Product Review: Bianchi’s gravel bike – Impulso All-Road

I’ve never written a review about a bike before.  I have several bikes – some I bought brand new, others I bought used.  And I even have one that I built with old parts.  Each bike has its pros and cons, and each bike has its purpose in my fleet.  But when I travel, I often rent a bike from a local bike shop.

On my family vacation to Vegas earlier this month, I tried to balance family hikes and walking with my own cycling.   After considerable online research, I found a bike shop in the north end of Vegas that offered a great rental price for the exact kind of bike I was looking for.  I wanted a bike that could ride on gravel and dirt roads but also on pavement.

Southwest Bikes‘ website offered a Bianchi Impulso All-Road gravel bike for $45USD per day, with a free day for each 2 days booked.  So I got 5 days for the price of 3.  This compared to some other rental places that were on the order of $80 – $90 per day.

I don’t pay close attention to the specs on bikes I rent, so other than seeing that this bike was equipped with Shimano 105 components, I was unaware of other features ahead of time.  But here’s a quick summary of the bike:

  • 2×11 Shimano 105 drivetrain.  Rings 50/34, Cassette 11-34
  • Shimano hydraulic disk brakes and shifters
  • Kenda Flintridge 700×35 tires

The bike shop equipped the Bianchi with EggBeater pedals so I could use the shoes/cleats I brought on my trip.  The rental also included a fanny pack with a C02 pump, multitool, tire levers, spare tube, patch kit (which I fortunately didn’t need).  The bike also had a bell on the handlebar, which proved to be useful for the multi-use trails that I rode.

Other features I noticed during the week included:

  • drop handlebars that flare outwards to allow bigger handlebar bags for bikepacking/touring
  • mounts for fenders and panniers
  • internal cable routing

Oh, and the bike was in “Bianchi” celeste green.  In the photo below, I stopped near a rock that had mineral stains that were the same colour as the bike so I had to stop for a photo!

What I liked about the bike:  The size 55 was perfect for me.  I raised the seat just a bit and was off the the trails!  It was comfortable right away.  My first rides were on paved trails and road and the bike handled this smooth surface very well.  If I was trying to keep up with roadies, it might be a bit of a struggle (but it always is for me, even on a road bike).  The hydraulic disk brakes provided confidence in braking.  This was important because the trails have a lot of ups and downs, occasionally with quick turns.  I was able to curve with more speed because I was confident I could stop if necessary. On my last day, I challenged the bike a bit by exploring some gravel and dirt roads (see the photo below).  The Impulso was more than up for the task.  The grip was good even in loose gravel, and the hydraulic brakes gave me confidence riding and cornering on this unpredictable gravel road.

What I didn’t like about the bike: I had to give it back before we flew home.

If you visit the Bianchi specs page for more details about this bike, you’ll read things like:

  • Impulso Allroad Alu 6061 triple butted
  • Triple Hydroformed Technology
  • Bianchi
  • “The Impulso All Road’s stiff downtube and bottom bracket region make quick work of each pedal stroke”

This stuff doesn’t mean much to me but I can tell you this:  The bike rode well and it felt like the energy I was putting into the pedals was moving the bike forward efficiently.  I wasn’t trying to pick up an KOMs or ride in the red-zone, but the bike felt fast, comfortable and under control.

The MRSP, according to the Bianchi Canada web page is $3200 (Canadian) which seems a bit high for a bike equipped with 105.  But I haven’t done enough comparison shopping to say whether or not this price is reasonable.  Either way, it’s a great bike to ride that does well on the surfaces I tested.

 

 

 

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