In recent years, Bianchi's female-specific offerings have tended to be variants of their entry- or mid-level aluminium men's bikes. That's all changing for 2012, with the Italian company launching a true performance bike for women riders.
The all-new Infinito Dama-Bianca – named after Fausto Coppi’s legendary 'Lady in White' – features a UHM carbon monocoque frame derived from that of the brilliant Infinito, with adjusted geometry for women riders, along with the same straight-legged fork with vibration-damping Kevlar panels.
It's finished with Shimano 105 and an FSA compact crankset, offering a usuable 50/34-tooth combination up front with a 12-25T cassette out back. Bar, stem and seatpost all come from the FSA stable, with a Fizik women’s-specific saddle and Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels. The bike comes in sizes from 47 to 55cm.
Bianchi Infinto gets aero option
The sportive-specific men's Infinito gets a full-carbon fork upgrade and is available with five different build options. Topping out the range is a Campagnolo Chorus 11 equipped model, while entry to the Infinito family starts with the Campagnolo Veloce or Shimano 105 models. Our pick, though, was the all-black IG frame combined with 2012 Shimano Ultegra in its classy 'glossy gray' finish, with custom-graphic Fulcrum Red Wind XLR 50mm carbon clinchers that are tubeless-compatible thanks to Fulcrum's 2-Way Fit design.
New aluminium sportive bike
We got to try the Impulso at Bianchi’s launch earlier this year but Eurobike offered the first opportunity to see the finished specification for this all-new hydroformed distance bike. It’s available with Shimano 105, Campagnolo Veloce or Shimano Ultegra Compact. The Veloce-equipped version seen here features Reparto Corse wheels, brakes, bars, stem and post, an FSA Omega compact and San Marco saddle. It’s all good quality mid-price kit, adding up to a great package when combined with this clever aluminium frameset.
The head and top tube are manufactured in one piece and then hydroformed (high pressure forming under liquid pressure). This enables the Bianchi engineers to further sculpt the shape, the idea being that they can create a very similar ride to the carbon Infinito at this lower pricepoint. The seatstays follow the same slim design as the Infinito whilst the chainstays remain broad to keep power transfer stiff and stable.
Bianchi’s flagship race machine, the Oltre, remains pretty much unchanged for 2012, which is no bad thing as its ProTeam-proven sub-kilo frame with plenty of aero touches is as cutting-edge as it gets. However, electronic groupsets have now been thrown into the mix. The electronic-specific versions of the Oltre have integrated cable routing and a braze-on for the battery mount (so there's no need to run the flat plate extender from the bottle cage mounts).
In addition to Shimano Di2 versions, Bianchi confirmed that a model fitted with Campagnolo's Super Record level electronic drivetrain will be launched in 2012. That makes them the only brand that we know of who've confirmed a stock Campagnolo electronic model. Frame weight has been reduced to just 930g, thanks in part to all-titianium hardware.
Team derived hardtails
The Methanol SL2 is the ride of choice for the TX Active-Bianchi mountain bike team, including current Italian champ Gerhard Kerschbaumer. The all-carbon frame features triple-wall tubing – a central spine runs the length of the main tubes – which means the walls can be made thinner with no loss of stiffness. This allows Bianchi to get the weight down to a superlight 1,170g (including the integrated seatmast).
To protect these lightweight tubes from chips and scrapes, the down tube has a length of titainium mesh woven through the carbon to reinforce vunerable areas. The frame is also designed with multiple Toray carbons to allow the construction to be reinforced exactly where the frame needs it. The SL2 Range is topped with a SRAM XX equipped Team Replica and starts with an X9 version.
Bianchi Methanol SL2
New 29er hardtails
We first saw Bianchi's new 29er hardtails at their launch in Italy earlier this summer. Their flagship big-wheeler is the Methanol 29SL which, as the name suggests, is based on their 26in-wheeled Methanol SL2. It uses the same blend of three Toray carbon fibres to maximise strength and reduce weight, in this case to an admirable 1,210g (48cm size), along with the same triple-wall tubing and titanium mesh on the down tube.
Out back, the dropouts are all-carbon to keep the weight low and the stays are an asymmetric design to keep things tracking straight. We like the way Bianchi have designed the back end to keep straight tubes rather than having to kink the seat tube around the rear tyre. The top tube flows into the seatstays smoothly, allowing the integrated seatmast to lean out at an adjusted angle without looking awkward.
Bianchi Methanol 29SL
The top-of-the-range 29SL comes equipped with SRAM X0, a RockShox SID fork and Magura’s new MT-6 brakes. Standard wheels come from Carbon-Ti, in the form of their X-Wheel Crest MTB 29ers, with an option of Fulcrum’s Racing Red Metal 29 XLs.
For trail riders rather than out-and-out racers, Bianchi have the Jab, which they describe as their long-distance but singletrack-capable 29er. It's based around a highly sculpted, triple-butted 7005 aluminium frame with a hunched top tube to allow plenty of standover space and slim, tapered rear stays for comfort. With a frame that weighs in at 1,690g and a choice of Shimano XT or SLX/Deore based builds, this could make for a great value ride.