Bianchi Vigorelli: Genius Pick
Earning the Genius Pick in the bicycle category is tough; there is a lot of competition on the market and the criteria for the award are numerous. However, the Vigorelli from Bianchi has met the challenge and accepted the award graciously.
What We Like
Touring and Commuter Friendly
The purpose behind this bike is not taking the Yellow Jersey into Paris, but rather hauling a B.O.B trailer into Paris, or maybe more realistically, a pair of panniers into your place of work. A Reynolds 631 frame allows the Vigorelli uncompromised strength without much of a weight penalty. Rear Braze-ons and a carbon fork ensure function is keeping pace with form. Also a nice touring feature on this bike is the 11-32 SRAM cassette. Steep hills, heavy loads, crazy headwinds; all things that can make a long tourer or rushed commuter appreciate the 32-tooth granny gear.
Don’t let bicycle component hierarchy fool you; Apex means business and does not want to disappoint. At 2308 grams, Apex is nearly 150 grams lighter than Shimano Ultegra 6700 and almost $300 less expensive. SRAM is constantly pushing the envelope in component technology, resulting in a trickle-down affect that has made even entry-level road bike components ride and feel like something much more expensive. One of the most noticeable and appreciated of these technologies is the Double-Tap shifter design. Utilizing one shift lever, that is not also the brake, to actuate both shifting directions results in lighter components and more confidence when jamming on the brakes. Combine this with a 1:1 shift ratio and you have powerful, precise shifting whether climbing or descending gears.
Comfort and compliance combined with an efficient stiffness makes steel a real no-brainer if you can’t afford/don’t want carbon. Besides, smooth welds and steel tubes are much cooler to look at and talk about than ambiguous carbon frames.
What We Don’t Like
Granted this is more road bike than touring bike, but we still would have liked to see braze-ons on the fork and a chainstay bridge for mounting fenders.
In just the first few hundred miles we already love this bike. A great component spec, and a comfortable, elegant frame design all under $2,000 is just what we were after. Plus, with steel we know this bike will still be churning out the miles many years down the road.