On 21st May, Bianchi displayed their new Methanol CV mountain bike in Albstadt ahead of the 2nd round of the World Cup. The Methanol CV extends their Countervail technology to the MTB world. The new frame has been optimised to assist with shock control – something many modern hardtails are doing. BMC, Trek, Canyon, Focus and more have all released hardtail frames that have been designed around vertical compliance through the back ends, showing that the hardtail is far from dead.
The new Methanol CV is the first mountain bike frame enhanced with Bianchi’s exclusive Countervail vibration-cancelling technology developed for NASA by Material Science Corporation. Bianchi even suggest that it may ‘recalibrate performance as the fastest, most composed cross-country MTB ever created.’ That’s no small claim!
Countervail’s unique carbon fibre lay up and viscoelastic properties deliver total control by eliminating vibrations that pass through the frame after impact and from trail buzz. Bianchi collaborated with Materials Sciences Corporations to develop our innovative and exclusive use of the MSC’s patented Countervail integrated vibration cancelling system for cycling. Countervail cancels up to 80% of vibrations while increasing the stiffness and strength of carbon frames and forks.
Countervail is embedded within the layup of Bianchi CV high-performance models, with a dedicated tuning process for each bike: one technology tuned for every need. So the lay up is different to the road line, and even there each model is different – to get the right ride quality for the intended use.
More than some new tubing, the frame has a few other modern updates. The tapered head tube remains, but the huge integrated seatpost is gone, replaced by a 27.2mm seatpost. While the frame is compatible with internal routing and Di2 ports, it is also compatible with dropper posts. Although the 27.2mm diameter does give limited options at this point.
Bianchi have changed the bottom bracket to a pressfit 44x92mm size, keeping the benefits of big bearings, but reducing the increased wear of the narrow width they used previously. The rear end has Boost spacing at 148×12, which allows a shorter 428mm chainstay for fast handling.
It is excellent to see the options for a front derailleur – the plate for a direct mount front mech is removable, and there’s routing for a Shimano side swing mech or the option for Di2 of course.
Clearance through the seatstays has improved with the new tubing shape as well, something that will work in muddy races, as well as rocky ones so a larger bodied tyre can run through the frame.
The rear brake is still set for a 160mm rotor, but the whole dropout is carbon, with the mount sitting inside the rear triangle, which allows some extra flexion from the seatstays.
The addition of a 15″ frame is also an excellent addition, as the 570mm effective top tube sizing will open up far more options compared the the 596mm length of the previous model’s 17″ size. And it’s those geometry changes that will make as much difference as the tubing and spec changes.
The Methanol then, and now
We used Bianchi Methanol SL and FS frames for our Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team from mid 2012 through to the very end of 2015. The bikes were agile, light, stiff under power – and pure cross-country riding bikes. Cross-country in terms of how cross-country was a few years ago. So the bikes were steep, my 19″ Methanol SL frame had a 71.5degree head angle! But with 65mm of bottom bracket drop, it did still end up steady enough – but it was a sharp handling bike.
One of the features that Bianchi have evolved with the Methanol CV isn’t just the ‘CV’ – it’s the geometry. With four sizes the reach has changed, and I would anticipate that bikes are being sold with slightly shorter stems. The team model shown at the top would suggest that riders are riding on about a 90mm stem – a far cry from the 110mm units our stock bikes came with a few years ago.
The chainstays have dropped in length, thanks to the Boost spacing creating extra clearance, and no doubt with the change in BB standards as well.
Overall, Bianchi should have kept the weight of the frame very low (although no weight has been published) maintained the direct power transfer of their hardtail, while adding greater compliance and modern handling befitting bikes designed to target the World Cup and major marathon races.
Team Bianchi Counterveil
In 2016 Bianchi and MSC decided to extend their close and winning cooperation with the aim to create the most advanced performance Road and MTB bicycles and support different type of riding, thanks to the Countervail tuning process. Countervail’s sponsorship of the Bianchi MTB Team is also a consequence of Bianchi’s strategy to revolutionize the MTB world.