The Bianchi Camaleonte is extensive, and can seem confusing at first sight. Where to begin?The elegance of these bikes makes them immediately recognisable as Italian.
Both quality and characteristics of the components fitted varies across the range. Spending more money buys you nicer gears, forks and brakes, resulting in a smoother ride, slicker gear changes and clearly greater stopping power.
They all share an identical triple-butted hydroformed frame. The frame is designed with sufficient clearance for mudguards and pannier racks. Shimano gears and mechs are also common across the range, but vary in type and quality.
The entry-level Camaleonte 1 is a great bike for the money. The 24-gear mechs are from Shimano's basic ranges. Alloy V-brakes and 32 mm tyres indicate that this bike should be equally at home on road and towpath.
The next two models in the Bianchi Camaleonte range, the Camaleonte 2 & Camaleonte 3 are aimed more at off the street use. There's no denying that these bikes have a mountain bike look about them.
Both incorporate disc brakes, mechanical on the 2 and hydraulic on the 3. Discs have the great benefit that they help to keep the braking surfaces out of the mud and grit. This boosts braking power as well as keeping down expensive wear and tear.
The derailleurs come from Shimano’s MTB range, but the 3 has the better LX rather than the Alivio/Deore arrangement on the 2. There are broader tyres fitted to the 3 - and also SPD compatible pedals.
The Camaleonte 4 & Camaleonte 5 are definitely hybrid bikes, but intended more at road riding. They have the sense more of flat-bar road bikes though.
Both have very fine carbon/aluminium forks, which along with narrower 28mm tyres and gear trains from Shimano’s road bike range will give them a superb turn of speed. The 5 features the better Tiagra components. They both have V-brakes, as there is less requirement for the off-road abilities of discs. Both models carry bar-ends, the better choice of hand position helping to reduce fatigue. they are often said to help with hill climbing as well. Both are excellent looking bikes, so once again the choice will in all probability depend on budget. I’d be very pleased with either.
Any Bianchi Camaleonte appraisal therefore must make it clear that the range is not aimed at just one type of cyclist - different models are going to suit different types of riding. The Camaleonte 1 is a great entry-level bike, the Camaleonte 2 & 3 are aimed toward off-road use and the Camaleonte 4 & 5 at those searching for speed on the road.
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You can read more about the Bianchi Camaleonte range together with alternatives such as the Specialized Sirrus at Tern Cycling Reviews.
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