Bike Test: Wilier Cento 10 Air

Italian flair for less air

Italian flair for less air

Known as a brand with deep Italian roots, Wilier has always been at the forefront of the racing scene. With over a century of experience making bikes, Wilier is proud to produce their latest aero road bike, the Wilier Cento10AIR.

THE FRAME

The Wilier Cento10AIR frame is brand new, as they looked to utilize the latest aero concepts with design profiles found in conjunction with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Wilier considered aerodynamics, weight and UCI rule limitations to come up with their new Cento10AIR shape.

We liked that Wilier chose to use direct-mount brakes mounted on the seatstays a la traditional road bikes and not below the chainstays. While this latter design found some recent popularity by pushing the “aero look,” we’ve never found an under-the-chainstay-mounted brake that provided equal braking power.

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THE PARTS

The first thing we noticed on the Cento10AIR was the new integrated aero bar. The handlebar is an in-house design meant to match the frame’s styling cues. Going for the added aero advantage here was a nice touch. One drawback, though, was that it made it tough to put your favorite computer on, as the mounts don’t work with the bar.

A complete Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain came on board, which worked flawlessly. With their bar design, this bike had full cable integration, minus the front brake cable.

Our test bike was spec’d with a pair of HED Stinger 5 carbon tubular wheels, which we found is a possible up-spec item when ordering the bike through a Wilier dealer (with a 10-percent discount over retail). For all U.S.-bound bikes, you’ll find Shimano RS21 wheels used.

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THE RIDE

The first thing we noticed about the Wilier was how big/tall it was for a medium-sized (54cm) frame. Their integrated carbon bar/stem system wouldn’t allow us to drop the bars, as you need to cut the fork to do so. This didn’t allow us to achieve the most desired fit for our test riders. The trend with the new aero bikes seems to be going this way with the carbon-molded one-piece cockpit, which is great for aero gains but doesn’t do much to help mount your choice of head unit (computer), as the bar is often too large for a standard mounting system.

Once up to speed, though, the Cento does ride as soon as the aero gains come into play. With the frame/cockpit not being the stiffest, there was a bit more comfort as you were riding at high speeds. Once we got onto the climbs, the bike tracked well, but the combination of aero frame not being the stiffest didn’t lead to the optimal climbing performance. Aero road frames are made primarily to go across the flats fast and not up the climbs, but the flex we felt as we stood out of the saddle didn’t give us the best experience going uphill hard. Some riders were also left scratching their heads over the amount of flex found in the stem/bar combo.

THE VERDICT

The Wilier Cento10AIR looks great and is a true aero road frame where all the parts of the bike are accounted for nicely. Unfortunately, with the application of all their aero thought and design, the benefits of a stiffer frame seemed to have been lost. Once you’re up to speed on the Wilier, though, it does perform well. For the aero gains, however, we believe too much was lost in the overall ride quality.

PUNCH LINES

  • Paint job will stand out at your local group ride
  • High-sitting top tube
  • Frame has more flex than aero gains

STATS

Price: $8389 ($6400 with Shimano wheels)

Weight: 15.5 pounds

Sizes: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL, XXL

www.wilier.com

THE GEAR

  • Helmet: Kask Mojito
  • Jersey: Giordana Italian Blue
  • Bibs: Giordana FR-C
  • Shoes: Gaerne G. Stilo
  • Glasses: Ride 100% Speedcoupe

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