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Verdict: 
Pro-level race bike with fast reactions, a smooth ride and excellent braking
Weight: 
7,800g
Contact: 

The Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc is a fabulous race bike, offering speed and agility, aero features and an excellent ride quality alongside the power and consistency of hydraulic disc brakes. This bike is a real star!

  • Pros: Stiff frame, smooth ride, agile performance
  • Cons: Others beat it on value for money

The Oltre XR4 Disc is a bike that you'll always find yourself looking for an excuse to ride. Even when the weather is damp and dreary, as it has been for a lot of the winter test period... sod it! Let's just head out into the hills to check how it gets on with slippy climbs and wet descents.

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We've reviewed the rim brake version of the Oltre XR4 previously, and we loved it. This version picks up where that one left off, providing the same pro-level performance with the addition of disc brakes.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - riding 2.jpg

What's new?

Loads of brands have added disc brake versions of existing rim brake models over the past few years, and it's always more complicated than just adding some extra mounts to the frame and fork.

Whereas the rim brake version of the Oltre XR4 has a 1 1/8in upper headset bearing and a 1 1/4in lower bearing, the disc brake version is 1 1/2in top and bottom. This is because Bianchi uses FSA/Vision's new ACR System.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - front.jpg

ACR stands for Aerodynamic Cable Routing and it involves an integrated cockpit (a one-piece handlebar and stem) and a specific (although standard sized) headset.

According to Vision, "By using standard headset dimensions, the system maintains frame strength and, by routing cables through the headset, it also safely preserves a round steering column that is free of drilling. Additionally, brands have the flexibility to utilise a single frame design at a variety of spec levels simply by adjusting cockpit and headset selection."

Here's a quick video to show you how it works. 

The gear wires and the brake hoses run internally through both the handlebar and stem sections. Then there's a little channel at the front of the spacers and top cover of the headset through which the rear brake hose and the wires (if you go for a Di2 spec) can travel down into the frame. Those spacers are split – each one is made up of two separate parts that lock together around the fork's steerer tube for ease of adjustment. The spacers and the headset cap, like the FSA 1 1/2in headset, are custom, designed specifically for the XR4 Disc.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - stem.jpg

The front brake hose slithers into the top of the steerer tube and drops down to the fork leg. As well as keeping everything out of the airflow, this results in a really clean appearance.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - front disc brake.jpg

If you choose a mechanical groupset, Bianchi runs the cables externally between the centre of the bar and ports at the top of the down tube.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - head tube.jpg

In use, the handlebar/stem is excellent. It feels stiff when you're on the drops and the top sections, flattened for aerodynamics, make for comfortable handholds when you're climbing.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - bars.jpg

Bianchi hasn't had to change the geometry much to accommodate the disc brakes. I usually take a 57cm bike but in Bianchi's unusual stated sizes it's a 59cm. The 59cm Oltre XR4 Disc comes with a 540mm seat tube, a 575mm top tube, a 175mm head tube and 73-degree frame angles. Those figures are identical to those of the rim brake model. The stack height is 575mm and the reach is 398mm – again, virtually the same.

The only real difference is out back where the chainstays are a touch longer – 412mm versus 409mm on the 59cm model – leading to a slight increase in the wheelbase: 1,005mm rather than 1,002.5mm. In use, you won't notice such a subtle difference. I certainly didn't (and I've ridden the rim brake Oltre XR4 loads).

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc.jpg

The geometry is race-focused, of course. Our review bike came with 35mm of headset spacers to bring the front end up, giving a slightly more upright riding position than I'd ideally have. If this was your bike you could ditch at least some of those spacers and cut down the steerer tube for a more aggressive setup.

