Com­fort­ably fast

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - FIRST RIDE -

Ital­ian maker of pre­mium road bikes Wilier Tri­estina has a long and rich his­tory that started at Pi­etro Dal Molin’s mod­est work­shop in 1906, lo­cated in Bas­sano del Grappa, 60 miles from Venice. The town of Bas­sano, at the foot of the famed Monte Grappa, re­mains an ever pop­u­lar cy­cling des­ti­na­tion.

In fact, both the names Wilier and Tri­estina were born out of Ital­ian pa­tri­o­tism fol­low­ing the World

Wars. Wilier is ac­tu­ally an acro­nym pro­nounced Vee-lee-air, where the ‘W’ is used an an ab­bre­vi­a­tion for the word “Viva” which means “Long live.” For ex­am­ple, Ital­ian cy­cling fans will of­ten hold up signs at the Giro that read “W l’italia”, “W il Giro” or show their sup­port of a spe­cific rider with signs like “W Bal­lan” or “W Cunego.”

The Ital­ian pa­tri­otic phrase in its en­tirety, “W l’italia lib­er­ata e re­denta” (Long live Italy, lib­er­ated and re­deemed) even­tu­ally gave birth to Wilier. Tri­estina is the Ital­ian equiv­a­lent of the English word tri­es­tine, which im­plies any­thing hav­ing to do with the Ital­ian city of Tri­este on the Adri­atic sea. How­ever, Tri­este was not yet part of Italy at the time Wilier was founded. Fol­low­ing World War II, Tri­este and its sur­round­ing coastal area re­mained part of an oc­cu­pied free ter­ri­tory, thus the name re­flected the pa­tri­otic de­sire for it to be re­joined.

With more than a hun­dred years of his­tory and her­itage be­hind the name, the mod­ern Ital­ian brand is now mov­ing for­ward into the age of “Viva All Roads” with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Cen­to10ndr road bike. The NDR des­ig­na­tion is short for en­durance, and is a new breed of road bike with a form of rear sus­pen­sion mated to beau­ti­ful aero tubes. Not to be con­fused as a gravel bike, Wilier’s prod­uct man­ager Clau­dio Salomoni was very keen to stress that the NDR is a “high-end rac­ing bike with large clear­ances… per­fect for spring clas­sics or cob­bled races.”

There is enough room in the NDR’S frame and fork to clear 32mm tyres with disc brakes, or 28mm tyres with caliper rim brakes. With the trend of ever wider tyres on road bikes, the NDR de­liv­ers and makes for an ex­tremely ver­sa­tile bike.

Com­pared to the more pure race ori­ented Cen­to10air sib­ling which we also re­viewed, the NDR has a slightly taller head tube and less ag­gres­sive reach, pro­vid­ing much needed com­fort for those long days in the sad­dle. Where the Cen­to10air feels more at home in fast stage races on smooth tar­mac, the Cen­to10ndr fits the bill for all road rid­ing and ran­don­neur­ing where road con­di­tions can be a tad un­pre­dictable.

The big­gest key fea­ture of the Cen­to10ndr is the Ac­ti­flex sus­pen­sion – a syn­thetic rub­ber techno-poly­mer that Wilier has been de­vel­op­ing since 2014. When com­pared to Trek’s Isospeed sys­tem where the seat-tube flexes with the sad­dle go­ing up and down, Wilier’s Ac­ti­flex sys­tem keeps the dis­tance be­tween the sad­dle and bot­tom bracket con­stant where only the rear tri­an­gle moves with damp­ing that’s de­signed to of­fer a few mil­lime­tres of rear-wheel travel. This en­sures that your pedalling mo­tion is con­stant where it needs to be, and

rear tri­an­gle flexes where it mat­ters most to take the sting off rough and bat­tered roads.

To add to its ver­sa­til­ity, Wilier also de­signed the frame with an in­te­grated cable plate in the down tube which al­lows the NDR to run me­chan­i­cal, elec­tronic and even hy­draulic groupsets. The bike that I re­ceived for a test ride was equipped with a hy­draulic groupset with disc brakes and 12mm thru-axles, and I was amazed at just how clean the over­all bike looked, with ca­bling and hoses neatly routed through Wilier’s ded­i­cated ‘Stemma’ stem and head tube. The frame weight it­self is a claimed 1,080g.

So far, ev­ery­thing sounds great on paper and looks great visu­ally – but how does it ride?

For my first spin of the Cen­to10ndr, I took it out to Gent­ing Sem­pah for a nice up­hill climb with some tight bends. This route has plenty of topo­graph­i­cal fea­tures and vary­ing road sur­faces with ev­ery­thing from nice and smooth tar­mac to os­cil­lat­ing bumps and even trac­tor gouged gravel sec­tions. As I crossed the gravel sec­tions of the road, those few mil­lime­tres of rear-wheel travel trans­formed what was usu­ally a back­side bash­ing ses­sion rid­dled with curs­ing and rude hand ges­tures, to awe and pure amaze­ment as the usual stings and bumps were no­tice­ably but­tered and smoothed. My usual ex­pres­sion of grit­ting my teeth be­fore hit­ting the rough patches gave way to raised eye­brows of won­der and a sat­is­fied nod.

Af­ter check­ing my Strava stats af­ter the ride was done, I was sur­prised to see that I ac­tu­ally scored quite a few new per­sonal records for go­ing both up­hill and down­hill. I didn’t feel like I ex­erted more than my usual en­ergy lev­els, and in fact it felt like the over­all ride was go­ing at a more re­laxed pace.

It was quite ap­par­ent that the en­durance char­ac­ters and fea­tures of the NDR ac­tu­ally made me go faster on Gent­ing Sem­pah’s ter­rain. Even when go­ing back down­hill and tear­ing across those rough sec­tions, the bike felt ex­tremely sure footed and my con­fi­dence re­mained un­wa­vered. There was a lit­tle bit of a pedal bob when ham­mer­ing hard on sprints, but noth­ing that would com­pletely dis­tract you from the ride. You can ac­tu­ally go fast and still be com­fort­able, and this par­tic­u­lar Wilier proves that com­fort also gives you speed.

Wilier sup­plies the Cen­to10ndr with Ac­ti­flex elas­tomers in three dif­fer­ent den­si­ties so you can tune the bike to your own spe­cific rid­ing re­quire­ments. The elas­tomer sits in an al­loy link be­tween the seat tube and seat­stays, and can be eas­ily swapped us­ing a Torx key. You can ex­per­i­ment with the dif­fer­ent den­si­ties to see which one best suits you. Use the hard­est elas­tomer for a more firm ride, or the softer ones for added cush­ion­ing should you re­quire it.

The Stemma and Barra is Wilier’s car­bon han­dle­bar and stem sys­tem, avail­able in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tions to meet al­most any re­quire­ments

This Wilier is out­fit­ted with the Ro­tor UNO all-hy­draulic groupset to show­case the ver­sa­til­ity of the frame

Top The Wilier Ac­ti­flex sys­tem pro­vides 6mm of rear sus­pen­sion for com­fort. Bot­tom Equipped with disc brakes, sport­ing 160mm disc ro­tors for op­ti­mal mod­u­la­tion and stop­ping.

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