Bianchi’s Zurigo is named after the venue of the 1967 World Cyclo-cross Championships, held in Zurich and won by Renato Longo on a Bianchi. It’s part of Bianchi’s D2 range, which are designed for specific racing duties. In this case, not surprisingly, that's cyclocross, which is why this relatively inexpensive (in racing terms) ’crosser still has UCI approval.
The frame is beautifully finished, the milky-matt celeste paint job giving the bike an air of expense beyond its entry-level spec. The top tube of the hydroformed triple-butted alloy frame is diamond-shaped where it meets the head tube for added strength, morphing into a flat section towards its rear for more comfortable shouldering. The cabling runs along the top of the tube for the same reason.
The steepish 73.5-degree head angle contrasts with the 72-degree seat angle. The disc-specific carbon fork tracks superbly over rocky surfaces, and shares the frame's 38mm clearance, though the frame has braces on the seat- and chainstays, which on a boggy section of our test route did pack a little.
The Kenda Kwicker tyres preferred harder surfaces, and tended to clog up with mud when the going got stickier
The bike feels great when it’s doing the job it was intended for – hammering quickly across rough surfaces. The steering is stable, and low-speed balance and manoeuvring is a doddle. The Kenda treads favour hard-packed dirt, gravel and drier surfaces. In claggy mud they load up with sludge, doubling in width and presenting little in the way of grip.
Unlike most UCI-approved frames the Zurigo has mudguard eyes and rear rack bosses. Add in two bottle bosses and it’s more all-rounder than racer, which is reflected in the non-cyclocross 50/34 chainset and 12-30 cassette. The shifting is what we’d expect of Shimano’s Tiagra – positive and accurate, if not that rapid.
The cyclocross-friendly cabling is routed along the top of the top tube
The only downsides are the lever units. The large gear window at the lever top unbalances them a little so when you’re descending down a fast, rocky descent they open and close under vibration of their own accord with a rhythmic clunking. The Hayes CX brakes are bulky, but thanks to a strong spring the action is good if lacking in all-out power.
The Zurigo has a good chassis, though its basic build does it few favours and contributes to its 10.3kg weight – but we love the stable handling and the way it covers ground at speed off road. With a few upgrades it’d be truly raceworthy, and even as it stands it’s still a slice of serious fun, just a little hefty.