Think of Italian MTBs and you’ll likely picture racy 29ers with not much travel and narrow, flat bars, in which case you won’t be surprised by Bianchi’s new Grizzly.
But you may be surprised by how smooth and fun it is, if you set your prejudices aside and give it the beans around the woods.
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Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 spec overview
- Frame: Aluminium
- Fork: RockShox 30 Silver TK, 100mm (4in) travel
- Drivetrain: Shimano Deore M6000 (2×10)
- Wheelset: WTB XC25 rims on Formula QR Boost hubs
- Tyres: Kenda Honey Badger Sport 29×2.2in
- Brakes: Shimano M396, 180/160mm rotors
- Bar: Tec Obvius, 720mm
- Stem: Tec Obvius, 70mm
- Seatpost: Tec Obvius rigid
- Saddle: Tec
- Weight: 13.02kg (28.70lb), medium size without pedals
Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 frame
A short tapered head tube keeps the rider position as low as possible over the front wheel. The main tubes are hydroformed and butted (multiple wall thicknesses), with a flat, tapering top tube and oversize, ovalised down tube triangulated by a large-diameter straight seat tube.
Out back, the rear stays are reasonably chunky too, with a gentle swerve in their shape to give decent tyre clearance for filthy race courses.
The press-fit bottom bracket gives max-width bearing support for power transfer, and there are two sets of bottle mounts.
Gear cables and the rear brake hose are routed internally, but there’s no easy way to get an internal dropper post in. The rear wheel is QR rather than bolt-through, too, but that’s common at this price.
Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 kit
The 100mm-travel, 30mm-legged RockShox 30 fork is QR too, but you do get a remote lockout lever on the 720mm flat bar.
Twin chainrings are a pretty unusual sight on new bikes these days, but not a bad idea on a machine designed for epic marathon rides, where a climb doesn’t count if it’s under an hour long. The side-swing front mech makes shifts on the stiff Deore crankset pretty seamless too, and the 11-42t rear cassette gives some super-low crawler gears.
WTB supplies the 25mm-wide rims, which are tubeless ready, but the Kenda Honey Badger tyres are the cheaper wire-rimmed, non-tubeless ‘Sport’ version.
Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 ride impressions
The tyres are obvious in the ride feel, too, with more drag than expected on smooth surfaces. Thankfully, the quality frame keeps overall weight reasonable for the money, and with the fork locked out the Grizzly climbs okay on fireroads.
Despite the wooden tyres, it really comes alive on intermediate surfaces, where its frame quality and skinny 27.2mm post notably reduce ground shock. That gives an impressively smooth and speed-sustaining ride on rooty, rocky power climbs or when weaving between trees and course tape.
In these kind of situations, the narrow bar and 69.5-degree head angle work well to keep the Grizzly on track up front. Drop pressures down to 20psi front and 25psi rear, and the grip from the Kenda tyres is good until the terrain is properly sodden.
The fork is impressively supple and keen to stay connected over typical XC terrain, and I was impressed by how fast I could blast along woodland singletrack and rocky 4×4 tracks on the moors.
There’s a point where impacts grow big enough to start bullying the flimsy fork legs around and overwhelm the fairly basic damping, though. That’s generally the same point where the steep head angle, narrow bar and lack of a dropper become an issue too.
If you’re more XC than extreme, though, it’s a charismatic high-speed, high-mileage choice.
Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 early verdict
Classic XC hardtail with genuine Italian charisma, but not rowdy-terrain ready.
|Brakes||Shimano M396, 180/160mm rotors|
|Fork||RockShox 30 Silver TK, 100mm (4in) travel|
|Front Tyre||Kenda Honey Badger Sport 29x2.2in|
|Handlebar||Tec Obvius, 720mm|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Deore M6000|
|Rear Tyre||Kenda Honey Badger Sport 29x2.2in|
|Seatpost||Tec Obvius rigid|
|Shifters||Shimano Deore M6000|
|Stem||Tec Obvius, 70mm|
|Wheelset||WTB XC25 rims on Formula QR Boost hubs|
|Frame size tested||M|