I also tend to think of a prohibitive price tag: a “don’t even think about it” warning goes off in my head as soon as I see the word, Bianchi. So the price and specifications of the Sempre Pro came as a pleasant surprise.
Not unexpectedly, the Sempre Pro is a fine looking bicycle. It is hard to go wrong with a matte black finish paired with the classic, clean lines of the frame. The intricate silver head badge and small celeste details serve as a reminder of the Bianchi heritage, while the all-Italian components add to the shine.
The build features Campagnolo’s Centaur 11 speed groupset. If you are not familiar with the Campagnolo range, Centaur is a competitor to the Shimano 105 groupset, offering much of the same technology as Campagnolo’s high-end groupsets using cheaper and slightly heavier materials. The brakes are rim brakes, and shifting is mechanical. The wheels are Zonda C15, a lightweight and stiff Aluminium offering from Campagnolo.
The cockpit is taken care of by ITM Triango carbon wrapped aluminium handlebar, stem, and seatpost. ITM claim that the aluminium wrapped in 3K carbon provides a good blend of stiffness, vibration absorption, and weight. The bragging rights that come with the carbon finish on these components doesn’t hurt either.
- FrameSempre Pro carbon monocoque, bbset PF30
- ForkBianchi Full Carbon 1.5 head L300
- WheelsCampagnolo Zonda C15
- Inner TubesVredestein tubes
- Front TyreVredestein Fiammante Ridged 23c
- Rear TyreVredestein Fiammante Ridged 23c
- CranksetCampagnolo Centaur
- ShiftersCampagnolo Centaur black Power Shift 11s Ergopower shift levers - black
- Front DerailleurCampagnolo Centaur black 11s
- Rear DerailleurCampagnolo Centaur black 11sp medium cage
- CassetteCampagnolo Centaur UD 11s 12-32T
- BrakesCampagnolo Centaur black
- HandlebarsITM Triango alu/carb Dark lab handlebar
- TapeITM Cork Tape
- StemITM Triango alu/carb Dark lab stem
- SaddleSaddle Astute Skylab VT
- SeatpostITM Triango alu/carb Dark lab seatpost
- PriceR39 999
On the Tar
The Sempre Pro is an excellent all-rounder, combining lively playfulness with a noticeably smooth ride and comfortable handling.
The playfulness comes from the obliging way the bike moves forward under pedal stroke: covering ground comfortably and efficiently. The stiffness and responsiveness of the frame do not translate into a harsh ride, even on our choppy verges, in fact, the ride is noticeably smooth. It does not handle like a twitchy race rocket, begging to be ridden faster, rather it gets on with the job at hand in a way that does not draw attention to its performance. Riding the bike quickly becomes second nature.
Descending, the Sempre Pro moves comfortably. It is stable at high straight line speeds and swishes through switchbacks without a fuss. I have become used to running wider tyres on my road bike, and so the 23c Vredestein Fiammante Ridged tyres felt a little sparse when leaning the bike. I also suffered a pinch flat after hitting a rogue rock in the road on my first outing, suggesting that maybe they are more suited to clean tar than the mixed terrain thrown at most South African roadies.
The Astute Skylab VT saddle looks lean and racey, suiting the build from an aesthetic point of view. But it did not suit me at all and had to be replaced after the first ride before testing could continue.
Not unexpectedly, as a Campagnolo newbie, the Centaur eleven speed drivetrain took some getting used to. I found myself shifting the wrong way at the wrong time like a total hacker, and muttering things like “small lever for small ring” under my breath, much to the amusement of some other groups on Chappies. I found shifting to be a little sluggish when moving to the big ring on the front using the shifter lever tucked behind the brake. There was a slight lag before the change which caught me off guard a few times. However, shifting was crisp (and wonderfully easy) with the thumb levers both front and back.
The Ergopower controls were very comfortable on the hands, as were the brake levers. And once I figured out the shifting, that was comfortable too. Braking was reassuringly solid, but not dangerously grabby or bitey- you could feather your way comfortably down to the required cornering speed.
The bike I tested retails for R39 999 for a full carbon bike with carbon wrapped aluminium seatpost, bars, and stem, and a decent groupset and lightweight aluminium wheels. There is nothing on the build that cries out for an upgrade. There may be other bikes in this price range that offer similar or better bang for buck, but if the hundred and thirty-something year history of the Bianchi brand appeals to you, it is hard to put a value on the name.
For R32 499 you can get the same frame and groupset but with Campagnolo Calima wheels and aluminium bars, seatpost and stem. Worth a closer look if your budget doesn’t stretch to the model above.
In the end
The Sempre Pro ticks all the boxes for the rider looking for a capable all-round road bike. It will see you through weekend races and coffee rides comfortably and efficiently while looking exceptionally good doing it.
Time for an upgrade?
Buy or sell new and used road bikes in our classifieds.