Cycling’s oldest marque creates a pre-1987 road bike out of the box
MODEL Bianchi L’eroica FRAME AND FORK Lugged Columbus Zona; 1in threaded lugged steel GROUPSET Campagnolo Silver Vintage 10spd, Bianchi aluminium chainset, Dia-compe brake levers and 610 callipers, Dia-compe W-shift down tube shifters GEARING 48/36t chainset; 13-29t cassette WHEELS Ambrosio Excellence rims on Bianchi wide flange hubs TYRES Vittoria Zaffiro Pro 23mm FINISHING KIT Bianchi Classic bars, Bianchi alloy stem and seatpost, Brooks Team Pro Classic saddle WEIGHT 9.39kg (55cm) PRICE £2,700 CONTACT bianchi.com
On the one hand, the L’eroica is pretty terrible. Braking is more a promise than a reality, shifting is like picking up pennies with your elbows and the saddle weighs the same as a side of beef. Yet that misses the point of this bike. It has been designed to be within the rules of L’eroica, so the Bianchi necessarily packs period-correct features such as down tube shifters, centre pull brakes and cloth bartape. Once I’d embraced this, the L’eroica and I got on famously. Everything about it felt challenging, but with that came a wonderfully visceral feeling of involvement.
That said, there are two things I can’t shake. Why didn’t Bianchi spec 25mm or 28mm rubber given this bike is designed for the rough and tumble of L’eroica? And is a replica really necessary? For this money you can buy some truly stunning vintage Bianchis second hand, and that’s where I’d be tempted to start shopping.