out at everything, the Intenso Disc isn't for you. But if you want a bike that's stable, well behaved and suitable for racking up the big miles, it has plenty to offer.
Comfortable, reliable endurance bike that provides excellent braking in all weathers
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bianchi Intenso Disc
Size tested: 57
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame Intenso Disc carbon, 1 1/2in upper headset bearing, 1 1/8in lower headset bearing, BB shell BSA, internal cable, compatible mechanical and Di2 electronic, rear dropout 12x135mm thru axle, sizes 47-50-53-55-57-59-61-63cm
Fork Bianchi Full Carbon w/Kevlar, Disc, 1.5" head, dropout 12x100mm thru axle
Headset FSA Orbit C-40-ACB
Shifters Shimano ST-RS505 2x11sp hydraulic disc brake road
Rear derailleur Shimano 105 RD-5800-L SS 11sp
Front derailleur Shimano 105 FD-5800-L, band type (34.9mm)
Chainset Shimano FC-RS500 Hollowtech 2 style with solid crank, 50x34T, w/BB(BSA), Crank Length: 170mm-47/53cm, 172.5mm-55/59cm, 175mm-60/63cm
BB Shimano SM-BBR60
Chain Shimano CN-HG601-11
Sprocket Shimano 105 CS-5800, 11sp 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25-28T
Brakes Shimano BR-RS505 hydraulic disc brake, flat mount
Wheels DT Swiss R24 Spline
Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700x25
Stem Reparto Corse Alloy 6061, rise +/-7°, 1.1/8", Ext: 70mm-44cm, 90mm-47/50cm, 100mm-53cm, 110mm-55/57cm, 120mm-59cm, 130mm-61/63cm
Handlebar Reparto Corse Compact, Flat Top, alloy 6061 diam. 31,8mm, reach 126mm, drop 77 mm, Size: 400mm-44/53cm, 420mm-55/59cm, 440mm-61/63cm
Seatpost Reparto Corse Alloy 2014 shaft, forged alloy head, 31,6mm, Length: 300mm-44cm, 350mm-47/63cm
Saddle Selle San Marco Era Startup Power, steel rail, 277x145mm
Rotor Shimano SM-RT66, 160mm
Waterbottle Bianchi Loli 600ml
Water bottle cage Elite Paron Race composite
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?
It's an endurance racing bike, a little more relaxed than a standard race bike.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's a very good frameset that could easily handle upgrading, or you could buy one of the higher specced models in the range.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame and fork are carbon fibre with Kevlar sections in the stays and fork legs designed to improve the ride quality.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's an endurance racing geometry, so it's more relaxed than a standard race bike, but the front end isn't as high as you'll find on many other endurance bikes. Check out the main section of the review for more details on this.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The geometry splits the difference between a standard race bike and a very relaxed endurance bike.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, it's comfortable even when you're out for a few hours.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, it's pretty stiff – not in the top level but certainly nothing to be concerned about.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It feels efficient enough.
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? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's quite a stable bike. You can't dart around a group of riders particularly easily, but it's manoeuvrable enough.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I wouldn't say there's a standout component in terms of comfort but it all works together to produce a good ride quality.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano 105 is usually very good value, but you'll often find higher level components on bikes of this price.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The levers take a little getting used to in terms of their looks. Put bluntly, some people find them ugly! But they do the job well for all different hand sizes.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, although I prefer something with a little more pazzazz!
Would you consider buying the bike? I prefer others in the Bianchi range.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? I'd suggest they consider it.
Use this box to explain your score
The Bianchi Intenso Disc is a good bike, especially the frameset and the hydraulic disc brakes, but it's in a very competitive market and that needs to be considered in the scoring. To my mind, it doesn't shine compared to the opposition in the same way that other models in the Bianchi range do.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.