Owing to the role that Italy has played in the evolution of the road bike and the continued fascination with it, the Italian bike industry as a whole has been forced to walk a fine line between embracing the assets of modernity in terms of frame materials and design while at the same time never abandoning the historical ethos that the country’s role in the sport is based on. Over the years Wilier has proven itself to be one such Italian legacy bike brand that has successfully bridged the divide that exists between the old-versus-new ethos. Their high-end Zero.7 is one such result.
The Zero.7 is Wilier’s high-end road bike option, and it’s been redesigned for 2015 to reflect the latest trends in frame design, with a new integrated fork and an overall reduction (by 19 percent) in tube volume for an impressively slim- mer appearance and a (claimed) frame weight of 790 grams. The frame is made up of mostly round and square-to-round tube shapes, with the medium-diameter seatstays rating just a bit bigger than the trendier pencil-thin seatstays.
As visible as the frame features like the asymmetrical, box-section seatstays are, one of Wilier’s unseen, but no less notable, frame features is the S.E.I. (Special Elastic Infiltrated) viscoelastic film material that’s applied between the layers of carbon to help dampen road shock (by a claimed 35 percent). This type of technology is not too unlike variants used by Trek a decade ago and, more recently, Bianchi to help smooth out the ride quality.
Wilier makes the Zero.7 available with a variety of component kits—from Campagnolo to SRAM to Shimano. Our test bike was spec’d with Shimano’s mechanical Dura-Ace 9000 drivetrain. Owing to the ear-splitting squeal that the aluminum Mavic Ksyrium wheels are capable of emitting when the brake pads aren’t adjusted correctly, we were instead met with a gentle “whirring” sound as the pads interfaced with the Exalith scalloped brake surface.
Pedaling stiffness is excellent, thanks to the robust junction provided by the wide bottom bracket shell of the BB386. The 86mm-wide shell allows the seat tube and downtube to flair in size where they intersect, whereas a standard BB30-shell’s, 68mm width doesn’t provide the same real estate for the tube junction. Descending on the Zero.7 also has its upsides, which include excellent stopping power from the Dura-Ace calipers with the Mavic wheels. Finding a more powerful brake-and-rim combo would require going with disc brakes.
Another shining point is the ride quality while in the saddle that the Ritchey 27.2 round seatpost and minimal seatstays provide. Being able to set up for a corner without being bounced around in the saddle over rough pavement not only helped us maintain speed, but also the ability to maintain our line and, ultimately, safety. The only time we could really get the Zero.7 to give us any sort of downside would be when over the front end in a full-on sprint, and at that point was the only time we could notice any flex coming from the frameset that wasn’t aiding the ride.
With such a morphing in frame design compared to the previous Zero.7, which used large-diameter round tubes and a simple focus of delivering a light frame with high stiffness, we weren’t entirely sure what we would be getting into with the latest design that completely changed the tube shapes and added some aerodynamic touches. Luckily, the changes didn’t do anything to diminish its ability on the road, especially when that road is headed up. If the Wilier took a hit anywhere, it was to the front end, which a few test riders thought provided something less than the super-stiff ride they preferred.
Somewhere between the tube shapes, geometry and the S.E.I. film, the overall ride quality of the Wilier was given high marks from performance- oriented recreational riders. While the $5000 frame price is high, we were taken aback by the nearly $10,000 price for a bike lacking electricity and carbon hoops (As an aside, this is where Canyon is killing it in Europe with seemingly unmatchable prices.)
• It costs 10-grand without Di2 or carbon rims?!
• Classic lines and ride
• Braking is first rate
Price: $9499, $4999 (frameset)
Weight: 14.6 pounds
Sizes: XS, S, M, L (tested), XL, XXL