The Oltre XR4 Disc uses 12mm thru-axles front and rear and, like the vast majority of new models, it takes flat mount disc brakes. Bianchi claims a frame weight of 990g (+/-5%, 55cm version) and a fork weight of 420g. That compares with claimed weights of 980g (+/-5%) and 370g for the rim brake model – so the disc frameset is 60g heavier.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - rear disc brake 2.jpg

Our Oltre XR4 Disc hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 7.8kg (17lb 3oz). That's considerably more than the 6.53kg (14lb 6oz) of the rim brake model that we reviewed, of course, but we're not comparing like with like. That bike came fitted with a top tier Campagnolo Super Record groupset and Campag Bora Ultra 50 Dark tubular wheels, whereas this review bike is built up with Shimano's second level Ultegra Di2 groupset and Fulcrum Racing Quattro DB clincher wheels.

Ride

Like the rim brake model, the Oltre XR4 Disc is a lovely, lovely bike, jumping into action with no fuss whatsoever.

First, there's the frame stiffness. The central part of this frame is solid. Get out of the saddle and slam those pedals with everything you've got in a quad-busting sprint and it's still solid.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - riding 3.jpg

The front end is equally impressive. Lean the XR4 over as hard as you dare, the tyres scrabbling to grip the road surface, and the steering is spot on. You'll have a lot of fun chucking the bike around on sinuous descents too, the easy-to-control brakes getting you out of bother if you do overcook it in a tight turn.

The Oltre XR4 Disc is just as good on the ups. We've certainly reviewed disc brake bikes that are considerably lighter but a couple of pounds really doesn't make the difference to climbing prowess that some people would have you believe. Stand up on the pedals and everything feels very efficient.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - riding 4.jpg

One feature that has definitely grown on me is the forward sweep of the Vision Metron 5D ACR Disc Integrated Aero bar/stem (that reminds me, I should try to negotiate payment by the letter). From the centre point of the stem section, the flattened tops curve forward 10 degrees. This means that when you rest your hands up there for climbing, your elbows stick out slightly, as if you've only taken up road cycling in the last fortnight. Vision claims that this makes for easier breathing. I'm not 100 per cent sure about that but I definitely find this position a little less cramped than usual, and a little more comfortable on the arms and shoulders.

Bianchi's CV

The other big feature of the Oltre XR4 is its smoothness. Bianchi will tell you that this is down its Countervail (CV) technology. For those who haven't been paying attention, Countervail is something that Bianchi has introduced to several models over the past few years. I've explained it many times previously so I'll let Bianchi do the honours here:

"Bianchi collaborated with Materials Sciences Corporation to develop our innovative and exclusive application of the patented Countervail integrated vibration cancelling system for cycling. Scientific studies prove that long term exposure to vibration, typically absorbed by the rider, causes muscle fatigue and discomfort, resulting in reduced performance.

"With its patented carbon fibre architecture, Countervail carbon material, embedded within our unique Specialissima, Oltre XR4, Infinito CV, Aquila CV and Methanol CV carbon lay-up, immediately cancels vibration while increasing the stiffness and strength of the entire frame."

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - seat stay.jpg

Of course, there are a whole load of factors that affect a bike's feel, from frame geometry and layup to fairly simple things like tyre pressure and the type of handlebar tape used, and my backside isn't so finely tuned that it can discern the exact role that a particular 'carbon fibre architecture' plays in the feel of a bike, but I do find the Oltre XR4, in both its rim brake and disc brake versions, to be among the most buzz-free race bikes out there.

This is, though, still very much an aggressive race bike with sharp reflexes so don't expect the deep, soft comfort that you get with some endurance road bikes.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - riding 5.jpg

You get a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset right down to the cassette, without anything swapped out to make way for something cheaper, and it's excellent stuff. I'm fortunate enough to ride both top-level Dura-Ace Di2 and second-tier Ultegra Di2 on a regular basis and there's nothing between them in terms of function, Dura-Ace just coming in a little lighter.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - front mech.jpg

The Oltre XR4 is available in four different builds, the other three being based around Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (£10,000), Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical (£8,000) and Campagnolo Super Record (£9,400) groupsets. They all have 52/36T chainsets, the only difference in gearing being that the Campag model has an 11-29T cassette whereas it's 11-28T with the Shimano options.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - rear mech.jpg

