Bianchi Sempre Pro Ultegra review£2,350.00

A cultured all-rounder from the oldest bike brand in the world

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Bianchi has been making bikes for 130 years, and has always retained a sense of traditional values and detailing that the Sempre Pro translates into a classy but not dazzling ride.

    When we say traditional values we’re not just talking about the frame’s Celeste livery; we’re talking about aspects such as the seven sizes of frame the Sempre Pro is available in, rather than the increasing tendency to use approximate T-shirt sizing to simplify manufacture. As well as being an accurate frame fit, the Bianchi’s longer than average 11cm stem creates classically balanced rather than twitchy, needy steering.

    The bianchi has loads of heritage, but this is a modern carbon machine complete with internal cabling: the bianchi has loads of heritage, but this is a modern carbon machine complete with internal cabling
    The bianchi has loads of heritage, but this is a modern carbon machine complete with internal cabling: the bianchi has loads of heritage, but this is a modern carbon machine complete with internal cabling

    The Bianchi has loads of heritage, but this is a modern carbon machine complete with internal cabling

    The tapered head tube and stout tapered fork also stay solid whether you’re knee-down in a sweeping corner or wrenching a gear round at stalling speed on a steep climb. This means even with Vittoria tyres that definitely prefer dry roads, the Sempre always inspires confidence.

    Gradual tube curves and tapers also screen out a reasonable amount of the chatter that can kill rhythm on rough sections and numb contact points, back and shoulders on long days out. While they’re not light, the Fulcrum wheels and 25mm tyres also smooth out the rough and sustain your speed. This all adds up to a bike that’s as smooth and classy as it looks and one we’ve enjoyed using as a benchmark comparison bike when testing on technical, twisting roads in the north of England.

    The sempre pro ultegra comes with an fsa chainset that doesn’t quite match shimano’s ultegra for performance: the sempre pro ultegra comes with an fsa chainset that doesn’t quite match shimano’s ultegra for performance
    The sempre pro ultegra comes with an fsa chainset that doesn’t quite match shimano’s ultegra for performance: the sempre pro ultegra comes with an fsa chainset that doesn’t quite match shimano’s ultegra for performance

    The Sempre Pro Ultegra comes with an FSA chainset that doesn’t quite match Shimano’s Ultegra for performance

    However, while the riding position and accurate front end back up the ‘B4P’ (Born For Performance) tag that Bianchi gives it, the ride rarely felt racy. Part of that is due to the equipment. Despite being tagged as an Ultegra spec (Campagnolo Athena and Veloce are also options), the brakes and BB30 chainset are FSA and neither feel as solid or powerful as the Ultegra equivalents. The wheels are a smooth rather than snappy choice too, meaning the Bianchi always rode with a warm glow rather than properly catching fire when we kicked the cranks hard. There’s also no escaping the fact you can get lighter, more responsive and/or better equipped bikes for the same money or less.

    In the same way that not everyone wants a soft pedalling sportive bike, not everyone who wants a race-style feel and position wants the snarling, snap, crackle and pop to go with it. If that sounds like you, and you want to connect confidently to the roads with a sense of Italian class and history, then the Sempre Pro is ideal.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

    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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