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RCUK100 - Bianchi Specialissima road bike

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Bianchi Specialissima

Italian legends pair super-light frame with comfort-enhancing Countervail

Bianchi have been making beautiful bikes since 1885, which makes them the worlds oldest bike manufacturer still in existence.

From the crowned eagle crest to their iconic celeste colour, Bianchi’s bikes have been indelibly linked to cycling since Edoardo Bianchi set up his first shop on Milan’s Via Nirone 130 years ago.

Fausto Coppi, Felice Gimondi and Marco Pantani are just some of the iconic Italian riders to have found success aboard a Bianchi over the years, and they still feature in the WorldTour peloton with LottoNL-Jumbo.

The Specialissima is the climber’s bike in the range, but in reality offers far more than your average lightweight frameset

Having pioneered the use of equal sizes wheels clad in pneumatic rubber tyres early on, Bianchi’s innovation shows no signs of slowing with age as they’re still producing amazing machines today, the latest of those being this, the wonderful Specialissima.

Launched last June, the Specialissima combines a super light frame with the vibration dampening Countervail technology first seen in their Infinito CV classics bike. Sitting alongside that Infinito and the aero Oltre range, the Specialissima is the climber’s bike in the range, but in reality offers far more than your average lightweight frameset.

RCUK100 - Bianchi Specialissima road bike
RCUK100 - Bianchi Specialissima road bike
RCUK100 - Bianchi Specialissima road bike
http://www.bianchi.com/uk/bikes/bikes_detail.aspx?rangeIDMaster=277647&categoryIDMaster=277653&bikeIDMaster=277676

Bianchi have dedicated plenty of time and effort into the development of the Specialissima, and that’s reflected in just how well the bike descends. It’s not good going downhill for a super light bike, it’s good going downhill full stop

Countervail is a patented viscoelastic material, inserted into the carbon layers in the bike’s frame in order to cancel out road vibration and make for a more comfortable, better handling ride.

It was developed in conjunction with the Materials Sciences Corporation and tested in NASA operations. Bianchi have cut no corners in developing the technology, which they insist trumps similar ideas from competitors like Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler because it’s a change in material rather than a mechanical alteration.

The unique fibre architecture of the Countervail material cancels up to 80 per cent of the vibrations coming through the frame from the road and it’s been tested at the highest level with Sep Vanmarcke having ridden the Infinito CV to multiple top-ten finishes in cobbled Classics, and Lars Boom winning a sodden, cobbled stage five of the 2014 Tour de France aboard the same machine.

The basis for the Specialissima is a 780g frame and a 340g fork, making it one of the lightest framesets on the market, but the real treat is in how handy the bike is when the road starts to descend as increased rigidity at the head tube and the Countervail tech combine to make for an impressively smooth handling bike. It is worth noting, though, that the 780g frame weight is for a 55cm model in black as the celeste paint job adds a little more weight.

They haven’t just used tech from the Infinito either, the head tube on the Specialissima is based on the Aquila CV time trial bike as a slight nod to aero concerns on an otherwise mountain-focused ride.

If you look closely, you can see the head tube comes to a very gentle point, rather than being a purely rounded tube, and the fork is integrated as well to make the front of the bike at least marginally more aerodynamic.

RCUK100 - Bianchi Specialissima road bike
RCUK100 - Bianchi Specialissima road bike
RCUK100 - Bianchi Specialissima road bike

Bianchi have dedicated plenty of time and effort into the development of the Specialissima, and that’s reflected in just how well the bike descends. It’s not good going downhill for a super light bike, it’s good going downhill full stop.

The bike is built for racing – as Robert Gesink’s 6th place in last year’s Tour while riding it proves – and the low, long geometry leaves you stretched out and ready to ride. That position needs sure handling and incredible descending skills and the Bianchi doesn’t disappoint.

Another new feature for Bianchi is the Tavalozza option. Tavalozza is Italian for artists’ palette, and is the name the company have chosen for their custom colour programme. There are a huge range of colours on offer, and thousands of different combinations so you wont be short of choices.

As for spec, Italian quality meets Italian quality all over the Specialissma, as the top specced model features a Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset, Bora Ultra 35 tubular wheels and Vittoria Corsa CX tubs. That’s paired wth FSA K-Force finishing kit and a Selle San Marco Aspide Superleggera saddle, but that sort of quality doesn’t come cheap and the top build has a £9,900 price tag.

The one we have here is built with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 which will save you £1,000 over the Super Record EPS build, but for purists who fancy mechanical shifting there are also a Super Record (£7,900) and Dura-Ace (£7,000) builds with the latter being the cheapest full Specialissima build that Bianchi offer. If you fancy building one yourself, though, Bianchi offer it frameset only for £3,450.

It’s far from cheap, but any bike this good would come with an eye-watering price tag. If you want the best you have to be prepared to pay for it.

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