Words and photos by Jeff Lockwood
The Italian bicycle brand Bianchi has been an icon in the world of cycling for well over 100 years, and its celeste green paint is lusted after by legions of bicycle lovers from all walks of life. While Bianchi regularly sees its bikes in the pro peloton, the brand is also known for building a solid stable of rigs for mere mortal cyclists. For example, Bianchi produced a very popular series of singlespeed mountain bikes, like the SiSS, in the early- to mid-2000s.
We know from watching races like the Giro d’Italia and Strade Bianche that Italy has some rough roads and that Italians love to ride bikes. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Bianchi’s All Road collection offers a couple of bikes to be ridden atop such surfaces. As part of this collection, the All Road Disc 105 hits a market that prefers a bike that can handle the rugged white roads in Tuscany as well as riding to the local café or winery. While that sounds quite utopian, more practical applications for the All Road for the rest of us means we can ride the bike around town during the week and then take it on some modest adventures on the weekend.
The aluminum All Road frame is designed to be ridden in a variety of scenarios, on differing surfaces—sometimes all on the same ride. While people sometimes simply opt to buy cyclocross bikes for off-road riding, the All Road offers some features that are more specific and useful to the average cyclist—and offers more comfort than a racy cyclocross frame.
Bianchi’s own marketing copy positions the bike as a capable all-terrain steed, “The All Road best suits the needs of riders looking to enjoy endless miles ‘off the grid’ — whether their excursions take them up fire roads, down gravel roads, over mountain bike trails or ‘all of the above.’” However, I find the bike does better with riding situations closer to home. Without failing miserably at being too many things to too many people, the All Road deftly presents a product that wisely offers three important characteristics needed for varying types of riding.
For starters, the amusingly (yet appropriately) named 35 mm Kenda Happy Medium tires offer a tread that will roll nicely on smooth tarmac, grab enough on loose dirt roads and absorb some impact from neglected city streets. The fender mounts are key if you’re more into commuting to the office, as well as light touring. The 35 mm tires are about as wide as you can fit here, but there’s still plenty of room for the fenders. While the rack mounts offer a certain level of utility by allowing you to attach some bags and other bits, I wouldn’t say this bike is quite suited to heavy touring or bikepacking.
The key aspect of the bike’s versatility, in my opinion, is the fact that it’s a bicycle that is quite stable and comfortable on rougher roads for long distances. However, it’s still nimble enough that it can confidently cut and dice around traffic and errant pedestrians as you ride from your apartment to those glorious dirty stretches of road. And, of course, everything in between.
While you could theoretically use the All Road to test the waters of a cyclocross race if you’ve never done one before, the bike has a more relaxed and comfortable geometry and measurements than its racy siblings. The chainstays are a bit longer, which offers more straightline stability, yet the front end of the bike remains on the short side. This lets the bike get snappy when you need/want it to be.
Its taller headtube puts the rider in a more upright (read: comfortable) position, which is always good for those long days in the saddle. This comfortable position is bolstered by the compact handlebars, which offer a shallow drop and slightly flared drops. I love the comfort and confidence this cockpit offers. It’s not often that I find myself riding in the drops on road or ‘cross bikes too much, so it was a pleasure to get into such a position with the All Road.
The All Road is spec’d with a wider diameter seatpost (31.6 mm). Combined with its aluminum frame, I was expecting a rather rigid and unforgiving feel—especially on rough roads. I was pleasantly surprised that the bike muted some of the vibrations on rougher roads. While it didn’t offer steel-frame-level forgiveness, I found it to be plenty comfortable. Sure, this is mostly thanks to the wider tires, but the whole package rode really nicely.
Let’s be honest. The All Road is not designed, or priced, to be a hard-edged racing machine. It’s meant to be more of the trusty Swiss Army knife you have at the ready for whatever might come your way. However, since it’s billed as something to play in the dirt with, I sought out to see how the bike would perform on some tasty singletrack. It’s definitely no cyclocross bike, nor can it withstand truly technical trails with gnarly rocks and roots. But when the path was smooth, flowy and tacky, the All Road was fun. As long as I approached turns with a bit of care, the All Road stuck nicely to the trail.
The component spec on the All Road is typical for what you would find on a similarly priced rig. Shimano 105 takes care of the drivetrain. The 105 group is the workhorse of the shifter/derailleur world, and it’s hard to beat its performance-to-cost ratio. Disc brakes are a must for a bike like this, and Shimano’s road-specific hydraulic brakes offer smooth modulation and confidence. The aluminum stem, bars and seatpost, all branded as Bianchi’s Reparto Corse products, do their respective jobs with neither complaint nor fanfare. The carbon fiber fork is a nice touch. It tracks nicely and doesn’t really chatter on the rough stuff, which is welcome for more dirty sorts of riding.
While the Reparto Corse DRAW 1.9 Disc wheels and the Happy Medium tires performed well during the testing period, I would have preferred to run a tubeless setup. I understand that would have priced the bike a bit higher, but the performance gains, and confidence, offered by tubeless tires is key for such off-road specific bikes like this. I did worry about pinch flats when I would drop the pressure to further smooth out the ride.
