Strengths: Versatile, comfortable, fast, good components, and a wonderful ride.
Weaknesses: Brakes aren't great but they can be adjusted.
I've put over 1000km on this bike since May and have loved every minute. This bike has become my go to ride fcr road rides and commuting. It being my first ever bike with drop bars has resulted in me needing to get accustomed to a different position but it now feels second nature. I can even keep up with my carbon framed, Dura Ace equipped roadie buddies on the Vixen without any problems. Initially when riding, I discovered the brake chatter issue on some steep hills but playing with the brake pads a little has resolved that minor issue. The highest speed I've reached so far has been over 60km/h. Atg that speed, the bike was stable and I didn't experience any wobbling or unexpected behaviour. This is an excellent machine for your money.
I'd buy another one.
Date Reviewed: December 31, 2009
Strengths: I was not very happy with this bike, and Bianchi was very slow in getting me a new frame.
Weaknesses: Frame strength: broke after 3500 miles
Slow response from Bianchi
I broke the chainstay on the drive side without having an accident-it just broke. The short and upright geometry challenged balance slightly. The front fork chattered when braking, and no mechanic figured out a solution.
Weaknesses: Somewhat heavy
Not a high performance ride
Braking (not awful, but not great either)
I’ve ridden my Volpe just over 3,000 miles in the past year and a half. Most of those miles were on my commute to and from work. In the past couple months I’ve also done quite a few 20 – 50 mile training rides on it as I’m getting in shape for a double century this summer.
The Volpe is outstanding as an inexpensive daily commuter. It has a comfortable somewhat upright geometry that you can ride all day. The steel frame is not the stiffest or lightest thing out there, but it rides smooth and handles all the potholes and rough pavement my commute throws at it. I’ve had to replace brake pads, tires, cassette and the chain, but I consider that all to be standard maintenance for the number of miles it’s seen, especially since I ride in the rain a lot (Did I mention I live in Seattle?). Shifting has always been accurate and smooth, and the brakes do a decent job of stopping me on steep Seattle hills in the rain. One complaint about braking… I’m not sure if this is the fault of the brakes, the forks, geometry or what, but if I’m braking hard with my hands up on the hoods, the front brake can start vibrating or chattering pretty badly. It gets a little scary in traffic on steep hills.
Bianchi made some compromises on components to keep the cost down, but it seems like they made the compromises in the right places, especially if what you want is low-maintenance, reliable transportation. The frame is built to easily handle just about any fenders, tires and racks you want to throw at it. In the wintertime I run big 32C tires for better traction in the rain, and there’s still plenty of clearance with fenders. I’m sure you could use bigger tires if you wanted to.
The Volpe has been comfortable on my recent training rides, but it definitely doesn’t climb or accelerate like any of the more race-oriented road bikes I’ve been on. I’ll probably buy a new “go-fast” bike one of these days for recreational riding, but I’ll keep commuting on the Volpe.
One more thing about the Volpe… I personally love the “gang green” paint job with red lettering that gives it that urban counter-culture bike messenger vibe. Yeah, I know it’s really just another mass-produced bike, but looks too cool. Others will probably disagree, but I think they totally ruined the looks with the new 2008 paint colors and decals.
Strengths: + Great ride quality
+ I like the leopard print saddle back
+ Comfortable riding position
+ The top tube is a bit oblong, making the bike easy to put on your shoulder
Weaknesses: - The stock tires seem to be a bit more delicate than they let on.
Initially as I opened this bike from its package, two things stood out:
1. The leopard print on the saddle
2. How HUGE the STI shifters are (I'm a Campy brat)
All jokes aside, I was very pleased with this bicycle after putting it together. After having used it for roughly a month for general commuting I can safely say it is the perfect commuter, but I am not entirely convinced that it would make a good CX bike.
The reason I say this is because the riding position is quite a bit upright and the BB clearance doesn't seem as high as it could be. Maybe it'd work in a dry CX race, but if there's gonna be mud, I recommend against it.
As far as commuting though, this thing is an absolute dream. The steel really eats up the road vibrations and the saddle is very comfortable, if not a bit showy.
I give it flying recommendations to anyone wanting a great commuter or light touring bike, but for a crazy Sunday of CX, look elsewhere.