Somewhere during my Key Stage Three or GCSE years while sat in an English Language lesson, I was taught of the persuasive powers of three as a rhetorical device. While I probably went a bit overkill and used it in every piece of creative writing set as homework at the time, thinking that it would result in an A1 (rather than ‘must try harder’), the Magic of Three is something that has since fallen out of favour with my brain, perhaps not being connected by so many synapses compared to its 15 year-old self. I have developed a theory however that Bianchi never let this one go and actually have a bit of a thing for triples. While this doesn’t extend to opting for a granny ring across their fleet, there is a very definite pattern to the way they have approached the development of the Infinito CV Disc – as well as their general ethos when it comes to innovation.
Brand-wide for example, Bianchi prides itself on being able to put very definite ticks into boxes corresponding to the following three elements when it comes to frame building:
- Structural stiffness
- Material technology
- Performance tuning
And while all three have played very particular parts in the development process to get the Infinito CV Disc into bike shops (and industry accolade lists) for 2015, it is the combination of these factors that has firmly established Bianchi as a black and celeste industry leader, guaranteeing a performance frame whether buying from the top or the bottom of their portfolio.
First unveiled to the public’s eyes at Eurobike in August of 2014, the Bianchi Infinito CV Disc is the slightly tinkered-with alternative to the Infinito CV, launched a few months earlier. Here, there have been some slight adjustments to the frame and forks in order to drop in the necessary discs and related componentry, but the remainder of the bike is otherwise untouched. For the list makers out there, the Infinito CV Disc packs a pretty substantial punch with this impressive jumble of stuff:
- Frame: C2C Infinito Carbon-CV
- Fork: Infinito C2C Full Carbon-CV
- Headset: FSA Orbit C-40-ACB
- Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2 11-speed
- Brakes: Shimano BR-R785 Hydraulic disc brake
- Wheels: Vision Metron 40
- Tyres: Hutchinson Fusion
- Stem: FSA Team Issue, Carbon
- Bars: FSA Wing Compact, alloy
- Seatpost: FSA SL-K UD Carbon Di2
- Saddle: Fi’zi:k Aliante Delta
Having a full week to review the Infinito CV Disc, I was able to put a little more mileage into it than you would usually be given the chance to with a quick demo spin from your local bike shop. And living on the edge of The Peak District, this meant a good few trips out into the hills to get the bike pointing both up- and downhill to see how it behaved. While fellow Cyclosport-er Nick Gregory really pushed the Infinito to the edge with a rattle over the cobbles of the Paris-Roubaix course earlier in the year, I opted for some larger lumps and bumps in the North West of England. With a couple of routes in mind, I even chipped into my precious annual leave allowance to maximise riding time while the day was light and traffic, minimal.
Being so significantly different from my usual bike (and even more so when compared to the Winter bike I have been clocking more miles up on of late), I did a bit of advance homework without completely over-saturating my brain with the expectation and borrowed opinions that existing reviews may provide. Even without the revision though, Bianchi have provided some handy annotation right there on the frame to make it pretty clear exactly where they have been innovating. Here, the first thing to catch my eye was the ‘CV’ of Infinito CV which flags Bianchi’s collaboration with Material Sciences Corporation in developing CounterVail® Vibration Cancelling Technology.
Though handily stamped all the way down the seatstays as a bit of an identifier, this combination of carbon fibre layering and viscoelastic material actually appears in key locations throughout the frame and helps to reduce up to 75% of total vibration (according to Bianchi’s stringent testing). In turn, the lack of shuddering over rough road surfaces is said to reduce muscle fatigue and therefore increase endurance, with the ping pong ball test making a pretty strong argument for effectiveness in the chainstays alone. Sticking with their trio approach, Bianchi list the following advantages:
- Maximized ride control and handling under normal to extreme vibration loads
- Reduced muscle fatigue and increased energy savings in distance rides
- Increased rigidity and peak power output over long distances
In playing around with particular set-ups of the carbon fibre architecture, Bianchi has produced the smoothest ride I’ve ever experienced – and one that has already received several nods from the pro peleton. These include a fourth place in last year’s Paris-Roubaix under the expert guidance of Sep Vanmarcke (not so lucky this year unfortunately) and Lars Boom’s domination of the fifth stage of the Tour, over a shortened Paris-Roubaix course in glum conditions that Lars himself described as “mega”. So it seems CounterVail is a bit of a wonder-child in that it meets the expectations of Bianchi’s strict development criteria: adding structural stiffness without piling on the pounds, really setting off the remainder of the carbon frame (which should by no means go underplayed) and offering fantastic ride quality through this vibration cancellation malarkey.
