Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2013 Bianchi Bicycles sneaky peaky.

Bianchi Italy is launching the new version of the Oltre, in France. 

So far, the photos of the bike are nothing short of stellar!

The two immediate updates for this Oltre are the paint scheme and the name. There's an XR tagged to this Super Leggera frame, which has been in the product range for Bianchi since calendar year 2011. 

What Bianchi has done is they've shaved a bit more weight off the Oltre to the tune of 30grams. The weight loss has been achieved through the introduction of another grade of high modulus carbon fiber- CN60. Along the down tube, chainstays and the ever so sexy UTSS- Ultra Thin Seat Stays. Achieved is a 20% increase in overall stiffness of the Oltre XR frame when compared to the previous Oltre. 

[short review and reflection of my Oltre]
I've been riding and racing an Oltre with SRAM Red and Kysrium SR wheels, for the better part of this year. I can attest that this bike is stiff like my prior year's ride, the B4P 1885 which I grafted the build kit from for the Oltre. I like a stiff bike, seeing as I'm just shy of 6'5" at a 180lbs. Leverage of a 38.5" inseam when paired with 177.5mm crank arms can twist a frame when out of the saddle. Hence why I've ridden the 1885 for the past 2 seasons, I like stiff!

The Oltre has never fallen short of efficiently transferring my energy to the rear wheel and once you ride a bike with this kind of personality, it becomes the benchmark for all other bikes you choose. The biggest note of the Oltre is it's ability to make mid-corner steering corrections and not have the bike become startled or unsettled underneath the rider while carving a turn with all your weight dumped on the outside pedal.

Back to the Oltre XR. The XR retains all the technology from the first Oltre; UTSS, Tapered head tube 1.5" bottom bearing, Nano-Tube construction, BB30 bottom bracket, X-TeX at the headtube region, Monocoque unidirectinal carbon fiber construction, and what you don't see when riding...WMP. Feel free to visit the technology page on the Bianchi USA site for further details of the aforementioned tech bits.

The 355 gram fork with carbon drop outs is still sleek and finned just under the oversize bottom head set bearing. This profile allows for the directing of airflow, out around the oversized down tube. The semi-round bottom surface of the down tube on the Oltre creates enough outward push of wind to reduce the force from strongly regrouping behind the down tube where you have your down tube water bottle mounted. The cross section of the down tube is diamond in shape and the trailing edge of the diamond (inside the front triangle of the frame) disrupts the air flow across the frame ever so slightly. Should the air come around the bottom of the down tube and sharply return behind at the point of the diamond, a bit a suction or drag would be created, equaling a need for more wattage from the rider. 

Taking on more aerodynamic duties on the Oltre XR frame are the chainstays which are modeled after the time trail machine from Bianchi, the Pico Crono. Tall, broad and visually providing from the non-drive side of the bike what looks like a continuous piece of carbon leading from the rear axle, to the bottom bracket, up to the tapered head tube; the chainstays carry the brunt of the rider's weight and transfer of power to the rear wheel. So much so is their heft that the seatstays are slimmed down to the thickness of your average coffee shop barista's pinky finger. This slenderness is Bianchi's technology is referred to as UTSS.

The Oltre XR's aero seat post remains a thing of beauty. Influence by the 2010 928SL IASM frame and now a regular feature on the Oltre. Actually not masted but an actual adjustable post which provides the benefits of a masted post frame. Benefits? Think of high speed descents and the ability to incrementally adjust the Oltre's steering with a slight movement of your hips.

There's an overall claimed weight of 895 grams for the Oltre XR (+/-5%). Very light and smartly evolved from the previous Oltre version. Electronic and cable shifter frame sets will be up for grabs and a few complete build bikes for those wanting some out of the box without the head ache of overdosing on OCD to spec one from the ground up. 

My Oltre build as listed above with Speedplay SS Zero pedals and Bianchi Doberman cages, tip the scale at 15.8lbs. Not bad for a 61cm frame size and oh yeah, it rides like no other bike out there, seriously delightful!

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