Bianchi Oltre XR3 Potenza review

Pro race-inspired aero road bike from storied Milanese brand

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £3,300.00 RRP

Our review

Fast aero road bike with a high-tech frame and great looks, but only average wheels
Buy if, You want a quality aero road bike and are prepared to upgrade the wheels later
Pros: Fast ride with aero credentials and effective road-chatter-smoothing Countervail technology
Cons: Pretty modest wheels for the price and I’d like plusher bar tape
Skip to view product specifications

Bianchi bikes are presently being ridden by the LottoNL-Jumbo team, with Primož Roglič riding a Bianchi Oltre XR4 to victory in the very mountainous 19th stage of this year’s Tour de France, which is a fine achievement for an aero bike. My Bianchi Oltre XR3 test bike is the slightly snazzier and marginally more aggressive big brother to the XR4.

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At first glance, the Oltre XR3’s price looks a little on the high side for a bike with Campagnolo Potenza and modest Fulcrum 7 wheels, which are typically found on much less expensive bikes. But beneath the Bianchi’s Celeste surface lies its secret: Countervail technology.

More techy stuff from a bike company? Not quite. Bianchi is the only bicycle manufacturer to use it, but Countervail was originally developed by the American company Materials Sciences Corporation and has been used by NASA in aerospace applications, so you’d like to think it works.

The tapered head-tube is inspired by the racy XR4
The tapered head-tube is inspired by the racy XR4
Immediate Media

Bianchi’s Countervail combines carbon fibres with viscoelastic resin, to cancel “80 percent of vibrations while increasing the stiffness of its carbon frames and forks”.

The Oltre XR3 is stiff, which is evident as soon as you accelerate, with no obvious flex apparent through the tapered 1 1/8-1 1/2in fork or frame, which has deep chainstays and a massive bottom bracket shell, but this efficiency is balanced with Countervail’s comfort-boosting smoothness over rougher surfaces.

Aero credentials are evident in its head tube, seatpost and the wing-profile seat-tube with its dramatic rear wheel cutaway. In spite of this the weight, under 8kg for a largish frame, is decent, with the result that this climbs and descends very well indeed.

That CV is impressive, Bianchi’s Countervail technology providing additional comfort
That CV is impressive, Bianchi’s Countervail technology providing additional comfort
Immediate Media

It’s at its best on long rides, where the Countervail will keep you more comfortable for longer. Countervail isn’t designed for bigger bumps, and doesn’t take the sting out like Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler or Lapierre’s damper. It also means the XR3 doesn’t require the skinny seatstays many manufacturers use to quell vibrations.

The full Potenza groupset works faultlessly, with the 52/36 chainset and 11-29 cassette offering the gears you need for all but the steepest climbs.

The Reparto Corse-branded stem and bar are fine, while the carbon aero seatpost and Selle San Marco saddle combine to do an excellent job of keeping you comfortable on a very stiff frame. You can also flip the seatpost’s head clamp to adjust between 10mm and 25mm offset.

It’s at its best on long rides, where the Countervail will keep you more comfortable for longer
It’s at its best on long rides, where the Countervail will keep you more comfortable for longer
Robert Smith Photography / Immediate Media

However, the Fulcrum 7s are an entry-level wheel, and while fine, their non-aero design leaves them slightly out of place on a £3,000 aero bike. You also might want to swap the bar tape for something plusher because the Oltre’s is decidedly skimpy and slippery.

The tyres are far from budget options, with the 25mm Vittoria Rubino Pros featuring graphene for extra puncture protection and greater longevity.

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Bianchi has delivered a great-looking aero road bike. It’s fast, descends beautifully and copes with poor roads very well, but I’d like to have seen better, aero wheels.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Oltre XR3 Potenza
Brand Bianchi

Available Sizes 53cm 57cm
Rear Wheel Weight 1680
Frame size tested 57cm
Wheelbase (cm) 98.5
Top Tube (cm) 56.5
Seat Tube (cm) 49
Chainstays (cm) 41
Wheelset Fulcrum Racing 7
Weight (kg) 7.96
Trail 4.6
Stem Reparto Corse
Shifters Campagnolo Potenza
Seatpost Oltre, carbon
Seat Angle 74
Saddle Selle San Marco Concor
Rear Tyre Vittoria Rubino Pro G+, 25mm
Bottom Bracket BB86 Press-fit
Rear Derailleur Campagnolo Potenza
Headset Type FSA Orbit
Head Angle 73
Handlebar Reparto Corse Compact
Front Wheel Weight 1250
Front Tyre Vittoria Rubino Pro G+, 25mm
Front Derailleur Campagnolo Potenza
Frame Material Countervail carbon
Fork Offset 5.5
Fork Countervail carbon
Cranks Campagnolo Potenza, 52/36
Chain Campagnolo
Cassette Campagnolo 11-29
Brakes Campagnolo Potenza
All measurements for frame size tested 57cm