THREE THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT THE... BIANCHIOLTRE XR3DISC £3999
The Oltre XR3 Disc takes all that was good about Bianchi’s top, pre-XR4 race bike, and adds disc brakes for ultimate stopping power. The swoopy lines, gorgeous hourglass-shaped head-tube and (now decorative) seatstay bridge give it poise. Aero features, from the recessed fork crown to the seat-angleswitching saddle clamp and cutaway seat-tube suggest efficiency against the wind. And all that comes with a frame said to weigh 1150g.
Ultegra may be classed as a step below Dura-Ace, but when you’re riding the new version of Shimano’s second-tier groupset the difference is hard to notice. Ultegra feels exceptional, from the comfortable, grippy hoods – which haven’t grown much to accommodate hydraulics – to the enlarged shift paddles. Improved mechs have better cable routing, the beefy cranks are super stiff and the discs are excellent.
Its ride quality and potential
Bianchi’s viscoelastic Countervail material is embedded in the carbon frame and fork to take the edges off road buzz and broken tarmac. But the frame’s racy roots are always on show, and can be felt when you stand on the pedals or dive into a corner.
ONE THING WE’D CHANGE The wheelset
The Fulcrum Racing 418 DB alloy wheelset blunt the Oltre’s otherwise race-sharp performance. With a claimed weight around 1700g, a 22mm external rim width and a 35mm profile they hold flat speed fairly well, but when the road goes up, so does the effort required to keep them spinning. On a bike at this price, we’d expect something rather more befitting.