Wilier is still innovating, 110 years after it was founded – this time with the older rider in mind
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hen a brand adds a suspension unit to one of its road bikes, it usually means it is planning a new cobbles bike for the Classics, or maybe an ‘allroad adventure’ bike. Not so Wilier.
‘It’s a road bike,’ says Claudio Salomoni, product manager for Wilier, talking about its new Cento10ndr. ‘It’s a race machine, only it’s more forgiving because of the geometry and because the rear stays are very, very comfortable.’
The main target for this bike is the growing band of ageing riders who want to ride a top-end road bike, but struggle to cope with the geometry of a full-on race machine, such as the company’s best-selling Cento10air.
‘It’s not just a question of age,’ adds Salomoni. ‘It could be that you are 30 but have problems with your back. If you want something premium but cannot fit the racing geometry, you can still have it.’
Rough with the smooth
The suspension system, called Actiflex, incorporates a rubbery elastomer, called Shox, that sits inside an alloy ‘link’. This connects the top of the seatstays to the seatpost, and whenever the rear wheel hits a bump, the stays flex upwards, squashing the Shox and reducing the impact felt by the rider.
It’s not dissimilar to the set-up employed by the Pinarello K8-S, although Wilier claims its system is superior because it doesn’t lose any lateral stiffness thanks to a wider unit that is held in place by two long bolts.
Wilier also believes its Actiflex is better than Trek’s Isospeed decoupler, as seen on the cobble-bashing Domane bike. Trek’s system allows the seatpost to flex significantly when the bike hits a bump, but Wilier says this means the saddle keeps changing position in relation to the bottom bracket – something that doesn’t happen with the Cento10ndr, thereby preserving power and pedalling efficiency while riding.
There are three levels of Shox insert, from soft to hard, with the soft being specced on small bikes, and the hard on larger frames. However, customers can choose which one they prefer depending on their weight and riding style. According to Salomoni, there is about 3-4mm of travel in the Shox: ‘If you’re heavy, about 5mm. It just cuts the micro-vibrations from normal riding.’
Up and at ’em
As another concession to the older rider, the NDR (which stands for ‘endurance’)
has a more forgiving geometry than the Cento10air. The frame is higher and shorter in terms of stack and reach, giving a more upright position.
For those who worry that this means the bike is designed as a comfy cruiser rather than a sporty racer, Salomoni is quick to dispel the notion. ‘The angles are racing angles. The handling must be Wilier handling – racing handling,’ he says, before going on to point out that the NDR shares most of the same aerofoil tube profiles as the racy Cento10air and utilises the same carbon, coming in only slightly heavier at a claimed frame weight of 1,080g.
In terms of aesthetics, the NDR still looks like a race bike, and Salomoni even suggests the upright geometry helps the bike to look more pro. He tells of his horror at seeing sleek race bikes ruined by having stacks of spacers beneath the stem because their owners can’t cope with the aggressive position. With the NDR, the high front end means that, in most cases, the stem can be slammed. And where spacers are required, they are subtle aero spacers that maintain the bike’s elegant looks.
To further enhance aesthetics, not to mention the aerodynamics, the frontend cabling has been squirrelled away inside the bars, stem and head tube (as long as it has an electronic groupset and hydraulic disc brakes), making the Cento10ndr look clean and uncluttered.
One unique aspect of the bike is that you can choose your preferred brake set-up. The frame has bolt fixings to allow calliper brakes or discs, and Wilier has created dropouts that can be swapped to accept either standard quick-releases or a 12mm thru-axle. With rim callipers there is tyre clearance up to 28mm, while with disc brakes it goes up to 32mm.
As for colours, the bike comes in this black and red, or just plain black. For the slightly more adventurous there is a rather fetching blue and red combination, and artistic types can get creative with Wilier’s Infinitamente online system that allows you to choose whatever colour of frame you like.
Cyclist ’s first impression of the Cento10ndr, gained at its launch in Italy, is that the Actiflex really does smooth out the road without undermining the bike’s raciness or handling, but there will be a full road test in an upcoming issue.
Wilier Cento10ndr, £9,300 as pictured (an Ultegra version will be available for £5,600, as well as Sram and Campagnolo options), hotlines-uk.com