Bianchi’s new £1,500/US$2,000 carbon bike has already been selling well, and filling up waiting lists where stocks have sold out, so we thought we’d see what all the fuss was about.
As far as we know it’s the only road bike that shares its name with an Alfred Hitchcock film, though we’d quite fancy a Frenzy, and Psycho would surely make a great name for a BMX bike, and North by Northwest a great tourer. But will the Vertigo leave you Spellbound?
It forms part of Bianchi’s more comfort-orientated C2C (Coast to Coast) range, with slightly lengthened chainstays for greater stability, the top tube shortened a little and the head tube elevated to create a more upright, back-friendly riding position.
But the geometry isn’t that extreme, our 54cm model having only slightly relaxed 72.5-degree seat tube and 72-degree head angles. That doesn’t mean this is one for dawdling on, though. It has a 1 1/8in steerer, oversize tube profiles, an impressively large bottom bracket junction and chunky chainstays. Sportive friendly? Yes. But it doesn’t mean you can’t put the hammer down.
The wheel and tyre combination is pretty much what you’d expect on a bike of this price, and is one of the main areas where costs have been trimmed. We’d certainly replace the budget Hutchinson Equinox training tyres when they expire, and the R500 wheels themselves are pretty weighty, forming a hefty percentage of the bike’s overall mass. But, being Shimano, they’re well made and tough enough for British roads. The design, with cup and cone hubs and non-bladed spokes, is a doddle for the DIY-minded home mechanic.
Head badge of honour: Bianchi started making bikes back in 1885
Shimano 105 is also par for the course, and, as with many bikes at this price, most of your hard-earned cash is going into the very well-finished frame with full internal cable routing.
Costs are cut with Shimano’s non-series R565 chainset, training tyres and own-brand kit, the Vertigo having a Bianchi-branded Reparto Corse bar, stem, seatpost and brakes. But apart from the wheels – easy to upgrade later – that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The chainset will add a few grams, while the rest of the kit does the job well enough.
We certainly put its cartridge calliper brakes to the test. On a far too narrow, high-speed descent we found ourselves face to face with a taxi. We don’t know who was more surprised – driver or rider – but we scrubbed speed rapidly and safely, squeezing past slowly.
As for comfort, we even rode a few miles of muddy, rutted and gravelly towpath without issue, the bike tracking perfectly, as it did downhill, and staying pleasingly comfortable.
Shimano’s R565 chainset is a step down from the 105 groupset
When the going turns upwards the Vertigo is stately rather than sprightly, the overall weight fighting against gravity on the climbs. But the 28-tooth sprocket and compact chainset mean you can stay in the saddle even when you hit steeper slopes, waiting for the thrill of the bike’s excellent descending abilities when you crest the peak and gravity’s your friend once more.
While you really do need better wheels to make the most of its frame, with the Vertigo you’ll be getting a bike from a marque with more history than Giant, Specialized and Trek combined, and one that’s well designed for long days out if not the hustle and bustle of competition. There are even some subtle celeste green touches on the frame and kit – if you look hard.