Bianchi Grizzly 9.2 review£1,299.00

Does it fly as fast as its Eagle transmission shifts?

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Bianchi’s Grizzly boasts a fast, smooth chassis with a bang-up-to-date 12-speed transmission to match. The handling works well for climbing and less taxing trails, but the lack of dropper post compatibility, heavy fork and treacherous tyres let it down.

Bianchi Grizzly 9.2 frame

The 6000-series alloy frame is triple butted to put metal only where it’s needed, not where it isn’t. A fat tapered head tube syncs with a six-sided down tube and tapered top tube. These are joined by a skinny seat tube with a slight kink above the press-fit bottom bracket (BB) to give tyre clearance.

The rear stays have pocketed/hollow-back dropouts with diagonal weld junctions, for a neat looped look. While these are open dropouts for a quick-release (QR) hub, rather than closed versions for a bolt-thru axle, they use the new, wider (141mm) ‘Boost QR’ spacing for extra clearance.

You get two bottle mounts, and the gear cable and rear brake hose are routed internally through the down tube. There’s no obvious way to fit an internally-routed dropper post, and no cable guides for an external version either. The 27.2mm-diameter rigid seatpost does play a fundamental role in reducing the trail shock that reaches the saddle and rider though.

Bianchi Grizzly 9.2 kit

The Grizzly boasts a fast, smooth chassis with a bang-up-to-date 12-speed transmission to match
The Grizzly boasts a fast, smooth chassis with a bang-up-to-date 12-speed transmission to match

Under the ‘Fast Black’ stanchion coating are steel legs that make the RockShox Recon Silver a heavy fork, but you do get a 15mm bolt-thru axle to keep it on track.

The tyres are the cheapest, wire-ringed (rather than Kevlar) ‘Sport’ version of a smaller-treaded variant of Kenda’s already pretty much slick Honey Badger tyre. You get practically zero grip if there’s even a hint of moisture or you lean the bike over (there’s no tread at all on the shoulders).

The Truvativ Descendant cranks make the SRAM NX Eagle transmission the most power-efficient drivetrain compared with the Trek Procaliber 6, Specialized Chisel Comp X1 and Cube Reaction C:62 also on test, and the Shimano MT400 brakes are reliably controlled.

Bianchi Grizzly 9.2 ride impressions

There are two significant things to get used to about the Bianchi. The first is the combination of a fairly steep seat tube with a short reach, which puts the steering emphasis slightly further forward. The 69.5-degree head angle is more stable than you’ll find on traditional European race bikes though. Teamed with a 90mm stem and 720mm bar, this means the Grizzly actually feels comfortably balanced, particularly on climbs.

Once you’re dialled into it, it weaves between trees and flows through turns well too, although you need to commit more to offset the lack of bar leverage.

The Grizzly feels comfortably balanced, particularly on climbs
The Grizzly feels comfortably balanced, particularly on climbs

Unsurprisingly, it’s not quite as fast to react if things get sketchy and slippery, which is where the second significant characteristic becomes an issue. The plasticky, minimally-treaded tyres meant my winter test riding period was spent in a generally random, rather than even vaguely directional, micro drift. But a fresh set of rubber won’t break the bank on a bike that’s reasonably good value, plus it’ll let you take advantage of the tubeless-ready WTB rims.

The Kendas are worth keeping for summer, because they’re fat enough (56mm) to be surprisingly smooth despite their economical 60TPI carcass.

The fork and wheels make the Grizzly a little heavy at 13.13kg, which is noticeable when climbing or accelerating. That’s a shame, because if you’re unlikely to hit more technical trails at much above a tepid pace, the fork action is pretty smooth and the lack of dropper post compatibility won’t bother you.

The triple-butted frame also shrugs off a lot of shocks while still putting down power well, so this bike is a proper racer at heart.

This all means the Bianchi is worth considering, particularly if you’re partial to a bit of Italian class and don’t mind upgrading your way towards its full potential.

Bianchi Grizzly 9.2 specifications

The 6000-series alloy frame is triple butted to put metal only where it’s needed, not where it isn’t
The 6000-series alloy frame is triple butted to put metal only where it’s needed, not where it isn’t

  • Sizes (*tested): 15, 17, 19*, 21in
  • Weight: 13.13kg
  • Frame: Triple-butted 6000 series aluminium alloy
  • Fork: RockShox Recon RL Solo Air w/ OneLoc remote, 100mm / 3.9in travel
  • Chainset: SRAM Descendant 6K Eagle DUB, 32t
  • Bottom bracket: DUB PF92
  • Cassette: SRAM XG-1230, 11-50t
  • Chain: SRAM NX Eagle
  • Mech: SRAM NX Eagle
  • Shifters: SRAM NX Eagle (1x12)
  • Hubs: Formula
  • Axles: 9x100mm (f), 10x141mm QR (r)
  • Rims: WTB XC25 TCS
  • Spokes: 32 stainless
  • Tyres: Kenda Honey Badger XC Sport 29x2.2in (56mm measured)
  • Wheel weight: 2.1kg (f), 3.06kg (r), inc tyres
  • Stem: Tec Obvius, 90mm
  • Bar: Tec Obvius, 720mm
  • Grips: T-One wire-on
  • Headset: FSA Orbit I-t, integrated
  • Saddle: Tec Obvius
  • Seatpost: Tec Obvius rigid
  • Brakes: Shimano MT400, 180/160mm rotors

Bianchi Grizzly 9.2 geometry

  • Seat angle: 74 degrees
  • Head angle: 69.5 degrees
  • Chainstay: 43cm / 16.93in
  • Seat tube: 48cm / 18.9in
  • Top tube: 61.5cm /  24.21in
  • Bottom bracket height: 31cm / 12.2in
  • Wheelbase: 1,115mm / 43.9in
  • Reach: 43cm / 16.93in
Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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