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First Ride: New 2017 Bianchi Oltre XR4 CV

   Words by Aaron Scott

   on 10/08/2016 12:26:00

Eagle-eyed Bianchi enthusiasts will have no doubt spotted the new Bianchi Oltre XR4 CV being debuted by Bianchi sponsored Lotto NL Jumbo riders at the Tour de Suisse back in June. Then if you were watching the Tour de France you will have seen George Bennet and co. at Lotto-Jumbo smashing stages aboard the latest incarceration of the aero-Oltre. But, it wasn’t until last month that the new Bianchi Oltre XR4 CV was officially launched by the Italian manufacturer.

The Oltre XR4 is the successor to the Oltre XR1 and XR2 (what happened to the XR3 is anyone’s guess!), which were launched back in 2012. Stiffness and aerodynamics are at the core of what the Oltre is all about and Bianchi claim the XR4 is both stiffer and more aero than the previous model. However, Bianchi are keen to let you know that the Oltre is a do-it-all bike, comfortable enough for longer rides and will suit more than just the thoroughbred racer.

Bianchi Oltre XR4

What’s New?

It’s fair to say the Oltre XR4 is more an evolution of the existing Oltre XR2, rather than a complete overhaul. It looks bulkier and more powerful than its predecessor, with thicker, deeper, elongated tubes and a more aggressive profile, saving a claimed 20 watts, but other changes are more subtle.

That’s because the biggest change to the Oltre is an internal one, with the introduction of Bianchi’s vibration-dampening CounterVail technology (that’s what the CV in the name stands for). CounterVail has been used on three other bikes in the Bianchi range before, the first being the Infinito back in 2012, and it’s claimed to reduce road vibrations by up to 80% compared to standard carbon – you wouldn’t really expect much less from a technology that was developed for NASA.

The result is a far smoother, less fatigued, more comfortable ride than the XR2, whilst retaining and improving its excellent aero race bike characteristics. It’s clear to see why riders on the Lotto-Jumbo team were, more often than not, riding the Oltre XR4 for most races, rather than the super-light Specialissima climbing bike or Infinito CV endurance bike.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 CounterVail

As mentioned the other changes are a bit more subtle, but added together they make quite an impact – well 20 watts of extra power to be precise, if you want to believe Bianchi. The new frame shape was developed using aerodynamic technology borrowed from Formula 1. In the wind tunnel fluorescent paint is flowed over the frame to highlight any particular aerodynamic weaknesses that require attention.

The XR4 as a result features a new aerodynamic seatpost, bladed forks, wider rear stays, deeper chainstays, internal cable routing, a striking new head tube (borrowed from Bianchi’s TT bike, the Aquila CV), a bigger downtube, stiffer bottom bracket and the new Vision Metron 5D integraed handlebar – designed specifically for the Oltre.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Bars

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Frame

Bianchi Oltre XR4 Seattube

First Ride Impressions

I saddled the new Oltre XR4 just outside Bergamo, an hour or so outside of Milan, as part of a small group invited over to Italy for Bianchi’s retail launch of their 2017 bikes and clothing.

Wearing my brand new aero Castelli Rutland Cycling kit, I was fully prepared to put the Oltre XR4 through its paces. I was also particularly keen to see how Bianchi have managed to make this aero machine comfortable enough for everyday use.

As we navigated our way through the beautiful lanes of northern Italy, I did my best to gauge just how smooth the new ride is. I have to say it was nothing short of amazing. The CounterVail vibration-cancelling technology makes less-than-perfect roads seem like a piece of smooth, newly laid tarmacked road – the sort of road that roadies dream of.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 First Ride

Bianchi were keen to point out in the pre-ride briefing that CounterVail technology also delays the onset of fatigue, allowing a rider to maintain an aero position for longer. I’ll point out that whilst I’m not an out-and-out racer, I certainly noticed it’s far more comfortable over a long ride than other aero bikes I have ridden. Oh, and I had a faster overall pace than usual too!

I loved the new Vision aero bars and they obviously did a good job of preventing as much drag as possible, as I whizzed up and down the hills. The stiffness and speed of the frame is very noticeable too – you barely have to step on the pedals to propel yourself up the road. On that point, the model I rode came complete with SRAM Red eTap and I’m most definitely a convert. In fact I’m so much of a convert that I can’t bear the thought of having to go back to mechanical.

Bianchi Oltre XR4 SRAM eTap

Comfort and speed aside, the Oltre XR4 also impressed in the handling department. I don’t think I have ever descended so fast in my life. The Oltre oozes confidence. It was completely in control when taking fast, twisty corners and not once did I feel the back end getting away from me.

Ultimately, it’s a very, very, quick bike. But, it’s got more in its locker than other aero bikes - it’s also very comfortable with pin-sharp handing fit for the pro peloton. One final very important point, it’s quite simply a beautiful looking bike - especially in Bianchi’s iconic Celeste blue.

Sally Middlemiss, Riding Bianchi Oltre XR4 2017, July 2016

Check out the Full Bianchi Range Online

Bianchi Oltre XR4 2017

Specifications

The Bianchi Oltre XR4 will be available online from September, or can be pre-ordered from our Peterborough and Histon stores in the following specifications:

SUPER RECORD EPS 11sp

  • COMPACT 52/36
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero C17
  • OPTION WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon
  • OPTION WHEELS: Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50
  • OPTION CRANKSET: Rotor 3D+ InPower 52/36

SUPER RECORD 11sp

  • COMPACT 50/34
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero C17
  • OPTION WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon
  • OPTION WHEELS: Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50
  • OPTION CRANKSET: Rotor 3D+ InPower 52/36

CHORUS 11sp

  • COMPACT 50/34
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Quattro C17
  • OPTION WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon
  • OPTION WHEELS: Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50

DURA ACE Di2 11sp

  • COMPACT 52/36
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero C17
  • OPTION WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon
  • OPTION WHEELS: Zipp 404 Firecrest
  • OPTION CRANKSET: Rotor 3D+ InPower 52/36

DURA ACE 11sp

  • COMPACT 50/34
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero C17
  • OPTION WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon
  • OPTION WHEELS: Zipp 404 Firecrest
  • OPTION CRANKSET: Rotor 3D+ InPower 52/36

DURA ACE MIX 11sp

  • COMPACT 50/34
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Quattro C17

ULTEGRA Di2 11sp

  • COMPACT 50/34
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Quattro C17
  • OPTION WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon
  • OPTION WHEELS: Zipp 404 Firecrest

RED eTAP 11sp

  • COMPACT 50/34
  • WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero C17
  • OPTION WHEELS: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon
  • OPTION WHEELS: Zipp 404 Firecrest
  • OPTION CRANKSET: Rotor 3D+ InPower 52/36

Five Colourways available:

  • Celeste / Black Full Glossy
  • Black Matt / Black Mamba Glossy (Yellow)
  • Graphite Matt / Black Vivid Red Glossy
  • Black Matt / Celeste
  • Celeste / Black Matt

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