Designed as a pro-level race machine, the Oltre is the flagship bike in Bianchi’s top flight HoC range, and is the bike that Vacansoleil-DCM will be riding this year. At just 6.43kg (57cm size), it's supremely light.
The chassis features plenty of aero touches such as a bladed seat tube and seatmast. The fork is mated to the frame with an aero-bladed crown that flows into the down tube, and also has bladed legs. This usually means extra weight, so it’s a welcome surprise that the Oltre frame still manages to dip well below 1kg, the benchmark for high-end carbon.
What did surprise us, though, is the bike’s comfort. We’d expect a pro-specific superbike to blend speed, power transfer and light weight – and although comfort is important, it’s not necessarily the primary concern. Here, though, the sheer smoothness is outstanding. There’s a lightness about every aspect of the ride.
While some race bikes are all brutish speed and power, the Oltre is just as quick but it achieves this with a nimble, almost delicate touch. Hitting the hills on the Oltre made us want to dance on the pedals, Pantani style. Any bike that can make our 6ft 2in tester’s 87kg frame want to ride like a flyweight climber is doing something very right.
Put the power down on the flat and the Oltre pulses forward with sublime efficiency, and descending is a joy too, where the lightness of touch translates into a point-and-shoot nature when you’re approaching the limit. This is quite simply one of the best bikes to just ride – and ride hard – that we’ve ever tried.
As you might expect for the price, the Oltre has a no-compromise build. Campagnolo Super Record is a joy to use, fast shifting and positive, and with everything that’s bolted being titanium, everything that spins ceramic and the remainder a combination of carbon and lightweight alloys, it’s as good as it gets.
The cockpit is all colour co-ordinated FSA K-Force with a matching saddle from Fizik. None of the fittings is standard either; they're all lightweight anodised titanium and carbon. The Oltre comes out of the box finessed and with top-notch components. It seems ridiculous to talk about a £7,500 superbike having value for money, but that’s what we’re seeing here.
Our test bike came in Euro spec; for the UK market it’ll come with Fulcrum Racing Zero 2-way fit clincher wheels rather than the deep carbon Fulcrum XLRs here. The Zeros weigh around 130g more – barely noticeable on the road – and for most of us are a more practical proposition than a tubular wheelset.
If your pockets are deep enough, we reckon the Oltre is one of the most usable superbikes around. It’s fast, light, nimble and cosseting. It does everything with such finesse we can’t think of anything else we’d rather ride right now.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.