Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bianchi Infinito CV vs. Specialized Roubaix vs. Trek Domane -- Vibration Damping


I have been intrigued by Bianchi's Countervail technology since the first day I came across it.


While I don't mind an occasional bumpy ride that is short, a longer one gets old really quickly.  I got to appreciate my Binachi Vertigo C2C during a severely chopped section of Giro Costa Centrale not too far from San Luis Obispo.  The bike did shake a little, but it was pretty bearable, stable and comfortable.



So, I wondered if an entry level endurance carbon bike from Bianchi can be so comfortable, how much better would a bike designed with vibration damping in mind be?

I tried three bikes in that category: Specialized Roubaix SL4 Sport Disc, Trek Domane 4.7, and Bianchi Infinito CV.


Specialized Roubaix SL4

I bought a Specialized Roubaix SL4 with disc brakes, upgraded it thoroughly hoping to love it and to keep it, and ended up selling it after for 6-7 months and 2,300 miles.

The bike smoothed quite a bit of road vibrations out.  I think Specialized did a really good job with Zertz inserts.  Roubaix especially stood out during light offroad and gravel rides.

It was super comfortable, stable, and fast. In fact, it was nothing short of amazing for the offroad.  I had been riding the same trail for years with a hybrid bike, mountain bike, and two cyclocross bikes.  None of them came close to Roubaix in terms of handling, comfort, control, and speed.

However, I felt its geometry was a little too upright for me.  The disc brakes' extra weight, a heavier frame, and heavier wheels all added in just enough extra weight to make it not fast enough for really long rides.

As I ended up with a busier schedule, my only riding got limited to commutes to and from work + weekend rides and centuries.  Zertz did not make enough of a difference for my on-road rides to compensate for a slower rides during centuries and my 40 mile-per-day commutes.

I found myself getting to work more tired than I would with my Bianchi Vertigo.

And yes, I had it fitted at a Specialized dealer using the Body Geometry fit.

We had to part our ways in the end...

I have also rented a 2014 Roubaix SL4 with 105 group in Arizona for a few days.  Again, while I loved the look, I just liked the ride. It never felt very sporty or quick.

You can also read my review of 2017 and 2018 Specialized Roubaix, which is a completely different bike that the 2014 model. 




Trek Domane 4.7

My next test was with Trek Domane 4.7.  I've heard a lot of good things about that bike, so I decided to give it a try.  I took one for a half-day hilly test ride.

I loved the minimalist color scheme of the bike.  I also liked its complete Ultegra build.  Finally, the price was right. Since the local dealer overbought this model, they had it on sale for $1,999.

Trek Domane felt a little sportier than Specialized Roubaix.  It climbed better, felt more nimble, and overall, it was more fun to ride. In fact, I got new PRs on the climbs I have been doing for a year on various bikes.

The ride was very smooth -- even on some not-so-well-maintained mountain roads.  The "Isospeed decoupler" did a really good job - at least on par with Specialized Zertz inserts.

Ironically, the only complaint I had, which eventually  turned into a showstopper for me, had to do with the very feature I liked so much.  The lack of a decoupler on the front  of the bike made it feel like the front and the back came from two different bikes.

Here is what I mean.  As I got used to the bike eating up the little road imperfections, I got bolder in not avoiding them as I would with other bikes.  And the back of the bike forgave me.  Yet, front didn't.  It felt pretty jarring in fact.

So, once I adjusted my riding style for the front of bike, the rear felt a little disconnected from the road and artificial.

I probably could have gotten used to the ride, trying not to push it as hard through the road imperfections and disregarding the slightly artificial feel.  But I prefer a little more intuitive and sporty ride.


Bianchi Infinito CV

Finally, I tried Bianchi Infinito CV, and ended up buying it.  Several factors played in that decision.  I love my Bianchi Vertigo C2C.

Even though it has an entry level carbon frame, it has a pretty smooth ride.  I love the design and the color scheme.  And most importantly, I really liked the ride.  I have over 4,700 miles on it.

It has been a week since I got the Infinito CV.  I have done two rides on it.  So far, so good!

My first ride was a 20 mile commute to work.  My first impression was as if I was gliding over the asphalt. It was pretty amazing.

Until I hit a pothole.  That's where Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels raised their ugly heads.  The unpleasant bounce reminded me of a very similar experience I had with the same wheelset on my Colnago CLX 2.0.

So, I swapped the wheelset with Campagnolo Neutron Ultras with Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons from my Colnago.  I also dropped the bar a little and decided to try a new saddle from Specialized called Power.


It was a beautiful day in Northern California.  The family was gone to Universal Studios and Legoland.  I had the whole day to myself.  So I decided to go a quick metric century.

Campy wheels made a huge difference.  No more of the dull bounciness over potholes. The ride was very smooth. Yet the bike felt super nimble and connected to the road.

Infinito CV climbed really well.  In fact, on a couple of climbs, I forgot to switch to the smaller chainring.  The first few climbs, including a Cat 4 one, felt a little too short.  I can't wait to do a ride with a little more of fun climbing -- at least double of 2,600 feet from this ride.

This bike descended really nicely as well!  Very stable and easy to control even when I reached the max speed at 40.7 mph.

All in all, Bianchi Infinito CV left a very positive first impression.  It definitely beats the Roubaix in the department of sportiness.  And it has a much more consistent ride than Trek Domane.

The next three to-do items for this bike on my list are:
  1. Get the bike fitted.  I think the stem is a little too long.
  2. Get a different saddle.  Specialized Power does not work for me.  It was not very comfortable for a long ride.  I had to stop a couple times to get comfortable.  I will see if the fitter can fix that.  If not, it's probably back to Specialized Romin Evo Pro.
  3. Swap the Campy Neutron Ultras back to my Colnago.  Put Campy Zondas on Infinito CV.  And get rid of Fulcrum Racing 5s.
I look forward to more rides and upgrades, which I will keep you posted of.





No comments:

Post a Comment