The classic Italian marque’s Intenso forgoes Campagnolo for a complete raft of Shimano Ultegra Di2. This model sits below Bianchi’s latest frames that feature the company’s unique and effective vibration-nulling Countervail technology. But it still has one high-tech trick up its sleeve, infusing its carbon fibre with layers of Kevlar, which is designed to reduce the amount of vibration that reaches your hands and hindquarters.
Bianchi’s long-distance machine comes with geometry that still gives it some sharpness. The very slightly shallow 72.5-degree head angle is paired with a race-standard 73-degree seat tube, and it’s only a little taller at the front and with marginally less reach than a pro-style racing machine. It’s the sort of set up that allows you to get into the drops when the mood takes you.
Coming in at over 8kg/17.6lb the Intenso is not exactly a featherweight, but it does at least carry its mass well, hustling you briskly along rolling terrain. When the road is made up of constant rollers it holds on to its speed impressively, giving you a real boost every time the road rises again. On steep ascents it always felt fantastically punchy, any short out-of-the-saddle efforts being met with a fantastic response, carrying us over the top.
The feel is both solid and compliant, which is a difficult balancing act to carry off but a real bonus on broken tarmac. On descents its smooth-rolling nature and snappy handling encourage you to pedal harder when you might otherwise be coasting on a less forgiving frame.
The wheels are Fulcrum’s mid-range Racing 5s in their slightly wider LG version. It’s a fine quality wheelset, seriously stiff, absolutely free of flex and running on smooth hubs, which in our experience have proved very durable. These are paired with 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres, which offer a lovely compliant ride and impeccable grip in the dry, suffering only the slightest slip on wet greasy surfaces.
Bianchi hasn’t departed from Shimano Ultegra on this bike, with the groupset’s excellent dual-calliper brakes complementing the always impeccable electronic shifting.
The chainset and cassette combo covers most eventualities, pairing a compact 50/34 chainset with a pretty wide-ranging 11-28 cassette. In fact it’s a very sensibly specced bike overall, but against similarly kitted out bikes like the Eastway Enitter, which costs less, and the Ribble Endurance that’s roughly the same price as the Bianchi, it does look expensive.
It goes a long way to justifying this apparent lack of value thanks to that Kevlar-infused frame that we’d put ahead of both of those two for ride quality and handling, however. It’s also worth comparing it with Bianchi’s highly rated — but more expensive — Infinito CV, as both aim to combine, comfort, control and speed. The Intenso has very similar handling and feel to the Infinito, achieving about 80 percent of the fun factor for 75 percent of the price.