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by Dave Rome
October 26, 2020
Bianchi’s Specialissima has long stood as one for the traditionalists. The pre-existing version was an aspirationally high-end and competitively low-weight frame that offered elegant lines, round tube shapes, and not a spinning disc rotor to be seen. That all changes for 2021.
Bianchi has just revealed its new 2021 Specialissima. It remains as the Italian company’s lightweight and stiff race offering but follows the trend of moving to an aerodynamic design built around the use of disc brakes.
And before we pour one out in the memory of the gorgeous rim-brake Specialissima of the past, let’s look at the broad details of the new aesthetically polarising disc-only machine.
Recent times have seen Jumbo-Visma spend most of their time on the aero Oltre XR4, however, it’s clear Bianchi has designed the new Specialissima to become the regular go-to for WorldTour use as the brand changes team.
As a lightweight all-rounder with aero cues, the Specialissima finds itself in direct competition to newly revamped bikes like the Scott Addict RC (which the existing Mitchelton-Scott team will be swapping from), Specialized Tarmac SL 7, Trek Emonda SLR, Wilier Zero SLR, and more.
The new Specialissima is Bianchi’s answer to the trendy lightweight all-rounder.
With a claimed frame weight of 750 g (55 cm frame, painted) and a fork at 370 g, the Specialissima is still low-weight. Equally, Bianchi claims to have retained a high level of frame stiffness.
The frame also retains Bianchi’s CounterVail (CV) technology, a patented Viscoelastic material that’s layered into the carbon composite construction in an effort to dampen vibrations. Bianchi claims it produces a smoother-riding frame without a loss of stiffness or a significant increase in weight.
Bianchi is pretty vague with the aerodynamic design elements, but it’s clear the Oltre XR4’s design has been an influence on the aerofoil tube shapes. Additionally, there are the usual aero marks now common across the majority of performance race bikes, including an integrated seatpost clamp and fully concealed cable routing.
That integrated seatpost clamp has a goitre-like look to it that has us raising an eyebrow. It does, however, hold a regular round 27.2 mm seatpost.
The fully concealed cabling sees Bianchi adopt FSA’s ACR internal cable routing system, a turn-key cockpit and headset solution that’s also used by the likes of Merida and De Rosa.
This system uses oversized 1.5″ headset bearings top and bottom. The cables and hoses are run through the top bearing while using a regular round fork steerer tube. And while not mentioned by Bianchi, a look at the photos reveals some unused cable ports at the down tube which suggests you won’t be forced to the use the ACR internal cable routing system if you prefer otherwise.
The FSA ACR system looks somewhat ugly with such a tall stack of spacers. No doubt the pros will have theirs looking a little cleaner.
The FSA ACR system allows the Specialissima to be set up with either electronic or mechanical shifting. Meanwhile, Bianchi has equipped a Shimano-style BB86 press-fit bottom bracket shell. Tyre clearance is quoted at a modest 28 mm, an underwhelming figure by current trends.
Bianchi will offer the new Specialssima in seven frame sizes. No surprises that the geometry is on the aggressive side.
The press release from the oldest still-running bicycle company may have lacked finer technical details, but it gave plenty of space to talk paint.
The new Specialissima will be available in three colours. Bianchi’s iconic Celeste (pictured up top) will, of course, remain available. There’s a metallic greenish-blue option for those wanting something more modern and vibrant.
The “greenish-blue” version. Batteries included (despite what the photo shows).
And then much like what we’ve seen Jumbo-Visma racing, there’s a lighter all-black colourway that was specifically created for WorldTour use. It’s said to shave 80 g over more fun colours and it’s expected we’ll see the men’s and women’s GreenEdge WorldTour team racing this one.
Pictured is what’s likely to be the 2021 GreenEdge team bike.
Want more options? Bianchi has a new custom configurator. Additionally, there’s the “Signature Collection” which aims to bring a select number of Italian-painted artistic iridescent and holographic elements to the frames. This latter offering sounds quite similar to Trek’s recently announced Project One Icon series.
Bianchi is one of the few brands that’s historically eluded our test team. This new model certainly looks intriguing so hopefully we’ll be able to get one in for review.
Bianchi will offer the Specialissima as a frameset in addition to complete bike builds. The range starts with a Shimano Ultegra mechanical offering and goes up to one with Campagnolo Super Record EPS. There are also builds with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Shimano Ultegra Di2, and SRAM Red AXS eTap.
In the meantime, Bianchi hasn’t provided pricing. The previous Specialissima sat squarely in the premium end of the market, and it’s safe to assume this new model will too.
See more at Bianchi.com.