Bianchi Aria

Wind slic­ing made more ac­ces­si­ble

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - re­viewed by Matthew Pioro

Wind slic­ing made more ac­ces­si­ble

One of my early rides on the Bianchi Aria was a blus­tery one, which is ap­pro­pri­ate for the bike by the Tre­viglio, Italy-based com­pany. Bianchi started de­vel­op­ing the aero road ma­chine in spring 2016. It made its de­but just be­fore the 2017 sum­mer rid­ing sea­son. I, how­ever, got a hold of the bike early this spring, a sea­son that seemed de­signed for test­ing an aero bike. I “en­joyed” head­winds and cross­winds, and some­how was able to avoid tail­winds.

The Aria draws fea­tures from the com­pany’s high-end aero-road Ol­tre line and the Aquila time trial bike. Bianchi had spe­cific goals for this new rig. “The project for our engi­neers was to de­velop an aero rac­ing ge­om­e­try bike, at a medi­umhigh level price range, be­cause it was miss­ing in our prod­uct lineup,” said Bianchi global prod­uct man­ager Angelo Lec­chi. Lec­chi’s words are well-cho­sen: at $4,250, I’d say the bike is at the higher end of medium-high.

The Campagnolo build, while very close in price to the Shi­mano 105 model, is well matched with the frame. Campy re­leased Cen­taur last year with the hopes of get­ting its mid-range gruppo spec’d on stock bikes. It’s just ap­pro­pri­ate to have the two Ital­ian brands to­gether. The Cen­taur sys­tem worked great. As ex­pected, it wasn’t as re­fined as Su­per Record or Record sets. With the Cen­taur, I needed a bit more mus­cle for shifts from the small, 34-tooth ring to the big 50-tooth than I would have with the car­bon groupsets. The stop­ping power pro­vided by the dual-pivot brakes was strong and con­sis­tent. For fans of disc brakes, the Aria also comes in Ul­te­gra and 105 mod­els with ro­tors. The al­loy Vi­sion Team 35 Comp wheels worked well with the frame. They’re a good all-round set of work­horse hoops that can slice the wind. For a big­ger aero ad­van­tage, and to re­ally com­ple­ment the frame, I’d run slightly deeper wheels. Vi­sion’s car­bon Metron 55 SL clinch­ers would be a good pick. Angelo Lec­chi said the Aria isn’t as stiff as the Ol­tre, which I re­mem­ber as rac­eready rigid. The Aria, how­ever, is no slouch when it comes to chan­nelling the power you put into the ped­als. It has a 86.5-mm-wide bot­tom-bracket shell. The head tube is ta­pered with a 1 ⅛"-di­am­e­ter bear­ing at the top and a 1 ¼" at the bot­tom. I’d say the han­dling isn’t as sharp as Bianchi’s high-end Spe­cialis­sima, but to­tally ca­pable in the cor­ners. My only quib­ble with the de­sign is the seat­post clamp. In­stead of a col­lar to hold the post in place, the frame uses a plug that you drop into the top tube and snug up with bolt. Set­ting your sad­dle height as you get the piece wedged into place is tricky, at best. I un­der­stand that this setup keeps the shapes more aero­dy­namic, but this gain comes at the ex­pense of a smooth user experience. Bianchi says the Aria’s tube shapes have been tested in a wind tun­nel, but is short on de­tails. The shap­ing of the fork and its in­te­gra­tion with the head and down tubes look le­git. My own aero test­ing is a bit anec­do­tal. On one of those blus­tery spring days, I rode with a group into a head­wind. While my early sea­son fit­ness was com­ing along, I was sur­prised to find my­self at the front not huff­ing and puff­ing, but chat­ting, ac­tu­ally able to have a con­ver­sa­tion for kilo­me­tres at a good pace. I was com­fort­able in drops and happy to cruise. What­ever the drag co­ef­fi­cient, the Aria was a plea­sure to ride into the wind.

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