Monday, August 2, 2010

2011 Bianchi Sempre overview.

Travis of Just Riding Along Bike Shop in Laytonsville, MD received some bikes from us last week. Curious about the shipment of 2011 Bianchi Sempre 105, I hopped into the E and drove over for some photo action.

Allow me back pedal a bit on how exciting this bike is for us and my dealers...or at least Travis in his case. His bikes arrived last week, my cell phone rang, it's Travis' mobile number, which he doesn't call me on often. That's because as soon as he opened the first box, his Kung Fu grip wouldn't release the bike preventing him from reaching for the shop phone. With his other hand, he grabbed his cell out of his pocket and dialed me up. 'Dude, this bike is awesome!'. That's enthusiasm!

Based on our B4P (Born for Performance) geometry, this is a bike where you can keep the stock headset spacers (30mm), flip up the stem and have near-Coast to Coast upright, seating position like a Via Nirone. For weekend racers, remove the spacers (remember to leave 10mm on top for C.Y.A. stem clamping), cut the steer tube and you have a bike that is ready for the NRC.

As the frame sizes increment from 50cm up to 61cm, the seat tube, head tube and chain stay lengths change accordingly. Many budget carbon bike companies keep cost low by keeping their head, seat tube angles and sometimes the chain stays lengths, the same dimension or only varying
+/_.5 degrees throughout the size run. This creates almost a one size fits all story and we all know that cyclists aren't the same size. By altering the geometry through the sizes, you're almost getting a custom fit without the custom price. Not to mention a better riding bicycle.

2010 Shimano 5700 groupo. This a new and improved Shimano 105 build kit. The ergos mimic the profile of the high end Dura-Ace shifters and now provide more of a flat perch for the hands rather than the curved bull horns of the outgoing design. Lever throw of the shifter is close to the previous generation equipment, with a noticeable, more communicative gear shift-click by the inside black lever. I would attribute this to a slight higher spring tension by the front and rear derailleurs. The shifter and brake housing receive the latest 'under the bar tape' treatment, cleaning up the front of the bike nicely. The control levers are angled out a bit more for ergonomics on this updated package and there's a stouter lever feel as your fingers wrap around them.

A BB30 FSA Gossamer compact crank with upgraded rings handle the gearing on the front. FSA has done a terrific job for 2011 by re-profiling their chain rings and ramping/pinning in order to facilitate faster and smoother up shifts.

The rear derailleur has been updated too. In addition to a better spring return feel at the rear shifter, the surface treatment of the derailleur is blackened with a matte 'Dura-Ace influenced' finish near the idler arm. Overall the 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace groupos are visually more cohesive for 2011.

So you need to slow down sometimes, right? Or at least scrub a bit of speed before entering that dog leg of a turn. FSA has been collaborating for years with Bianchi on the parts spec of production bikes, up to the Pro-Tour team crank, cockpit bits and now the brakes. The Sempre 105 features FSA collaborated brakes. What makes these brakes special is the two-tone brake arm coloring; branded with the FSA Gossamer logo on the rear arm, Reparto Corse Italia/celeste labeling on the front. Take notice of the pad carriers too. If you bought the same brake aftermarket, the pad would be a one piece, molded rubber pad. The one piece pads are softer and seldom provide positive brake modulation at the rim; for an experienced cyclist. The carrier style pads are easier to replace and and have a more robust feel when squeezing or feathering the brake lever.

We have new rubber for 2011. Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick. Smoother and stickier, this tire is the slimmed down version of the standard Zaffiro. The standard Zaffiro weighs in at 340 grams and the Pro is 250 grams, proving that you can shave almost a 1/2 lbs off a bike at the tires.

The Reparto Corse wheels are double butted rims by Maddux, laced with SAPIM spokes which are mated to high flange hubs with cartridge bearings. While this a 'house branded wheel set', it's obvious that using branded spokes and rims, can build upon the Italian bike philosophy that 'the sum of the parts is greater than the whole'.

Steering duties are handled by a straight blade carbon fork. The Shimano105 5700 bikes have an aluminum steer while the Ultegra 6700 and frame sets are slated to arrive in the US with a full carbon steer tube.

The Reparto Corse cockpit parts receive the White Treatment and the stem is finished off with a carbon fiber face plate. Be sure to use a Torque wrench when snugging the bolts on the face plate, stem and seat post clamp. I also recommend using a quality carbon assembly paste where needed and a Ritchey Logic Torque Key. The seat post is branded Reparto Corse with a swash of white and capped with San Marco's new, softer Ponza saddle.

The foundation of every great riding bike is the frame. The groupo, controls, and the wheel set must be in harmony and joined together by solid architecture in order to provide the proper ride experience.

In honor of Bianchi fans and their quest for a performance bike at an affordable price, Carbon Nano-Tech is utilized during the manufacturing of now 3 of it's road bikes; the Sempre is the 3rd for 2011. (
Genetically, the Sempre shares the Nano-Tech of the 928 SL and the Infinito.) Nano-Tech aids in frame strength, weight and stiffness. Those three categories along with a BB30 bottom bracket makes this bike a serious contender for anyone shopping for a carbon road bike in 2011. The hand masked paint job adds another $200 to the cost of the bike. Retailing at $2299.99 makes the Sempre more delicious.

To balance out the stiffness to comfort ratio, Bianchi uses Ultra Thin Seat Stays or UTSS for short. Depending on road surface conditions, UTSS mellows out potential upward harshness of the bike, while keeping the bottom end of the bike stiff and responsive. Take notice to the lateral bladed profile of the tubing in the photo above.

The final weight of the 57cm Sempre minus pedals and electronics...18.11lbs.

Sempre bella!
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