While I didn’t go near the sort of terrain that would rival Nick’s, Sep’s and Lars’ bone-shaking trip through France and Southern Belgium, my time out on the Derbyshire roads was unquestionably smooth and the handling as a whole felt tight and really reactive. Structurally, the bike seemed compact beneath me but not in a way that meant it was the wrong size: more that, despite being completely unfamiliar, it wasn’t at all unwieldy and after not long at all I was whipping it around corners, knowing that it would sail through. I also took the bike up Mam Tor which is a climb I’d been meaning to ride since moving up from London around 18 months ago. With an Ultegra Di2 11-speed groupset to play with, climbing the 10% average – though hard – felt actually quite exciting with the gears whirring responsively into place while the 8kg full carbon set-up bounced from side to side, acting as a metronome for my very visible winter breath.
So I realise I’ve just dedicated a fair number of paragraphs to the frame, but we are talking about the entire bike here and there are a good number of other things to bring to your attention that reflect Bianchi’s rather sound judgement skills. The two that really jumped out for me were the Di2 groupset and hydraulic disc brakes. And while I should admit to having been a complete beginner to both, the electronic gearing was definitely the feature that took a little longer to get to grips with (pardon the slightly tenuous pun).
Here, the specification of the Infinito made me hyper aware of tiny habits I’d developed or how I might prepare for a corner or a climb, whereby both the gears and brakes felt incredibly different. First off, the shifters didn’t have the same lateral flexibility I was used to and it took a little while (in Winter gloves) to definitely distinguish between the two buttons. While this led to a couple of interesting changes mid-climb or out of corners, I soon got used to it and learned to time a punchy shift down, rather than being able to sort of ‘test’ it on a mechanical system – by easing the shifters across to the point just before they kick in. Having said that, a short and a long ride were all it took to start feeling pretty comfortable. In comparison however, the hydraulic disc brakes just felt natural from the word ‘go’.
Just recently, the UCI have quite literally finished weighing up the benefits of whether to move more decisively towards disc brakes and gone for a yes (following a two-year test period), with full acceptance from 2017. I have to admit to being pretty sold on them though, based on my experience with the Infinito CV. Designed for longer endurance rides rather than out-and-out racing, the discs were incredibly handy on a few of the long, sweeping descents of The Peak District and I can see the Infinito being a great companion for a season of sportives. With a barely-there but reassuring click on pulling the levers the brakes feel sturdy and measured, while they blend into the overall demeanour of the bike without looking clumsy or overwhelming. Bianchi have really kept things tidy, too – by routing the cable to the front brake internally through the fork. Here other brands may settle for lashing the cable to the fork to play the safe card and steer clear of any sort of impact on integrity and manoeuvrability: Bianchi has set the bar high though with this infallible attention to detail.
Oddly, the bike does have a feeling of being a bit of a new breed where I can imagine that its developers were almost split into teams and tasked with going out to find the best components for a decidedly detailed brief. If you’ve ever seen Scrapheap Challenge, you’ll know what I mean. Altogether though, it is decidedly slick and the infinity symbol on the top tube acts as a good bit of mental propulsion as you look down and appreciate exactly what has gone into the bike’s construction. Similar to the personalised mantras and palmares that catch your eye as you bow your head on entry to the pain cave (Jens’ hour record bike is a fine example), the Infinito CV is a fine investment and one that really has both the longevity and adaptability to cover a great many territories.
So there you have it: the Infinito CV Disc passes with flying colours (namely in a black, white and celeste blur) – and gets a 10/10 from me. The only comments I can really offer on the back of this test are that I’d really have loved to try it:
a) In the Summer in short sleeves, short shorts and short finger gloves
b) With a slightly more personalised set-up
c) On some cobbles!
Final thanks go to Darren at Bianchi for loaning the bike for a full week and Greg from my local bike shop (Peak Cyclesport, Macclesfield) for making it happen in the first place. Also to Alastair King for his incredible photography and torch-wielding skills, adding some pretty impressive images to the review. See more of his work here: alastairkingphotography.co.uk or in small squares over on Instagram: @askingimages.