Different wheels are also available, depending on the option you choose. Fulcrum Racing Quattros came fitted to our Ultegra Di2 model. These have 40mm-deep carbon rims to offer an aero advantage without being so deep that they become a handful in blustery conditions. They're great wheels: strong, stiff, and a reasonable weight considering their medium depth and 24.5mm outer width. They do add £1,000 to the price over the Fulcrum Racing 418s, the other wheels you could opt for if you wanted to save some cash or if you already have a bling set of wheels you'd like to use (we had the 418s on the Oltre XR3 Disc that we reviewed). 

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - rim.jpg

The only part of the build that I really couldn't get on with was Bianchi's own bottle cage! It might be superlight but I found getting a bottle out of it way more difficult than it should be, to the point that I would question whether I was really thirsty before committing to the job. Small point, I know! I'll move on...

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc - down tube.jpg

Rivals

Priced at £7,700, this version of the Oltre XR4 Disc is among the more expensive Shimano Ultegra Di2-equipped disc brake road bikes out there, although you can get the same bike with Fulcrum Racing 418 wheels instead of Fulcrum Racing Quattros over £1,000 cheaper at £6,650.

The Vitus ZX1 CRi Aero Disc Ultegra Di2 that we reviewed last year was just £3,199.99, although that's an unusually low price for a bike with this level of componentry.

> road.cc Road Superbike of the Year

Giant's Ultegra Di2-equipped Propel Advanced Pro Disc is £4,899, Specialized's Tarmac Disc Pro is £6,000 and Cannondale's new SystemSix Hi-Mod Ultegra Di2 is £6,500. The Trek Madone SLR 7 Disc Project One is £7,550, although you have a degree of customisation there.

Conclusion

This really is a great race bike. You'll find lighter bikes and you'll find bikes that beat it on price, but the Oltre XR4 Disc offers a sparkling ride. It's quick, agile and very smooth. Add in an excellent electronic groupset and hydraulic disc brakes and this is a fabulous proposition.

Verdict

Pro-level race bike with fast reactions, a smooth ride and excellent braking

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Bianchi Oltre XR4 Disc

Size tested: 59cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame Oltre XR4 carbon w/Countervail, mechanical/electronic shifting compatible, headset 1.5", BB92 bottom bracket, disc brake internal cable routing, flat mount caliper, thru axle 12x142mm, sizes 47-50-53-55-57-59-61cm

Fork Bianchi Full Carbon w/Countervail, 1.5in integrated head, Disc Brake internal cable, flat mount caliper, thru axle 12x100mm

Headset Fsa Orbit, 1.5in, specific for Metron ACR integrated handlebar

Shifters Shimano Ultegra Di2 ST-R8070 2x11sp Hydraulic disc brake

Rear derailleur Shimano Ultegra Di2 RD-R8050 SS 11sp

Front derailleur Shimano Ultegra Di2 FD-R8050

Crankset Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000 52x36T, Hollowtech II

BB Shimano SM-BB72-41B

Chain Shimano Ultegra CN-HG701-11, 11sp

Sprocket Shimano Ultegra CS-R8000, 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25-28T

Brakes Shimano BR-R8070

Wheels Fulcrum Racing Quattro DB

Tyre Vittoria Rubino Pro G+ Isotech graphene 700x25

Stem Included w/handlebar

Handlebar Vision Metron 5D ACR Disc Integrated Aero bar, material UD Weave Carbon, drop 125mm, reach 80mm, Di2 compatible,Ext: 100x400mm-47/50cm, 110x420mm-53/55cm, 120x420mm-57/59cm, 130x440mm-61cm

Grips Black soft Microfiber tapes w/shockproof Eva-139

Seatpost Oltre Full Carbon Aero; clamp with alloy head adjustable and reversible

Saddle Fi'zi:k Arione R3 k:ium

Rotor Shimano SM-RT800 Center Lock, diam. 160mm

Waterbottle Bianchi Loli 600ml

Water bottle cage Reparto Corse Carbon

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 a top-level race bike. You don't have to race it, of course – you might use it for sportives or just riding fast with the local chaingang, or whatever – but it's designed for racing.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

The Oltre XR4, in its rim brake and disc brake guises, is on Bianchi's top level alongside the Specialissima. Whereas the Specialissima is designed to be lightweight, the Oltre XR4 (like the other Oltres) is designed to be more aerodynamically efficient.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

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

Faultless.

