Italian Endurance: Bianchi Infinito CV Ultegra Disc
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The 1914 Giro d’Italia had just eight stages, their distance varying from 328 kilometers to 429 kilometers. During World War II, the legendary Gino Bartali would take 300-kilometer training rides from Florence to Rome to smuggle papers for Jews in the tubes of his bicycle. At 291 kilometers, Milan–San Remo is still 30 kilometers longer than any other monument on the calendar. Indeed, when it comes to long miles, it seems as though the Italians invented them!
So it’s really no surprise that the Italians know how to make endurance bikes; and Bianchi, the 132-year-old Italian brand, makes some of the very best. The latest, the Infinito CV Disc, is a bike we imagine any rider in the 1914 Giro would have been very happy to have. It’s also no surprise Bianchi categorizes the bike as part of its Endurance Racing line. To the Italians, racing and endurance are synonymous.
The Infinito CV wears its technology on the inside, unlike Specialized’s Roubaix with its Future shock above the stem or Trek’s Domane SLR with its adjustable rear end and new IsoSpeed front end. But Bianchi’s technology is just as effective in its own way. The CV in the bike’s name refers to Countervail technology. Working with Materials Sciences Corporation, Bianchi has engineered this patented material into the Infinito CV. Countervail technology was created for NASA aerospace applications and is exclusive to Bianchi in the cycling world. A layer of viscoelastic material is embedded within the carbon layup itself, fighting vibration the moment it reaches the frame and insulating the rider from the road.
While science has verified that exposure to vibration over a period of hours will cause fatigue and discomfort, it’s a fact that every rider who has ever completed a gran fondo or century ride already knows empirically. The Bianchi Infinito CV with Countervail vibration-canceling technology is intended to absorb this vibration so you don’t have to.
To remain true to the idea of Endurance Racing, Bianchi has provided the Infinito CV with large-diameter, robust tube shapes, a fat PF30 bottom bracket and stout chain stays to ensure laterally that the bike is up to big power. The Infinito even has some aero shaping inspired by Bianchi’s Aquila TT bike. If you’re on the road for long miles, small aero gains are leveraged over your whole ride and create surprising advantages. Vertical deflection in the saddle is typically the first place brands go to create comfort, but Bianchi has given the Infinito an oversized 31.6mm diameter seat post. This shows just how much faith Bianchi has in its Countervail technology.
Like other endurance bikes, the Infinito CV Disc features a longer and more relaxed fit. Chain stays are 5mm longer than the Oltre XR4 and the head tube a full 25mm taller on our 59cm test bike. The frame has also been updated to handle the braking loads of disc brakes, which are fixed with flat mounts to preserve the clean, handsome lines of the Infinito CV.
The 2017 Bianchi Infinito CV comes with a lot of build options, but none are super high end. No Dura-Ace or Super Record, but a disc frame set alone can be had for $3,200. The 59cm Infinito CV Disc we tested was built with Ultegra mechanical, Bianchi’s own Reparto Corse parts, a Fi’zi:k Aliante saddle, Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels and 25mm Vittoria Rubino tires. It weighed 7.99 kilograms (17.6 pounds) and costs $4,300.
Bianchi has done a masterful job of ensuring the Infinito has a crisp and pleasing feel at the pedals. This is no dull comfort cruiser. The bike can race. Of course, the relaxed position and extra weight mean it’s not going to be as razor sharp under power as an Oltre XR4 or Specialissima, but it’s still a joy to stomp on the Infinito’s pedals. For in-the-saddle climbing, it’s truly a treasure. The stout seat post limits bobbing in the saddle, putting every watt through the pedals.
The Countervail technology is undoubtedly effective at reducing high-frequency vibration, the silent killer of fresh legs and a fresh mind. If you spend hours hammering along nasty chip seal, the Infinito is for you. You’ll also notice the bike’s ability to smooth out a rough road in the corners. It remains beautifully planted and predictable cornering at reckless speeds over roads that typically deserves a more conservative approach. CV technology is less effective at mitigating big impacts like potholes or expansion joints. It’s not going to feel as plush as a Roubaix or Domane SLR in those situations, but for a bike with a more traditional profile it’s very comfortable, although we would like to see tire clearance expand to make 30mm tires a possibility.
WEIGHT: 17.6 lbs/ 7.99kg (59cm w/o pedals or cages)
BUILD: Shimano Ultegra mechanical with RS685 hydraulic levers and RS805 flat-mount brakes. Reparto Corse alloy bar and stem. Reparto Corse carbon seat post with fi’zi:k Aliante Saddle. Fulcrum Racing 5 rims with Vittoria Rubino 25mm tires.