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First Ride: Bianchi Impulso E-Road

Words by David Hicks

on 09/03/2018 09:26:43

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The Bianchi Impulso E-Road brings Italian flair and long-range comfort to a platform that wouldn’t look out of place on the club run.

Bianchi have thrust themselves firmly to the forefront of electric bike technology with the Impulso E-Road, their first venture into the electric road market. Bringing that famous celeste to the new model, the bike uses some of the latest developments to create a bike that – unless you look closely – could easily pass for a standard road bike, but provides that extra motor-assisted nudge when you need it.

Bianchi Impulso E-Road Electric Road Bike

Features

  • Polini E-P3 36V 250W 70Nm motor with 5 assist levels
  • 200km range from the 500wh Polini battery integrated into the down tube
  • Shimano Ultegra hydraulic braking
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The Spec

Given that this is an electric bike, there seems an obvious place to start – the motor. Polini will be an unfamiliar name to many, with most of the e-bike market dominated by Bosch or Shimano systems, but the Italian-made E-P3 motor offers 250 watts of assistance over 5 levels of assistance from 30% all the way up to 350%. Specifically designed for road e-bikes, you can mount it with a double chainring (as Bianchi have done) so that it not only looks like a normal road bike, but gives a huge range of gearing. The other headline with this Polini unit is the weight, tipping the scales at a scant 2.85kg – lightweight in e-bike terms.

Powering the motor is a 500wh capacity battery, also from Polini, which offers a vast 200km range. Carefully crafted to sit within the down tube, the sleek design adds to the road bike look and feel, and weighing in at 2.54kg it’s equally lightweight compared to the motor. All that slimmed down tech lends a final weight for the bike which isn’t a million miles away from a normal road bike. Regulating that power is a multifunction display – also from Polini – which includes a torque sensor, speed and cadence sensor, and Bluetooth connectivity to link up to your smart device.

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All those electric parts are bolted to an aluminium frame with a full carbon fork. The components come from Shimano, with 11-speed Ultegra shifters and hydraulic disc braking to provide some modulation and extra stopping power. The 50/34 FSA crankset is paired with an 11-32 cassette to provide a gearing range capable of dominating any hill (even without the extra motor assistance). The Impulso comes specced with 32c Vittoria Zaffiro tyres with the extra width creating a nice cushioned ride on the Fulcrum wheels and aided by a full carbon seatpost which, like the stem and bars, comes from Bianchi’s in-house Reparto Corse marque. Things are finished off nicely with a colour-coordinated Fizik Aliante R7 saddle.

The Ride

The first thing you notice with this bike isn’t that it’s an electric bike if that makes sense…

With the smart integration of the battery in the downtube, the Impulso wouldn’t look out of place on the club run and you could easily get away with riding it with your mates without it being overtly obvious that you’re on an electric bike. In fact, with the flashes of celeste and that famous badge on the headtube it just looks like a nice bike, full stop.

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The ride is equally surprising, with the aluminium frame providing a stiff, responsive pedaling platform but with a plush ride feel created by the carbon fork and those larger volume tyres which eliminate a lot of road buzz. Although you do notice the added weight of the battery and motor when you’re not benefiting from the assistance, this has far less of an impact than on many bikes in the same sector – the Bianchi holds its speed well and responds well when you crank the pedals, plus with that weight centred around the bottom bracket it handles well, if not as flickable as standard road bike. Shifting and braking from Ultegra is as snappy and super-reliable as you’d expect and my only quibble was with the tyres which felt like they lacked a little in terms of grip. In general though, the Impulso E-road is a comfortable place to spend a few hours

Which brings us onto the electric heart of this bike. The motor is a huge help uphill and in the maximum setting crushes anything in its path – the assistance is quick to kick in and gives you that nudge when you need it. It is worth mentioning though, that I didn’t really see the Bianchi as a weapon for destroying hills – with the double chainring and wide cassette giving you plenty of gearing to play with, and the relatively low weight, you can keep the assistance to a minimum and use that huge 200km range to carry you further than you might ride on a normal road bike. Equally, the Impulso could be a great touring bike or even a high end commuter.

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Our Verdict

While electric road bikes haven't seen the same burst in popularity as their mountain bike cousins just yet, bikes like the Bianchi Impulso E-Road show just how exciting this sector could become in the coming years, and it's easy to see where this type of bike would fit - if you've had time away from the sport and want to keep up with your roadie mates, you can do so in comfort; or if you're coming back from injury you can rebuild fitness safe int he knowledge that the assistance is there when you need it. But beyond that, the huge motor capacity gives you the option to go further than you ever have before and with the svelte battery, stable and comfortable ride and that undeniably cool Bianchi look, do it in style too.

See the full video >>>

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Find our stores

See the Bianchi Impulso E-Road in the Flesh at our Peterborough and Fineshade stores.

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