Strengths: Stiffness. Comfort. Geo, which makes cornering and everything so pleasant. Looks. Classic Italian hand-made wonder. Oh. It's beautiful.
Weaknesses: Weight. That is it.
This was my first road bike, as I wanted to get into racing without breaking the bank. I was wary at first...old steel frame, blah blah blah, is it even race-worthy?
Pffft. It is. Don't let the gimmicks fool you. While this is certainly a heavy frame, it is stiff, great looking in solid-celeste, and the perfect frame for training/racing on a budget. The geo is super comfortable, the frame soaks up the road like no other, and I can't tell you how much of a pleasure it is to ride.
I lucked out with a great bike that does everything I need it to. When the time comes to upgrade, I'll stick with Bianchi and move to one of their more modern lighter frames (FC, FG Lite, or 928L) most likely. But for the time being, this bike is treating me well.
Right now I just need to work on the engine. I'm giving 4/5 overall, just because newer frames could offer this and more with lighter weight.
Strengths: Awesome frame! Mirage Ergo shifters and Veloce brakes are as good as their bigger brothers. I slowly upgraded all of the (relativley) weaker components mentioned below.
Weaknesses: Wheelset is OK for a backup set, but I upgraded to Chorus hubs and Mavic Open Pros. Campy Mirage group is reliable and performs well, but I am very picky about crisp shifting, so I upgraded the derailleurs and cassette to Chorus. The bike is a bit heavy, so I swapped the seatpost and fork for carbon fiber. Now the bike weighs an acceptable 21 lbs.
Headset is not strong enough for comuting over rough roads. I cracked the fork crown race after < 1000 mi. Bianchi offered to replace it, but I opted to replace it with the best--Chris King.
I primarily bought this bike for the traditional geometry and its hand-made Italian steel frame. I compared tons of bikes at the $1000 level, and this one had the best ride by far.
Similar Products Used: My first real road bike. Tested a myriad of others including Specialized Allez, LeMonds, Giant OCRs, Trek 1000 series, etc.
Bike Setup: Upgraded to Chorus hubs, derailleurs. Chris King 2-nut threaded headset. Easton EC30 carbon fork. Carbon seatpost,
Mavic Open Pro wheels with radial, bladed spokes.
Selle San Marco Concors Light saddle
a Recreational Rider
from Portland, Oregon
Date Reviewed: July 22, 2003
Strengths: Looks! - It's gorgeous in traditional Celeste!
Road feel combined with responsiveness.
Bianchi has come up with a perfect balance, at a bargain price!
The traditional geometry is perfect for anything, from road racing, to commuting to centuries.
High quality frame as used on Bianchi's higher level bikes - Well worth upgrading.
This bike just seems to exude tradition & character.
Weaknesses: True, it's not the lightest mount out there, and never could be, but that's not the reason I wanted this bike!
Although the Mirage/Veloce componentry probably actually works "better" than my old Nuovo Record, it doesn't feel quite as solid or "slick" as my old Nouvo Record stuff.
Heritage & Tradition - True Italian character combined with modern functionality.
This bike was my re-entry bike into road cycling after a 10 year hiatus.
I wanted to replace the early '80's Bianchi Nuovo Racer, with Campy Nuovo Record grouppo, that was stolen.
It had to be Bianchi, steel, Celeste, Campy, and as all-Italian as possible, but on a budget...
The Campione is near-perfect. It performs in it's intended role like the Champion it is! I especially love the fluid & responsive "feel of steel" - including the absorbant quality of the steel fork.
I feel like I could put a million miles on this bike; I hope I can last as long as the bike and Campagnolo parts!
Favorite Ride: Hills & farmlands around Bald Peak - Feels like I'm in the Alps!
Purchased At: Acton, Massachusetts
Similar Products Used: 1980 Bianchi Nouvo Racer with full Campy Nouvo Record grouppo.
Similar vintage Paramount with Dura Ace (borrowed from a friend for a summer).
Several late '80's / early '90's Cannondale road bikes.
Bike Setup: After the 20 mile test ride, I immediately swapped out the saddle for a selle Italia Flite Ti saddle (In Celeste 'natch!). I put on a spare Synchros Ti seatpost that was lying around, for a bit more comfort - This will be replaced with a Chorus Ti post to keep it all-Italian.
I am planning an upgrade to full Campy Chorus grouppo, and Campy Proton wheelset - These seem to be in keeping with it's character and performance/value.
The stock wheelset will be fine for training when I want a bit more weight, with maximum durability. The stock Vittoria tires wore out before they ever got a flat - I'm now running Conti Grand Prix 3000's, and love the supple feel - Combined with the steel frame & fork, and Ti seatpost & saddle rails, it feels like having slight suspension - but very quick & responsive.
a Road Racer
from Bloomington, Indiana
Date Reviewed: June 2, 2003
Strengths: Smooth ride, Italian steel, campy parts, can't get any better for the price.
Weaknesses: Terrible stock saddle (I bought a new Koobi PRS saddle), takes some breaking in, but that is expected.
Overall, this bike is an absolute great buy. For under $1000, there arn't many great bikes (and NONE American), but this is an exception. The ride is smooth and the steel does a good job absorbing some of the bumps in the road. The look 206 pedals are top of the line.
Favorite Ride: Any ride that pumps the lactic acid
Purchased At: Local bike shop
Bike Setup: Sigma computer, koobi seat, polar heart rate moitor.
a Road Racer
Date Reviewed: May 2, 2003
I like the bike overall, but have some gripes with it. I have long legs and a short torso, so I had to get a shorter stem with a bit of a rise. More importantly, I've had some mechanical issues with it - the original nut and bolt that held the seatpost had to be replaced because it didn't hold, and the chain snapped after less than a thousand road miles. The campy has been nice other than that. My biggest problem has been with the headset wobbling, I've taken it to two bike shops who haven't been able to get a permanent fix, I think it will have to be replaced. When I ride, I have to hand - tighten it every few miles!