“Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three”.
Walking into a bike shop brings about the same feelings as walking into a candy shop as a child. I would venture to say that the feelings of wonderment, awe, and excitement are comparable to the very nostalgic scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I remember when I went shopping for my first road bike, I walked by rows of gleaming carbon fiber bikes, each looking meaner than the next, some of them with funny looking bars and wheels that didn’t even have traditional metal spokes. There were all sorts of oddly-shaped helmets, shoes with odd attachments on the bottom, and pedals that weren’t even flat! To a beginner like me, the world of cycling was truly fascinating.
As fascinated as I was, I still lacked fundamental knowledge as to what made a bicycle “good”. At the time, all I was familiar with was a little silver bike I had ridden 10 years ago as a kid. I wanted to try it all, every kind of chocolate, every flavor of gum, every color of gummy bear, but I had no idea where to start. Thankfully, the great thing about walking into a bike shop is the knowledge the bike staff has. If you go to them with your specific needs, chances are a good bike shop will tailor your bike selection to do exactly what you need it to do. However, I personally like to learn, and to be prepared. It is always useful to do a little research yourself, not because I don’t believe what the sales people are telling me, but because I want to understand and be able to carry on the conversation and ask meaningful questions as I’m shopping.
Fortunately for you, I understand how difficult it can be to pick that very first road bike of yours. There is an art to balancing value, aesthetics, short and long term goals when it comes to deciding on a bike. I did my best to pick something that I believe will hit all of those areas. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you’ll understand that I view aesthetics as a pretty important factor when I buy things. I am also impressed when a company pays attention to details.
Enter Bianchi. If you want to talk about history, heritage, and aesthetics, say no more. Bianchi is the oldest bicycle manufacturing company that is still in existence. The company was founded in Italy back in 1885, and if you aren’t necessarily familiar with the name, you may be familiar with a specific color that they are known for. That beautiful green-blue color, know as Celeste, is one of the things that Bianchi is known for. If you take a look at the Via Nirone 7, which is actually named after the first shop that Edoardo Bianchi started manufacturing bicycles in, the attention to detail is evident. The cable housing even has a Celeste-colored stripe running along it to compliment the other Celeste-colored areas. And if we’re talking about aesthetics, I think that Bianchi has one of the nicest looking headbadges out there.
If you look at the Via Nirone 7, you’ll notice that it definitely stands out among similar level bikes from other companies such as the Giant Defy 3. The Italian-designed Bianchi will certainly turn more heads on the roads compared to the mass-produced, vanilla style of the Defy. These two bikes are equipped with the same Sora groupset, so let’s look at some additional differences. For one, the Bianchi is equipped with Vittora tires instead of Giant’s in-house tires. Secondly, the paired spoke design on the Via Nirone 7 certainly looks much cooler as well. In terms of value of the bike, the Via Nirone 7 is great because it comes standard with a carbon fiber fork! With both bikes in the same price range of just under $1000, who wouldn’t choose the heritage and styling of the Bianchi?
If you’re still uncertain that you will get into the sport of cycling (which I truly believe you will once you commit), you may be a bit hesitant to spend that amount. If you’re still looking to test the waters of cycling, you can opt for a Via Nirone 7 with a lower spec groupset. The Via Nirone 7 can also be purchased equipped with Shimano Claris, which is one tier under Sora. You’ll sacrifice a 9-speed drivechain for an 8-speed drivechain with Claris, but you’ll save almost $200 in the process. The best part of the Claris model is that it still comes with that carbon fork! While a carbon fork may just sound fancy, there is actually a great benefit of having one. When you compare the ride quality of the Via Nirone 7 Claris to the Giant Defy 5 (Claris equipped), you’ll notice a difference on the front end of the bike. The Giant has an aluminum fork. A carbon fork will actually absorb much more of the road vibration, and what this translates into for you is greater comfort and less fatigue. For only $800, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
Regardless of which model you choose, you certainly won’t be disappointed. I suggest you come in-store and give both these bikes a spin around the parking lot. If you have any questions, or just want to come in and chat about all things cycling, we encourage you to do so. If you’re looking to take your new Bianchi out for a ride but are still trying to learn the ropes, we have the ride just for you! Take a look at the Cycle to Fitness ride we do every other Saturday and we’ll have you addicted to cycling in no time!