Bianchi Aria Disc 105 Two review£2,750.00

Is this classy Italian as fast as it looks?

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Opinions on a bike’s looks are personal and subjective, but the Aria got more than its fair share of complimentary cosmetic comments.

It manages to blend contemporary and classic really nicely. Subtly curved and tapered fork legs bow out around the wheel to reduce conflicting airflow, in a trick first used on the Aquila time trial bike. They then sync neatly with the teardrop base head-tube at the prow with a fork notch and curved wheel-tracking scoop in the oval-form down tube.

Separate brake and gear cable insertions behind the head tube keep control lines low and neat and the short head-tube has flat-back ride position potential.

There’s a flush-fit seat clamp for the teardrop seatpost and the upper part of the seat tube uses a smoothed diamond section before cutting away for wheel room above the broad, bulged bottom bracket.

Brake and gear cables run neatly and internally behind the head tube
Brake and gear cables run neatly and internally behind the head tube

Deep rear, rectangular chainstays end at 142x12mm dropouts with neat axle recesses for easy wheel location. Seriously muscular seatstays follow a fork-matching flared curve up to a low level junction with the seat tube. The big rear stays also hide the brake caliper sitting in the angle between them for a very clean look.

With the Ultegra bike (£3,150) unavailable when we were putting the test together, the Aria came with a Shimano 105 spec. Functionally there’s very little to tell between them, but 105 is around 300g heavier, and the 505 shifter levers have a different shape with an awkward lump under the palm.

Bianchi upgrades to brake-cooling RT81 IceTec rotors and the colour-coded Fulcrum aero wheels, which are wrapped in 28mm Vittoria tyres. The Selle San Marco saddle is colour coded too with a Bianchi logo cockpit supplied in size specific proportions.

Shimano 105 gearing worked as well as we have come to expect
Shimano 105 gearing worked as well as we have come to expect

While the reach and stem dimensions aren’t radically long on paper, the Aria feels stretched for speed. The longer shifter hoods naturally pull you further forward, which is good as the shallower hand angle makes the lumpy bits less noticeable. Add a 72.5-degree head angle and the large diameter tyres, and the Bianchi likes to take corners with grand sweeping gestures of confidence that feel fantastic at speed.

It’s stubborn and slow to correct if things go wrong or you need to tweak your line for traction or surface trauma reasons. There’s enough weight at the front to make it lurch from side to side if you come too far forwards out of the saddle too.

You’ll adjust to the handling quickly though and it suits the overall character of the bike really well. While it will get a spirited shift on if you dig the spurs in for a climb, the Aria’s natural character is a high-speed cruiser, where it performs beautifully.

The Aria will get a spirited shift on if you dig the spurs in for a climb
The Aria will get a spirited shift on if you dig the spurs in for a climb

With none of Bianchi’s vibration damping Countervail technology deployed in this affordable frame, bigger hits and sharper edges can come through with a slap and a sting. Smaller chatter and buzz is muted well by the frame and bigger tyres though, and combined with the low drag tube profiling it carries speed over flat or rolling terrain with a real flywheel feel.

Frame tubes and rims aren’t so deep that it gets sketchy when the wind turns gusty, and the Bianchi is a great, cultured feeling place to be when you’ve got a few hours to spend in the saddle and want to cover plenty of miles.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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