Bianchi unveils new lighter, stiffer Oltre XR for 2013

Italians claim to have increased stiffness 20 percent while dropping weight

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LOURDES, France (VN) — Extensive research and development and a series of changes in new carbon fiber layup design have allowed Bianchi to make its brand new Oltre XR a claimed 20-percent stiffer and 30 grams lighter than the previous Oltre, dropping frame weight down just below 900 grams for a 55cm.

The new Oltre XR, which Bianchi launched just a few steps away from the Tour’s rest-day press room in Pau, France, is the Italian company’s latest high-end offering, and offers up mostly beneath-the-skin updates over the old Oltre model.

Other than new graphics, the appearance of the Oltre XR is identical to that of the 2012 Oltre. It still features the same winged fork, an ultra-wide down tube, a tapered and hourglass-shaped head tube, a curved top tube and ultra-thin seat stays. Bianchi didn’t provide any wind tunnel data, but insists that its winged fork and narrow front end, along with a tapered tail on the bike’s downtube and seat tube, help keep drag low.

Geometry remains the same as the old Oltre, and available sizes range from 47cm to 60cm.

Bianchi says it designed the frame with an emphasis on stiffness, specifically in the downtube, bottom bracket and chainstay junctions. The new frame retains the 1 1/8” to 1 ½” tapered head tube from the previous Oltre, and Bianchi went with the BB30 bottom bracket standard.

The tubes themselves are made using UMS 40 and CN60 carbon fiber. Much of the increased stiffness comes from a cross-hatch pattern of reinforcing carbon, which Bianchi lays down in key areas like the head tube in a process it calls “X-Tex.” Bianchi uses carbon nanotubes in the seat stays, allowing it to build them thinner and, Bianchi representatives say, more comfortable.

Bianchi won’t release prices until Eurobike in August, but we do know that the Oltre SR will come in black, red, and of course, Bianchi celeste. Buyers can order a build with Shimano’s new 11-speed Dura-Ace Di2 or 9000 mechanical groups, Ultregra Di2, SRAM Red, Campagnolo Super Record, Record, Super Record EPS, or the new Athena EPS group. Availability is set for this fall.

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