The Infinito CV Potenza is Bianchi's take on the endurance genre of road bikes, being a little taller and a little longer than a typical race bike. Don't take that as being more sedate, though, because there is still plenty of racing pedigree hidden inside that frameset. The Infinito CV is a responsive, vibration-damping speed machine.
With more relaxed geometry than its Oltre and Specialissima race bikes, Bianchi has aimed the Infinito CV at those riders who like to get a move on but don't want to race or don't wish to be in a racer's low slung position. For the equivalent frame size, the Infinito has a 30mm longer head tube, which does make you feel a bit more upright, but not to the point where it affects you in terms of aerodynamics should you need to hunker down in the drops for a bit of speed work. I could certainly still achieve a decent saddle to handlebar drop.
One thing that hasn't been relaxed is the responsiveness of the frameset; when you really stamp on the pedals there is very little difference to be felt in performance between this bike and the Specialissima I tested before.
The Infinito CV is rock solid around the bottom bracket junction and up front, where you'll find the commonly themed tapered oversized head tube – a 1 1/2in lower race diameter in this case.
All this makes for a very exciting ride if you find yourself having one of those 'feeling good' days or you just want to go out and have a bit of a smashfest. This bike just felt so much lighter than its 7.8kg (17.2lb) weight would have you believe, with acceleration and climbing becoming a joy.
Comfort is key
For this style of bike, comfort is a key consideration, especially if you want to start knocking out some serious long distance rides, and considering those high levels of stiffness, the Infinito CV doesn't disappoint.
Bianchi reckons it all comes down to that CV in its name, CounterVail technology, which is described as a viscoelastic material that's embedded within the layers of carbon fibre. It's designed to cancel out high frequency road vibration – you know, that buzzy stuff that makes your hands tingle.
It certainly seems to work because the Infinito CV is one very comfortable bike to ride. You still feel everything that is going on beneath you from the road, and you're still going to notice big impacts from a pothole or washboard-like piece of tarmac, but the CV just seems to take the edge off everything, all of that chatter.
Handling-wise, Bianchi has got the balance pretty much spot on, which it makes it very easy to ride quickly downhill even if you aren't a very confident descender. The steering has been slowed down a little compared with Bianchi's race bikes, thanks to a slacker 72-degree head angle among other things and this means a lot of the twitchiness has been taken out of it.
I pushed things a little on one of my local descents and going into a tight, off-camber right-hander I grabbed too much rear brake (the test bike had the brakes set up European style, the 'wrong' way round), which seriously unsettled the bike, and by the time I'd adjusted the power I was putting through the brake levers I was in too deep, so it was more of a case of looking for somewhere soft to put myself and the bike down rather than make the bend.
In the end, though, the Infinito CV stayed well under control and gave full feedback of what it was doing, and while I still took to the grass verge for a couple of feet I didn't need to unclip or even stop the bike before rejoining the carriageway.
With the braking layout situation now planted firmly in my mind, on the rest of my testing descents the Bianchi responded well, and I even picked up a Strava top ten on a notoriously technical one in the wet.
Frame and fork
The Infinto CV is a stunning bike to look at, with its various tube profiles showing plenty of oversizing for stiffness, and slender sections for promoting flex.
Up front the head tube is less of a tube than a section with the flared ends of the top tube and down tube practically blending into each other. This is there to create front end stiffness for steering and braking loads, and certainly gives the bike a very tight, direct feel up front.
Bianchi's own fork certainly doesn't let down on the stiffness front either. It has a large crown, accommodated by that oversized head tube, and the legs slim very little as they make their way down to the dropouts. It's a full carbon fibre construction, as you'd expect on a bike of this price.
The bottom bracket junction is large, though not as chunky as you see on some carbon fibre machines. It still allows for a large-section down tube and chainstays to be joined together to deliver all of that stiffness and power transfer. Press-Fit BB30 bearing cups are used to help the chainset spin smoothly.
The full carbon fibre frame is designed for use with both mechanical and electronic groupsets from all three of the major manufacturers thanks to full internal cable/wire routing and various battery attachment options.
It's good to see such a large range of sizes for a carbon fibre machine too, with the Infinto CV coming in eight from 47cm to 63cm – although that is effective seat tube length, as in if the frame didn't have a compact sloping top tube. A maximum top tube length of 595mm means if you are very tall you might struggle to get one to fit.
