Retro bikes such as this Bianchi have a knack of catching the eye both of cyclists and the casual bystander, and we hear it on good authority that last year's annual quota for this model sold fast. In the tradition of a proper 'track iron' Bianchi use plain (heavy) gauge TIGwelded steel tubing on this bike that's far better than a frame made of butted tubing for withstanding the high lateral forces experienced on the velodrome.
The chromed finish will require cleaning and polishing to fend off the effects of road salt during the winter months but we think this is a small price to pay for such a great looking bike. The lack of a provision for mounting a rear brake calliper on the Bianchi means that it is outside the law to use it with a single speed freewheel in place of the fixed sprocket supplied here, but a reasonably competent DIYer could drill the bridge between the chainstays to provide a place for an olderstyle bolt-on calliper.
The frame geometry is closer to what a true track bike is with its 'Manchester' spec bottom bracket height - meaning that at 11 inches it is slightly higher than a typical road bike and will provide sufficient pedal clearance for most steeply-banked velodromes. The level of equipment is impressive for the money and includes a Velo saddle, Deda steel keirin handlebars, Bianchi aluminium stem, Truvativ 165mm cranks, 16 tooth fixed gear sprocket and 48 tooth chainring. This gear provides an 81-inch gear that is okay for flat city centre riding but is, we feel, a little on the high side for climbing anything more than a slight gradient. Aside from some couriers who are accomplished with the art of stopping without them there will of course be the additional expense of brake callipers (Tektro callipers can be sourced at good bikes shops for around £24.50 per pair and Shimano BL-R400 drop handlebar control levers for £20). You may also wish to swap out the resinbodied pedals supplied with the bike for the SKS Sylvan quill pedals, steel toe clips and double straps shown (£63 from www.on-one.co.uk).
The stiff and unyielding frame imparts a very solid and secure ride to counter the lateral forces as the rider enters the banked part of a velodrome track. On the road, this stiff character also helps the rider to apply decelerative forces to the pedals using the fixed gear and the super-agile steering response makes the Bianchi a great tool to brush up your riding skills around town on. The wheels are better than expected for this kind of money and include cartridge bearing hubs and Alex AT400 32 hole rims that are laced to stainless spokes. Tyres are Continental Ultrasport 23mm that grip well in all conditions.