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

The frameset features Countervail technology, designed to reduce vibration (see the main text for more details).

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The geometry is virtually the same as that of the rim brake version. As you'd expect of a race bike, it puts you into quite a low and stretched riding position.

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

Bianchi sizes its bike differently from other brands so consult its geometry tables closely. The 59cm bike that I rode, for example, has a 575mm top tube and a 540mm seat tube.

Riding the bike

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

It's a smooth feeling bike, even with high pressure in the 25mm tyres. This is one of the Oltre's strengths.

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

This is another of the Oltre's strengths. It feels very stiff both around the bottom bracket and at the front end of the frame.

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

It certainly feels very efficient.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

None, it misses by a whisker.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? The lively side of neutral, certainly.

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

Shimano Ultegra Di2 is pretty much as good as Dura-Ace but a chunk cheaper.

Wheels and tyres

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

They're a decent weight for their depth. You can get much lighter options, but then you'd take a hit on aerodynamics.

Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
6/10

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?

Vittoria Rubino Pros are designed as all-rounders rather than as race wheels. They're more about durability than speed. They wouldn't be my first choice.

Controls

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

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? I certainly would.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

You can certainly buy Shimano Ultegra Di2 equipped bikes – including many with disc brakes – quite a bit cheaper, but you get a very high-quality frameset here.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

Performance is a definite 9 and although value is lower, I still think the Oltre XR4 Disc does enough to warrant a 9 overall.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 190cm  Weight: 80kg

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.

5 comments

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [439 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

Two things kill it for me:
1. overly short front-centre distance.
2. BB86. It should be BB386EVO or BSA.

Avatar
Nick T [1298 posts] 8 months ago
1 like

BB386 is just a con to sell more FSA cranks, I’d rather have BB86 and not have to use adaptors

Avatar
Disfunctional_T... [439 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Nick T wrote:

BB386 is just a con to sell more FSA cranks, I’d rather have BB86 and not have to use adaptors

Ummmm... I have bad news for you then. BB86 uses adapters. The bearings have an OD of 37 and the plastic cups have an OD of 41 mm.

BB386EVO has the advantage that:
It supports 30 mm spindles.
Its larger bearings can handle higher loads and are more durable.

Avatar
boysie [1 post] 8 months ago
1 like
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:

Two things kill it for me: 1. overly short front-centre distance. 2. BB86. It should be BB386EVO or BSA.

 

Reach looks to be pretty similar to anything else out there?

Not for me personally, I'm a TCR man (along with my inferior  3 BB86) but I think it looks very stylish. 

Avatar
Nick T [1298 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
Disfunctional_Threshold wrote:
Nick T wrote:

BB386 is just a con to sell more FSA cranks, I’d rather have BB86 and not have to use adaptors

Ummmm... I have bad news for you then. BB86 uses adapters. The bearings have an OD of 37 and the plastic cups have an OD of 41 mm. BB386EVO has the advantage that: It supports 30 mm spindles. Its larger bearings can handle higher loads and are more durable.

 

Ummmm, no; you’ll need a reducer to run a Shimano crank on a BB386 frame. I’d be ok with my Ultra Torque cranks as there’s Campag BB386 cups I can press in without resorting to adapters, but most people use Shimano. They’ve got the choice of an FSA crank, or a reducer. As for larger diameter bearing cartridges handling higher loads and being more durable; well, if that’s what you want to believe, then go for it mate