The Potenza groupset this Infinito CV is wearing is Campagnolo's newest and this is only the second bike we've tested that has it. There is a full review of the groupset coming, but I'll give you a quick run-down of what's on offer.
Potenza is the Italian company's fourth tier groupset and is pitched at around the same level as Shimano's Ultegra. It's an 11-speed setup and uses mainly aluminium in its construction rather than the carbon fibre found on Campagnolo Chorus and above, and is available in the black you see here or silver should you fancy a bit of a retro theme.
Our test model came with a compact 50/34 chainset and 11-29 cassette, which certainly provided me with a large enough spread of gears for every eventuality.
If you are a previous user of Campagnolo shifters you'll notice that on these newer mechanical levers the thumbshifter now mimics the sloping shape of the electronic EPS models rather than sitting horizontal. It's a welcome change as it makes your hand sit much more naturally when resting on the hoods; you can keep your thumb just resting against the button ready for a quick shift if you need it.
Gear changes are snappy with a more defined clunk than that of the lighter feeling Shimano Ultegra 6800, but in terms of shifting there is very little to separate the two. The throw of the paddle on the Potenza is longer, which can become telling on a long ride until you get used to it.
I'm a big fan of the shape and feel of the hoods on Campag's levers, too.
The chainset offers plenty of stiffness, and the chain just skips across the chainrings and cassette sprockets even when under load like on a steep climb.
I've long been a fan of the Skeleton brake callipers, having used them right across Campag's range. They've always offered excellent power and modulation, and it's no different with the Potenza versions.
It really is a very good groupset.
The Reparto Corse finishing kit is Bianchi's in-house brand and offers cool looks and decent quality for a decent budget.
The seatpost is carbon fibre with an alloy clamp and, oddly in a frame of this kind, is 31.6mm in diameter. It's often thought that a narrow 27.2mm post promotes a little more flex for added comfort and that's something I'd like to have seen here. The larger diameter post is quite stiff, so even though the CV frame is damping the small vibrations you still get some fatigue from the bigger bumps. If it was my bike I'd probably use a shim to allow a 27.2mm seatpost to fit.
Keeping things Italian, the Infinito CV comes fitted with a Fizik Aliante R7 saddle, which is one that I get on with very well, and with its matching Celeste detailing it looks like a saddle that befits a bike of this price. It is quite firm, but it seems to be that if the shape suits you then comfort will be fine.
The handlebar and stem are both alloy and come in varying sizes depending on frame size. Stiffness at the front end is also high, with neither having very little in the way of give.
Wheels and tyres
The Fulcrum Racing 5 LG wheels may look a bit of a cheap setup for a three-grand-plus bike, but we've seen them specced on quite a few models around this price, especially where the majority of the rrp is being absorbed by such a high quality frameset.
We tested a version here a while back and were suitably impressed by what is basically a set of training wheels. Obviously if you stick some more expensive hoops on with less weight you do notice the difference, and it makes the Bianchi feel a little more perky, but as an all-round package the Fulcrums don't really have a negative impact on the way the Infinito CV rides.
The wheels stayed true throughout testing and the bearings have remained smooth and trouble-free too over the cold, wet months of December and January.
The Vittoria Rubino Pro G+ Isotech graphene tyres are great performers, offering loads of grip in both the wet and dry. They feel as though they roll quickly too and are quite supple, giving a smooth ride on the road. They seem hardwearing too. I have yet to see any damage to the tyres from cuts or punctures, so I'd happily run them through the winter and only change them in the summer if I wanted something super-lightweight.
Those fitted on the test bike are 25mm wide, but the Infinito CV will take up to 28mm tyres should you want to go bigger.
On paper the Infinito CV Potenza might not look so appealing at its 2017 price of £3,300 (when it first arrived at road.cc HQ it was £3,000) when you take into account the finishing kit and especially those wheels, but you are getting an absolute stunner of a frameset which costs over two and a half grand on its own.
The Bianchi has a much more fun and exciting ride, just from the sheer amount of feedback and comfort that gets sent to you from that frame, and that is worth paying for – but I'm not sure how much more.
There is also the likes of Canyon's Endurace, with an Ultegra Di2 model being available for £2,469. The Endurace is a firm favourite of ours here at road.cc, mostly because of what it delivers as a package, but the Bianchi again offers the more superior frame and ride.
