Bianchi has expanded its range of aero road bikes with the introduction of a new Oltre race and has also updated its Sprint, the all-rounder based on the top-level Specialissima. In doing so, Bianchi inadvertently suggested that the release of a Shimano 105 12-speed groupset was imminent. We’ll explain why in a month, but let’s take a look at the bikes first.
Bianchi Oltre Race
Bianchi updated its Oltre aero line of road bikes last October with the introduction of three different platforms: Oltre RC, Oltre Pro and Oltre. The Oltre RC is the model with Air Deflector technology on the sides of the head tube, the idea being to channel the airflow, create a low pressure area at the back of the tube and reduce the streak.
> Bianchi Unveils Radical New Oltre Road Bike With ‘Air Deflector’ Aero Technology
Although there are no air deflectors, Bianchi says the new Oltre Race was inspired by the Oltre RC.
“Oltre Race offers a suitable configuration to make it accessible to a wider audience,” says Bianchi. “Aerodynamic tube shapes and integrated cable routing declare its racing pedigree.”
The Oltre Race is definitely not as extreme as the Oltre RC. The head tube, down tube and seatpost aren’t as deep, for example, and the rear wheel isn’t protected by the seat tube to the same extent. The Oltre Race also uses a standard stem and handlebar rather than an integrated cockpit.
The frame and fork are both carbon and the bike is only available with disc brakes.
The Bianchi Oltre Race is available in Shimano 105 mechanical (€3,399) and Shimano 105 Di2 (€4,349) versions, and in Celeste and Graphite finishes.
As mentioned up top, the Sprint is a road bike that Bianchi says is modeled after the Specialissima, and it has been given an update.
“The new Sprint is the result of meticulous engineering and an aesthetic restyling of the popular model in the versatile range,” says Bianchi. “The lightweight carbon monocoque frame is stiff for adequate power transmission, and now features integrated cable routing and an updated setup.”
Two versions are available. As with the Oltre Race, you can have the Bianchi Sprint built with either a Shimano 105 Di2 ($3,849) or mechanical Shimano 105 ($2,549) groupset.
The two color options are Celeste and Pearl White with purple/green iridescent accents.
Did Bianchi just confirm Shimano 105 12-speed mechanics?
We all pretty much know that Shimano will add a mechanical shifting option to the R7100 groupset that it launched as Di2 just last year – we’ve seen the pics and all – and the new Bianchi launch the confirmed. How come?
> Shimano 105 12-speed mechanical groupset brake cover
First of all, if you go to the Bianchi website and press “Oltre Race”, you get this:
Bianchi lists “105 Di2 12sp” but it doesn’t give a gear count for the mechanical version. It is conspicuous by its absence.
Go to the spec list for this bike and it simply says “Rear Derailleur: Shimano 105”. Bianchi usually lists a complete part number such as “Shimano 105 RD-R7000 SS 11sp”. Again, this information is conspicuous by its absence.
Also check out the URL for the Oltre Race 105 mechanic: www.bianchi.com/store/int_EN/ytb8d-oltrerace-10512sp-5.html
There’s a 105 12-speed reference hidden in there.
Go to the Sprint section of the Bianchi website, click on the mechanical model 105 and there is more evidence:
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano 105 12sp, direct mount, max 36T
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano 105 12-speed, 50-54T top gear, 16T capacity, for 12-speed rear
Mechanics 105 AND 12 speed? It is a combination that currently does not exist.
Again, see reference 105 12 speed in URL: www.bianchi.com/store/int_EN/ytbr5-sprint-10512sp-9.html
Could all this be due to administrative errors? It’s pushing it. To us, it sure looks like someone removed the part numbers when creating a spec list fit for public consumption, but accidentally left in the fact that it’s a 12 config. speeds. If you put this stuff on the internet, people are going to notice it.
The website photos don’t help us here, by the way. The new Sprint Race is featured with a Shimano Ultegra groupset – and it’s not even an option you can buy.
We couldn’t tell you for sure that Shimano’s 105 12-speed mechanical groupset is on the way, but all the evidence points to it. When will this happen? That we don’t know.
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