Bianchi's Infinito CV Disc has the reputation of being an endurance bike, and in fact, it's well-warranted. Indeed, Bianchi builds the frameset with a little taller headtube and a longer rear-center to give this bike more stability, while creating a slightly more upright position that’s more comfortable over rougher roads and long hours in the saddle, i.e. the perfect recipe for a Grand Fondo bike. What we're wondering is can a bike so focused on providing a smooth ride be a detriment to a racer in the pro peloton? We've become so accustomed to seeing pros running long, low, and aggressive positions that we rarely think of them on anything but a super lightweight climbing machine or an aerodynamic race weapon. However, each spring during the cobbled classics, the pros at LottoNL-Jumbo trade in the ultra-fast Oltre for the Infinito as its added comfort and geometry pay off when the terrain is brutal and the parcours is long. You'll still see them running massively long and negative-dropped stems to achieve the desired fit, but the carbon construction with Countervail proves that race-level stiffness and weight doesn't have to be sacrificed in the name of comfort. For this particular build, the Infinito CV Disc SRAM Red Etap HRD Complete Road Bike is built to help you tackle your own classics with a lightweight build of SRAM's excellent wireless group paired with the pavé proven Zipp 303 carbon tubeless wheelset and cockpit. The Infinito is perfect for mixing it up on the weekday club rides and venturing out for several hours in the saddle on the weekends.
Teams running special equipment at Flanders and Roubaix is nothing new. Each year team mechanics scour the service course looking for top-mounted brake-levers, bigger inner rings, chain-catchers, wider tubulars and other material to equip the bikes with the hope of surviving and ultimately dominating the day. Up until maybe a decade ago, these bikes relied almost more on tradition then technology when it came to supplying the hard men of the peloton with their equipment selection. Cervelo had special steel frames built up for the team as late as the 2004 edition of Roubaix, the same year Magnus Backstedt won on a titanium Bianchi. And we'll always have a soft spot for the hard anodized, 32-hole Ambrosio Nemesis wheelsets with a gold counterweight at the valve hole glued up with some fat tanwall tubs.
That isn't to say new technology hasn't been tried to varying levels of success. Who could forget Ballerini's suspension stem in '93 or Museeuw's full-suspension Bianchi in '94 complete with a Rock Shox's Ruby fork? The battle to quell the cobbles is almost as fierce as the competition itself and efforts like double-wrapped bar tape, wider, sharpied out (making it sponsor compliant!) FMB and Dugast tubulars, and the like are often employed in hopes of getting the team leader from Compiègne to the velodrome in Roubaix the fastest and freshest. Bianchi is lucky to have over 125 years of experience in building frames for the sport's best. It's not afraid to be innovative and often uses racing as its testing ground with the hopes that it'll one day come to market on production bikes allowing everyone to benefit from the technology.
The Infinito that Team LottoNL-Jumbo campaigns on during the spring classics began life back in 2013 under Spanish classic-specialist Juan Antonio Flecha. It marked the first time that Countervail, a viscoelastic carbon material that cancels up to a claimed 80% of road vibration was used on a bicycle frame. Flecha went on to finish 8th that year and after the race declared the Infinito CV "my best bike ever." Countervail is a patented material developed by Materials Science Corporation (MSC) and Bianchi, and it's sandwiched between the high-modulus carbon layers to quell vibration and road noise without compromising on stiffness. By reducing fatigue, riders and racers can keep their powder dry during a six-hour ride and have enough energy to launch an attack near the end. Bianchi's strategic use of vibration-damping Countervail technology pairs quite well with the geometry's endurance focus on rider comfort, and it's been so successful that it has extended it to the Oltre and Specialissima ranges.
The Infinito CV Disc also enjoys the same Carbon Nano Technology used in the construction of Bianchi's top-end aero race bike, the Oltre. This process uses nano-scaled particles to reduce the microscopic gaps between the resin and the carbon, increasing strength and fracture-resistance by a claimed 49% compared to standard epoxy resin. This construction gives us, and we're sure the pros and their mechanics, peace of mind over the rougher and more demanding terrain that this frameset is likely to see.
And while we haven't seen an Infinito under a rider holding the coveted cobblestone trophy above their head, an Infinito was piloted to a victory in Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour by Lars Boom on some of the same cobbled stretches that made up the Roubaix course 3 months prior, including the hollowed Arenberg sector. Boom attacked his former Astana teammates in the final kilometers to win his first-ever stage at the Tour on an ironically wet and muddy day that we haven't seen in a proper Roubaix since 2002. Perhaps if they were available then and embraced by the UCI, Boom would have chosen the disc brake version of the bike like the one we have here. It totally makes sense on a bike like this where we'll gladly take the small weight gain for more powerful braking in all conditions—and the confidence that comes with it. Whether it's on damp dirt roads, fast descents leading into tight corners, or an urban avenue with inattentive motorists pulling out of streets, brakes with single-finger responsiveness and excellent modulation help keep us on the saddle rather than on the asphalt.
Disc brakes are used regularly in other cycling disciplines, and after using them for some time now on the road, we're convinced of their merit. To be honest, it’s a feature many of us (though not all) are insisting on in our own builds going forward. We're happy that Bianchi made the decision to build the Infinito with disc brake compatibility. The combination is perfect for its endurance mindset and—along with a 28mm tire clearance—it encourages exploration into mixed terrain. Sure, rim brakes are lighter, but the modulation and power of disc braking offset any weight penalty if your main focus is a comfortable ride with a safe return.
With this build kit, we carefully curated components that best represented the frameset and the type of riding it's likely to see. We love SRAM's eTap as it's easy to set up, shifts with precision, as it isn't affected by cable and housing degradation, and it's wireless so nothing detracts from the Infinito's clean lines. For rolling stock, we selected Zipp's venerable 303's that Cancellara used to decimate the Roubaix field in 2010, the first carbon wheelset to do so. The Firecrest shape on these rims can trace its lineage directly back to the rim profiles Zipp designed to cope with the sharp stones. These wheels are also responsible for ending the reign of the aluminum box section rims we so fondly recall, and we must remember that most of the course is on smooth roads where aerodynamics still play a key role. Wrapping the carbon hoops are Vittoria's Corsa Control G Plus tires, a brand also well-versed with the top step of the podium. It all adds up to one very special bike. In Italian, Infinito means never-ending, and we're convinced that's how you'll want your rides to be.