Review: 2014 Bianchi Infinito CV
It is no secret that I am a fan of RAGBRAI. Hell just look at the BUTTCRACK Blog and you will see more posts dedicated to the Iowan classic than you can shake a stick at. Hell it is not only a ride, it’s a party! If you are in the market for a bike, you have the opportunity to ride several demo bikes for extended distances. Specialized, Jamis, Trek and Bianchi with their latest and greatest bikes. All you have to do is hand over an ID, credit card and fill out some forms to get a demo for the day. A whole day on a test ride? That is spectacular! They then transport your ride to the next overnight town. It seems that everyone else knows this little secret. It can be difficult to get the ride you are after. Persistence pays off, but be sure to start early. Most of the Demo bike exhibitors leave about half way through RAGBRAI. I had planned on riding and reviewing several demo bikes. Unfortunately I was only able to snag one, the 2014 Bianchi Infinito CV.
I rode the 2014 Bianchi Infinito CV from Forest City to Mason City. It was a short day, but long enough to experience the character of the Bianchi. Check out the details of the day’s ride here:
As far as I am concerned it should be law that all Bianchis feature that gawd awful blue green color. It just does not say Bianchi if it is red or yellow. My demo was not entirely Bianchi blue, but it did thankfully feature the color prominently along with the obligatory gray black that is the calling card of carbon frames. The dull dreary color that is sucking the life out of the bicycle industry. Oops pardon my tangent. I am her to talk about the ride.
The first thing that was apparent riding the 2014 Bianchi Infinito CV was how light it was. A bike’s weight may not make that much difference for a big rider like me. But I could certainly feel it as I turned, accelerated or went up a climb. The bike just feels light and agile. The bike was equipped with Shimano Ultegra components. The last time I had ridden new Dura-Ace and Ultegra components, I was in the midst of a torrential rain storm. My experiences was deadened by the weather. This time, there would be no distraction. Shifting was direct, accurate and just plain gorgeous. The shifts are immediate, and you feel as if the you can feel the rear derailleur move through the through the brake lever. As expected, the shifts at the front derailleur are not as immediate. There is nothing like the feel of well tuned accurate shifts. I did not get from that from SRAM. Shimano’s Di2 has the smoothest, best shifts of any system, but you feel isolated from the experience.
My first experience with Shimano’s latest Ultegra brakes was also in wet horrible conditions. They chattered under heavy braking in the wet. In the dry they are quite nice. They have all the power of SRAM’s brakes with much better modulation. I found locking up the rear wheel was not an issue like it is with the SRAM stoppers. Sadly the ride from Forest City to Mason city was monotonously flat. I would have loved a few downhills to really test the brakes.
The Bianchi Infinito CV features their Countervail vibration canceling composite technology. This technology is not available on Bianchi’s lower end bikes. The frame rides nice without a lot of the hum you hear from other carbon bikes. The vibration canceling does a nice job of eating up the constant low vibration you typically experience on most any road. However, riding into Ventura, IA it was clear that the segmented Iowan roads are too much for Bianchi’s Countervail. According to the Bianchi rep, the Bianchi Infinito CV is built to be a endurance/performance bike. It is designed first and foremost to be responsive not comfortable. With this in mind, the bikes handling is aggressive. The front fork is straight and bladed. Handling was very quick and much more responsive than my old Giant OCR1, but surprisingly the bike did feel at all twitchy. I felt comfortable in the drops, which is tough for me. I also felt equally comfortable in a more casual riding position with my hand on flat portion of the bars.
I picked up about 2 mph over my previous day riding the Bianchi Infinito CV. I suspect the main reason for this was the wheels. The Bianchi came equipped with Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels. These entry level wheels from Fulcrum, feature many of the same features as their higher end wheels. They only have 20 spokes in the front and 24 in the rear. I was expecting a lot of flex, but they felt very stable. The bladed spokes and low rolling resistance explain the increase in speed. I have heard reports of wheel flexing under standing acceleration with the Fulcrum Racing 5’s. I did not experience this. Then again, I was not feeling particularly powerful the day I rode the Bianchi. There wasn’t much call for hard acceleration either.
My time with the Bianchi Infinito CV was entirely too short at only 38 miles. It was time to give up my demo far too early. However, I did learn a lot about the Bianchi Infinito CV in the time that she was mine.
I would Shimano to have competition, but they are all alone. The latest Shimano Ultegra components are like butter. They just work so well. The only thing that would make it better would be hydraulic disc brakes. Someday I will have my chance to ride a disc equipped road bike. The Bianchi Infinito CV is available with disc brakes. The Bianchi’s handling was more aggressive than what I am used to, but it still felt remarkably stable and predictable. The riding position was very comfortable considering that it is a performance/endurance bike. The frame was very stiff, but was not incredibly harsh like the Giant TCR Advanced SL-2 I demo’d at RAGBRAI last year.
I appreciate the stiff ride that the Bianchi Infinito CV provides without being harsh, but I really expected the Countervail vibration canceling composite technology to take more of the bite out of the harsh Iowa roads. Perhaps my expectatations were too high or perhaps ‘Countervail vibration canceling composite technology’ over-hypes what it actually does. Bianchi is an Italian name. The name evokes images if Italian craftsmanship, passion, tradition and beauty. Think Ferarri, Lamborghini, COlnago and Campignolo. Sadly the world no longer works that way. Bianchi’s bikes, like the vast majority of bikes are now made in Taiwan. The design is still Italian, but something may have been lost. The Bianchi Infinito CV is north of $5,000 and equipped with Shimano Ultegra components. I was impressed with the Fulcrum Racing wheels, but would expect more than an entry level wheel on a $5,000 bike. Perhaps I expect too much?
The Bianchi Infinito CV was a great bike, responsive, light and fast as you would expect from a performance/endurance bike. It also is approachable to the novice rider such as myself. It comes with great components (Shimano Ultegra). The wheels are lower end, but this may be perfect for the racer looking to use them for training. I can only wish I could add the Bianchi Infinito CV to my bike collection.