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Bianchi has stepped up its gravel range with an all-new carbon gravel model called the Arcadex. With a nod towards Bianchi’s heritage and a focus on performance, the company says this is a gravel bike for the speed-minded off-road rider.
The Arcadex is certainly one of more heavily stylized gravel bikes we’ve seen recently, with as many curves and lines as any off-road trail it is likely to visit, and aerodynamic cues more akin to a road racing machine than a gravel rig. But while the aesthetics of the new frame may divide opinions, Bianchi nevertheless claims all the design elements used provide a role in the Arcadex’s performance and ride. To deliver on the promise of speed, for example, Bianchi says the frame has been aerodynamically optimised with dropped seatstays, internal cable routing, and mudguard eyelets built into fork flaps (which remind us of another famous Italian bike brand).
On the stiffness front, Bianchi points to the huge bottom bracket area and beefed-up head tube and top tube junction as attempts to reinforce the frame and get that highly sought-after responsiveness. The 1 1/8-to-1 1/2-inch tapered steerer may also add to the stiffness up front, but the sheer width of that head tube may negate some of the aero gains of FSA’s ACR integrated cabling system headset.
While said to be responsive and fast, the geometry of the new Arcadex falls more on the traditional end, and certainly doesn’t prescribe to the longer front ends we’ve seen on more progressive machines such as the Specialized Diverge, Devinci Hatchet, BMC URS, or Evil Chamois Hagar. Available in five sizes from XS to XL, all feature a 70.5 or 71° head tube, seat tube angles from 74.5 down to 73°, relatively short wheelbases and front centers, and a tall stack and reduced reach that yield a relatively upright and relaxed position.
With clearance for 700×42 mm or 650×47 mm tires, the Arcadex isn’t a class leader in tyre width, either, but both figures are still on par with the likes of the Canyon Grail CF and somewhat similar-looking Pinarello Grevil (although it should be noted that Canyon’s clearance claims tend to be quite conservative). Perhaps this is is in keeping with the focus on maintaining those racing characteristics and the aerodynamic optimisation Bianchi is claiming, but does seem a bit limiting on a new gravel release.
The Arcadex frame weighs in at 1,100 grams with the fork tipping the scales at 480 grams, with the same frameset offered with either a Shimano GRX 810 or GRX 600 groupset, both in 1x form. All other aspects of the builds are identical on both bikes, including 40-tooth chainrings paired to 11-42R cassettes, and Alexrims GD24 Disc wheels wrapped with WTB Riddler 700×37 mm tires.
Bianchi is offering two colour options, Gold Storm with a blue front end, and in a nod to Bianchi’s heritage, a celeste offering with the same blue front half. Both colours are said to “take inspiration from the untapped wilderness where the bike is most at home”, and personally speaking, the bikes do seem to look at home in the wooded environment.
Pricing is still to be confirmed, but we will provide it here when it becomes available.
More information can be found at www.bianchi.com