THREE THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT THE... BIANCHIOLTRE XR3DISC £3999

Cycling Plus - - FIRST RIDE -

Its frame­set

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.

Its groupset

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.

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