With this year’s Tour de France again sending the peloton across the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, the Belkin team will set aside their usual Oltre XR2 race machines and tackle this stage on the Infinito CV.
This innovative bike was designed as a rough-road race machine that gives nothing away to its purist smooth-road cousin. The key is Countervail (CV), a structural viscoelastic carbon layer embedded between carbon layers at critical areas of the frame and fork. It isn’t an additional material, but a cleverly woven pattern of fibres that promotes shear (basically, miniscule deformations engineered in to prevent road vibrations reaching the rider). The frame is no more flexible because of it, it’s actually stiffer at the bottom bracket and stronger, but it is more comfortable.
Outwardly, the Infinito CV looks like a top-end road rocket, and it is, with ample responsiveness, handling and raw speed. There are no active engineering solutions that might sap power transfer, it’s just blisteringly fast, and very smooth. On the average UK road, the Bianchi is like riding marshmallows over velvet. Yes, you will feel big hits, as only suspension will smooth those out, but the vibration is cancelled faster than usual (about 60 per cent faster, says Bianchi). This means no road buzz, greater bike control, reduced muscle fatigue, and energy savings.
The CV’s cleverly woven carbon keeps road buzz at bay
We took our Infinito CV on rides encompassing technical corners, steep climbs and descents, potholed gravel tracks and even a hilly time trial. Shimano's Dura-Ace drivetrain is diluted with Ultegra brake calipers and cassette, and an FSA SL-K Light chainset, whose 30mm axle makes up for its chainrings, which aren’t as stiff as Dura-Ace. Vision’s excellent Metron 40 carbon tubular wheels have a light, wide section rim, proven at the top level, and are fitted with 25mm Veloflex Arenberg tubulars, together giving superb traction and stability on every surface, agile handling and relentless speed.
Stability matters as much to a pro tearing through the Arenberg Forest as to an amateur battling the terrain, traffic and weather, and with a more relaxed 72-degree head angle and extended wheelbase, the Infinito always feels totally planted, unswayed by crosswinds or seemingly unsuitable surfaces. Wet weather braking is remarkably consistent too, with no perceptible reduction in force or feel from the calipers. It is testament to both the effectiveness of the CV material and the bike’s rough stuff credentials that the oversized 34.6mm seatpost doesn’t decrease comfort while adding strength.
Fizik’s well padded Aliante S saddle has a supportive shape, ideal for high-power seated efforts, and the endurance-style geometry of the CV provided a 17cm head tube, removing the need for spacers, for a clean look and stiffer front end.
In many ways the Infinito CV is the least specific of the recent crop of bump-crushing rapid road bikes. It’s as fast as almost anything out there, with a negligible weight penalty, and the cumulative effect of that passive inbuilt CV layer will keep paying off, ride after ride.