Hot off the press, and newly arrived from Italy, is the 2013 Bianchi Sempre Pro.
This striking red and black model is a visitor to these shores, but we snapped the opportunity to, err, snap it, before our UK test model arrives.
The frameset is a full carbon monocoque, with design features that Bianchi intend to shift its persona closer to the flagship Oltre race bike.
A mammoth, box section down tube is the most striking feature of the Sempre’s front triangle, and perhaps of the entire bicycle, measuring 5cm across the underside at its widest point, before broadening again to 7cm for the bottom bracket shell, one that accommodates a 386 press-fit BB.
The head tube is a similarly oversized affair, accommodating a huge 1.5 inch lower bearing, a relatively new phenomenon on carbon frames and increasingly adopted by designers manufacturing in aluminium (the Kinesis Tk3 and Cube Peloton Race to name but two).
Bianchi bill the fork as full carbon, which accurately describes the blade and steerer tube, but the drop out is aluminium; a minor detail. Unlike some of their Italian rivals, Bianchi have opted to keep the fork blades straight and simple. In keeping with the prevailing aesthetic, they’re notably broad at the top (4cm at the widest point). The performance is likely to come from the flat, aero profile and the aforementioned 1.5 inch bearing, which we hope will offer stiffness.
The chainstays are 4cm at their deepest point (at the bottom bracket shell) and subtly change shape from box section to rounded en route to the dropout. The underside of the driveside chainstay contains a small hole for electronic cabling: one of several updates to the 2013 model (it’s filled with a small rubber bung our mechanically equipped model).
Bianchi have branded the chainstays ‘ultra thin’; a description that’s difficult to improve upon. They’re entirely flat and unite in a monostay above the brake bridge.
We measured the headtube at 145mm on this 53cm frame. It’s lower than on earlier iterations, according to our man at Bianchi, and is one of several changes made to fulfill the manufacturer’s vision of the Sempre Pro as a “baby Oltre”.
The 53cm model has a 74 degree seat tube angle and 71.5 degree head angle; identical to the Oltre at the seat tube, and only a fraction more shallow in the head angle (72 degrees for the Oltre). Machines of similar build and intent to have passed through the gates of RCUK Towers this year had slightly more aggressive angles. The Lapierre Xelius 400, for example, came with parallel 73 degree angles.
In short, the geometry is intriguing; not quite a low slung, fast twitch race bike, neither an upright machine of the type sold to the so-called sportive market. Will the Sempre Pro offer the best of both worlds? We’re looking forward to finding out.
The Bianchi Sempre Pro is available in seven sizes, from 47cm to 61cm, in five configurations for the UK – Campagnolo Veloce or Athena, and Shimano 105, Ultegra, or Ultegra Di2 – in a price range from £2,000 to £3,900.
We’ll be taking delivery of our Sempre Pro test model in the weeks ahead. Check back for a full review.