The finish of the Bianchi Sempre is quite beautiful, drawing admiring comments from friends who aren’t usually interested in bikes. The mostly celeste (turquoise) painted frame is interspersed with white and a clear coated carbon, and continues the theme to the Bianchi carbon seatpost, saddle and brake hoods.
Highs: The Sempre’s looks hide a sweet handling, well-balanced frame, perfectly matched by the Campagnolo Veloce groupset
Lows: The Reparto Corse wheels are sluggish and overall weight is relatively high
Buy if: You’re a strong rider who wants a frameset with great potential
Unlike Bianchi’s curvy C2C range, the Sempre’s B4P (Born For Performance) design has a straight-tubed monocoque frame and straight fork. At its heart is a BB30 bottom bracket, solidly braced by the down tube, which is triangular at the head tube, morphing into a flared oval shape to meet the BB shell. The heavily built head tube on our 57cm bike was 16cm long, allowing scope for a low position or something more relaxed without too many spacers.
Bianchi fit a shallow-drop semi-ergo handlebar with long hook sections that offer plenty of comfortable hand positions. Still a superbly ergonomic shape, the celeste-covered Campagnolo Veloce levers reward you with light and slick gear changes, and positive lever feel. The bar, stem and 24-spoke wheels all come from Bianchi’s in-house Reparto Corse range.
The wheels use large flange hubs laced with Sapim spokes in groups of four to Maddux RX5.1 Lite rims, but unfortunately they’re quite sluggish, and introduce too much weight and flex to really push on. When stationary the FSA brake callipers flex noticeably but on the bike they aren’t short of power, their softer feel aiding modulation. FSA also provide their excellent BB30 compatible compact Gossamer chainset.
Steering initially feels quite lazy, but it’s stable and confidence-inducing when descending, letting you carry greater downhill speed. The sure-footed Sempre frame is a gem, but it’s deadened in this incarnation by spongy wheels which don’t enjoy carving through turns as much as the frame.
The ride is firm, and would suit a strong rider who’s willing to add some more robust wheels – less attacking than Francesco Totti, more a safe pair of hands like Gianluigi Buffon. Even on a ride when we got lost, the Sempre was a fine place to be, but under pressure, the Italian showed some weaknesses.
Bianchi sempre: BikeRadar
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.