New bikes always generate a lot of online chatter but this one certainly seemed different – more emotion, more enthusiasm, more hype.
“This new Bianchi looks interesting,” I thought, as I read the comments and drooled over the pictures on the ever-popular Bianchi Owners Club of Australia Facebook page. The bike in question was the freshly-released Impulso AllRoad, a major makeover to the company’s existing AllRoad gravel bike.
Online discussion continued for days – ‘looks great’, ‘I want one’, ‘how much?’ were a few of the comments as a friend decided (sight unseen) that he’d order one.
Similarly surprised by the look of the bike, I phoned Bianchi Australia and asked if one was available for test. With snow forecast for the mountains on Friday, the plan was to take the AllRoad all road, or more accurately, off road.
Impulso AllRoad To The Snow
With the bike securely on the roof of the Skoda, I left Sydney at noon and pulled into the Jindabyne Hotel room at 6pm. One week ago I was riding in 35 degrees in Sydney yet zero was forecast for the mountains … with a new bike, all the gear and equipment you could ever imagine, the anticipation of the next day’s ride was killing me.
Waking at 0600 I reached for the phone and saw that snow was still on the forecast. ‘Areas above 1700metres from 11am’ it read. Gearing up in a BBB Cycling jersey, jacket, long-fingered gloves, and face mask I finished breakfast at Jindabyne’s legendary Red Door Cafe and started the long climb from 915m to Perisher at 1700m.
Fitted with a 32-11 cassette and 34/50 on front, the 10kg Bianchi Impulso AllRoad made comfortable work of the climbs. The Shimano 105 groupset and hydraulic discs performed admirably – having ridden my own bike with new Ultegra just days before, I couldn’t feel any discernible difference between the two.
From Sunny Jindabyne To Snowy Charlotte’s Pass
As a CX / gravel / go anywhere machine the Impulso AllRoad performed admirably as a road bike. Factory fitted with 35mm Kenda tubeless tyres (and space for 40c’s), I was dubious about the tyre’s abilities on the road but pleasantly surprised after the numerous climbs and descents between Jindabyne and Charlotte Pass.
The GPS was reading a temperature of 2 degrees as cold, sleety rain started to fall on the way up the climb. Into the headwind the bike and I battled on as the temperature continued to drop. And sure enough, soon after passing Perisher, the first few snowflakes fell.
Having been on bitumen all morning it was time to put the AllRoad through its paces. I turned off, crossed some gravel then grass, and headed toward the nearby snowfields.
The bike revelled in the snow, ice and gravel and was an absolute treat to explore the area aboard. Later, hooking up with the local MTB and fat bike crew, I was surprised to see so many (well 6 or 7) fellow riders up there using bikes in the snow.
As a road / gravel / go anywhere bike this new offering from Bianchi certainly ticks all boxes. It looks great, is well engineered, perfectly finished and comes with the 130+ year pedigree of one of the world’s most respected manufacturers.
Eats Up Long Fast Descent
Time to return from the rooftop of Australia back to Jindabyne, and this ‘all road’ bike handled the 1100m / 35km descent surprisingly well. ‘This will be a fascinating test,’ I thought, as I started pedalling hard and accelerating into the cold, late afternoon air. I’ve got to mention the wind and waterproof BBB Controlshield jacket, face mask and long-fingered gloves – without this gear the ride home would’ve been absoloute hell.
With it’s faultless flat-mount disc brakes, stability and assurance of thru axles and beefy 35mm tyres, the Impulso AllRoad handled the mountain descent surprisingly well. Dropping onto the top tube on a few occasions – sternum resting relatively comfortable on the stem – I couldn’t help but be impressed by this machines ability to masquerade as a serious all rounder.
Quality: The triple hydro-formed aluminium is stunning – during time with the bike several people flicked the frame with a finger thinking it was carbon. Overall the AllRoad is very well finished.
Performance: A genuine go-anywhere all road machine, the bike performs well in a wide variety of terrains. At a touch over 10kg it’s an all-round performer.
Value For Money: At $2999 there’s great value here. With Shimano’s refined 105 groupset, hydraulic discs and bombproof wheels, this is a serious N+1 temptation.
Overall: It looks good, goes well and screams ‘adventure’. Considering the bike’s ability, finish, price point and pedigree, it’s certainly one of the more interesting releases of 2017.
Groupset: 105 11sp Hydraulic Disc
Frame: Triple Hydroformed Aluminium
Axles: Thru axle 12x142mm
Fork: Bianchi Full carbon – 40mm tyre compatible,
Shifters: Shimano 105 11sp
Crankset: Shimano FC-RS510 50x34T ,
Crank length: 170mm-47/54cm, 172.5mm-55/59cm, 175mm-61/63cm
BB: Shimano SM-BB72-41B, PressFit
Cassette: Shimano 105 CS-5800 11-32T
Brakes: Shimano BR-RS505, Flat mount
Rotors: Shimano SM-RT70 160mm
Wheels: Reparto Corse CDX22 Disc
Tyres: Kenda Flintridge 700×35
Stem: Reparto Corse 3D forged Alloy 100mm-55cm
Handlebar: Reparto Corse Aluminum, reach 70mm, flare 16°, 130mm x 42cm
Seatpost: Reparto Corse AL6061, 15mm offset, 31,6mm. 350mm in size 50/63cm
Saddle: Selle San Marco Era Startup Power Open