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Bianchi Aria review

7 Oct 2018
Verdict:

In the right circumstances, lives up to its promise of being a serious road rocket

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£3,350

As we’ve come to expect of any bike built with aerodynamic efficiency at its heart, Bianchi says the Aria is the product of wind tunnel testing, and feedback from the Italian firm’s sponsored pro riders.

It has pitched the bike at racers and even triathletes, claiming its aggressive geometry is ideal for both activities.

Frameset

The Aria’s disc-specific carbon frame is typically ‘aero’, with a flat top tube tapering towards its rear, a bladed down tube, and an aero-profile seat tube with cut-out to accommodate the rear wheel, as well as to keep the overall dimensions of the frame as compact as possible.

Buy the Bianchi Aria from Tredz Bikes

The frame is compatible with both mechanical and electronic groupsets, and all the cables are internally routed, even the front brake cable, which exits the left-hand fork leg just above the calliper.

The aero fork design and curved seatstays are inspired by Bianchi’s own Aquila TT/triathlon bike’s tubes, and deep-section chainstays create a solid platform for maximum power transfer.

As with all aero road bikes, the rear frame triangle is particularly compact to lessen pedalling losses.

Both the front and rear wheels are secured by way of thru-axles, for flex-free performance and pin-perfect steering accuracy.

A measured head angle of 71.8 degrees isn’t the sharp angle you might expect of a bike built for racing, but a seat angle of 73.9 degrees helps to position the rider over the front of the bike for an aero position.

This aero position is something easily assumed thanks to 45mm of spacers provided to move the stem even lower at the front.

Groupset

Gearing on the Aria is taken care of by a 52/36, mid-compact Campag Potenza chainset, but the 11-29 cassette is from Campag’s lower-end Centaur kit.

It’s a bit like putting a 105 cassette on an Ultegra build, and a commonplace way of keeping costs down.

A KMC 11-speed chain connects them. Potenza shifters and brake levers combine with the hydraulic disc brakes.

Finishing kit

There’s a touch of class in the finishing kit at the rear of the bike – the Bianchi’s carbon-bladed seatpost, height-adjustable by a cam accessed via the top tube, is wearing a supremely comfortable and supportive Selle San Marco Monza Dynamic saddle.

Its accent colour is matched to Bianchi’s trademark ‘celeste’, which appeals hugely (never underestimate the power of matching collars and cuffs).

Compact drop, own-brand alloy handlebars are 400mm in width – spot-on for our 53 frame size – and are secured to the steerer by a 100mm alloy stem.

Wheels

Fulcrum’s Racing 6 disc-specific wheelset is an able assistant for training, and well matched by the 28c Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres fitted to our test bike.

These are good enough for most training applications – grippy enough, with long life and puncture resistance – but for racing, we’d swap them for 25c Vittoria Corsa rubber.

The ride – first impression

Here’s a fact – nothing feels like it’s cutting through the air with maximum efficiency when you’re grinding the cranks into a block headwind.

That’s how our debut ride on the Bianchi started, but thankfully didn’t define all of the time we spent on it, and our next observation was that this bike clearly demonstrates that the days of sacrificing comfort for aero are long gone.  

On the road

The compact nature of the Aria’s frame lend it the feeling of a crouching tiger on the move – it’s easy to ride on the hoods just tapping out the miles.

However, when the road turns, and with it the wind direction, Bianchi’s aero missile shows its hand.

Not only is it largely unaffected by gusting crosswinds, it’s also a dream to ride hard.

One push of the long-throw paddle on the left-hand Campag shifter pushes the front mech across to select the 52-tooth biggest chainring, while quick-fire shifts towards the 11-tooth cog on the cassette are easily slotted home with the right-hand thumb-shifter.

If you’re used to Shimano, it’ll take a little recalibration of the brain, but once you’re dialled in, the Aria holds its speed over rolling roads.

The days of unyielding aero bikes are consigned to the history books, the Bianchi’s carbon seatmast transmitting little road buzz to the chamois, with little fatigue felt over our test route.

The mechanical nature of gear selection does require precise timing on hills, however, with some clunky cog-swapping provoking some winces.

Handling

Again, the compact frameset means flickability isn’t in short supply.

Quick changes of direction are ably accommodated by a nudge on the inside of the bars, while the punchy performance of the Bianchi positively demands you get out of the saddle to sprint between corners on quiet country roads.

A measured head angle of 71.8 degrees means the bike doesn’t feel unnecessarily flighty, which fills you with confidence, especially on more technical downhill stretches of tarmac.

Buy the Bianchi Aria from Tredz Bikes

Even on cracked and crumbled B-roads, the 28c Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick rubber grips when you think it shouldn’t and rolls over minor road imperfections with aplomb.

Would we race the Aria? That depends on the course… it weighs in at a not unsubstantial 8.38kg, and while its tiny rear frame triangle makes uphill blasts easier than you’d expect, for longer climbs we’d take a bike with a kilo less bulk over one with aero design.

For crits and the like, if you want the classiest looking bike on the grid – and have the talent to back it up – we wouldn’t hesitate.

RATINGS

Frame: Proves that aero needn't mean uncomfortable. 9/10 
Components: Well-chosen finishing kit to match Potenza groupset. 8/10 
Wheels: Good for all-round training duties, with decent tyres. 8/10 
The ride: A bike that positively begs to be ridden hard and fast. 8/10 

Verdict: In the right circumstances, Bianchi’s Aria lives up to its promise of being a serious road rocket.  

Buy the Bianchi Aria from Tredz Bikes

Geometry

                                     
Top Tube (TT) 535mm
Seat Tube (ST) 500mm
Stack (S) 525mm
Reach (R) 385mm
Chainstays (C) 406mm
Head Angle (HA) 71.8 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73.9 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 986mm
BB drop (BB) 69mm

Spec

Bianchi Aria
Frame Aria Disc carbon frame, Bianchi carbon disc forks
Groupset Campagnolo Potenza
Brakes Campagnolo hydraulic discs
Chainset Campagnolo Potenza, 52/36
Cassette Campagnolo Centaur, 11-29
Bars Bianchi Reparto Corse, alloy
Stem Reparto Corse, alloy
Seatpost Bianchi Aero, alloy
Wheels Fulcrum Racing 618 Disc, Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700 x 28c tyres
Saddle Selle San Marco Monza Dynamic
Weight 8.38kg (53cm)
Contact bianchi.com/uk

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