There’s a new Bianchi bike on the market. Launched overnight the Oltre RC comes with an ‘Air Deflector’ on the headtube which, the Italian brand tells us, allows riders to “dominate the drag”. There are other features too, including the surprising asking price…*
– By Rob Arnold
*Note: this article now features Bianchi’s revised costings. The original price guide has been revised after the company noted “a glitch in the system that captured pricing from EU and converting in the wrong way”.)
The bike trade is full of rich claims and plenty of marketing hyperbole and Bianchi’s launch of its flagship road bike, the Oltre RC (Reparto Corse), comes complete with a list of selling features that are sure to capture some attention. Bianchi is, after all, a much-loved brand and one of the oldest companies in cycling.
In true modern style, you can find a lot of CAD images and animations to help you discover more about the Oltre RC (as well as the lower tier Oltre Pro and Oltre) on the Bianchi site. It is, they say, part of the ‘aerovolution’.
Ah, that’s a title to suggest – we can assume – that it’s an aero bike and it’s a revolution. And, likely, there’s a marketing agency somewhere that got paid a considerable fee to dream up that tagline. What do you think? Did it lure you in to find out more?
Part of this aerovolution is a price tag to match the hype.
What, a frameset only? That’s possible. From what the graphic included in the launch presentation suggests, we can assume it includes the frame, fork, stem, handlebar and seatpost.
For AUD$8,749 the Oltre RC frameset is yours. And you can then build a bike with your preferred components. Curiously, this could also be your cheapest option if you’re in the market for the new Bianchi.
Here are (the revised) costings:
- Bianchi Oltre RC with SRAM Red 12-speed:
- Bianchi Oltre RC with Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed:
- Bianchi Oltre RC with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 12-speed:
Apparently there are watts to be saved and efficiency to be found in the new design which Bianchi explains has been achieved by going “back to zero” – ie. they have “reset the clock to zero and started building the future”.
Still, the pricing does raise a few questions, like: are the specified wheels, tyres, groupset, power meter, and Bianchi’s new 3D printed saddle really worth ±AUD$20,000?
If we just consider some of the basic costings and try to calculate the price of the three complete bike options in October 2022, it’s difficult to see how Bianchi has created their packages with top-tier components at prices ranging from $22,549 to $24,595.
Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that groupsets have proven difficult to source because of supply chain issues and the impact of the pandemic. Still, ignoring availability, here is a (rough) overview of the component costs if you select the frameset option and build the Oltre RC yourself.
- SRAM Red AXS eTap 12-speed groupset (price listed on SRAM site): AUD$4,053
- Campagnolo Super Record EPS 12-speed groupset (price listed on Bike Bug site): AUD$5,161
- Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 12-speed groupset (price listed on Bike Bug site): AUD$6,056
Of course, you’ll need some wheels, tyres, sealant, handlebar tape, pedals, and saddle before you round out your build. But still, even if you select the most exotic of these components, it would be difficult to raise the prices to those Bianchi is currently listing its new range of bikes for.
The cost of ‘marketing bingo’
The slick online presentation of the Oltre RC suggests that a few computer-generated animations – complete with celeste and blue lines sweeping through the Air Deflector and other parts of the bike – will help us understand the science.
There are some explanations about the technology but its scant on detail and heavy on hyperbole.As you scroll over the images, Bianchi’s site showcases the highlights of the relaunched Oltre RC. Alternatively, you can click play on a few videos relating to the new bike and see (and hear) how fast it goes… it’s all part of what we expect when something ‘aerovoloutionary’ has hit the market.
Below are some of the statements made on the Bianchi site. It’s all about selling the concept of what the company calls its ‘hyperbike’ – ie. the top-end Reparto Corse offering.
It begins with this overview about how the bike is “built for the most demanding, most ambitious, most unrelenting competitors,” and goes on to explain that the “Oltre is nothing short of a revolution in the way we think about aerodynamics.”
Let’s go to the sub-sections of the presentation and run the verbatim transcript of the Bianchi overview. (Feel free to sing out ‘bingo’ each time you sight a marketing catchcry and add a little of your own in-house hype to the launch.)
Bianchi’s verbatim explanations
“Harness the vortex”
“New aero cockpit. One of the most impactful and revolutionary aspects of the Oltre is its proprietary handlebar. The cavity in the centre generates a vortex behind it that reduces the air pressure and resistance hitting the athlete’s legs, so less power is needed to create more speed.”
“Dominate the drag”
“A world exclusive by Bianchi technology, the Air Deflector (Patent Pending) simultaneously reduces the drag against the frame and amplifies the work done by the handlebar by protecting the low-pressure area it creates for the legs.”
“Each movement refined”
“Each detail of the Oltre is considered, analysed and refined, amplifying the efficiency and power of every pedal stroke. From the down tube to the seat post to the dropouts, every marginal gain has been harnessed.”
“As fast as humanly possible”
“In the quest for aero the most critical aspect is the human body, which increases drag more than any part of the bike. The Oltre’s precision-engineered design tackles this head-on. The handlebar and Air Deflectors reduce the drag of the athlete, amplifying the efficiency and power of every pedal stroke.”
* * * * *
Note: RIDE Media has reached out to Bianchi to find out more about the bike and its availability in Australia in 2022. I’ll keep you updated with more information as it comes to hand. (*See note at top of page.)
– By Rob Arnold