The Intenso is designed as an endurance bike, but that’s endurance on Bianchi’s terms, so don’t expect a tall head-tube and shortened riding position. What you get here is a head-tube only fractionally taller than a race bike, and a bike that retains all the poise and agility of a racing weapon.
- Buy if… You want a bike that’s as at home on an epic sportive as it is in the heat of a race
In previous tests we’ve always loved the ride of the Intenso, but it’s always been tempered by the level of kit you get for your money. That’s not an issue here: Shimano’s Dura-Ace rear derailleur and shifters combined with an Ultegra front derailleur and brakes produce slick shifting and great braking. Mixing and matching parts is an age-old trick in elevating the perceived worth of a bike, but having the shifters and rear derailleur from Shimano’s top group really does add cachet.
The Intenso also has above average wheels in the form of Fulcrum’s new Racing 5 LG, featuring wider rims and smooth hubs. They’re shod with Vittoria’s latest Zaffiro Pro Slicks, which feel more supple than previous versions, but although grip in the dry is excellent, on grimy, damp road surfaces it was all too easy for the rear to lose traction in corners.
The bar, stem and carbon seatpost are all Bianchi’s own Reparto Corse items, but to the trained eye it’s all rebranded FSA parts – no bad thing. The San Marco saddle has a narrow profile but is well padded, and the gloss finish makes moving from front to back easy, though in the rain it can become slippery.
The Intenso has a fine balance of speed, responsive handling and comfort, feeling stiff and surefooted on smooth roads, with a welcome compliance over rougher surfaces. The cushioning in the frame makes the Intenso completely predictable when descending at high speed – save for those Zaffiros in the wet. On dry roads you can push it to ever-greater speeds and make sharp direction changes with absolute confidence. Climbing, the bike’s middling weight is of no concern, with the compact chainset and 11-28 gearing making short work of even the most challenging ascents.
If you’re a fan of Latin flavoured bikes then the Intenso should be high up on your wish list. It has all the charms we look for in a bike, it looks great and – unusually – it’s good on value.