Bianchi has introduced a brand new model range for 2018. The Bianchi Aria has been designed to extend the legendary Italian brands' already renowned aero road bike range. The Aria is dedicated to offer the highest levels of aerodynamics and speed capable from a performance orientated road bike. This goal has been achieved via extensive testing in wind tunnels and analytical research on previous Bianchi aero bikes. Built for the speed lover, Bianchi's target market for the Aria is predominantly amateur racers, sportive riders or Time Trialist/triathletes who want a (relatively!) affordable and versatile aero road bike with the kudos and heritage that comes with owning a Bianchi frame. The Aria is a bit of a game changer in the aero category as it has one particularly unique design feature. By slightly altering the stack height/saddle angles and clipping on aero bars, Bianchi claim that the Aria is equally successful as a tri-bike as it is as a road bike. This essentially eliminates the need for two bikes for amateur triathletes, with the Aria being one of the first bikes ever to claim to be both a road racing and triathlon bike all in one!
The Aria has been built to have a very similar geometry to the beloved Bianchi Oltre XR range. The key to creating Bianchi's aero/race geometries appears to be to put the rider in the most aggressive tuck position possible, a position favoured by professional riders and casual speed merchants alike. This lower profile geometry makes the rider lower their head and flatten their back, putting the body into the ultimate position for aerodynamics and pedalling efficiency. This riding position also allows for fantastic out of the saddle sprinting ability and promotes a 'true race bike' riding feel, ready to eat up long straights and fast sweeping bends. Bianchi have incorporated technology and historical experience from both the Oltre and Aquila TT models to construct the aggressive geometry of the Aria - Which makes sense considering that both the Oltre and Aquila have been hugely popular within the racing and TT road bike markets and thus when combined should create a ridiculously versatile bike capable of competing in both disciplines successfully. The Aria is that bike and so far it has certainly lived up to expectations, achieving excellent reviews throughout the cycling media since its introduction to the market due to its brilliant performance on the road and the ease of switching to the horizontal-back tucked riding position required of a successful tri/TT bike. The Aria is available in eight sizes, from 44cm to 61cm, all based around the same race/tri geometry. As you'd probably imagine the sizes come up on the smaller side(They are Italian after all!), A 55cm frame, for example, has a compact 140mm headtube, with a stack of 541mm and reach of 390mm - so if you are unsure about your sizing on Bianchi's, it's probably worth a test ride before purchase. Our Rutland Cycling stores that stock Bianchi are found at Peterborough and Histon.
Bianchi bikes always seem to ooze Italian style and flare from every pore and the Aria is certainly no different. Sleek and professional styling and Bianchi's eye catching yet subtle colour schemes ensure that the Aria is guaranteed to get envious glances from other riders as you zoom past. A fully carbon frame and all-round aero tubing are standard on all models in the range. Specific features of the Aria include a tapered headtube and a carbon seatpost with a neatly hidden clamp and a cut-out for the rear wheel, reducing the wheelbase and providing snappy, responsive acceleration as a result. The fully carbon fork weighs 370g and has a 1-1/8? to 1-1/4? tapered steerer. The tapered head tube and downtube are integrated via the fork/fork crown for improved aerodynamics whilst the fork is also constructed with legs that splay out to help reduce air turbulence.
Unlike the Oltre, the stem, bars and head tube aren't fully integrated. Compatible with both mechanical and electronic groupsets, the Aria is able to support complete internal cable routing and is available with a variety of different groupset options(see below). The frame weighs in at a reported 1.1kg, although bear in mind that Bianchi allows for +/- 5% due to there being eight different sizes(44cm - 61cm). During an exclusive first ride on the Bianchi Aria Centaur, Peterborough store manager Ian found that the Aria's power delivery is on the right side of stiff, but not so much so that you feel uncomfortable from the very positive road feedback which it gives you. You can read Ian's full first ride review by clicking on the link below.
