First look: Bianchi road bikes 2009

Lightweights, updates, test rides and more...

Bianchi's 2009 range of road bikes will be on show at Eurobike in Germany this week. But we've got a full preview after attending Bianchi's launch in Bergamo, Italy. Here it is, with some further ado:

HoC 928 Carbon Superleggera

The HoC Carbon was introduced last season to critical acclaim. For 2009 it’s continued to evolve – becoming an even more efficient, race-ready machine.

The frameset is a mixture of IM600 high modulus, high strength carbon fibres and M40 super high modulus fibres, all held together with Nanotech resin (which all but eliminates structural voids in the finished frame). The result is super stiff and responsive, but reduced in weight to an impressively slight 850g per average 56cm frame – a 150g reduction compared to last year.

Up front Bianchi have developed an all-new carbon fork. It weighs in at a slim 315g, but that svelte build belies its strength. The fork is supported by internal structural reinforcement (a further wall inside which bisects the oval-shaped legs) and although the fork is just 10 grams lighter than the previous model, in load testing it proved to be 30% stiffer laterally.

The HoC 928 SL has a bewildering array of options for 2009

The SL fork is built from three different carbon fibres and nanotech resin, and we were pleased to see the dropouts are stainless inserts. Carbon fibre dropouts are fine for the pros, but we prefer to see metal used in an area that experiences a lot of clamp forces for the daily grind.

Riding the HoC you immediately feel that this is a bike built to race at the highest level. The likes of Juan Mauricio Soler and Geraint Thomas are competing on the HoC for Barloworld, and it’s easy to see why when the bike is so superbly responsive to both steering input and pedal power. It climbed the smooth tarmac roads on the north side of Bergamo on our test ride with consummate ease, and it’s rare we find a bike so willing to be pushed to the limit as the road points down. If you’re serious about racing or just enjoy the thrill of riding a superbike then the HoC is worth serious consideration.

Spec-wise the top level SL will be available with the all-new Campagnolo Super Record 11 speed groupset, Mavic Cosmic Carbon Ultimate wheels, Deda Elementi components, Fizik Arione CX saddle and Vittoria Corsa Evo hubs. Next tier down is the 928 Carbon SL, which runs a Super Record 11 speed, Camapgnolo Eurus black wheels, Deda Elementi components, Fizik Arione CX saddle and Vittoria Diamante Pro Light tyres. There are also standard Campagnolo 11 speed Record and 11 speed Chorus models, but entry to the SL club starts with a Shimano Ultegra package. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.

B4P S9 Matta Titanium

Bianchi has been producing titanium bikes for more than 20 years – bikes such as the crazy Chrono TT of 1997, complete with Formula hydraulic disc brakes, ridden by Eugeni Berzin of the then Gewiss-Bianchi team.

The S9 Matta is handmade in Bergamo using a Dedaccai tubeset that’s specific to Bianchi. It’s among some of the best worked metal we’ve seen, only topped by the likes of Seven for attention to detail. The frame tubing is double butted throughout – producing a svelte, strong frame – and structural foam is injected into all the tubes to further strengthen the bike.

It’s available as a frameset or a complete bike package with the new Super Record 11 speed groupset, Eurus wheels and Deda Elementi Presa finishing kit. For the true ultimate Ti package you could opt for the Bianchi individual package – a full custom frame built to your exact dimensions and required ride qualities. You can choose to be measured up at your local dealer or visit the Bianchi HQ and be sized at the factory.

The Matta we rode was built with a specification of super-stiff and, compared to some of the more ‘economic’ Ti rides now available, felt like a true race bike as opposed to a sportive or century steed. But that’s not to say it didn’t have the qualities usually associated with the material, in fact its compliance over broken surfaces was admirable and it responded brilliantly as soon as you stamped hard on the pedals, propelling forward instantly and without flex. Of all the 2009 performance bikes in the Bianchi armoury, the S9 Matta is the one that makes the most sense to the majority of riders.

C2C 928 Carbon

Little has changed in the sportive/comfort-biased C2C range for 2009. Aside from the fork ends and rear stays, which are now finished with a 1k Kevlar vibration-damping weave, new colourways are the only other real alteration. Fortunately, the new weave hasn’t affected the damping qualities we loved so much about last year’s C2C – and it’s lost a few grams of weight as well. 

The new fork reduces weight without cutting down on last year's feel

While these minimal improvements may seem a little underwhelming, Bianchi’s money men promise that the C2C will be much more aggressively priced in 2009.

Ducati Panigale

Bianchi have made a range of bikes exclusively for the Italian Superbike manufacturers for years, yet up until now these have just been high-quality versions of existing Bianchi products.

However, the new Panigale (named after a town on the outskirts of Bologna, the home of Ducati) is something very different.

Its hydroformed aluminium frameset, shod with 26” disc wheels and Alphine 8 speed hub gearing, certainly looks the part. And looks are not deceiving –  we were impressed with the geometry, which is long and low slung, because street/commuting bikes usually ape mountain bike measurements or a road race bike with a flat bar. The Panigale does neither, and as a result it feels much more akin to its motorbike brethren. It’s long on the top tube, with a low standover height, and the relaxed head tube makes it so stable at speed that you find yourself trying to throw this little red machine into corners, trying to get a knee down (though we don’t endorse you to try this).

We loved this little red ripper for its individual looks, tidy spec and neat design cues. But ditch the pedals quickly if you get one, because a lack of pins on these flats makes them treacherous in showers.

See also: Bianchi 2009 Specials range

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