Two hybrids from Bianchi and Wilier mix Italian flair with flat bars and relaxed gearing. So which one fired us up the most?
I had a lot of fun testing these two style icons. In a country where fashion takes priority over politics, Bianchi and Wilier were never going to produce an ugly duckling. In the end it was a close-run thing, but the Bianchi had to be the winner. It was the best overall package. The ride was a better compromise between fun, flair and a forgiving ride.
The Bassano had its fair share of plus points. It’s the better looking of the two bikes, in my opinion. It’s also by far the lightest, which is a real bonus. It helped to increase the acceleration and responsiveness of the ride. I’m left with a split decision about the groupsets. It’s really a mountain bike triple versus a road compact competition, and which one you prefer I’m sure you already know.
If not, well you only have to think about the kind of riding you want to do before you come to a conclusion. If you don’t need all those extra mountain bike gears, and you’re used to a road bike, then you may find the extra chainring a bit of a faff — over complicated. But if your riding history is mostly off-road, or you’re upgrading from an old bargain mountain bike, then you’ll feel far more at ease on the Bianchi.
After the good testing session we’ve had here, I need to share a confession. Before we kicked off the ‘Italian Job’ bike test, I thought that these two hybrid bikes from two different Italian companies would turn out to be pretty similar. But, actually, it turns out I was riding chalk and cheese. I guess there won’t be a better time to say it, but there’s no such thing as a standard hybrid bike. I’ve ridden a fair few in my time, and only after riding these two back-to-back, and back again, have I realised how different they’ve all been.
That’s what I love about hybrids. Every manufacturer has the potential to come up with a design that’s different from anybody else’s. It’s a mix and match affair, a pinch of tarmac here, a shake of dirt there.
And despite so many of them looking quite similar, they’re all unique in their own special way.
Buying a hybrid just became much more fun, but a whole lot more complicated. My advice? Go and test a few yourself. Get out there to shops, ride a friend’s, or get a demo bike on loan from a store. Whatever you do, don’t discount one bike compared to another too swiftly. Not only will you never know what you might be missing out on, but also you might find yourself a real bargain that just happens to be your perfect hybrid.
It’s probably time to answer the question I originally posed. Are these two bikes something special? Well after riding both I definitely think so. I certainly didn’t want to lock and leave them at the train station and, without having attached mudguards, I wasn’t keen to take them for a ride in the rain, either. Such sleek paintjobs would look terrible under a sprayed-on layer of road muck.
However, with that said, it would be a shame only to have them for occasional weekend use. They both offer great, totally different ride experiences. I’d be happy to have either of them take up permanent residence in my dining room alongside my favourite road bike.