The Oltre – Italian for ‘beyond’ – is Bergamo-based Bianchi’s latest superbike to top their HOC racing bike range. As such, it’s designed as a no-compromise, ﬂat-out fast race machine. No quarter has been given, according to Bianchi, to make this sportive-friendly or comfort-biased, so we were expecting a razor sharp, uncompromisingly stiff super-speed machine. We were half right.
The ﬁrst thing we noticed about the Oltre was the lack of mass: at under 14lb this is a seriously light machine, and that’s most evident when you’re in the saddle. The combination of the sub-kilo frame and super-light DT wheelset means the Oltre responds to changes in cadence instantly and it accelerates with bullet-like ferocity.
For a chassis this light, the oversized bottom bracket area housing an FSA BB30 chainset keeps the drivetrain perfectly efﬁcient, and despite it being geared for pro level racing (53/39T chainset, 12-25 cassette), we never found ourselves using the extreme gears even on the steep inclines.
The test period for the Oltre had every aspect that the British winter can throw up: extreme rain, snow and treacherous ice, which made us nervous about using skinny 23mm tubular tyres shod to deep-section carbon wheels with a carbon brake track. But we needn’t have worried: the Vittoria Evo Corsas were surefooted in the wet, though we did have to rein the bike in a little on the ice.
What was really impressive was the combination of the carbon-speciﬁc SwissStop brake pads and DT rims. Stopping with carbon brake tracks usually lacks drama and bite, especially in the wet, but that wasn’t a problem here. In fact braking was impressive and conﬁdence inspiring.
Marketed as a superbike, the Oltre certainly handles like one: changes in direction can be made with an almost telepathic connection – to call the steering instant is almost an understatement. Under sprints the Oltre takes off like a rocket, and climbing with this little mass – especially in the wheels – is always going to be a delight.
Where the biggest surprise comes with the Oltre, though, is how it delivers its razor sharp handling and superb connection to the road with huge levels of comfort. We weren’t expecting sportive-style comfort but what the Oltre delivers isn’t that far off.
Yes, it’s plenty rigid under power but it also has the ability to damp the high frequency vibrations from rough road surfaces that can make a tough ride so much harder. The Oltre is a rare beast: super-fast, light and comfortable to boot.
The price – over £6,500 – is a huge outlay, but for that you get full Shimano Dura-Ace, a superb FSA K-Force Light carbon BB30 chainset, and DT’s R445-555 tubular 46mm deep carbon wheels – which alone would set you back £2,000.
Every bolt on the frame and the skewers are supplied by lightweight specialists Carbon-Ti, and you get a range-topping Fizik Antares carbon saddle, so you can see that you’re getting your money’s worth. It even comes with Time I-Clic pedals.
Braking was impressive and conﬁdence inspiring: braking was impressive and conﬁdence inspiringPaul Smith - www.smithpic.co.uk