Overall, I have to say I reckon the Infinito CV Potenza was right on the money in terms of value at three grand, but that 10 per cent increase in RRP for 2017 – which Bianchi puts down to the value of the pound against the euro – just nudges it a little out of reach.
That said, if you're after a bike that is comfortable, very quick, easy to ride for miles and miles and you're prepared to pay for it, then you definitely need to give one of these a test ride.
An exceptional bike if you want to go fast in plenty of comfort, but you have to pay for it
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bianchi Infinito CV Potenza
Size tested: 55cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame - Infinito CV Carbon w/Countervail, Mechanical/Electronic Di2/EPS shifting compatible, 28c tire compatible, BBset PF30, sizes 47-50-53-55-57-59-61-63cm
Fork - Bianchi Full Carbon w/Countervail, 1,5" head
Headset - Fsa Orbit C-40-ACB
Shifters - Campagnolo Potenza Power Shift 11sp Ergopower, black
Rear derailleur - Campagnolo Potenza short cage 11sp
Front derailleur - Campagnolo Potenza black 11sp
Crankset - Campagnolo Potenza Power-Torque System 50/34T
Bottom Bracket - Campagnolo Power-Torque System OS-Fit integrated cups BB30 68x46mm
Chain - Campagnolo 11sp
Sprocket - Campagnolo 11sp 11-29T
Brakes - Campagnolo Potenza dual pivot
Wheels - Fulcrum Racing 5 LG
Tire - Vittoria Rubino Pro G+ Isotech graphene, 700x25
Stem - Reparto Corse 3D Forged alloy 7050, rise +/-7°, 1.1/8"
Handlebar - Reparto Corse Compact Flat Top, alloy 2014 diam. 31,8mm, reach 126mm, drop 77,4mm,
Seatpost - Reparto Corse carbon UD, setback 15mm, diam. 31.6mm,
Saddle - Fi'zi:k Aliante R7, Manganese rail
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 our innovative and exclusive application of the patented Countervail® integrated vibration canceling system for cycling. The result is the new Bianchi Infinito CV, Infinito CV Dama Bianca and Infinito CV disc.
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 fiber architecture and viscoelastic material, Countervail® carbon material, embedded within our unique Infinito CV carbon layup, immediately cancels vibration while increasing the stiffness and strength of the entire frame.
Infinito CV, Infinito CV Dama Bianca e Infinito CV disc follow key points of Endurance Race geometry like higher head tube, longer chain stays and longer wheelbase. Frame dimensions follow size progression to allow the optimal bike fitting ensuring same performance through different sizes."
I found the Infinito CV to be a very fast, comfortable road bike that felt much lighter to ride than its weight suggests.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It looks lovely and feels lovely.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
CounterVail Vibration Cancelling Composite Technology is used in the carbon fibre layup to help reduce high frequency vibrations.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
A taller head tube and longer wheelbase than a race bike promotes comfort and increased stability.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The Infinito sits somewhere in between a race bike and most other endurance bikes on the market in terms of height and reach. A stack to reach ratio of 1.48.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, the CounterVail does seem to reduce a lot of road buzz.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, A solid BB area and head tube/fork junction makes for a tight feeling machine.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well, the frameset feels very light and it is very responsive.
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 with a lean towards the responsive side.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Bianchi is a great handling bike in the way that everything is very balanced. It's not twitchy at all in the bends but should you want to push on at speed it's very direct for fast cornering.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The 31.6mm diameter seatpost keeps the rear end quite stiff, which can cause fatigue over long rides.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The whole package works brilliantly together.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Potenza Skeleton dual pivot brakes have excellent power so you can really leave braking to the last second.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Campagnolo Potenza is a very good groupset, in terms of performance and comfort in use.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels are quite near the bottom of the range for a bike of this price, but they don't really seem to hamper the bike at all.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
I was a big fan of the tyres, which roll well and offer excellent levels of grip in both the wet and dry.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The handlebar, stem and seatpost are all on the stiff side, but thankfully the frameset manages to offset that.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Possibly, with careful consideration on price.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
What makes the Infinito CV such a great bike is that frameset, it's absolutely stunning in terms of performance and comfort against the competition. It is on the pricey side against its rivals, though, and maybe a touch more than I'd be happy to spend – which does cost it a point.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.