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Bianchi Intrepida review

22 Dec 2016
Verdict:

A well-equipped Italian that's ideal for long rides

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,700
For 
Comfortable geometry; decent handling
Against 
Sluggish wheels

Bianchi’s Intrepida is a more affordable carbon-fibre endurance bike for those of us not well-heeled enough to buy into the famous Italian brand’s ‘Intenso’ range.

Its geometry is designed with all-day rides in mind, and the build features a smattering of Shimano Ultegra parts, as well as mid-level groupset components, to keep the package affordable.

In a break with tradition this beauty forgoes Bianchi’s iconic ‘celeste’ bluey-green/greeny-blue paint job in favour of a more rugged yet understated battleship grey.

Frameset

Bianchi’s carbon monocoque frame (it’s a one-piece construction) uses classic endurance bike geometry.

A tapered head tube measured at 154mm isn’t particularly tall for a 51cm frame size, and there are a further 35mm of spacers available on the steerer to stack above or below the stem.

An oversized hexagonal-profile down tube extends from the head tube to meet a beefed up bottom bracket area before extending rearwards into some seriously braced chainstays providing a solid platform from which to get power down.

Narrow seatstays flow into the seat tube, joining the frame via a carbon-fibre bridge to provide damping. A barrel adjuster for the rear mech is a useful addition to the front end, allowing on-the-fly adjustments to how your gears mesh.

Groupset

While the headline feature of the Intrepida’s groupset is its Ultegra shifters, the only other component from Shimano’s second-tier groupset is the rear derailleur.

A Shimano 105 chain, front mech and 11-28 cassett e combine with a non-series Shimano chainset to form the drive chain.

Its 50/34 compact set-up is decidedly sportive-friendly, and matched to the 11-28 spread of ratios on the 11-speed Shimano 105 cassette should help even the most tired rider get up a hill.

The brakes are badged as Reparto Corse and their fuss-free single-pivot operation makes them very easy to set up and adjust.

Finishing kit

Reparto Corse finishing kit is also used for the compact-drop alloy handlebars and stem, while a well-padded Selle San Marco Era Start saddle sits atop the alloy seatpost.

Interestingly, the seatpost itself is a 31.6mm diameter component, which, unless it’s made from carbon, we wouldn’t normally expect to provide as vibe-free a ride as something like the Genesis Zero’s 27.2mm component.

Wheels

The Bianchi rolls on Shimano’s own RS010 alloy clinchers – by no means a performance wheel, but reliable enough – and undoubtedly used here to keep the price down.

That said, they should survive years of abuse. Vittoria’s Zaffiro Pro Slick rubber, in the now everyday 25c size, takes care of road holding. 

The ride

The Intrepida is clearly a well thought-out package, offering a ridiculously good fit straight off the bat.

As the miles fly by, our confidence in its comfort doesn’t budge – it remains well balanced in its handling, and cosseting at our body’s contact points with the bike.

It’s soon apparent that it’s not a super-quick, rapid-handling race bike, rather that it’s built for the long-haul, and early signs are that it’s got that nailed.

The overriding sensation is one of surprising stiffness, which is kept just the right side of harsh on rough road surfaces by running the tyres with 85psi.

The chainset is strong (if adding a little to the overall weight), and works well with a traditional threaded bottom bracket.

The bike’s chunky chainstays provide a feeling of direct connection with the road. However, the handlebars are a little unyielding, which means long distances on very pitted tarmac can be fatiguing. The seatpost, too, suffers for its thickness.

What this does translate to, however, is a package that isn’t afraid to climb, and which allows you to put everything you have into ascending. Gear ratios are spot-on for the type of terrain this bike is likely to see, however.

But the unescapable fact with this otherwise solid endurance offering is its substantial rotational mass.

We weighed the RS010 wheels at 2,496g, without tyres and quick-release skewers. This goes a long way to explaining their slowness to spin up when you fancy a sprint.

A wheel upgrade would reward you with better acceleration and climbing ability.

The Intrepida’s easy-going geometry makes it easy to get into a comfortable position on a long ride.

And once on the move, corners are taken with confidence, if not with a marked difference in steering quickness.

The Bianchi’s measured head angle of 70.3° is so relaxed it’s pretty much got its feet up, which has the effect of slowing the steering a little.

It’s most noticeable when attacking downhill corners, affecting the bike’s flickability.

The Reparto Corse-branded brakes work well, while all the bike’s durable groupset components operate slickly.

If you’re planning some century rides for the spring, you won’t go wrong with the Intrepida. And if, by the summer, your fitness exceeds the wheels’ capabilities, a modest outlay on new ones will get you even more from it.

RATINGS

Frame: Easy-going geometry is built for comfort. 9/10 
Components: A decent mix of Ultegra, 105 and Reparto Corse. 7/10 
Wheels: The Shimano RS010s are ripe for an upgrade. 7/10 
The ride: Handles well, built for comfort rather than speed. 8/10 

Verdict: A sensitively equipped Italian that's perfect for any long-haul rides you might have planned for 2017.  

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 535mm 535mm
Seat Tube (ST) 480mm 483mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 610mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 372mm
Head Tube (HT) 155mm 154mm
Head Angle (HA) 71 degrees 70.3 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 degrees 73 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) N/A 987mm
BB drop (BB) N/A 70mm

Spec

Bianchi Intrepida
Frame Intrepida carbon frame and fork, 1.5in steerer
Groupset Shimano Ultegra
Brakes Reparto Corse RC-471
Chainset Shimano FC-RS500-L, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars Reparto Corse compact, 6061 alloy
Stem Reparto Corse, 6061 alloy
Seatpost Reparto Corse compact, 6061 alloy, 31.6mm
Wheels Shimano RS010-CL, Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 25mm
Saddle Selle San Marco Era Start
Weight 8.28kg (51cm)
Contact bianchi.com

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