The 21st Century has not been kind to the titans of Italian bicycle manufacturing. Brands that were iconic from the Gimondi era to Saronni, then from Saronni to Argentin, then from Argentin to Bartoli—sadly, many have faded from consequence. The forces of globalization and the expectations of a new generation of cyclists (more keen on performance, less so on romance) have definitively re-set the pecking order. Prestige, desirability, and the very viability of countless Italian companies bear little resemblance to the market landscape of the '90s. No category of Italian goods has been spared: Choices are narrower than ever before for wheels, tires, bars & stems, and most of all, framesets. While naming names would be an interesting exercise, it's a forbiddingly impolitic one as well. Instead, let's give credit where it's due. Wilier Triestina is the rare brand that's done more than merely survive. While it's keenly aware of its historical pedigree, Wilier is unaddicted to sentimentality. Instead, Wilier has embraced the most modern materials and methods in order to produce racing frames that aren't just best-from-Italy, but the best available anywhere.
Wilier has long been a mainstay of the professional peloton, most famously under Team Lampre, starring riders like 2008 World Champion Alessando Ballan and Giro d'Italia champion and three-time winner of the Tour of Lombardy, Damiano Cunego. The victories racked up by Lampre over the years have come in every conceivable terrain and circumstance. Ferocious cobbles? Wilier was ridden to victory at the Tour of Flanders. Savage climbing? Ditto on the Amstel Gold Race, plus the KOM jersey at the Dauphiné Liberé, and what seems like a solid decade of wins at the most important Fall Classic of them all—the Tour of Lombardy. One day races, stage races, wind-shorn Belgium, sun-soaked France, autumnal Italy. Wilier hasn't found a setting where it can't win.
Wilier's close collaboration with Mitsubishi resulted in possibly the loveliest framesets in the ProTour, the Cento1 and Cento1 SL—framesets whose breathtaking light weight belie drivetrain stiffness and long-term durability. They used the same forward-thinking approach by working with legendary aero brainiac John Cobb to design its time trial frameset, the Cento1 Crono. In these and with other bikes, like the Gran Turismo and the Izoard, Wilier proves its Italian essence by making beauty an essential ingredient. But Wilier standouts for its commitment to innovation. It's all too aware that being gorgeous means little if the technology isn't equally alluring.
Wilier was founded in 1906 in Bassano del Grappa—one of Italy's most historic cycling cities. Home of the 1985 World Championship Road Race, it's at the foot of the epic climb of Monte Grappa. The brand name Wilier Triestina is rooted in Italian nationalist patriotism. Italians use "W" as shorthand for the word "Viva", e.g. "W il Giro." The patriotic phrase "W l'Italia liberate e redenta" means "Long live Italy, liberated and redeemed." From this came Wilier. And Triestina is in tribute to the Italian city of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. The fleur-de-lis-like halberd found on Wilier bikes was inspired by Trieste's coat of arms. Combine this rich heritage with the technology and beauty inherent to Wilier, and the result is a bike that inspires in every conceivable manner.