Bianchi Specialissima Review

We take a look at the beautiful new Bianchi Specialissima

Bianchi Specialissima Review

Bianchi Specialissima Review

Pros:

  • Lightweight frame
  • Excellent power transfer
  • Looks great
  • Faultless groupset

Cons:

  • Could come with lighter wheels
  • More comfortable superbikes out ther

The original Bianchi Specialissima was made famous in the 1950s by multiple Grand Tour winner Fausto Coppi. The latest incarnation is the Italian company’s flagship bike and is the ride of choice for LottoNL-Jumbo whenever the WorldTour hits the mountains.

Frame

Yes, ok, I know it’s the wrong colour, but look at it. What an absolute stunner of a bike. Whatever else we find out about the Bianchi Specialissima as we test it over the next few weeks, one thing won’t change: the fact that this is possibly the most beautiful and elegant bike that money can buy.

The good news is that the Specialissima is also available in celeste, or indeed any other colour you want thanks to the custom frame builder on Bianchi’s website. Even yellow… However, if you come to this bike with an open mind, then it’s hard not to love this black version, especially with the lovely touches such as the celeste bottle cage bolts.

Bianchi Specialissima Review At least the down tube logo is the right colour

Bianchi Specialissima Review - At least the down tube logo is the right colour

Celebrating its 130th birthday this year, it’s no surprise that Bianchi has been so successful for so long, building a formidable reputation for building bikes that ride even better than they look. And this latest models seems to be no different with a claimed frame weight of just 780g and an all-carbon fork weighing in at 340g.

These weights put the Bianchi Specialissima at the forefront of lightweight frame technology, alongside other such mountain goats as the 750g Merida Scultura Team Edition and the 690g Trek Emonda SLR. However, what’s great about this bike is that the weight isn’t even the main selling point.

Bianchi Specialissima Review - The name comes from the bike that Fausto Coppi rode to Giro d'Italia and Tour de France glory

Bianchi Specialissima Review - The name comes from the bike that Fausto Coppi rode to Giro d'Italia and Tour de France glory

Although it is not designed as an endurance bike, the Bianchi Specialissima shares the same Countervail anti-vibration technology as its cobble-devouring brother, the Bianchi Infinito CV. This is a technology that has apparently been developed for NASA, whereby layers of the Countervail material are built into the high modulus carbon layup of the frame and forks, which aims to improve comfort.

But despite this vibration-dampening technology, a quick glance at the Bianchi Specialissima’s geometry is enough to confirm that this is a race bike through-and-through, even if it’s classic round tube shapes make it stand out from the aerofoil tube shapes that now dominate the bunch.

Specification

A beautiful bike requires a beautiful groupset, so thankfully Bianchi has supplied us with a bike equipped with surely the best-looking groupset of them all: Campagnolo Super Record. While this build does add £900 to the price compared to the Shimano Dura-Ace version, it only seems right to hang an Italian thoroughbred such as this with Campagnolo’s top mechanical offering.

And of course there’s no skimping on other-brand chainsets or a Veloce cassette; this bike comes with nothing but Super Record bits and pieces, with a 52/36t chainset and an 11-27t cassette, which should give the right sort of gearing for all sorts of riding.

Bianchi Specialissima Review - It’s only right that the bike is hung with a groupset of Italian origin

Bianchi Specialissima Review - It’s only right that the bike is hung with a groupset of Italian origin

As a groupset that retails for £2,000 on its own, it should be no surprise that Campagnolo Super Record offers simply exceptional performance. The rear derailleur shifts quickly and with good precision, while the front derailleur still sets the benchmark for front ring shifting among mechanical groupsets.

Campagnolo is also the only company that can offer multi-shifting with its mechanical groupsets. That means that you can shift up five gears and down three gears at the back depending on how far you push the shift lever. You might not think you need such technology, but trust me, once you try it, you won’t want to go back.

Italian tyres and wheels, both with speed in mind

Italian tyres and wheels, both with speed in mind

The rest of the finishing kit on the Bianchi Specialissima is also Italian through-and-through. That means stealthy looking Fulcrum Racing Zero Nite wheels topped with Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed tyres. Both of these are very good, but I think that on a bike that is pushing at the £8,000 mark you should expect to see some lighter carbon hoops that would perfectly complement the featherweight frame.

However, no expense has been spared with the choice of FSA’s top of the range K-Force Light finishing kit that is used for the seatpost, stem, and bars.

Ride

As you would expect from a bike costing £7,900 and weighing 6.5kg, the Bianchi Specialissima is an incredibly stiff and incredibly responsive bike that is a complete pleasure to ride, and I guarantee that the first time you ride it you’ll see your average speed jump up by a couple of kilometres per hour.

 Bottom bracket stiffness is as impressive as the Specialissima’s overall weight

Bottom bracket stiffness is as impressive as the Specialissima’s overall weight

Of course it’s in the hills where the Bianchi Specialissima really excels. The excellent power transfer combined with the low weight makes for a bike that bounds up steep gradients, making this one of those bikes where you hit the toughest slopes of a climb and look down between your legs to see that you’ve still got a couple of gears in reserve.

And down the other side of climbs, this bike is just as good. The handling is excellent, with great agility that means you can have great fun attacking descents, flying to the bottom to look around to see that your mates are trailing behind in the distance, struggling to keep pace.

The only qualm I had was about the level of comfort on offer. Yes, the Bianchi Specialissima may have inherited some of the same anti-vibration technology from the company’s Infinito CV endurance bike, but it was still a little too harsh for my liking when riding over rough roads. On smooth tarmac it is a complete pleasure, but if you’ve got a long day planned on less than manicured roads, then your wrists and backside are going to be feeling it after five or six hours.

Value

There’s no avoiding the fact that £7,900 is a hell of a lot of money to be blowing on something as trivial as a bike, but for this sort of money you are going to be looking for a dream bike, and that’s exactly what the Bianchi Specialissima is.

   Bottom bracket stiffness is as impressive as the Specialissima’s overall weight

Bianchi Specialissima - It might be the wrong colour, but hasn’t stopped us drooling over it

Yes, it could be a little more comfortable and could come with lighter carbon wheels (although if you’re spending this much money on a bike then you’ve probably got some of these lying around at home anyway), but this is the sort of bike that is a joy to ride, putting a smile on your face every time you jump aboard.

Now just make sure you buy it in the right colour.

Verdict

The Bianchi Specialissima delivers everything you’d expect from a superbike. The frame is a stiff at it is light, meaning that you can bound up steep climbs with much greater ease than you’d usually expect. Handling is just a good and, importantly, the frame looks amazing too. If only the bike came with some slightly plusher wheels and with a bit more comfort in the frame then it would be perfect.

Details

  • Frame:Bianchi Specialissima Super Light Carbon with Countervail
  • Fork:Bianchi Full Carbon with Countervail
  • Shifters:Campagnolo Super Record
  • Front Derailleur:Campagnolo Super Record
  • Rear Derailleur:Campagnolo Super Record
  • Chainset:Campagnolo Super Record, 52/36t
  • Cassette:Campagnolo Super Record, 11-25t
  • Chain:Campagnolo Super Record
  • Brakes:Campagnolo Super Record
  • Stem:FSA K-Force Light
  • Handlebars:FSA K-Force Compact
  • Seatpost:FSA K-Force Light
  • Saddle:San Marco Aspide Carbon FX Open
  • Wheels:Fulcrum Racing Zero Nite
  • Tyres:Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed, 23mm 
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