Lead Out

Wilier is still in­no­vat­ing, 110 years af­ter it was founded – this time with the older rider in mind

Cyclist - - Contents - Words PETE MUIR Pho­tog­ra­phy DANNY BIRD

Wilier marks 110 years in busi­ness by of­fer­ing older rid­ers com­fort and per­for­mance Gear from Lazer, Pirelli, FSA and more Ris­ing Bri­tish star Tom Pid­cock on ju­nior suc­cess and his goal of wear­ing yel­low Why cy­cling caps still mat­ter How to re­cover faster for your next ride Arg­onaut’s Ben Farver re­veals the se­crets be­hind his award-win­ning car­bon cre­ations In praise of… hair­pins THM’S crankset for the ages Frank Strack on the art of suf­fer­ing… for money

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

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