We got our grubby mitts on the new 2016 Wilier Cento1SR, one of only a few in the UK, and put the miles in on this racy Italian bike
Think of any Italian bike maker and although Pinarello, Bianchi and Colnago might be the first that come to mind, the name Wilier might not be far from your lips. However the Veneto-based brand has more heritage than most (with the notable exception of Bianchi, with a history stretching back to 1906), and its bikes certainly have some heritage behind them, having first won the Giro d’Italia as far back as 1947.
Most of those 109 years have been dedicated to producing out-and-out race bikes, and this is the latest version of the company’s flagship Cento1SR.
The Wilier Cento1SR is one of three bikes that sit at the top of the company’s range for 2016. While the sub-800g frame of the Zero.7 will please the weight weenies, and the Cento1Air is designed for aerodynamic performance, the Cento1SR sits midway between the two – in theory a great choice for an everyday road race bike.
In general the 2016 version of the Wilier Cento1SR is similar to last year’s model. However the big change is that Wilier has abandoned the integrated seatpost that has been a part of the bike for the last few years. Although Wilier stands by the integrated seatpost for ultimate performance, it recognises that it makes consumers nervous as to whether they will be able to sell the bike after a couple of years of use, and can also be tricky to fit into bike bags when taking your pride and joy abroard.
As with all of its carbon frames, Wilier has used a combination of different types of carbon-fibre in different areas in order to create a bike that is, to use the ultimate cycling cliché, laterally stiff and vertically compliant. This carbon weave is then held together using what Wilier calls its ZNO treatment, a low density resin that apparently gives better resistance to impact while managing to simultaneously reduce weight.
However, that’s not to say this bike hasn’t been designed with aerodynamics in mind, too. With even the most lightweight road bikes making some sort of gesture in the direction of aerodynamics these days, it’s no surprise that that the Wilier Cento1SR is no different.
All of the frame’s tubes come with a Kammtail profile, but the most impressive thing is the neat internal cable routing.The gear cables enter the down tube on its upper side just behind the head tube, with barrel adjusters integrated into the design to make gear adjustment a little bit easier.
In a similar manner to the new Scott Foil, the shifter cables enter the frame at the down tube just behind the head tube for maximum aerodynamic efficiency, with the entry point also including adjuster barrels if you’re running mechanical gearing. The exit point of the rear derailleur cable is just as neat, with the cable emerging from a small port integrated into the derailleur hanger.
The down tube then flows sleekly into the fork, something that Wilier claims increases front end stiffness by 14 per cent. It’s a similar story at the rear, where the box-section chainstays are asymmetrically designed and the BB386 bottom bracket is almost ludicrously oversized — both attempts to increase stiffness.
It is a quite beautiful frame — the gently curving top tube flows elegantly into the seatstays and the Wilier logo on the down tube is surely one of the classiest around.
Although you can set out your own spec (and even give the frame a custom paintjob) through Wilier’s Infinitamente online bike builder tool, this bike is pretty much an off-the-peg option. And the stunning Italian frame is complemented by a stunning Italian groupset: Campagnolo Chorus. It might be the third tier in Campag’s hierarchy but all things are relative, with faultless shifting and braking, great lever ergonomics and,
of course, beautiful looks.
The model you’ll be able to buy in the UK will come with Campagnolo Eurus wheels,
although this test model comes with Shamal Mille wheels from the same company, which is a good match for the stiff frame.
The key message to get across here across here is that the Wilier Cento1SR is fast — very fast.
Power transfer is quite simply outstanding. The beefy chainstays and huge oversized bottom bracket help to make sure every last watt of pedal power is transferred into forward momentum, and this really is a bike that will reward the sprinters.
The handling is also exceptional. The front end might seem a little twitchy at first, but once you get used to it you can have an awful lot of fun on the Cento1SR. It will really put a smile on your face on descents, and ride it into the heat of battle in a tight, technical crit and you’ll soon be coming out of corners a bike length or two ahead of the opposition.
The Cento1SR comes with what the Italian company calls its integrated fork and virtual head tube. This means that the top tube curves downwards when it meets the fork, which elongates the head tube and apparently increases torsional rigidity by 14 per cent.
The one real downside with the Cento1SR is the ride quality. On smooth Italian tarmac there might be no need for protection against rough roads, but on the somewhat battered British blacktop you really need a little more give in the frame. Anything over three hours and I was beginning to ache from having to soak up poor road surfaces with my body rather than the bike, which is a real shame given that I was having so much fun that I would have liked to have ridden it for much longer.
If you’re willing to compromise on a bike that is far from ideal for putting in the long miles, then the £3,999 price tag represents pretty good value for what you’re getting.
Wilier hasn’t been tempted to chuck on some bargain basement tyres or sneak in a cheaper cassette in the hope of adding a few more euros to the company accounts without anyone noticing, with not a single component failing to live up to what you’d expect on a bike at this price.
The Wilier Cento1SR will come in two builds for 2016 – one with Campagnolo Chorus groupset and matching Eurus wheels (£3,599), and the other with Shimano Ultegra and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels (£3,199). We’ve gone all Italian with this test bike, which is the Chorus version albeit equipped with Campagnolo Shamal Mille wheels – two steps up in the Campy wheel hierarchy – which brings the total price of the bike you see here to £3,999.
But don’t worry, we haven’t reviewed a bike that you’re not actually going to be able to buy, as the Cento1SR will be joining the Zero.7 and Cento1Air in Wilier’s Infinitamente custom build programme, which enables the specification of your bike to match your demands, and even decide on a custom paintjob if you want your bike to stand out with a Euro fluoro paintjob.
Want a bike to win races on? Then the Wilier Cento1SR is the bike for you. Power transfer and handling are outstanding, meaning you can throw the bike into corners, sprint out the other side, then look back to see a stretch of daylight between yourself and the rider struggling to claw his way back onto your wheel. The spec is also exactly what you’d expect on a bike of this level. There’s no deviation from top quality kit, with the Campagnolo groupset and wheels both excellent, while the bars, stem, saddle and tyres are all more than up to scratch. The bad news is that the ride is as uncompromising as the spec. On longer road rides you feel every pothole. It’s fair to say that the Cento1SR will fulfil its promise of performance on smoothly surfaced criterium circuits. Sadly the same can’t be said of its claimed credentials as an all-rounder