March 20, 2017

2017 Buyer's Guide Combine Heritage and Performance with the Bianchi Oltre XR4

Racy and raw, this bike begs to go fast

In 2013, Bianchi started weaving Countervail, a vibration-damping viscoelastic material, into the carbon fiber of its road frames. The first Countervail model was the Infinito, aimed at the spring Classics. The material worked its way into all the company’s premium offerings, including the superlight Specialissima road race bike, with each subsequent Countervail bike riding better than the ones that came before. Bianchi’s newest road frame, the aerodynamic Oltre XR4, tops them all for most of our testers.

The Oltre XR4 is positioned as an all-around model for road racing and riding. In designing the bike, Bianchi was careful to pay attention to overall performance, not only watt savings, intending to craft a frame that, above all else, would be comfortable. The theory: If you aren’t fighting a harsh ride, you will go faster. Adding Countervail helped engineers meet that goal.
I rode the Oltre XR4 in and around the hills bordering Lake Iseo in Lombardy, and back home in eastern Pennsylvania. Both regions abound in old roads, strong winds, broken macadam, and routes that serpentine around farms (plus, in Italy, medieval-looking villages paved in a mosaic of multicolored blocks).

 It is easy to forget the Oltre XR4 is an aerodynamic bike, both in looks and its ride. If you’re in love with Bianchi’s heritage, you’ll appreciate that the frame utilizes subtle tube shaping to give the bike a classic look. And on the ride, the characteristic, severe aero-bike feel is totally absent. The only other aero model I’ve ridden that comes close in terms of suppleness is the Trek Madone 9-Series. The XR4 feels even nearer to the feathery-light but noticeably less rigid Bianchi Specialissima road race model in terms of ability to soak up and deaden road noise and chatter. Despite all that smoothness, the bike absolutely flies.

Price: $10,500.00 (as tested)
Weight: 14.2 lb
At A Glance
  • An aero bike that rides smooth
  • Countervail fiber in the construction damps vibration for a silky ride
  • Available as a frameset or complete bike