In July I had the opportunity to visit Bianchi in Bergamo, a town situated just outside Milan. I was lucky enough to ride the recently launched Oltre XR4 that has replaced the Oltre XR2. With the new model featuring Countervail, a viscoelastic vibration cancelling material that Bianchi have used so well in the Infinito CV, Specialissima and Aquilla I were really looking forward to it and I was not disappointed.
The XR4 I had the chance to ride was equipped with Sram E-Tap, Zipp 404 Wheels and Vision Metron handlebars, a lightweight machine to say the least. The bike did not disappoint, it climbed well, (or as well as an unfit Brit could manage in 30 degree heat!) and was responsive yet stable when riding around town. Ultimately the bike is designed as a performance bike so what I was really looking forward to was the descent. A chance to push it a little harder (with the help of gravity!) and this is where it came into it's own. Controlled and precise handling through the corners and stiff when accelerating on the way out. The Countervail (CV) technology was definitely noticeable when riding at speed and if you are looking for a new performance bike but don't want to feel like you have been beaten up at the end of the ride then I would definitely recommend taking the XR4 for a test ride. The complete models start at £4700, or can be built up from a frameset. All I would say is regardless of whether you 'need' a new bike or not, this will end up on your wish list after a demo!
The Bianchi Oltre XR4 - Sram E-Tap in Selvino, Italy.