Bianchi Cyclocross and Gravel Bikes: Zurigo Adds Disc Brakes, Lupo Launched As More-Affordable Volpe
by Daniel Curtin
The Bianchi Zurigo Disc represents the storied Italian brand’s only cyclocross offering for 2014, but the company has also duplicated its popular do-it-all Volpe model to offer a more affordable Lupo bike based on the Volpe frame.
The Zurigo—Italian for Zurich—is essentially a re-branding from a few years back of the well-known Axis model cyclocross bike that was a fixture on most people’s “workhorse cyclocross bike” list for years. The name change, according to Bianchi USA representatives at Interbike, was to carry forward the Italian pedigree on bikes coming to the US market, and a departure from American names like “San Jose” and “B.O.S.S.” from over a decade ago (the San Jose frame still exists).
For 2014 the Zurigo continues to focus on value. A fully hydroformed and triple butted 6000 series aluminum frame and Bianchi’s own carbon legged fork is designed to withstand the rigors any course can offer. As is quite common nowadays, the frame features a PF30 press fit bottom bracket, and the fork and head tube are built around a tapered steerer. Those features, coupled with a smart kit offering from SRAM in the form of of an Apex 10-speed drivetrain and cockpit parts from Bianchi, and you have the makings of a solid, affordable racer for the rider taking their first steps over the barriers.
SRAM Apex with WiFli (32 cog on the back, compact crank 48/34) provides versatile gearing, with a very low gear for longer adventures, hilly rides, light touring or even the smaller or beginner cyclocrosser.
In terms of geometry, the bottom bracket drop is slightly higher than their road offerings, a middle-of-the-road 6.5cm drop. The Zurigo actually shares geometry with the top-of-the-line carbon Cavaria, with short 42.5cm chainstays and shorter head tubes. Overall that’s a good thing, as although it’s a bit dated, the Cavaraia has been a Cyclocross Magazine favorite with a rather plush ride and race-oriented geometry. Mud clearance on the frame seems generous particularly since the bike is a disc-only model.
As more and more manufacturers move to disc offerings, there seems to be two main approaches to speccing disc brakes—SRAM Red hydraulics on high-end race models and significantly less expensive Avid BB5s or BB7s on everything else. The Zurigo runs the former, and while they won’t win any weight weenie awards, the tried-and-true cable calipers are easy to set up and should stop reasonably well.
Those brakes are in charge of stopping Bianchi-branded SR300 wheels with a 30 mm rim height built for them by Maddux. Unfortunately, the rims are not tubeless ready and riders looking to go that route will have to try aftermarket conversion kits or simply replace the wheels in their entirety. Mounted to the SR300s is Kenda’s Kwicker in a 32 mm wide offering.
The Zurigo has a quite understated appearance in all black finish with white graphics. All cables run externally, save for the rear brake which runs internally the length of the down tube.
MSRP is $1799.
More info: http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/off-road/zurigo-disc-sram-apex/
2014 Bianchi Zurigo Cyclocross Bike Photo Gallery
Bianchi may have had of the earliest gravel bikes in the Volpe, and the earliest production 29ers in the Project 3, 5 and 7 models, both launched over twenty years ago. Its Volpe has had staying power, and returns for 2014 at $1299 with a MegaPro cromoly steel frame and fork, Shimano Tiagra 10-speed components. WTB 32mm All-Terrainasaurus tires indicate the intended use: a do-it-all machine, and yes, that includes gravel. A triple crankset helps you scale any climb, regardless of surface material.
Bianchi’s newest offering, however, is the $1049 Lupo, which brings the same Volpe frame but with 9-speed Sora components in a handsome package that saves $250 over the Volpe. The Lupo, like the Volpe, brings a full set of frame braze-ons for fenders and racks, to handle any type of riding or weather condition.
Technically it’s not a completely new bike, as the company offered a bike called the Lupo in Japan five years ago, but it’s the first time we’ll see one in the states.
2014 Bianchi Lupo Bike Photo Gallery:
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