BIKE TEST: Bianchi Impulso Disc

For the 130 years that Bianchi has been in existence, the brand has no doubt been both witness and participant to a wide variety of “new” frame designs, materials and manufacturing technologies. With their Impulso Disc, Bianchi has dipped into the history books, as well as embraced the latest in cycling tech and spec trends in pursuit of creating a well-rounded, entry-level bike. The Impulso is part of the large Coast to Coast line of endurance road bikes that puts as much emphasis on comfort as they do performance.

THE FRAME
The aluminum Impulso uses a triple hydroformed top tube and head tube to increase stiffness for handling. The hydroform technique is impressive in that both the top tube and head tube are hydroformed separately, then welded together, and after the welding process the junction is hydroformed again for a clean, seamless junction. By utilizing this hydroforming process, Bianchi is able to optimize front-end stiffness to maximize control and confidence when navigating fast descents and sharp turns. The Impulso owes much of its handling stiffness to aluminum tubes, as some carbon frames just cannot compete with the stiffness that an aluminum frame can provide.

_M5H4170

An added feature to the frame is the use of Bianchi’s own K-Vid (Kevlar Vibration Insulating Device) technology, which adds welcome amounts of vibration damping to the frame. K-Vid is the use of internal Kevlar weaves through the carbon fork and aluminum seatstays to provide stiffness benefi ts, as well as shock-absorption properties. By wrapping aluminum or carbon fiber tubing with the K-Vid technology, Bianchi is able to take advantage of the positive properties of both materials, providing a lightweight, stiff yet supple combination. The Impulso also uses ultra-narrow seatstays to help disrupt road shock from reaching the rider’s body. All these technologies combine to help decrease rider fatigue with the goal being to allow you to ride longer.

THE PARTS
Bianchi offers two Impulso models, which are distinguished only by their brake spec: our test bike uses disc brakes, while the ($1500) non-disc version has standard caliper binders. Both bikes are equipped with Shimano 105 drivetrains. To help keep the price down, Bianchi opted to spec a compact Shimano 50/34 RS-500 crankset (mated to a 12-28 cassette). Handlebar, stem and seatpost spec are all managed by Bianchi’s own in-house Reparto Corse aluminum components. A Selle San Marco Era saddle with a special Celeste colorway helps celebrate Bianchi’s history as the sport’s longest-living bike brand.

_M5H4195

Stopping duties are managed by Avid’s BB5 cable-actuated disc brake calipers with Avid’s own rotors. Bianchi custom-built their wheels to dictate what they were expecting out of a budget wheelset. They first started with basic disc brake hubs, with a rear 135mm axle to match their rear dropout spec, then laced them to a tubeless-ready Alex with an 18mm-wide internal profile. Bianchi wraps the rims with 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tires for great traction.

THE RIDE
Bianchi’s reputation of being the oldest cycling company still in existence has yielded a lot of bike for the money in the form of the Impulso. As one of our test riders exclaimed, “It’s the smoothest-riding aluminum bike I have ridden.” With the emphasis of creating a comfortable aluminum frame, Bianchi has hit the bull’s-eye. The shock and road vibration damping was terrific, and we would compare it to the comfort of some endurance carbon fiber road bikes. Bianchi’s K-Vid technology is definitely a factor in this. The comfort of the Impulso is almost unparalleled in a bike at this price, let alone in an aluminum frame.

Though the frame scored high marks in the comfort category, the Impulso takes a hit versus its carbon competitors for its 21.3-pound weight. However, for an aluminum bike at this price point that runs disc brakes, it’s as realistic as we would expect. The claimed added stiffness provided by the hydroformed front end sounds good on paper, and maybe it was there, but it wasn’t anything that we found noticeable.

_M5H4177

THE VERDICT
After plenty of time spent on the Impulso, we had to remind ourselves that not only is aluminum not dead, but in some cases it can even rival its carbon counterparts. If you are riding for fitness or for comfort, you can do no wrong by choosing Bianchi’s comfortable aluminum Impulso. While we still wonder why they would spec a tubeless rim without a tubeless tire, having the addition of a supple, low-pressure tubeless system would only further its chops of being a comfort king.

The first carbon model in Bianchi’s Coast to Coast line costs an additional $500 and runs the same Shimano 105 drivetrain. That would still reflect a good value, however, considering how effective the Impulso was at providing a worthwhile experience.

PUNCH LINES
• Can’t say it enough: comfort, comfort, comfort
• Climbing prodigy it is not
• 130 years of brand prestige

STATS
Price: $1600
Weight: 21.3 pounds
Sizes: 44, 46, 50, 53, 55 (tested), 57, 59, 61, 63cm

Go to bianchiusa.com and check out their full line of bikes.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.