Wilier-Triestina ZeroSLR first ride

According to Italy’s Wilier-Triestina, its new-for-2020 ZeroSLR “is the first ultra-lightweight racing frame with disc brakes and fully integrated cables”. Quite a claim.

It’s certainly very light for a bike with disc brakes, coming in at the UCI’s minimum 6.9kg limit. The medium-size black-and-white model has a claimed 780g frame weight with another 345g for the monocoque fork and 335g for the dedicated one-piece Zero carbon integrated bar.

And as with the likes of Giant, Specialized and Trek, Wilier is now bringing in more and more design work in-house — from that bar to the newly launched Wilier-branded wheels.

Wilier’s ZeroSLR, especially in its striking ‘Velvet Red’ livery, looks fantastic. I was riding the black-and-white colourway though on my afternoon test ride, but at least I was a few grams lighter — think red’s the fastest? Time to reconsider. Red paint is among the densest there is.

Wilier-Triestina ZeroSLR design and weight claims

The ZeroSLR is a descendant of Wilier’s 2011 Zero.7 and 2016 Zero.6, and while its frame is lighter than the 799g Zero.7, it is heavier than the 680g rim-braked Zero.6.

Crucially, however, what Wilier was trying to achieve with the ZeroSLR was a greater stiffness-to-weight ratio – and this bike is 24 percent stiffer than the Zero.6. The ZeroSLR’s 153.9 Nm/kg ratio compares with 123.9 for the Zero.7 and 132.4 for the Zero.6.

Wilier also aimed to minimise weight while maximising integration. The ZeroSLR includes “all the features desired by the most demanding cyclists in the most technologically advanced racing bikes: braking performance with disc brakes, electronic transmission, high aerodynamics, high-speed stability and control, and full cable integration”, according to Wilier-Triestina.

The new ZeroSLR fork and chainstays are asymmetrical, something Wilier pioneered more than a decade ago in order to cope with the extra forces created by disc brakes.

Wilier’s designers have increased the diameter of the right fork blade, shaving size and weight from the non-braked left-hand blade. The fork has also been widened for improved aerodynamics. Obviously.

The ZeroSLR monocoque frame is made from, wait for it, a “secret recipe” of carbon fibre that Wilier-Triestina claims is superior to any carbon it has previously used.

In addition to this “HUS-MOD” carbon, the SLR features “multi-directional fibre mesh to increase rigidity in every direction” and, wait for it again, “liquid Crystal polymer to improve impact resistance and vibration absorption”.

The carbon seatpost has a Kammtail-like profile, its 26mm width and 29mm depth giving it a shape that resembles that of Giant’s D-shaped ‘D-Fuse’ seatpost. The seatpost clamp bolt is easy to access and tighten, but I reckon it’s the only component that lets down the bike’s otherwise super-smooth and elegant lines.

Wilier-Triestina ZeroSLR integration

Wilier has achieved ever-greater integration with the use of its re-engineered Zero handlebar and composite spacers, through which the cables and hoses are routed.

Another neat and elegant solution are the wheels, which Wilier is now making for the first time, in conjunction with Miche, also based in northern Italy. These are initially available in three models, two with 38mm-deep rims and the Air 50 with 50mm rims, in both clincher and tubular models.

My test bike had UL T38KT wheels with CeramicSpeed bearings, which weigh a claimed 1,390g per pair with tubular rims.

Wilier uses 12mm Mavic Speed Release thru-axles on the ZeroSLR’s frame and fork, a super-tidy system that allows you to take the the wheel out without totally removing the hub – quickening removal and replacement.

It is both very quick and extremely easy, and when you’ve reached the correct torque you can’t apply any more force. Pull out the lever by a few millimetres though, and you can re-angle it any direction. Neat. Again.

Wilier-Triestina ZeroSLR first ride impressions

Our afternoon group test ride was a lumpy 32-miler through the foothills of the Dolomites, with 3,500ft of climbing thrown in to work off some of the lunchtime ‘light buffet’. Road surfaces were far from perfect, being pitted and gritty.

The peloton was led by Niki Terpstra, who competes on Wilier-Triestina bikes for Direct Énergie and – having won both Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders – is one of the world’s best one-day riders. I followed the wheel-tracks of the man who followed in his wheel-tracks, only a lot more slowly. It’s a claim of sorts…

I’d have preferred a lower bottom gear on the steeper climbs than the 34×28 pairing available. Frankly, I’d always prefer a smaller bailout option. But with only seven kilos of carbon beneath me, I was able to pull myself up the 10 percent section and shorter, even steeper stretches, admittedly slowly.

Ah, but what of the ZeroSLR? Well, it was only one afternoon ride followed by another solo effort the next morning, but initial impressions are that this is a fantastic, genuinely pro-level ride that would score much more than zero.

Control and comfort were both impeccable. It’s rare I get a chance to ride on tubular tyres (does anybody outside of the pro ranks these days?) and the 28mm Vittoria tubs smoothed out broken surfaces superbly.

The production bikes all come with 25mm Vittoria Corsa tyres, either tubs or clinchers depending on model. At one point a rider behind me was concerned when I shimmied after hitting a small but quite deep hole on a quickish, hairpinned descent, but the bike let me regain control immediately – to the great relief of the rider on my tail.

The brakes, as you’d expect from Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulics, were equally without issue. I badly overcooked a couple of hairpins on one of the descents, and on rim brakes might have ended up riding into the verge. While I lost my racing line, I was able to slow down quickly and safely without losing control.

On the flat the ZeroSLR’s acceleration was effortless, the ride as poised and precise as you could want, and it climbed nimbly. With the bike braked in the continental rather than British way, and some of the roads poorly surfaced, I didn’t attack the descents full-bore, which will have to wait for a full test back home. But on the faster sections this Wilier was fleet, faultless and fun.

In spite of the bike’s aero qualities – tube profiles, slightly ovalised handlebar tops – the ZeroSLR’s comfort was also excellent; 28mm tubular tyres will do that. Really put the hammer down and it absolutely flies with a great sense of efficiency. That’ll be the much-vaunted stiffness-to-weight ratio and low mass wheels with ceramic bearings.

There are 12 Wilier-Triestina’s ZeroSLR models available, with a range of Shimano and SRAM groupsets and Wilier and Fulcrum wheels, costing from €7,700 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 or SRAM Force eTap AXS Disc to €11,100 with Dura-Ace Di2 – the model I tested – and €11,200 with SRAM Red eTap AXS Disc.

It was hard to fault my test bike – apart from the price. But that’s the sort of rarefied amount you’ll pay for similarly equipped bikes from the opposition. It’s light, fast, handles superbly and has top-of-the-line kit throughout.

*By Simon Withers courtesy of Bikeradar


Bottom bracket Shimano Dura-Ace pressfit
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace hydraulic disc brakes, 160mm front rotor, 140mm rear
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 11-28
Chain Shimano Dura-Ace
Cranks Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 50/34
Fork ZeroSLR Carbon monocoque
Frame Wilier-Triestina ZeroSLR carbon monocoque
Handlebar Zero integrated carbon
Headset FSA Custom
Rear derailleur Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Carbon Boost
Seatpost Zero Carbon Wilier
Shifter Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Tyres 28mm Vittoria Corsa tubular
Wheels Wilier-Triestina UL T38KT carbon tubular wheels with Ceramic Speed bearings