If you’ve lusted after Bianchi’s bikes but have been put off by the prices of the Italian brand’s top-end models, the new Aria Ultegra—a complete race-ready bike that costs less than the brand’s top-of-the-line Oltre XR4 frameset—might be your answer. This carbon road bike has aerodynamic frame features, Shimano’s phenomenal Ultegra group, and an aggressive low-and-long riding position.
The Aria shows its pedigree from the outset, accelerating quickly and carrying speed easily. The stiff frame transfers power efficiently and does a good job of absorbing small bumps; larger impacts seem less damped, which, over the course of a ride, can make you feel more fatigued.
The bike shines on descents, where I could settle into a tuck position and follow the fastest line down the hill. The Aria handled fast sweeping corners and sharp turns with ease, and the Ultegra brakes gave me the confidence to go as fast as I could. On group rides, the Aria helped me pull to the front of the group and kept the pace high for the rest of the ride. The Aria truly delivers on its promise of Italian race heritage at a value price.