Having flown with 14 other Bianchi dealers to Bergamo which is a town an hour north of Milan. This is where Bianchi base themselves out out of for their testing and training as it is close enough to their spiritual home of Milan but with fantastic riding out towards the hills of the Lombardy region. Bergamo has been the finishing town on and off the Giro di Lombardia which is one of the five Monument races along with Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, Milan-San Remo and Leige-Bastonge-Leige.
The day everyone was waiting for. Bike testing day. You could really sense the excitement and anticipation of testing the new bikes on the bus in the morning and for 2016 the one on top of everyones list was the new Bianchi Specialissima. Being handed a Specialissima I was sure that I was going to give it as good a test as I could. The hotel where the weekend was based was about a third of the way up a mountain towards the town of Selvino. The bike specced out with Dura Ace 9000 and Fulcrum Zero Nite wheels really did put it into the category of super bike and that is how it rode. Stiff and efficient climbing up which for such a light bike (unfortunately I did not have the scales to measure just how light) and having climbed for 2500 feet I thought it reasonable test also the temperature was approaching 34degrees and with my previous history of catching the sun to put it mildly I thought it best to see what the Specialissima was like coming the other way. In and out of switchbacks the bike held it’s line perfectly and picked back up to speed in an instant. Tracking on sweeping corners it held its line perfectly which gave me confidence to apply more speed into the corners. Climbing back up to the hill up a cheeky 15% kick I’m not sure there would have been many riders of the bike that day who wouldn’t have wondered which bike that may have to get rid of to make room in the collection for one of those. Sitting down to relax and watching other riders coming back from riding with the same beaming smile really is a credit to Bianchi and the hard work that the technology department have put into creating this bike.
As it wasn't a holiday we had to do some work in the afternoon and having not been on a dealer trip before It was interesting to see the full Bianchi range and chat with individuals from Bianchi that we see on a fairly regular basis in the shop as well as those who are based in Europe and across the world to get their perspective of the new range. Chatting with ‘Bob’ the CEO of Bianchi and him listening to the suggestions and fielding questions on how and why certain things have been done does give you confidence in the brand that those in executive positions want to listen to the suggestions at the shop level.
Having seen the 2016 Bianchi range day three involved a trip an hour south of Bergamo into Milan to visit the Bianchi Cafe. Having a Bianchi motif within our cafe I was very interested to see how they had set it out and by the looks of it they had done a fantastic job. Based over 5 floors which comprised a restaurant, bike shop, and coffee shop. If there was somewhere a cycling fanatic wanted to grab something to eat in Milan accompanied by the obligatory glass of wine and admire a few Bianchi bikes this is the place.
I'm looking forward to next year (if I'm allowed back!).