Two blog posts in one week! Color me impressed with myself 😉
Shortly after my Camp Erik experience I decided that I wanted to invest in a new road bike. Spending two days riding full carbon speed machines with Shimano DI2 will do that to a person. At camp I had the pleasure of testing out the Specialized Amira, the Specialized Ruby, the Bianchi Intenso, as well as the Raleigh Carbon Capri.
Each bike was uniquely different from one another and each had some pro’s and con’s. For my personal riding style the Amira was a bit too aggressive. The bike is a pure race machine with a stiff carbon layup and the model I was riding also had some deep dish carbon wheels (I believe the demo model was the Amira pro race). The bike would be great for someone looking to win races, but that’s not quite my style.
Next up was the Specialized Ruby. The Ruby is quite an amazing bike. It’s lightweight and amazingly comfortable out of the gate with no changes to the components. The geometry is great for endurance rides or for the person doing multi day or long distance charity rides. The Zertz inserts and Specialized seatPost with the elastomer insert makes for a super comfy ride on our pothole riddled country roads. In all honesty, this was going to be the bike that I purchased. That is until I had the chance to buy the Intneso at a great price. (Erik’s gives employees first dibs on demo bikes and we are able to finance them rather than have a large out of pocket expense- Full disclosure and such.)
The Intenso was my second favorite out of the four bikes I had test ridden. Bianchi has their own patented Kevlar based dampening system called K-Vid that absorbs road noise in the fork, chain stays, and seat stays. The geometry of the bike is between a comfy endurance bike and a race machine. I felt incredibly efficient pedaling the bike up to speed and it felt very confident on turns as well as fast, sketchy downhills. Sometimes ultra stiff and fast bikes can feel twitchy and not very confidence inspiring. The Intenso was great at this though and continue to enjoy the feeling that the bike is stable at top speeds.
I have made some changes to the bike to make it fit my personal riding style. Luckily through Erik’s I have access to amazing professional fitters and was able to do a fit session in our state of the art fit studio at the Madison West location. Kenny, my current boss and fit mentor, spent three hours with me on getting the bike set up just right. We swapped my stem to something with a little more rise and the handlebars to something with a little more space on the flats. I also had my sitbones measured to pick out a comfortable saddle. I’m now on a Specialized Ruby Pro with a 155 width and have never felt such comfort on a saddle! The San Marco Era that comes stock on the Intneso isn’t bad, but being only a 143 width it wasn’t supporting my sitbones properly. Kind of sad since it is a nice feeling saddle. I hope to find it a good home soon so I can purchase another Ruby Pro for my commuter bike.
Additional info about the Intenso:
-It is offered in a Shimano Ultegra or Shimano 105 11spd configuration (I have the 105 bike)
-The bike can take up to a 28c wide tire. The bike comes stock with Vittoria 25c tires. I have since updated the ride with pink limited edition Vittoria tires in a 25c width.
-The handlebars, stem, and seatpost are all Reparto Corse branded which I believe are manufactured by FSA as are the brakes. I am using the original seatpost, but have swaped out the stem and handlebars with Specialized branded options for a better fit.
-The women’s version of the bike comes in a white and celeste option or a flat black carbon with celeste logos option. I got the flat black version. I believe the men’s comes in a red and a full celeste option.
-The stock handlebar tape is Bianchi branded celeste. I swapped it first with Lizard Skins Celeste, but seemed to have some issues with the particular batch of tape I had coming unravelled (I have never previously had that issue before. I think it was a fluke.) so, I then replaced it with Specailized’s Roubaix handlebar tape in the celeste color.
-The stock wheels are a Fulcrum branded wheelset. I swapped them out for my lighter Mavic Ksyrium Equipe S wheels that managed to fit the 11spd cassette on. I also had a set of CycleOps branded Ti skewers hanging around that I decided to swap in.
-The bike stock was 18.5-19 lbs. With the changes I made to the components, tires, and wheels it is closer to 17.5 lbs. That’s not counting my carbon waterbottle cages, matching Bianchi seat bag, my Ass Save fender, and my cute new top tube bag by Detours.
The bike has been an absolute pleasure to ride and it looks beautiful to boot. The classic style of the graphics draws a lot of compliments. I’ve always been a big fan of Bianchi and their dedication to tradition all while embracing modern technology. Bianchi is celebrating 130 years of being a company and I’m glad to continue to support them. It also helps that I won a pretty bitchin’ prize pack including a Binachi multitool, seatbag, and cycling cap at the Camp Erik raffle 😉
There is one last bike I realize I didn’t mention up to this point and that is the Raliegh Carbon Capri. For me, I personally wan’t a fan of the overall ride of the bike. It is a little racier of a geometry, which may be why I didn’t enjoy it as much. I also felt a little more sluggish on the bike compared to some of the others. That’s not to say it isn’t a good option. I have owned a couple of Raleighs and really enjoyed them. They are a great value brand where you can get a full carbon bike with nice components for usually a couple hundred less than their competitors. The ride quality of the bike compared to something like a Specialized could be that they aren’t pumping as much research and development into the bikes and as far as I could tell they didn’t have any type of proprietary dampening system in the frame to make it a little less stiff feeling. Again, it could just be that the bike’s geometry just wan’t right for me out of the box. I’m sure a professional fit could easily make it a great option. It just was the bike I least liked out of the other options I was able to test ride.
Overall I would say that each bike filled a niche and it’s nice to see that bike companies are offering more varieties for women these days. The colorways are also getting much better. I still see some pink and purples thrown into the mix, but the graphic designs make them a little more edgy and less girly girl. One thing that drew me to the Intenso was the fact that it doesn’t look like a “women’s bike”. In fact, most women’s bikes don’t differ all that much other than maybe a little lighter carbon layup, narrower handlebars, and a women’s specific saddle.
If anyone is looking to get into the world of comfy carbon road bikes, my two votes would be the Bianchi Intenso Dama Bianca or the Specialized Ruby. Should carbon be a little too pricey for your pocket book, Bianchi has an aluminum bike called the Bianchi Impulso Dama Bianca. Specialized also carries an aluminum bike with the same geometry as the Ruby called the Dolce. Both great options for someone looking for comfort, good components, and value.