In a break from tradition, our test specimen of Bianchi’s Intrepida endurance bike forgoes the Italian marque’s recognisable ‘celeste’ paint job for a bold yet understated battleship-grey and green colour combo. We can’t help feeling it’s a change for the worse, though fortunately a version in celeste and black is also available. Phew.
The Intrepida sits within Bianchi’s endurance range, but it’s far from being your typical long-distance cruiser. Yes, it’s 35mm taller at the head tube than the race-orientated Specialissima, but the Intrepida’s top-tube is actually 5mm longer.
Ultegra dominates, but the crankset is a non-series affair: ultegra dominates, but the crankset is a non-series affair Immediate Media
Ultegra dominates, but the crankset is a non-series affair
This means it’s a confident cruiser if you’re sitting up on the tops or hoods, but get into the hook of the compact drops and it feels like a capable race machine.
Its frameset is an evolution of Bianchi’s previous-generation C2C endurance series, and takes most of its design cues from the Sempre. The low-slung frame combines straight tube shapes with heavily sculpted joints.
The ridged down-tube flows out from the substantial head-tube, which envelops a straight-bladed full carbon fork. The big bottom bracket shell flows into oversized ovalised chainstays, with the seatstays having a similar ovalised-to-flattened profile.
It’s smooth lines and full internal cable routing for bianchi’s new intrepida: it’s smooth lines and full internal cable routing for bianchi’s new intrepida Immediate Media
It’s smooth lines and full internal cable routing for Bianchi’s new Intrepida
The ride combines a certain degree of firmness with just enough compliance to even out rougher roads. It’s a welcome trick for Bianchi to accomplish, and an area in which it excels.
Well-considered kit list
Shimano dominates the spec sheet, with a mix of Ultegra gearing (albeit with a non-series RS500 chainset) and the basic, but solid and dependable RS10 wheelset. The combination works well, pairing Ultegra’s smooth and reliable shifts with wheels that do everything you’d expect of them.
The deviation from Shimano comes in the form of brakes from Reparto Corse – Bianchi’s in-house component brand. Own-brand brakes often set our alarm bells ringing, but in this case they’re a welcome addition. The design is the familiar previous-generation FSA type; their substantial pivots provide a very positive brake feel and they have high-quality pads.
Bianchi’s new intrepida is every inch the italian gran fondo machine: bianchi’s new intrepida is every inch the italian gran fondo machine
Bianchi’s new Intrepida is every inch the Italian gran fondo machine
It’s a well-thought-out spec that translates to how the bike handles. The steering is positive and direct, and this surefooted handling is enhanced by the 25mm Vittoria tyres. Their slick tread impressed in wet and dry conditions and our only ‘moment’ came on a particularly damp and greasy corner that had probably seen a little extra lubrication in the recent past.
Launching the Intrepida uphill is a positive experience. The solid front end welcomes out-of-the-saddle bar-swinging shifts, while on prolonged climbs you can settle into the comfortable San Marco saddle and use the extra height afforded by riding on the hoods to spin over the top of any rise.
The Intrepida, much like the Wilier Triestina GTR we tested at the same time, is an Italian gran fondo machine to the core – in other words it’s a little more aggressive than your average endurance-focused bike.
It may not appeal if riding comfort is your primary concern. But if you like your endurance spiced up by some handling thrills, this all-new Bianchi is well worthy of your attention.