Italy: Parte Uno
Just recovering from a bit of the old jetlag as I type this, so excuse any run on sentences. It was another year and another amazing product launch by Wilier. This year’s product debut was the new Zero SLR, an updated lightweight climbing race rig. It may not be as light as the Zero 6, but it is a stiffer, disc and electronic only race bike. The Zero SLR is Wilier’s answer to the call of its sponsored teams who’s key riders, like Niki Terpstra, want a disc race bike but don’t want a weight penalty. After riding it for a few hours I think they answered well.
As per usual, I flew into Venice where I made my way north to our hotel, Garden Relais, which is based at the foot of Monte Grappa. Hit it up on the google box as it’s an amazing venue stuck in the countryside and close to some amazing riding. It tends to be a very popular hotel in the summer as its also serves as a landing pad for the many para-gliders that frequent the area. This would serve as home base for my rides throughout the week. An amazing area that is just outside of Bassano Del Grappa in the quiet Italian countryside.
Our test ride of the new Zero SLR took us through some rolling hills, steady climbs and ended in the stunning little town of Asolo. From there we headed back to the hotel through narrow streets and quiet little towns. It was the perfect test of a race bike as you had a chance to hit some longer climbs but also some shorter punchy terrain. Unlike here in the prairies, we actually got a chance to bomb some super technical descents and truly test the geometry. All in all, the Zero SLR is a really fun bike to ride, and, like every Wilier I have ridden, confident on descents. It just felt like it was a bike I could ride all day. Max tire size is 28, which makes sense since it’s a race bike, people. You want 30’s? Buy an Endurance or Gravel rig. I felt the 28mm Tubulars on my test bike ate up the bumps in the road very well. Yes, I said tubulars, now that is a proper set up! Never did I feel the bike was harsh, even with a one-piece carbon bar/stem combo. It offered an amazing ride quality usually found in more endurance orientated frames.
I love the fact that Wilier still believes that the market needs a full race bike. Something I worry about in this industry is that the head tubes keep getting taller and the geometry keeps getting more relaxed. The industry needs to remember that there are riders who still want the handling and feel of a race bike and not a gravel bike. You don’t need to be a racer to love how a true Italian race bike handles and performs. You just need to be someone who likes to go fast and appreciates a bike that goes where you point it. Sign me up.
As mentioned, the new Zero SLR is disc only and electronic only. It is available as a complete bike or frameset. As always, we can build it to any spec you’d like and always includes a full fitting. The new 1 piece bar/stem for the SLR is similar to the Alabarda found on the more aero Cento 10 Pro, but with a slightly smaller flat wing section so you can tape the entire bar no problem. It’s available in 3 stunning stock colors, plus the full custom color option that you can design on the Infinitamente. Look for Team Total Direct Energie racing it at the TDF.
Besides testing the new bike, I got a chance to see the entire 2020 range at Wilier HQ. I can’t say much until after Euro Bike, but some cool stuff is out for 2020. I also had the full info session from Claudio, the head Engineer at Wilier, on the new SLR and why each frame component was designed the way it was. Evenings during the launch were spent eating dinner with the many International dealers and Distributor’s along with the entire Wilier family. As one of Italy’s larger brands, it still is truly still family owned and operated. The Gastaldello brothers still run the company and accompanied us on our rides and ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with us every night. Now that is true Italian hospitality! This and many other reasons is why we are Wilier’s longest running dealer, carrying the brand since 2002.
So what else did I do besides ride some amazing climbs, eat amazing food, and talk bikes with like-minded people? Lots! But that is for the next post. Stay tuned.