While it was designed and built to be primarily ridden off-road, I found the Bianchi All Road more adept at rides along varying types of surfaces, rather than a pure gravel machine as marketed. If you’re into riding what you want, when you want, the All Road is certainly worth consideration. It may lack the sexiness that Bianchi is known for, but it’s a reliable rig that’s versatile, comfortable, decently spec’d and comes in below the $2,000 threshold.
Sizes: 50, 53, 55 (tested), 57, 59, 61 cm
Weight: 24.3 lbs
This review originally appeared in Bicycle Times #44. Read more reviews online here, and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to get content like this delivered directly to your inbox every Tuesday.Tweet Print
The folks at GT Bicycles recently approached me with a challenge: ride the new GT Traffic 1.0 day in and day out and share my impressions and feedback. Well… challenge accepted.
The Traffic 1.0 is at the top of a three-bike line of multi-purpose, sporty hybrids from GT, each with disc brakes and aluminum frames featuring the trademark Triple Triangle. In fact, all of the brand’s new pavement bikes sport disc brakes, a decision that we can whole-heartedly endorse.
Nothing on the Traffic 1.0 is revolutionary, but it represents an evolved example of an all-purpose bike. The Shimano 3×8 drivetrain has more gears than I really need around town, but people buy the bikes they want, not the bikes they need. The Acera shifters and Altus derailleurs shift crisply and easily.
The frame features a full compliment of fender and rack mounts, and the bike even comes with a set of full-coverage fenders and a bell. The struts were a little short on the front fender so I had to attach them to the mid-fork eyelets, but they work fine mounted there.
Rather than a flat or riser bar, the Traffic has a slightly backswept handlebar to keep you in a more comfortable position. It’s not as swept back as a cruiser but still gives a bit more control to the forward, poised rider position.
The Shimano hydraulic brakes are great for dodging inattentive drivers and bombing hills. The levers are more than long enough for two-finger braking, though one finger is all you need.
Keeping you rolling (likely without flats) are the 700×35 Schwalbe Road Cruiser tires with puncture protection and reflective sidewalls. The Schrader valves on the tubes aren’t as nice as Presta valve tubes but they are less expensive if you ever do flat.
So far, the Traffic 1.0 and I are getting along great. With an MSRP of $660 it’s nice to know you don’t have to break the bank to find a quality bike that’s fun to ride.
Watch for a full, long-term review of the GT Traffic 1.0 in an upcoming issue of Bicycle Times. Order a subscription now to make sure you don’t miss it!
Photos by Justin Steiner
Ritte is an interesting company. With marketing that seems to drift between sarcastic, ironic, off-color, and bro-tastic, it continues to be polarizing. But even if one doesn’t care for the brand, its style is iconic and distinctive.
It might be easy to dismiss the Crossberg as just another aluminum cyclocross bike, and in a lot of ways it is somewhat cookie cutter. But it fits in with its intended purpose as a race bike. A true cyclocross race bike gets beaten down over the course of a season: mud, pressure washing, getting jammed into the back of cars with another two or four race bikes. All these things take their toll, a toll that can beat down a carbon bike.
Every time I rode the Crossberg I wanted to go fast, and that is what a race bike is all about. Other than a pair of water bottle mounts this bike doesn’t make any overtures to practicality. It isn’t for riding to work on Monday and racing on Sunday. You can’t install a rack and go for a short tour. But really, after riding it for a spell, I don’t want to. I just want to find a cross course and turn the screws on some fellow riders.
I selected a size large based on top tube length, which run short across the board. The seat tube is tall as well, which makes it easier to shoulder during a race course run up, or up the stairs to your fourth floor walk up. It took me a while to embrace stem lengths beyond 100 mm again, as my preferences have followed the short stem trends in mountain biking. But once I got over my bad attitude, the 120 mm stem I settled on got me out over the front wheel, helping it to bite in flat, loose corners and made for an excellent position for out of the saddle climbs and sprints.
Handling is solidly racy. Get on the gas, brake late for the corner, square it off, start pedaling directly after the apex, repeat, win races. This isn’t a bike that has the edge taken off for riding to the bar to compare mustache waxing styles, so be prepared to pay attention at high speeds, as letting your mind wander can lead to scary moments. Bombing dirt and gravel roads is certainly possible and still a ton of fun on this bike, but something lower, slacker and longer is a better choice if that is the majority of your riding and racing.
I was glad to see all the cables are externally routed on the Crossberg as it eases maintenance, something that is a regular occurrence on a race bike. Ritte says this aluminum model is a step in the development of a new carbon race bike, but I hope the carbon bike keeps the external cables, which is becoming a rarity in this day of internal routing.
One of Ritte’s marketing lines is: “We make competition-focused bikes for unusual people,” and I think that is a very accurate way to sum up the company. The Crossberg Disc is an excellent race bike, and a viable option to the more mainstream brands. While it might not attract as much attention as more expensive models, like a Mazda Miata setup for track use only, it is more than capable of embarrassing carbon wonder bikes under the right rider. If something more road oriented is your style, Ritte just released a disc road bike, the Snob, made from domestically produced stainless steel.
- Price: $1,250 (frame, fork, headset)
- Weight: 5.3 pounds
- Sizes: XS, S, M, L (Tested), XL, XXL