Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 first ride review£1,100.00

A 29er for XC fans to get their paws on

Think of Italian MTBs and you’ll likely picture racy 29ers with not much travel and narrow, flat bars, in which case you won’t be surprised by Bianchi’s new Grizzly.

But you may be surprised by how smooth and fun it is, if you set your prejudices aside and give it the beans around the woods.

Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 spec overview

  • Frame: Aluminium
  • Fork: RockShox 30 Silver TK, 100mm (4in) travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore M6000 (2x10)
  • Wheelset: WTB XC25 rims on Formula QR Boost hubs
  • Tyres: Kenda Honey Badger Sport 29x2.2in
  • Brakes: Shimano M396, 180/160mm rotors
  • Bar: Tec Obvius, 720mm
  • Stem: Tec Obvius, 70mm
  • Seatpost: Tec Obvius rigid
  • Saddle: Tec
  • Weight: 13.02kg (28.70lb), medium size without pedals

Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 frame

A short tapered head tube keeps the rider position as low as possible over the front wheel. The main tubes are hydroformed and butted (multiple wall thicknesses), with a flat, tapering top tube and oversize, ovalised down tube triangulated by a large-diameter straight seat tube.

Out back, the rear stays are reasonably chunky too, with a gentle swerve in their shape to give decent tyre clearance for filthy race courses.

Bianchi is better known for its road bikes, but this celeste-green 29er is a decent XC option
Bianchi is better known for its road bikes, but this celeste-green 29er is a decent XC option

The press-fit bottom bracket gives max-width bearing support for power transfer, and there are two sets of bottle mounts.

Gear cables and the rear brake hose are routed internally, but there’s no easy way to get an internal dropper post in. The rear wheel is QR rather than bolt-through, too, but that’s common at this price.

Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 kit

The 11-42t rear cassette gives some super-low crawler gears
The 11-42t rear cassette gives some super-low crawler gears

The 100mm-travel, 30mm-legged RockShox 30 fork is QR too, but you do get a remote lockout lever on the 720mm flat bar.

Twin chainrings are a pretty unusual sight on new bikes these days, but not a bad idea on a machine designed for epic marathon rides, where a climb doesn’t count if it’s under an hour long. The side-swing front mech makes shifts on the stiff Deore crankset pretty seamless too, and the 11-42t rear cassette gives some super-low crawler gears.

WTB supplies the 25mm-wide rims, which are tubeless ready, but the Kenda Honey Badger tyres are the cheaper wire-rimmed, non-tubeless ‘Sport’ version.

Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 ride impressions

The tyres are obvious in the ride feel, too, with more drag than expected on smooth surfaces. Thankfully, the quality frame keeps overall weight reasonable for the money, and with the fork locked out the Grizzly climbs okay on fireroads.

Despite the wooden tyres, it really comes alive on intermediate surfaces, where its frame quality and skinny 27.2mm post notably reduce ground shock. That gives an impressively smooth and speed-sustaining ride on rooty, rocky power climbs or when weaving between trees and course tape.

Bianchi's Grizzly 29.3
Bianchi's Grizzly 29.3

In these kind of situations, the narrow bar and 69.5-degree head angle work well to keep the Grizzly on track up front. Drop pressures down to 20psi front and 25psi rear, and the grip from the Kenda tyres is good until the terrain is properly sodden.

The fork is impressively supple and keen to stay connected over typical XC terrain, and I was impressed by how fast I could blast along woodland singletrack and rocky 4x4 tracks on the moors.

There’s a point where impacts grow big enough to start bullying the flimsy fork legs around and overwhelm the fairly basic damping, though. That’s generally the same point where the steep head angle, narrow bar and lack of a dropper become an issue too.

If you’re more XC than extreme, though, it’s a charismatic high-speed, high-mileage choice.

Bianchi Grizzly 29.3 early verdict

Classic XC hardtail with genuine Italian charisma, but not rowdy-terrain ready.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

Related Articles

Back to top