Bianchi Volpe Review
The Volpe is undoubtedly the most versatile bike in Bianchi’s lineup. It has lots of tire clearance, plus rack and fender mounts, giving it the potential to be a commuter, a touring bike or even a cyclocross racing bike. It comes standard with all terrain tires and a triple crankset, so you can literally take it just about anywhere. And that’s what makes the Volpe so much fun.
When the Volpe arrived back in October, my first inclination was to cruise across town to Frick Park and hit the dirt and gravel. This became a recurring theme all winter long. While it’s not terribly fast on the road with the aforementioned WTB 700 x 32 All Terrainasaurus tires, it’s not unbearably slow, either. And all that extra rubber is certain stave off a few pinch flats and punctures, too. Even if you were to install some bona-fide slicks, you might want to hang on to the stock tires for winter riding, as they’ve performed quite well in the snow and ice.
I’m constantly impressed by the latest entry-level drivetrain components. The 10-speed Shimano Tiagra shifters and derailleurs are nothing if not smooth and crisp. Ride after ride, the drivetrain has performed with little maintenance. Having the FSA Vero Triple (50/39/30) really encouraged me to find new routes, secure in the knowledge that I can crawl back up out of any valley.
At the heart of the Volpe is the frame, naturally, and in addition to being pleasing to the eye (as countless people have told me) the TIG-welded, butted chromoly tubeset is built to last. The bike isn’t the lightest in my stable, but the frame is relatively low on the list of culpable suspects.
The geometry is comfortable, but it’s definitely a departure from what I’m used to. The main difference is that I don’t seem to have as much standover clearance as I do with other 49 cm frames. The top tube is short enough that I’m running the stock 90 mm stem, yet I still find it easy to lift the front wheel off the ground. The bike feels like it rides somewhat high, yet it’s stable off-road and downhill.
Although not the lightest components available, the house-brand parts are functional and aesthetically pleasing. The wheelset is simple but strong, and it hasn’t gone out of true despite all of my off-road adventuring. The saddle has definitely grown on me now that it’s broken in. The handlebar on the 49 cm model seems notably narrow. It actually seemed quite nice for riding in traffic, but otherwise I might prefer a little more width.
My only real nit to pick with the Volpe is with the brakes, which I’ve never quite managed to dial in. As much as I love the interrupter brake levers, I have a sneaking suspicion they’re at least partially to blame for the weak braking.
In conclusion, the Volpe is a great all-around bike. If you can only have one, this might be a wise choice because of its versatility. The price reflects the quality of the frame and the drivetrain, and the finishing kit is nothing to scoff at, even if you might upgrade some of the components down the line.
The Volpe retails for $1200. Check out www.bianchiusa.com.