› Ital­ian her­itage, Paris-roubaix his­tory and clas­sic looks

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - ROAD TEST -

o en­try-level bikes need to look like they were built in your back­yard by a lo­cal black­smith who’d never wielded a weld­ing torch? That’s a def­i­nite no when it comes to the Via Nirone 7 from Bianchi, the least ex­pen­sive model in the his­to­ried Ital­ian com­pany’s road bike range.

We can safely say that none of our other five test bikes have frames that were once raced at Paris-roubaix, though that bike would have been decked out with Cam­pag­nolo Su­per Record, not the more mod­est Claris on our bike. For­tu­nately, it looks

Dbel­lis­simo in Bianchi’s Ce­leste, and if you like a lit­tle Latin class, the Via Nirone is avail­able with 10-speed Cam­pag­nolo Xenon/ve­loce for a bud­get-bust­ing £1000.

While we can eas­ily be swayed by ap­pear­ances, we like to know there’s a per­for­mance to back it up. The Via Nirone frame has been around for a while now, and Bianchi’s de­sign­ers have had time to get it right. Over the last few years it has gained in­ter­nal cable rout­ing and looks all the bet­ter and mod­ern for it, though there was a lit­tle rat­tling from the ca­bles over the very worst bumps. And though the groupset may only be Claris com­pared with Sora on ear­lier mod­els, the 2018’s 12-32 cas­sette is much more wel­com­ing on the hills than the pre­vi­ous 12-27. The tyres are wider too.

Bianchi de­scribes the Via Nirone 7’s ge­om­e­try as ‘en­durance rac­ing’, which feels pretty ac­cu­rate. With a 155mm head-tube it’s pretty low at the front com­pared with our other test bikes, but the slightly slack head-tube an­gle slows the han­dling down a frac­tion. It also comes with 3.5cm of spac­ers, so you have a bit of lee­way di­alling-in your po­si­tion, but if you want to hun­ker down low in the drops this lets you do so.

The real sen­sa­tion on first pedalling the Bianchi is one of

We can be swayed by ap­pear­ances, but we like to know there’s a per­for­mance to back it up

smooth­ness. It may only have a hy­dro­formed alu­minium frame, and a stiff, triple-butted one at that, but this is su­perb at de­liv­er­ing a smooth, plush ride over rough roads, much more so than we ex­pected. Both the seat­stays and the fork fea­ture Bianchi’s K-vid (‘Kevlar Vi­bra­tioniso­lat­ing De­vice’), which con­sists of Kevlar in­serts. And while we’re nat­u­rally scep­ti­cal about com­fort­boost­ing acronyms, the plush­ness and com­fort the Via Nirone de­liv­ers are more than mere moon­shine.

This is even more sur­pris­ing when you con­sider the Bianchi’s 31.6mm di­am­e­ter seat­post, pre­sum­ably a hang­over from the Via Nirone 7’s rac­ing days. This race her­itage is also ev­i­denced in the ab­sence of rack mounts and mud­guard eye­lets. If you do want ’guards for year-round train­ing or com­mut­ing, there is room to squeeze in a pair of SKS Race­blades or sim­i­lar.

The neg­a­tives are the usual ones on a bike at this price. The Tek­tro non-car­tridge brakes are av­er­age and the wheel-tyre com­bi­na­tion is ba­sic but func­tional. But the frame, and the ride it de­liv­ers, are among the best we have ex­pe­ri­enced at this price.

The Bianchi Via Nirone 7 may lack the ver­sa­til­ity of some of the bikes on test here, but for the ride qual­ity alone we would hap­pily rec­om­mend it. It would make a su­perb sportive ma­chine, it’s fast, com­fort­able and ideal for tap­ping out the miles at a very de­cent rhythm.

Be­low Vit­to­ria Zaf­firo tyres and Tec wheels are ba­sic but do the job Bot­tom We’re big fans of the Ce­leste colour scheme

For the ride qual­ity alone we would hap­pily rec­om­mend it

FOR A LOT MOREBIANCHI SEMPRE PRO £1800If you’ve got a fair bit more to spend how about car­bon mono­coque frame with Shi­mano 105 and match­ing RS010 wheels?

FOR A LIT­TLE MOREBIANCHI VIA NIRONE 7 XENON £1000 En­joy the same lovely frame, but pay an ex­tra £250 to get 10-speed Cam­pag­nolo Xenon/ve­loce spec mix.

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