Own a Piece of History With Bianchi’s First Carbon Gravel Bike, the 2021 Arcadex

2021 Arcadex GRX 600 10 photos
Photo: Bianchi S.p.A.
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When someone tells you that a company with over 130 years of history in building bikes of the highest racing caliber has just released a new gravel bike, what do you expect?
For starters, this is not an e-bike; it is the sort of 100% eco-friendly bicycle that brings with it more than just a ride, offering the absolute peak in Italian bicycle design and history. We're talking about the 2021 Arcadex gravel bike from none other than Bianchi. There are two bikes in this lineup, the GRX 810 and GRX 600, but let's focus on the 600 as it’s the least expensive and offers the essence of this new icon.

If you’ve ever ridden a bike, seen a clip from Tour de France, or have walked into a bike shop, then you've seen, heard, and even smelled a Bianchi without realizing it. Active since 1885, this company has seen it all and even raced it all in the process; you name it, Bianchi has been there. You can be sure that over 130 years of heritage are seen in the Arcadex.

As mentioned earlier, this is a gravel bike. As such, it’s more capable of tackling a wider range of terrains, not to mention it’ll do just fine on the tarmac. Unlike road bikes that place the rider in a lower, more aerodynamic position, gravel bikes offer a more upright riding position to help maneuver in tight turns or on loose footing.

2021 Arcadex GRX 600
Photo: Bianchi S.p.A.
The Arcadex showcases a near-perfect example of gravel geometry. A relaxed seat and head tube will place you in the optimum position for tackling any trails you encounter on the French or Italian Riviera. If you feel you’re leaning over the handlebars too much, watch how quickly your position changes if you drop the seat a bit. Then again, you can avoid this sort of issue if you buy the right bike for your size. A lowered bottom bracket is countered with your average Shimano GRX 600. Depending on the frame size, 170 mm to 175 mm cranks are found.

There’s one thing I didn’t mention regarding the frame, and that is its composition. That would be carbon; need I say more? What I enjoyed most about the shaping involved in this bike, are the the tubes' sharp linear edges. Oh, and that design isn’t just for show. It's meant to offer just the right resistance and flex in all the right places. Internal cable routing keeps the artwork nice and visible. That fork is made from the same goods.

2021 Arcadex GRX 600
Photo: Bianchi S.p.A.
One thing most gravel bikes seem to be missing is a suspension system. But to base your next bike purchase on the lack or inclusion of a visible suspension system is just downright folly. Aside from the carbon frame and fork, which should offer just the perfect bounce, the wheels are equally important on a bike like this. A pair of WTB Riddler Race tires stand proud and ready on a set of Alexrims GD24s. This setup will offer grip, stability, and limit vibrations to a minimum. If you don’t like the wheels, you can change them for your favorite 700x42 mm of even 650x47 mm tires.

For a drivetrain, Bianchi chose a Shimano SLX CS-M7000, 11-speed, 11-42T cassette. GRX 600 ST-RX600 shifters control the placement of a KMC X11-1 chain through a GRX RD-RX812 rear derailleur. Shimano BR-RX400 brakes clamp down on 160 mm (6.3 in) rotors. These components are all controlled from an aluminum flare handlebar with a 70-mm (2.75-in) reach. Since most folks take gravel bikes on some nasty rides, you’ll find eyelets for mudguards, making it your next bike-packing machine.

There’s only one catch: you’ll most likely have to go through a dealership to acquire the bike unless you got a guy who knows a guy. An average dealership price will range anywhere from discounted rates of $3,200 to as high as $3,900, but that price will get you much more than just a gravel bike. After all, you’re buying a piece of history as the Arcadex will go down in the books as Bianchi’s first carbon gravel bike.

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About the author: Cristian Curmei
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A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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