Why We Like The Oltre XR4 Disc Road Bike Frameset
Here at the office, we love all the bikes we sell and we try not to play favorites too often, but something about Bianchi bikes makes it our pick of the litter with its road bike offerings. Great looking, sublime ride qualities, and a list of palmarès that other brands can only dream of, Bianchi bikes are steeped in tradition yet continue to develop and evolve in a sport where speeds are only getting faster and the difference between first and second is often just the width of a tire. The Oltre is the epitome of a road race machine and is the go-to frame choice for Bianchi's pro teams for every race except the brutal cobbles of Roubaix. Even in the high mountains, where we would expect GC riders on the uber-lightweight Specialissima, the team calls on the Oltre as its superior aerodynamics take precedence over chasing grams.
Bianchi is rich with racing experience and it takes this feedback into consideration when developing its frames and the XR4 is no exception. By partnering with teams that race at the highest level, framesets get pretty well refined, and while we'd like to think that we can exploit the bike's potential like these pros, the fact is we never will; however, the upshot is we know we don't have an excuse with our equipment. Something about riding a pro-level bike and knowing that our equipment is the same as theirs makes us want to ride harder and longer.
The ride of the XR4 is very, very fast. This Oltre is plenty responsive to encourage challenging every sprint thanks to its oversized tubes, press-fit bottom bracket, and high-modulus carbon fiber layup. Those traits typically make a frame ride harsh, however, Bianchi's patented Countervail technology is designed to quell high-frequency road vibrations in order to counter the bike's stiff efficiency. The frame loves the open road and absolutely crushes the flats, however, it's right at home devouring punchy, classic-esque bergs or long, grueling mountain passes alike and the Oltre XR4 never leaves us feeling like we would want a lighter bike. No matter the terrain, the bike inspires us to ride aggressively and step on the gas, much like a high-end sports car.
Compared to previous versions of the Oltre, the XR4's different tube shapes produce a claimed increase of 20 free watts by simply reducing drag. The tools Bianchi used to achieve this range from the usual (Computational Fluid Dynamics software and wind tunnel testing borrowed heavily from the Aquila TT frame) to the decidedly unusual (fluorescent paint applied in the wind tunnel that mapped the flow of air across the frameset's body).
As mentioned above, the XR4 incorporates Bianchi's much-lauded Countervail vibration damping technology. Countervail is a proprietary viscoelastic carbon layer in the frame that soaks up vibrations and road noise without compromising stiffness. Countervail was developed for NASA by Material Sciences Corporation, a US-based firm. The tech has also proven itself as an important laminate in tennis rackets, helping to reduce vibrations while returning serves that often reach north of 130mph.
Bianchi's been using Countervail in its endurance frames for some time to reduce the harshness of long rides over rough terrain. It quickly learned that it's actually a perfect addition to all of its frames including the aerodynamic line. Remember not too long ago when a sub-1,000g road frame was the holy grail? Well, the Oltre hits that mark in addition to being one of the most aerodynamic in the peloton and has the comfort for 5-hour stages and 3-week long tours. How's that for a holy grail?
- An all-around road racing frameset proven by elite road teams
- Racing geometry suitable for fast training and racing
- High-mod, UD carbon lay-up with Countervail damps road noise
- Aerodynamics influenced by motorsport technology
- Oversized tubes offer responsive handling and efficiency
- Disc brakes provide awesome stopping power and modulation
- Includes seatpost and Vision Metron integrated bar and stem
- Bianchi's Celeste is iconic, beautiful, and the color of cycling's heritage