Friday, July 19, 2013

Bianchi Bicycles Oltre Vaconsoleil frame review.

This is my second season riding an Oltre. Last year I had a stock Oltre frameset and this year decided to get the Vacansoleil livery edition. 61cm for my tall self.

The big thing I noticed about the Oltre last season was it's ability to rail a corner 10% beyond your comfort level, make mid-cornering steering changes and the bike remains stable until you exit the corner. Also, the steer dynamics are such that very little input at the handlebars is required to steer the bike. [Ed note: don't attempt to rail a corner at 'Oltre speeds' when you're on a Impulso back up bike on the last lap of a crit. It will get ugly and you might lose some skin.]

This was obvious to me at the end of last summer when I pulled the parts off the Oltre and installed the build group onto my Cavaria cyclocross frame. On my first shake down ride of the cx bike, I just about over-cooked a  corner because I was trying to steer it like in was on the Oltre... little steering effort. Wrong! Next corner, pretty much the same thing. And this time I realized that I was actually pulling on the inside-turn, of the handlebar to initiate the turn. Yes, the Oltre is that sensitive you can lightly steer it one handed. 

When you introduce a slacker head tube angle like the one you'll find on a cyclocross bike or one of the C2C bikes, you will need to use pressure from both sides of the handlebars to steer and push the bars through the corner and hold it there or the bike will try to 'stand up' through the corner. 

Second note. Last year's Oltre with the same part kit, minus the SL-K crank of this year, included a SRAM Red crank. When I built up the one in the photo below, ran the same winter wheels, tires, everything the same as 2012 except the FSA crank and brakes. This season, out of the saddle efforts were met with the rear wheel flexing and rubbing each side of the brake pads with every pedal stop over a climb. Yes the brakes are now FSA but their gap to the rim is the same. The spoke tension of the winter wheel is where it needs to be as well. 

So the question looming here is... 
-Is the SL-K crank is stiffer than the Red crank? Thus twisting the frame more due to the reduced flex at the arms? The Red crank was a 177.5mm length, the SL-K is 175mm. 
-Is the Vaconsoleil edition frame a bit stiffer in the bottom end of the frame? I need to dig a bit further for an answer when I see Angelo at Interbike.

So the summer rolls on and I'm still humbled by how amazing this bike rides; fast and quick, velvety steering, steer it with your hips thanks to the aero seat post's lateral stiffness or chase down the group

to the township line signs. You won't be disappointed! 

Here are some photos of the final build on the Oltre. I hope you enjoy them!

Final weight without accessories- 61cm.

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