Carbon Bike Test - Wilier Le Roi - Road Cycling UK

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Carbon Bike Test – Wilier Le Roi

We’re in the final straight now (at last). Heads down and gunning for the line…
You’ll have to wait one more day for the final judgement though. Check back tomorrow for the final analysis…

Wilier Le Roi


Not heard of Wilier? Well it all started in 1906 in a small workshop along the banks of the river Brenta near Trieste. Earning a reputation for quality and craftsmanship from their early use of chromium and nickel-plating, their business grew steadily over the years despite the disruption of two World Wars. These days Wilier operates out of a modern purpose built facility in Rossano Veneto. They produce around 13,000 bikes a year and serve 250 dealers across Italy.

The first Wilier ‘pro team’ was established just after the end of WWII and gained it’s first major victory winning the Tour of Italy in 1948. International successes followed in 1949 and 1950 competing in the Tour of Flanders and the Tour de France. From those early days Wilier have recognised the importance of working with world-class professional riders and teams to enable them to ring the last drop of performance and reliability out of their frames. For Pantani fans out there Wilier has symbolic meaning as it was the last bike he rode in a bike race.

Wilier bikes are big news in Italy but have been a rare sight on UK roads. Marco Pantani’s endorsement has meant a lot to the Italian bike-buying nation. He boosted Wilier in a similar way to the sales success that he rekindled in Bianchi. Wilier will be a much more regular sight as they now have a good distributor for the UK market. The range is also wide and there are several price points along the way to this one at the top of the tree.

The detailing is excellent

Frame and Fork

The “Le Roi” frame features their latest development MMS – Multi Monocoque System, a revolutionary procedure that uses monocoque technology in every tube, thus: “allowing a reduction in weight to a previously unachievable 950 grams, while maintaining superior ride characteristics over lugged and regular monocoque frames. A pretty big claim.

Elsewhere, Wilier’s differential headset uses both 1 1/8″ and 1 1/4″ races to provide more stability where it is needed, in the lower part of the steer tube. Can’t say that we noticed a massive step up in front end rigidity, but it does look subtle and nicely blended in with the orange graphic.

The straight bladed fork is monocoque carbon fibre and is designed specifically to give more precision while cornering. The monocoque carbon seat stays lightens up the rear of the frame and provides optimal power transfer to the rear wheel, but it has to be said that there’s not much ‘give’ in this rear end.


A full Record gruppo is complimented with finishing kit from ITM and Selcof and we finally get a chance to have a go on the Fulcrum Racing 1 wheels, although we weren’t that impressed with the ride, they look good and the quality of build is excellent. The Hutchinson tyres may be OK for Southern European countries and weather, but they are a little on the lightweight side for rain soaked Blighty and a fatter tyre would be our choice for this bike anyway.

There is nothing unusual about the spec and although the bars on our test bike were quite narrow, there were plenty of admirers for the ITM bar and stem combo. We changed the bars for some wider, more familiar ones and in the process noticed the short comings of the Sword bar ensemble. It’s OK once it’s installed but it is very tricky to tighten and loosen the Allen bolts that hold the bars in place. You need a special Allen Key (or ball headed Bondhus type) to undo it. It’s really fiddly.

Everything else was suitably pro-stable selection and we thought the Carbon Record throughout with black brakes was very chichi and picked out the carbon frame theme just perfectly.

BB reinforced for added umpf

The Ride

First impressions of the Le Roi are that it’s a bit of a handful. These impressions don’t really subside. This is a racer’s bike – make no mistake. Even experienced riders found the ride very ‘engaging’. It’s so light it almost clatters off everything. The Hutchinson tyres didn’t help much on rough roads either. Around Hillingdon and smooth roads the Wilier makes a lot more sense. It has bags of power available when you kick out of the saddle and sprints straight – like a dart. Likewise in the hills it just glides up anything more than a rise – there is no fear of any energy being wasted here.

But let’s be honest, this is a LOT of money to be spending on a frame and although it looks fantastic and the weight and construction are excellent, the ride will be a little aggressive for some and when paying this much, you may need to assess your aspirations as well as your bank balance. So do you really need a 16lb rocket ship?

Larger riders (read ‘heavier’) did find that the bike bucked about a bit, which is to be expected of a bike so light and stiff, but it also can be a little tiring after several hours riding. Obviously Team Cofidis and Lampre won’t find this a problem as they are all about 70 kilos wringing wet and let’s face it they want a bike that flies like a dart in the sprint.

RCUK Verdict

This is a gorgeous bike. We hung it on the wall and just stared at it. It’s also impressively light and the lightest bike on test here, by about 200grams, or so. It also had amazing strength to weight ratio and if you like a solid and stiff frame – this could be the bike for you.

Moreover, if you are intending to race and you are a small/light rider this could be the bike for you too. Or if you want to spend a season in the Alps riding races up them, it could also be the bike for you too. However, if you are after a comfortable, do-it-all bike then you may do better to look elsewhere. In short, Marco Pantanis need only apply.

good Oh-mi-god-it’s-so-fast-like-the-Tarmac-is

bad Post-ride visit to the dentist required to re-fit fillings

performance 8
value 7
overall 8

Frame: Wilier Monocoque Carbon
Fork: monocoque carbon fork, full carbon legs, crown and steerer
Headset: Ritchey WCS Aheadset
Stem: ITM Sword Carbon
Bars: ITM Sword Carbon
Tape: Wilier Cork ribbon
Brakes: Campagnolo Record Titanium Black
Levers: Campagnolo Record Carbon 10-speed Ultra
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record Carbon 10-speed Ultra
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record Carbon 10-speed Ultra short cage
Cassette sprockets: Campagnolo Record Carbon 10-speed Ultra 12-23
Chain: Campagnolo Record Carbon 10-speed Ultra
Cranks: Campagnolo Record Alloy 10-speed Ultra 53x39T
BB: Campagnolo Record Carbon
Pedals: None
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing 1
Tyres: Hutchinson 700x23C
Saddle: Selle Italia
Seat post: Selcof Carbon

• Sizes: S, M, L and XL (c/t) sloping geometry. Custom available – 6 weeks delivery
(N.B. Wilier can build you an off the peg frame with just about any spec you care to mention, or alternatively frame and fork packages)
• Colours: Natural ‘Fat weave’ carbon, Team Cofidis or Team Lampre
• Price: £2195 for Frame, fork Ritchey WCS Aheadset.
• Complete bike packages with Record (Dura Ace also available) from £4k

Photo Gallery

Full Italian spec.

ITM’s latest egro creation

The paintwork is very tasteful

Record cranks ‘à la Boonen’

Fat weave is the ‘in’ look for 2006

Mirror stickers – nice


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