Bianchi’s Sempre Pro is a bit of a grower, the longer I spent aboard, the more I liked it. On the face of it, the carbon fibre frame is a mixture of older and current ideas. Most obviously, there’s a shelf behind the bottom bracket shell, leading to chainstays that are pinched where they join it, but still don’t have much clearance around the tyres.
- The Bianchi Sempre Pro is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
A monostay joins the flat, angled seatstays to the seat tube, and there’s a subtle gusset inside each of the main triangle’s tube joints. The aluminium seatpost is an unusually burly 31.6mm in diameter, but there are also neat internal cabling ports, taking the gear cables to an exit just in front of the bottom bracket shell, and grommets for electronic wires too.
Adding to the Sempre Pro’s non conformity is Campagnolo’s new Centaur groupset, the Italian contender for Shimano 105’s ubiquity crown. Following on the heels of the Ultegra-level Potenza, Centaur offers much of the same technology and promises dynamics on a par with its Record groupset, but utilising less expensive materials in construction.
From the beautifully ergonomic Ergopower shifters, with their tactile rubber hoods and twin shift lever simplicity, you could easily mistake Centaur for something more expensive, and it does have a beautifully precise shift feel with the EPS-style inner levers very easy to reach from drops or hoods.
Bianchi deviates from the complete groupset with a compact FSA Gossamer chainset, but gearing of 50/34 up front and 12-32 at the back give the Sempre Pro ample gradient conquering ability.
Campagnolo Centaur Bianchi
Bianchi Sempre Pro wheels
Playing a vital part in forward motion is the only non-Italian component on the bike. Mavic’s Aksium wheelset is simple, and well-proven to be an inexpensive but lively choice, and so they are here. Shod with Vittoria Zaffiro 25mm tyres that inflate to 26mm, the Aksiums are well matched to the Sempre Pro’s efficiency.
Great lateral stiffness gives plenty to lean on when accelerating, and there’s a nimble precision that makes line choice a cinch, and it only improves with speed. When you need to scrub that speed, the Centaur dual pivot calipers have a positive spring feel and plenty of easily modulated power from the curvy levers.
The solid Reparto Corse cockpit gives sprinting confidence, the Sempre Pro showing a useful turn of speed when provoked, and the San Marco eRa saddle is reasonably comfortable.
This and the general impact dulling ability of the bike are more impressive when considering that large diameter alloy seatpost. It’s not a magic carpet ride, but is never harsh, even over substantial bumps.
Racy Bianchi Sempre Pro
Bianchi has given the Sempre Pro a racy geometry with a relatively short 145mm head tube and short 408mm chainstays on my 55cm model. An efficient 73.5-degree seat angle and reassuring 72.5-degree head angle make for confident but surefooted handling. The overall 8.42kg weight is reasonable if not extraordinary and the same is true for the bike’s value.
While just riding the Sempre Pro is a thoroughly pleasant experience, it really wants to be pushed harder. Although you’d be hard pushed to fit more than a 25mm tyre, it’s a firm but compliant ride as specced and upgrading the seatpost would add extra comfort. With the feel of a first race bike, fast trainer or just a pretty weekend ride, the Sempre Pro has much to commend it.
Interested in what else is available at this price point? Have a look at the following list of tried, tested and reviewed bikes.