Wilier Cento 1 SR – review

We’ve spent nearly a full month aboard the Wilier Cento 1 SR since our ‘first look’, and, having ridden in a deluge for most of it, our riding pleasure has been wholly attributable to the bike.

It’s one of the best all-rounders we have ridden. The handling is seemingly on your side, neutral but not uninspiring. We were able to move the bike around with confidence, flicking it into corners or working our way smoothly through a pack. It’s a stable and flattering ride, able to climb, sprint and descend with ease.

We felt that this was a chassis that could handle every situation well and see you safely through a range of different rides, from rolling through countryside with friends, to racing in a crit, climbing a col or riding the cobbles.

The Wilier Cento 1 SR

The fit

I am 5’10” and tested the medium frame, which proved a good match, and allowed me to achieve a comfortable set up from the data gained from two separate, and reputable, bike fits: the Retul motion capture system, and the Cyfac Postural System. Credit is due then to Wilier for the Cento 1 SR’s sizing and geometry.

The short, 137mm head tube and FSA SLK bar and stem meant a low and racey position was easily obtained. This was aided by the 54cm top tube, which accommodated a range of back angles, either from dropping down low with bent elbows, or getting up on the tops with straighter arms for lower intensity efforts.

The first ride out on the Cento 1 SR was on a dawn raid of about 60 miles, and its performance on rolling terrain was impressive. The top tube left us feeling in control, and able to push the bike into corners. An unknown stretch of winding road with a sharp left hand bend attempted to catch me out, and in spite of the loose, mud-slick surface at the edge of this particular country lane, the Wilier remained composed while I deliberately committed errors typical of a less experienced rider: braking and leaning in a bend. The front end stayed firmly planted and under control; hats off then, not only to the geometry, but also to the supplied Michelin Lithion2 tyres, more of which later.

The Wilier Cento 1 SR

The frame

The frame largely delivered what we were promised by the Wilier team: a combination of the low weight of the Zero 7 with the knowledge gained from the geometry of the Cento 1.

It is fashioned from the same MR60H carbon fibre as the Zero 7 (one able to withstand 60 tons of pressure per square millimeter), and has the same tapered 1-1/8″ – 1-1/4″ headtube, and the same massive 386 Evo bottom bracket. All of this, combined with Wilier’s continued and laudable obsession with making the inside of frame as clean and tidy as possible, using a refined inflatable tube bladder to compact the pre-preg carbon against the mold walls, delivered excellent ride quality.

The frame’s inherent stiffness, combined with the power transfer of the aforementioned bottom bracket,  as well as the beefy asymmetric chainstays, blended well with the comfort afforded by the spindly seatstays.

The wheels

Our Cento 1 SR came with Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheels. We’ll publish a separate review soon (we have a set in the RCUK Winter Bike), but in the context of the Wilier, they’re perhaps best used for winter training. The Cento 1 SR frame could do justice to  much lighter and stiffer wheels: keep that special set with some grippy racing rubber on and get ready to fly.

The Racing Quattros were stiff enough; their 35mm deep aluminum aero section kept the wheel free from flex. We experimented with a range of tyre pressures and found that the frame did a considerable amount of work improving ride comfort over other carbon frames in our experience.

They were shod with Michelin Lithion2 tyres, which, while only having a 60tpi carcass and a weight gain over, say, the mighty Michelin Pro4 Endurance, didn’t fare badly, offering sufficient grip and feel for year-round use.

The groupset

The Campagnolo Athena 11-speed was much as expected: heavier than it’s bigger brothers, and with a greater reliance on aluminium than carbon in the main components. The carbon-wrap brake levers preformed well with the Wilier-logoed FSA Energy brakes (though why not spec Athena calipers?) and we were impressed by their performance in the wet conditions that swamped most of our rides. The hoods felt nice under hand and provided a number of resting points.

Shifting was crisp, not quite mustering the cleanliness of Record, but darned close. The black finish on the aluminium rear mech looked well on the Cento 1 SR, and pushed and pulled across the 11-25 cassette with good grace, even under pressure. There is a weight saving taken with the specification of the specially designed SL-K crankset, which we have been impressed by in standard form. It looks ‘right’ on the Wilier, and showed no signs flex. Heavier riders have also been impressed with the hollow carbon arms of the crankset, claimed to be among the lightest and stiffest on the market.

The rest

The FSA stem and bars created a comfy cockpit and we liked the Wilier-specific version of the Wing bar: 125mm of drop and 80mm of reach suited us well. We were less chuffed with the Concor saddle: a personal issue, and easy to solve.

The silhouette of the Cento1 SR is pleasing, and we felt displayed to best advantage in the red and black livery pictured here. The graphics are impressive too. It’s a machine we felt would look at home in most situations: racing pack, sportive start box, a head turner at the café.

The technical knowledge described in relation to the frame, the Campagnolo Athena groupset, and unremarkable, but reliable wheels combine to create a 7.7kg bike – not at all bad for the price (see below), considering you could easily shave off extra weight with a wheel change to create a truly race-ready machine. It’s equally fair to say that it’s from-the-box weight is perfectly acceptable.

The Wilier Cento 1 SR tested costs £3,499. It is also available as a frameset for £2,399. You could go to town with the spec, or keep it wallet-friendly, but we suspect you’d be hard pressed in the case of the latter to beat the version we have on test here.

Other configurations are sold internationally and have to be ordered through ATB Sales. Have a rummage around on their site and see a range of options. We counted 25, with components and wheels from  Campagnolo, Shimano, SRAM, Fulcrum and Mavic, so there’s plenty to choose from for a great all-round machine to suit your budget and riding aspirations. Impressive stuff.

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