Last month, I was invited to the launch of Wilier’s 2015 bike range along with, among others, Andy, our buying manager. The trip was an opportunity to test out the latest Wilier bicycles in their native habitat, Northern Italy. It was a chance not to be missed – even if it did mean I had to get over my natural mountain biker’s aversion to Lycra.
The flight from Manchester to Venice Marco Polo Airport was short and sweet, taking just over two hours and taking in stunning views over the Alps and Venice.
After a 45-minute drive we arrived at our hotel near Padua just in time to enjoy that fine Italian tradition – a long, relaxed lunch. The food and hospitality over the two days was fantastic. However, being someone who doesn’t drink coffee or wine, I don’t think I’m cut out to pass for an Italian.
Our hotel conveniently doubled as the venue for the business end of our trip – our introduction to Wilier’s 2015 range.
Wilier Zero 7
The Zero 7 – Wilier’s flagship road bike – was the clear standout of their 2015 range. Reinforcing the carbon tubes with thermoplastic inserts has enabled Wilier to create an even sleeker Zero 7 frame whose narrower profile tubing brings the frame weight down to an astonishingly lightweight 750g. Continuing the slimming-down process, the Zero 7 borrows from Wilier’s Cento SR design by integrating the bottom of the head tube with the fork and down tube to create a frame that’s both stiffer and more aerodynamic.
With Wilier, attention to detail is all. Everything about the bike screams quality. While this comes at a price, you quickly start to appreciate why. For instance, custom removable ports enable internal cable routing, whether you opt for mechanical or electronic gearing.
Just before the presentation we were introduced to Fabio Duarte from the Wilier-sponsored Colombia Cycling Team. It made us feel all the more privileged to have the opportunity to try out such a hot bike when we discovered that Fabio had taken delivery of his new Zero 7 just two weeks earlier – at the Giro d’Italia.
As for the rest of Wilier’s road bike range, the changes are mainly updated colour options and a move to 2015 groupsets. The Wilier GTS, which is coming in white, looks particularly impressive and is sure to be popular.
Following our introduction to the 2015 range we were given our kit for the following days ride. Fortunately the Italian sizing wasn’t quite a severe as expected and Andy’s insistence on providing me with a helmet without a visor meant I’d not look too out of place.
Test Riding the Wilier Zero 7
On the Tuesday morning we were handed our bikes for the morning road ride. Each of us was on a new Wilier Zero 7 superbly equipped with carbon Mavic Ksyrium SLR wheels and a choice of Shimano Dura Ace groupsets (mechanical or Di2). Although UK prices hadn’t been announced, the Zero 7 was without doubt the most expensive bike I’d ever ridden.
After the obligatory group photo we set off from the hotel and out into the countryside. We were told that the ride would be fairly straightforward with some climbing but certainly no Alpine passes. We headed out for around 40 minutes on relatively flat roads to the south of the Euganean Hills. On the outskirts of Este we then turned north for the climb to Calaone. The gradient was fairly steady though the pace high as everyone got a chance to stretch their legs and see what the Zero 7 was capable of.
At the summit we stopped and regrouped to enjoy some shade and refreshments. While the Italians in the group had hardly broken sweat we were struggling to take on enough water. Temperatures reached 37 degrees which when moving felt great but when stopped was stifling. Coming from Scotland though you have to make the most of it.
The descent from Calaone was short but interesting. It was the first time I’d worried about euro brakes (left hand front) though found that applying both equally did the trick. Back on the flat we regrouped and the pace was fairly steady. A couple of rises in the road did split things up before another stop in Arqua Petrarca to take on more water. From here it was around 6 miles back to the hotel.
On the last stretch the pace increased. An Italian rider on a Wilier Twin Blade time trial bike providing a target to chase out in front. The last few miles were quickly chalked off and though we’d only been out for around 30 miles everybody was unanimous in their praise of the Zero 7.
Once back we enjoyed another relaxed Italian lunch before heading back out to make the most of the afternoon heat.
In the afternoon most of the group took the opportunity to repeat the morning’s road ride.
Wilier Mountain Bike Test Ride
Andy and I chose to test Wilier’s new full suspension mountain bikes. Along with two others we were guided by Massimo Debertolis, an Italian XC World Cup rider.
I was given the chance to ride Wilier’s new 27.5 140mm full-suspension bike. Wilier aren’t widely known for their mountain bikes and for the last few years haven’t offered any full suspension models. It would be interesting to see how their new designs would fare.
We set off from the hotel and followed a cycle path along a similar route to the road ride before taking a left turn onto a fire road. We rolled through a mixture of tracks and roads for a couple of miles before starting to climb. Although the climb was only around a mile and a half long, it was long enough to showcase just how well the bikes pedalled. In action the floating shock design meant the suspension was always active providing plenty of grip so the bike climbed exceptionally well with little energy wasted.
At the top we regrouped before descending. The descent we were told was straightforward. However, wearing only Lycra did feel a little exposed. We descended what was basically a fire road but the surface was dry and rocky with a few drainage ditches to make things interesting.
After waiting for the non-arrival of the last two in our group after a steep descent, we realised something was up. Unfortunately Andy had fallen, testing out just how little protection Lycra offers. A car rescue was organized for Andy, while the rest of us pedalled back to the hotel at a slightly more relaxed pace.
We are pleased to report that after getting patched up by Claudio from Wilier, and being supplied with a new set of contact lenses by a really helpful optician in Padua, Andy is fine now. However, he might steer clear of mountain bikes on future supplier outings. It’s not the first time he’s had an off!
The Wilier people had that knack of always being friendly and accommodating, while simultaneously exuding professionalism. You can tell they are really proud of their bicycles. It speaks volumes that Wilier were based in this Padua hotel for the whole month of June so they could showcase their bikes to dealers from all over Europe. It’s their way of telling the world that, technically and aesthetically; Wilier bicycles match the very best out there.
For me, the highlight was the bikes – getting the chance to see Wilier’s 2015 line-up all laid out in one room, and then getting the chance to ride them. It won’t be long until these new bikes are unveiled and everyone in the UK has a chance to check them out.
I would like to thank Wilier and their UK supplier ATB for their hospitality. I definitely know who to blame if I end up with a new road bike come September.