Bianchi Infinito XE Ultegra
Bianchi’s new Infinito XE has taken its cue from Bianchi’s classics-proven endurance machine, the Infinto CV. The XE mimics the same sport-orientated geometry, but eschews Bianchi’s expensive ‘Countervail’ dampening technology.
In times gone by, endurance and race bikes were worlds apart. Recent years have seen this chasm closing, thanks to the likes of Cannondale’s Synapse and the Specialized Roubaix. Conversely, many race bikes are now more comfort-orientated.
Bianchi has, however, always featured a racing edge to its endurance machines. It’s the same here. My model isn’t your typical 59cm machine. For a start its 575mm top tube is more akin to a 58cm bike and the 195mm head tube is short for such a big bike.
Then there’s the stack – a shallow 600mm – and the 391mm reach is longer than most. The 72.5-degree head and 73-degree seat angles are race-ready, too.
Bike of the Year 2020
The Bianchi Infinito XE Ultegra is part of our annual Bike of the Year test.
Head to our Bike of the Year hub for the full list of winners, categories and shortlisted bikes, as well as the latest reviews – or read our behind-the-scenes feature on how we tested Bike of the Year 2020.
It’s not as slammed as an Oltre XR4 for instance (that has a very low 575mm stack and 398mm reach) but its firmly in the fast-sporty world for sure.
Road feel is solid with no detection of flex through the bottom bracket or large, tapered head tube. Impressive stuff.
The wheel package sits in the middleweight camp. The 28c Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres are supple but a little nervy on slippery leaf-strewn roads, and they just don’t have the same zip to them as Vittoria’s higher-level tyres.
The Fulcrum Racing 900 series wheels aren’t available aftermarket – they’re a special for Bianchi. Their alloy-rim design is based around Fulcrum’s new profile that favours wider-tyre options. With the frameset able to handle tyres up to 32mm, there’s plenty of room for experimentation.
The rims are a two-way fit so that means tubeless compatibility, but the Vittorias aren’t tubeless themselves.
Shimano Ultegra with an 11-30 cassette… David Caudery / Immediate Media
Bianchi’s chosen the classic sportive combo of 50/34 compact chainset and 11-30 cassette, providing ample bandwidth to crest the most challenging of climbs.
The 9kg weight isn’t the lightest around, but the 1,100g frame and 420g fork are svelte enough to carry a smattering of lighter upgrades down the line; that said, the XE’s combination of sporty geometry and superb Ultegra drivetrain makes for a highly responsive number.
… and 50/34 compact chainset. David Caudery / Immediate Media
In fact, the handling’s so good it arguably compensates for specification shortcomings, namely the combination of alloy post and Selle Royal SR Asphalt GF saddle.
The post is simple and stiff, while the saddle’s an odd mix of firm hull (compounded by the post) and thick, squishy padding. The result is a squirming, rather than planted, position on the saddle.
Saddle comfort is of course personal, but I’d recommend upgrading the Selle Royal SR Asphalt GF fitted here. David Caudery / Immediate Media
On the positive, I appreciate the aero-styling of the head tube and headset that mimic those seen in Bianchi’s Oltre range, while Bianchi’s own-brand bar – well, built in collaboration with FSA – offers a shape to suit all hand shapes and that clears your wrists when in the drops.
It’s clear that the Infinito copes admirably with long days in the saddle… despite the saddle itself, which is a sore point. A saddle upgrade is a must but that doesn’t detract from the Infinito XE’s many virtues.
Overall, the combination of endurance-biased position and racy handling makes the Infinito XE a great option for riders who are looking to absorb their surroundings, but can also crank up the watts when needed.
Bianchi Infinito XE Ultegra geometry
Sizes (* tested): 47, 50, 53, 55, 57, 59*, 61cm
Seat angle: 73 degrees
Head angle: 72.5 degrees
Seat tube: 54cm
Top tube: 57.5cm
Head tube: 19.5cm
Bottom bracket drop: 6.8cm
With thanks to…
BikeRadar would like to thank 100%, Q36.5, Lazer, Garmin and Facom for their support during our Bike of the Year test.