To me the name ‘Intenso’ conjures the metal image of a head throbbing climb. The type where your brow drops and sweat drips off of your nose, your legs pump heavily in time with the metronomic thud of your heart, loud above all other noise. A touch too dramatic? This is an Italian bike, humor me!
As part of Bianchi’s Endurance Racing range there is certainly a suggestion that the Intenso has intent to travel both fast and long. Intense if you like: a matter of perception? This frame has been through the UCI’s testing and certification process and carries the corresponding sticker announcing it fit and ready for Pro level racing. Intense enough, no doubt! Keep thePassport ready just in case of a call up. Most likely the Intenso’s big brother Infinito will board the plane though.
Sharing the same fit as the Intenso but employing refined tube shapes and some super fancy vibration damping materials, the Infinito is the Pro’s weapon of choice for the really rough days. The Intenso is aimed at the recreational rider that wants the same fit as the top tier bike and some of that Bianchi celeste too, thank you very much.
Even on our matte black Ultegra spec Intenso, there is a liberal application of celeste graphics. Little Italian flags and the big silver head badge leave no confusion as to the heritage of this machine. The fit is identical to the Infinito, and the dramatically flared head tube is highly reminiscent of the race focused Oltre. Bianchi has pulled some nice elements from their premium machines into the Intenso.
The frame and fork are comprised predominantly of carbon, but Kevlar has been strategically layed into the seat stays and fork blades. Bianchi dubs this K-VID (Kevlar Vibration Isolating Device), the intention being that the Kevlar material used will diffuse vibrations more readily than the standard carbon used elsewhere and help absorb some amount of bump forces. It’s an ideal concept for an endurance-focused platform.
Outside of the materials, the Intenso eschews many of the typical shock and vibration damping cues seen on modern endurance bikes. The fork uses a stiffness enhancing 1.5 inch lower bearing rather than the comparatively slender 1.25 that we increasingly encounter. The seat post is a rigid 31.6mm diameter with no inbuilt flex features and the same is true of the seat tube. The seat stays are somewhat beefy when compared with many, their blocky square profile and large brake bridge and seat tube junction is at odds with most of the Intenso’s competitors.
In fact, the Intenso occupies a non-committal middle ground of sorts. It takes as many cues from Bianchi’s more muscular platforms than from common endurance bike fashion, and the fit is relaxed but still awake. Slightly longer chainstays help balance the rearward center of gravity that is encouraged by the slightly generous stack height, but neither proportion is close to the long and tall numbers of many soft riding mile munchers on the market. It will never be viewed as an aggressive racing position (at least not without an odd stem, or sizing down) but it will still be possible for most regular riders to get low enough whilst having a position that is all-day comfy, and the profile is can pass as a ‘race’ bike quite easily.
Whether it’s the K-VID, tubes shapes, materials choice or a mix of the three, the Intenso is a relatively smooth operator If Bianchi had opted to call the Intenso the ‘Alldaycomfyo’ it may have been a more appropriate descriptor. In the saddle the Intenso feels like a long bike, the type that won’t send you flying if you ride over some gravel and is cool as a cucumber if you encounter a quick sequence of bumps on the road. I found I felt centered in the Intenso, which encouraged me to stay seated and settle into a nice consistent tempo where I could chug through the miles rather than attack them, and spin the climbs rather than animate out of the saddle.
Bianchi has aimed the Ultegra Intenso at the serious recreational rider. Drivetrain is comprised of a selection of Shimano parts; Ultegra shifters and derailleurs operate the otherwise 105 and non-series parts to keep the Intenso moving forwards at the right price. Even the non-series parts work extremely well. The only chink worth noting were the Bianchi branded Tektro brakes which asked me to test the frames cornering limits to an Intenso level on more than a few occasions, due to their sub optimal power and modulation. I can report that the Intenso will happily carve through all manner of turns, so long as you don’t need to brush off a whole lot of speed immediately beforehand!
The stock Fulcrum Racing Sport are a durable training wheel, adding a solid and planted feel to the ride of the Intenso. I did swap in my own wheels and tires as a test. These helped the Intenso feel much, much faster, moving from an industrial diesel to more of a turbo diesel performance, especially so on the climbs. The ride of the Intenso remained quietly muted and composed, the frame takes a lot of the surface out of the road which lets you ride long and steady. Riders searching for crisp feel and a precise road feedback may find that the Intenso offers more protection than they’re looking for, but over the distance the Intenso defines its own comfort zone.
Bianchi has integrated some nice features and technologies into the Intenso frame and the finish is on par with other brands. Down specced brakes present an opportunity to build on the Intenso’s performance.
The Intenso takes a slightly different line to others in terms of fit and ride quality, which is where it’s value lies. Composed and calm but far from lazy, this is a dependable bike for long days in the hills.
Despite appearances, the Intenso is as likely as smooth as a lot of slimmer looking, multi-acronym wearing bikes out there, but it’s certainly no sprinter. The Ultegra Intenso is solid as it is, but could elevate its ride significantly with some extra attention paid to the brakes and wheels.
The Intenso offers a nice middle ground in terms of fit. Not slow, but not too fast. The personality really parallels the fit. For short punchy rides or disco-move climbs the Intenso will be eclipsed by plenty of machines with racier aspirations, but for a day of big hills and long valleys, or a morning cruising with mates the Intenso is ideal.
Frame: Intenso carbon, 1.1/8″- 1.5″ head tube
Fork: Bianchi Full Carbon w/Kevlar
Headset: FSA Orbit C-40-ACB
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra ST-6800 2x11sp
Rear derailleur: Ultegra 11sp
Front derailleur: Ultegra
Crankset: Shimano FC-RS500-L 50x34T,
Chain: Shimano 11speed
Cassette: Shimano 105,11-28
Brakes: Reparto Corse RC-471 Dual-Pivot
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing Sport
Tyres: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700×25
Stem: Reparto Corse Alloy
Handlebar: Reparto Corse Compact Alloy
Seatpost: Reparto Corse, alloy 31,6mm
Saddle: Selle San Marco Era Startup Power