Groupset and finishing kit
So far I’ve focused mostly on the frame – which is unchanged across the models. Ranging in price from £3,800 to £9,900 for a top end build, the spec will vary depending how deep you’re willing to dig. Being a very lucky girl, I had the chance to experience a high end build with Fulcrum Race Nite carbon wheels and top of the range Campagnolo Super Record group set.
As you would expect from a top of the range group build, the accuracy in gear changes could be felt immediately, smooth and clean without any jumping or slipping.
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Initially skeptical about the position of the thumb shifter, thinking that it might be at somewhat of an awkward angle when riding on the drops, I have since been converted to Campagnolo. The shifters are perfectly located when riding on either the hoods or the drops, and changing up when on the latter, which let’s face it is when you are most likely to do so, was surprisingly more comfortable than the lever shifting I am accustomed to. I have quite long fingers so did wonder how comfortable it might be for those with relatively small hands but given that the drops would be shallower in accordance with the riders frame, even here I can’t foresee any problems.
The bike comes built with a compact chainset, and 11-25 tooth cassette – and some riders might find they want to swap the rear for an 11-28 if approaching hilly terrain. However, the existing narrower ratio meant that flat sections felt excellent.
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The FSA K-Force and K-Force Light finishing kit adds to the Specialissima’s aerodynamics and the handlebar shape particularly benefits those whom tend climb on the flats of the bars as they encourage the rider to naturally adopt a perfect climbing position.
Bianchi haven’t scrimped on the wheel set, either – with the Fulcrum Race Nite carbon wheels. These add to the sprightly nature and yet somewhat stealth appearance of the bike and the Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation technology used certainly raises the bar with regards to the breaking efficiency. Even in the wet I felt a sureness and confidence, not something you always get with a carbon braking surface. Depending on the usage, my only alteration would be the Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed tyres. Admittedly, the Specialissima is intended to race and riding it from A-B on a London commute is something of a luxury, however, in doing the latter I found the tyres appeared to be eager to collect the scraps from the roadside and thus carried the potential to puncture noticeably quickly.
The time and dedication that Bianchi have put into developing the Specialissima is obvious from the offset. More a work of art than a bike, it seems fitting that Bianchi should name the custom colour programme the Specialissima tavolozza. Italian for artists’ palette and with an array of colour options available, the program offers the option to add your own personal touch. That said, the beautiful (matt or gloss) black or Bianchi’s signature celeste with delicately hand-painted decal as the standard colour options are perfectly justified in receiving the amount of attention they do.
A note on geometry
Italian bike brands are known for adopting slightly shorter top tubes than most American brands – which at basic level is what most will do to create a women’s specific bike. With this, Bianchi don’t create bikes with different geometry for women. Instead they take pride in offering unisex frames and adjusting fit on some models to suit the rider.
Their ‘Dama Bianca’ range offers shorter stems, women’s saddles and narrower handlebars with this in mind, yet Bianchi do not suggest the range is limited to women nor is the general range limited to men. Offering a wide range of sizes, the Specialissima is available from a 47” frame, but not as a ‘Dama’ model with women’s specific contact points at present.
Read more about the female specific bike debate
That said, I felt very comfortable on the Specialissima from the offset; the chaps at Twenty3c, a Bianchi specialist store, set me up with a slightly shorter stem and swapped the saddle for that which I regularly use.
Starting at £3,450 for the frameset and ramping up to £9,900 for the top build, yes the Specialissima may come with a hefty price tag, but this this doesn’t weigh the bike down at all. The Specialissima performs superbly, as you would expect from a high end bike in this price range, and makes it glaringly obvious that you really do get what you pay for, which in my opinion, is rather refreshing and something worth saving for.
Interested? See the range here.