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Wilier Cento1 - 2012 $0.00
In late 2008, a new frame made a huge impression on the world of pro racing. What it did for the best in the world then, it's been doing for the rest of us since. The Wilier Cento1 (pronounce the numeral as "uno") channels every watt of your power into forward propulsion, while giving you geometry perfect for slicing the descents into mincemeat.
The first jaw-dropping use of the Cento1 was Alessandro Ballan's attack that launched him to solo victory at the 2008 World Championship Road Race in Varese, Italy. It was the move of the year. In a pared-down peloton of super-fit superstars, he was dominant at the moment it counted most. The second instance we remember was Damiano Cunego's attack at the most beautiful, yet underrated one-day classic, the Giro di Lombardia. While the petit prince goes uphill like a rocket on the Cento1, he didn't make his move on the climb of the Ghisallo, but instead took advantage of the bike's abilities, climbed within himself, and attacked on the descent -- a tactic you rarely see in a race so prestigious. With one part fearlessness and one part skill, he shed his companions and rode into Como gloriously alone.
Ballan's attack proves how vital lateral stiffness is to a race bike. At the top level, winning normally follows one formula: conserve, conserve, conserve for 6 hours, and then pour every last fume of anger into the pedals. In that moment, supreme lateral stiffness in your bike is a must. And the Cento1 is designed to deliver it. The stiffness comes foremost from its oversized bottom bracket design. You'll see that the Cento1 doesn't require the use of traditional external bottom bracket cups. Instead, the bearings are housed inside the frame itself. It's not BB30, though. It allows the use of any Campagnolo Ultra Torque crankset (10 or 11 speed), SRAM system, or Shimano Dura Ace 7900 & 7800. The result, according to Wilier testing, is a 39% increase in drivetrain stiffness over a bike with a traditional BB assembly.
The asymmetric chain stays and integrated seat mast are two additional details designed to deliver stiffness. Pedaling forces put different loads on the driveside chainstay vs. the non-driveside chainstay. Engineers have known this for over 20 years (remember the Davis Phinney-edition Serotta frameset from the 80's?), and Wilier modernizes the concept in the Cento1. Think of the integrated seat mast as a true extension of the seat tube. Note how it progressively flares as it goes from top tube to bottom bracket - it's a design detail focused on stiffness. The integrated seat mast is an extension of the seat tube, and it's made to complement the function of the seat tube.
One of the most beautiful details of the Cento1 is the head tube. Note how it is round at the top and square at the bottom. Every time we glance at it, we think of Cunego's awe-inspiring descent of the Ghisallo. The squared head tube mates to a squared fork crown, with the goal of providing outstanding steering precision. Under speed (be it descending a mountain, or sprinting out of the final corner of a crit), the Cento1 is stable and sticks on its line. But, if you must flick around an obstacle (a patch of gravel, manhole cover, etc), the bike responds with telepathic quickness.
Wilier designed the Cento1 in collaboration with carbon supplier Mitsubishi, taking advantage of their very highest grade of carbon fiber. This 46 Ton carbon fiber can withstand 46 tons of force per square millimeter. Thanks to this immense strength, Wilier could design the Cento1 with requisite strength and stiffness while keeping the overall weight to a minimum. Stronger carbon allows the use of less material as a whole.
How light is the Cento1? It varies by frame size and paint color, but combined with the included Ritchey WCS Stubby seat clamp, expect it to fall just under 1200g. Compare that to your typical 950g "wonderbike" from other brands. When you add to that nominal 950g weight a 225g seatpost, a 30g front derailleur clamp, another 30g for a seat clamp, and then 55g for bottom bracket cups you end up with an actual weight of 1290g - a quarter-pound heavier than the Cento1. And how strong is the Cento1? It passed the exhaustive "CSI" testing protocol of the European Community to ensure product safety.
A few final notes on the Cento1: while the frame comes standard with an integrated seat mast and a Ritchey WCS Stubby seat clamp, you can cut down the seat mast and add a seat clamp for use with a 31.6mm seatpost. In addition, the frame comes with small composite spacers for use with a Shimano or SRAM crankset. These spacers are not necessary for use with a Campagnolo crankset. (Campagnolo cranks come with the bearings pre-pressed to the BB spindle, so you just slide the cranks into the bike, and you're all set.) And, lastly, please focus on the effective top tube length and head tube length as you make a determination of your proper size. Given the integrated seat mast and the unconventional top tube, focusing on the seat tube measurement can cause unnecessary confusion.
The Wilier Cento1 is available in sizes XSmall through XX-Large. It comes standard with a Wilier Monoscocca monocoque carbon fork, a Ritchey integrated headset, and a Ritchey WCS Stubby seat clamp. It requires the use of a braze-on front derailleur.