Despite its striking Celeste colourway, there’s no confusing Bianchi’s E-Spillo Luxury with the celebrated Italian brand’s performance machines.
Bianchi’s E-Spillo bikes sit within the brand’s E-City range and come in a few flavours. The step-thru City (£1,300) uses an Egoing front hub motor, while the unisex and women’s Classic models (£1,500), which share looks with the Luxury, get their power from an Egoing rear hub.
The Luxury on test – also available in a women’s-specific version – trades up Shimano’s mid-mounted Steps E5000 with a slim 418Wh battery under the rear rack for a maximum claimed range of 120km.
Bianchi E-Spillo Luxury frameset
The E-Spillo’s traditional-looking frameset is aluminium – standard 6061 if you’re interested – while the fork is steel.
The bike is available in 47cm and 53cm sizes and I tested the larger of the two. With the battery, it weighs in at 21.65kg. The removable third-party battery itself weighs 2.7kg and the Shimano Steps E5000 mid-mounted drive unit around 2.4kg.
The total weight puts it in the ballpark of the best electric hybrid bikes, such as those in Specialized’s non-SL Turbo Vado range.
With an ebike, of course, weight is somewhat moot because you’ve probably bought the E-Spillo Luxury so that you don’t have to worry so much about the bike’s (or your) mass.
To that end, the E5000 motor offers three power options with varying levels of grunt up to 250 watts and 40Nm of torque: Eco will deliver 40 per cent of your effort, Normal will match you and Turbo gives 200 per cent. There’s also a walk assist mode to help push the bike along if needed.
Colour-matching steel mudguards are fitted as standard, as is a pannier rack. A rear-wheel disabling lock is also fitted as is a kickstand – something that will gladden the heart of our very own Matthew Loveridge.
The frame is well finished and, I think, ‘hides’ its ebike guts pretty well. The bottom-bracket motor is top-wrapped with aluminium.
One detail that rose an eyebrow is the reasonably generous opening that guides the battery cable down the rear of the seat tube to the motor. All of the electronics are weather-sealed, but one can’t help but worry that this routing does offer a possible avenue for water-ingress.
Bianchi E-Spillo Luxury geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||73.5||73.5|
|Top tube (cm)||57.5||58.6|
|Head tube (cm)||12||13|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||6.5||6.5|
Bianchi E-Spillo Luxury build kit
Shifting-wise, Bianchi has opted to match the Shimano power unit with the Japenese brand’s tried and tested Altus 9-speed setup.
The front ring is a 34t unit that’s paired with an 11-36 cassette. That’s reasonably standard town bike gearing which, ordinarily, might leave you a little wanting on super-steep climbs. Good job you’ve got that extra grunt then!
I experienced just one incident of chain-slip while shifting on a climb that, while easily rectified on the bike, did send the motor into error mode. A brief moment of panic with a stalled motor was quickly relieved with a wild-Google and simple reset.
The brakes are Shimano’s entry-level MT200 units with 160mm rotors. As you’d expect, they do a perfectly good job at arresting the progress of what is a reasonably hefty machine and remained squeal-free throughout my testing period.
Wheels are solid 36-spoke Alexrims branded units with Formula hubs, and they’re dressed with 37mm Spectra Unda Duramax tyres. This is a brand I’ve not come across before, but I had no issues with them during testing.
Personally, I found it too squishy so it’d be something I’d replace.
Part of the E-Spillo’s relaxed-retro charm comes from the wide – 59cm – alloy bar with its 33-degree backsweep and 26mm rise.
This is attached to an adjustable stem that allows a degree of customisation, considering the limited sizes available.
I’m not sure why all powered bikes don’t come with some form of built-in illumination, so I’m glad to say that the E-Spillo ships with front and rear lights.
The rear is built into the slim, detachable battery that powers both lights and the front is a retro-styled 20 lux unit. That’s decent enough for riding around town, but you’ll want something with a bit more punch if you’re riding anywhere really dark.
Bianchi E-Spillo Luxury ride impressions
The E-Spillo is brought to life by the GPS size-and-style Shimano Steps E6100 head unit. This has two buttons over and above the on/off switch for scrolling through the display options and controlling the lights.
Scrolling gives you various easy-to-read sets of basic data including speed, estimated range, distance and time travelled. Battery power is also indicated with a familiar phone-style five-bar graphic.
Initially, the display is set to – naturally – Italian. Very continental, but I eventually claimed my blue passport by downloading the E-Tube Project app and adjusting language, distance and the like over Bluetooth.
On Shimano’s more advanced systems this app also allows you to personalise power delivery and connect to Di2 shifters. There’s also an E-Tube Ride app which will collect your ride data if activated when paired during pedalling.
The brand does, of course, offer sportier e-road bikes for longer rides and its new E-Omnia range looks better suited to bigger commutes.
That’s not to say the E-Spillo didn’t perform well on those journeys, and I think that I used the motor as most people will – a mix of all three modes, the majority of time spent in Normal, with occasional Turbo boosts on inclines and dips into Eco when range anxiety kicked in.
Range anxiety usually occurred towards the end of a second day of riding as the once fully charged battery drained towards 97km. A 100km range or so from such mixed power usage isn’t too bad at all and I’m inclined to believe that the stated 120km would be achievable if you gently ride said distance without leaving Eco.
Eco is the least satisfying of the powered modes though because the overall weight of the Bianchi is still reasonably noticeable, so it doesn’t feel as if the assistance is offering much. Normal is more like a friendly push along and Turbo – while not a big kick – does make a big difference on short, sharp ramps.
The geometry is comfortable and the steering is relaxed with the swept bar encouraging you to move in controlled, elegant arcs rather than engage in sudden changes of direction.
The alloy frame and steel fork mean that the ride errs on the firm side, with little added flex from the alloy bar and stem. It’s by no means uncomfortable and – as I’ve said – my single journey testing distances were, probably, longer than the E-Spillo’s intended mileage, but the bike does have a solidity to it.
Bianchi E-Spillo Luxury bottom line
But that solidity is an advantage for what I believe the E-Spillo’s best use is – short commutes or car-free errand running.
The rear rack is perfect for full-size panniers, so carrying your full work requirements or loading up on a few days’ groceries is do-able and, genuinely, riding the Bianchi into town in ordinary clothes, without breaking into a sweat, while all the time looking effortlessly stylish, never failed to make me smile.
In the celeste colourway at least, the E-Spillo is a stylish, head-turning, modern-retro urban runaround in the same way that first-generation new Minis or Fiat 500s are.
|Features||Kickstand: Ursus R78 King rear
Front light: Retro sport LED 20lux
Rear Light: Integrated in the battery
Rear carrier: SPORT 28" W/AVS
|Tyres||Spectra Unda Duramax regular 700X37|
|Shifter||Shimano Altus SL-M2010 9SP|
|Seatpost||AL6061 shaft, alloy head|
|Saddle||Selle Royal Wave, steel rails|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Altus RD-M2000|
|Motor||Shimano Steps E5000 W/FC-E5000 170MM crankset|
|Available sizes||47, 53cm|
|Frame||E-Spillo luxury, ALU PG 6061|
|Cranks||Included with motor unit|
|Bottom bracket||Included with motor unit|
|Wheels||Ebike 260, 622X19C, disc|