As previously mentioned the Bianchi Aria claims to be a race bike that can be easily adapted for triathlon events. According to the Bianchi themselves, by simply clipping on some tri bars, setting the stack height as well saddle height and angle you'll be good to go. They say this has been achieved by analysing the lessons learnt from research and development across all ranges of new models with the Aria's advanced aerodynamic design being heavily inspired by their extensive wind-tunnel testing and trial rides with Bianchi pro riders. This has led to a bike that shape of the tubes' profiles and their structural combination cheat the wind's resistance, resulting in the lowest drag possible. The benefit of this for the rider is the creation of a riding position that allows for the least air resistance - this position can only be achieved with a frame and fork geometry that allows for an advanced tuck position, and an ideal racing geometry. This is all quite convincing as surely an Aero frame plus an aero rider position equals a Full Aero frame? Maybe so - but what's important to remember is that the Aria is a hybrid of Tri and road race performance and thus, when compared to a dedicated Tri bike, the Aria's seat and head tube angles are much slacker - meaning that all-important tucked position is going to be more of a strain than on a full-on tri bike. Still, a very cool and special concept and one that is likely to be seen featuring more frequently on the market in the next few years. The Aria isn't fitted with the countervail technology of its more expensive brethren, but the quality of the layup,components and fork ensure the ride is as comfortable as possible for a speed orientated bike.
Shimano 105 - Generally considered the entry-point for a competition-standard road biking groupset, the 105 is a popular, workman-like groupset that is renowned for it's reliability and durability. The current 105 system offers vastly improved shifting, faultless braking, and an all-round performance and efficiency that would be expected from much more pricey groupsets. The performance gap to Ultegra is smaller than ever and with the brilliant braking performance in all conditions and build quality you'd expect from Shimano components, the 105 is a fantastic choice for the rider looking to enter the higher echelons of road racing, with plenty of range and support for fast climbing, speed on the flats and competitive riding.
Campagnolo Centaur - Campagnolo have revived one of its oldest groupsets, The Centaur, with the new versions being completely revamped, benefiting greatly from trickle down technology from other highly-regarded Campagnolo groupsets. The Centaur has been taken up to 11-speed, following market trends and bringing it inline with the likes of Potenza, Chorus, Record and Super-Record - Campagnolo's other high-performance groupsets. What makes the aluminium,mechanical centaur special is the separate BCD diameters, meaning they bolt to the spider separately (Bolt Circle Diameter or BCD is the diameter of the circle through the centre of all of the bolts on your chainring, usually measured in millimetres. This ensures they're easy to swap out, but also means they're not compatible with higher end groupset chain rings, something to consider if you like to upgrade your bike over time.
Potenza - The Aria outfitted with a complete Campagnolo Potenza groupset gets 2x11 speed gearing and matching Potenza dual pivot rim brakes. These features combine to deliver responsive and reliable ride characteristics that emanates from all corners of the bike. he Potenza system contains many of the same technologies used on the higher end Super Record, Record, and Chorus groupsets, but with an aluminium construction that adds a little bit of weight to the frame. The rear derailleur uses what Campagnolo calls 'Embrace Technology', which limits the movement of the rear derailleur and actively works to move it closer to the cassette, ensuring that the chain is engaged with one or two more teeth on the cassette at all times. According to Campagnolo, this means better power transfer and less wear on the chain and cassette.
Shimano Ultegra - The Shimano Ultegra groupset has been highly regarded within the road bike market for what seems like forever, particularly in its previous 10-speed guise. Sharing a lot of qualities with the Dura-Ace system and benefitting from the trickle down of technology , The Ultegra mechanical is now,like most major groupsets available, 11-speed with the justification being that the smaller gaps between sprockets is worth the overall weight increase.
Want a Bianchi bike but aren't sure high-speed racing is for you? a Bianchi E-bike may be the answer and get you back out on the tarmac with a little bit of boost to help you on your way. Read our blog 'First Ride: Bianchi Impulso E-Road' for a detailed look into how the Italian giants have entered into the ever-expanding E-bike market.
Other Useful Links
- All Guides & Advice Pages (inc.Range Guides)
- Road Bike Guide
- Video Review: Bianchi Oltre XR4 Dura-Ace First Impressions
- Guide To Racing Road Bikes
- View All Triathlon Bikes and Products
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