Cervelo R3 and R5 BIKE TEST
Italian Cycling Heritage
Located in the small town of Rossano Veneto in the province of Vincenza, Italy, Wilier Triestina produces bicycles steeped in Italian cycling heritage. The newly expanded headquarters seems to mirror the brand itself, with a sleek and modern look that blends into the older factory, combining old and new into a single functioning and impressive design.
Pedal was stoked to have a chance to visit their factory this summer and I was met at the front entrance by Mauro Moretto, sales manager at Wilier Triestina. We were soon joined by Angelo Caccia, who began to tell me about the upcoming completion of their new headquarters.
The room adjacent to the main entrance is not yet complete, but I am told the space, which could easily house a luxury car dealership, will become a new showroom and museum of Wilier bikes and memorabilia from the company’s 111-year history. A short walk away, a small room houses a collection of prized Wiliers from various eras, including the bikes of 2008 world champion Alessandro Ballan and both the road and time trial bikes of Marco Pantani, who rode on Wilier bikes in 1997. That year, Pantani won two stages of the Tour de France, including stage 13 on Alpe d’Huez, and finished third overall.
Now, Wilier has both a professional road and mountain bike team bearing its name. On the road, the Wilier Triestina – Selle Italia team was founded in 2017 and is led by Italian star Filippo Pozzato. Wilier is set to continue sponsorship of the team in 2018. On the dirt, Team Wilier Force is a mountain bike squad which is focused on the World Cup and the Italian and UCI Marathon Series. Up until 2017, Wilier was also the bike supplier of American Pro Continental team UnitedHealthcare.
The factory in Rossano Veneto handles all mid- to high-end assembly of every single Wilier bike produced. Frames are brought in from Asia and then assembled on a small assembly line located in the centre of the factory. We enter through a large warehouse which stores components from manufacturers such as Shimano, Campagnolo, FSA and Selle Italia. Eight mechanics work quietly at their stations. Each performs a specific task, from initial frame prep at one end to wrapping the handlebars and covering the bike with protective foam at the other. As each mechanic completes their portion of the work, the bikes are pushed on rolling work stands around to the next station. According to Moretto, the assembly line is capable of building 45 bikes per day.
Just next to the assembly line is a smaller warehouse which holds frames from Wilier’s Infinitamente custom paint program. Customers can customize the Zero6, Cento10Air, Zero7 and 101X along with Wilier Alabaroa integrated bar and stem. Two frames that catch my eye are a Superleggera and Cento10Air. Both are painted in the Romato copper colour that Wilier became known for in the 1940s. The Superleggera is offered in Romato as one of three colour schemes, but if you want your carbon Wilier in this classic colour, it will cost you extra – as much as €1,000, Moretto suggests, explaining that this paint process is extremely difficult prior to passing Wilier’s quality control.
Wilier is now recognized as a leader in high-end bicycle manufacturing across Europe, North America and Asia. The company aims to expand its reach while retaining the quality and emotion of the Italian brand. According to Caccia, Wilier will continue to leverage its 100-plus years of experience to develop more products. “The company’s philosophy is to develop the bicycle,” Moretto adds, including the engineering process, functionality, performance and aesthetics.
One area of expansion includes the development of electrical-assisted bikes, especially for European markets. Wilier currently offers three e-mountain bikes, the E803TRB, E803XB and E803XN, along with two urban e-bikes – the Refill and the Magneto.
Moretto wheels out an E803TRB with excitement, explaining how the bike uses Shimano’s STEPs drive system to aid riders to cover greater distances, meaning more great trails in a single day. The electric motor-equipped mountain bike is certainly a departure from the steel bicycles Wilier began making over a century ago, but Moretto and Caccia believe that e-bikes hold an important place in the future of cycling.
As the tour comes to an end, a partially built bike which is casually leaning against a mountain of boxes catches my eye. Before I can ask, Moretto begins to excitedly explain that it is the new Cento10NDR, an endurance road bike based on the Cento10Air platform. Apart from a slightly more relaxed geometry, the bike has two very notable features – a small damper located at the seatstay and downtube junction which reduces road noise, and the ability to mount either disc brakes or direct-mount rim brakes on the frame. Coupled with aero tube profiles, ample tire clearance and an integrated stem system, the Cento10NDR looks to be a capable and fast option for those looking for an all-day performance bike.
The Wilier Triestina factory, along with the brand itself, offers a striking look into the progression of one of the oldest Italian bicycle manufacturers. The company continues to seek to move forward, all while preserving the culture and the patriotic motto from which its name is derived – Wl’Italia Libera E Redenta, meaning “Long live Italy, free and redeemed.”
Just the Facts
Wilier Triestina S.p.A.
Via Fratel Venzo, 11
36028 Rossano Veneto (VI), Italy www.wilier.com
Wilier Triestina’s new factory in Rossano Veneto, Italy.
Sneak preview – Wilier’s new Cento10NDR for fast all-day performance.
Wilier’s cool Cento10Air
Wilier’s new E803TRB e-bike...the future of cycling
CEOs Enrico (l) and Michele Gastaldello
Assembly line at the Wilier factory