Well, it turns out that this frameset has got some major problems. These are due to the internal cable routing. The rear shifts of the derailleur are imprecise because of a bend in the cabling. The only way around this fault is to use external cable routing. Wilier are aware of this problem, and seem to have addressed it, but it’s still popping up on Cento Uno models. The 2010 Wilier Cento Uno and Cento Uno SL still have the same problems¹. It’s possible that these problems may appear on the new Wilier Imperiale, which is based on the ’09 Cento Uno and is their new aero frame, will have the same problems, as the geometry wasn’t changed from the Cento.
Two areas drew our concern and are worthy of mention. First, the dropped and curved driveside chainstay may reduce chain slap but it also makes for a less-than-optimal path for the internally routed rear derailleur cable. Wilier have addressed this with some low-friction liner to ease the cable through the frame entry/exit point but there was still enough additional drag on hand that we could never get the rear derailleur to shift 100 percent correctly in both directions no matter what we did with the available adjustments [note that Chris Davidson is a pro team mechanic with experience on UCI-registered Campagnolo-sponsored teams ~ Ed]. Our experience indicates that this cable routing binding issue may pose an even greater potential problem with the newer – and more lightly sprung – 11-speed groups that the Lampre team runs.
[Ed. note: Wilier was contacted about these issues and given a chance to refute or explain them. They didn't. This post was researched. These aren't just personal claims, but serious problems with the frameset that different owners have reported. The cabling issue stems from the way that the seat stays are used. There are workarounds, such as using external cabling.]
This makes buying any Wilier frameset a deal breaker for me. I won’t be getting one. It’s also important to note that Wilier seriously exaggerate the weight of their frames². The frames are a lot heavier than they report. I’ve seen that the frames are almost 200-300 gr heavier than expected. This doesn’t seem like much, but when you report that your frame weighs about 900 gr, it’s a serious issue. This is common, but usually the weights are close to what’s advertised.
The Cento Uno isn’t quite as stiff overall as some of its competition – under power it’s notably a step behind the Scott Addict and quintessential German carbon rigs like the Isaac Sonic – nor is it as light. In fact, the 1,240g actual frame weight (large size, measured without the included Ritchey seatmast head) is nearly 200g more than the claimed average. Fork weight, however, is as advertised at 350g with a 235mm-long steerer.
It’s also good to note that there is a serious lack of objective and in-depth bike reviews, especially for the high-end bikes. They usually tend to say that the bikes are great and offer no constructive criticisms. For riders who buy bikes to train and to ride the frames really hard, I find this unacceptable, which is why I have been trolling forums on the Web to find out exactly what’s up.
The other thing is that if you shell out $4,200 for a frameset, you better believe that you’ll say that it kicks ass. Which is why it’s hard to find critical reviews of those frames. Or maybe the owners don’t ride their bikes hard. I spend between 10 and 18 hours on a bike each week. You better believe that I’ll ride any frame I get pretty hard. If there are any faults, they will show. And they will show quickly.
Lastly, Wilier frames are made in Taiwan. I find it unacceptable that they charge these premium prices for their frames³. Those prices are reserved for euro bikes like TIME and Look. Just because Wiliers are designed in Italy doesn’t mean diddly squat.
A caveat: I have only researched these frames, never tried them. I have scoured forums and the web to get good idea about this frame. When I mentioned to my LBS about the problems of this frame, they agreed quickly enough, letting me believe that it was a known issue, which was confirmed by the web. I’ve talked to a bunch of different owners on forums and this is a known problem. How big is it? It all depends on what you do with your frame. If you ride just a bit, not too hard, then you will probably not even notice these faults. The more you ride your frame, the more these will become problematic.
Now I don’t believe that this is a fatal flaw, it’s just something that’s annoying to get on such an expensive frame. Kind of like some of the DeRosa frames’ finishing that looks pretty bad. Speaking of finishing problems:
Second, our test bike came with a sizeable anomaly in the cosmetic 1k finish weave. Seemingly staring up at us from the top of the wide down tube up by the head tube was a 20x80mm ‘patch’ . Wilier insist that this blemish was isolated to our non-representative early pre-production sample and true to their word, we found no similar patches in subsequent inspections of other Cento Uno models that we could lay our hands on. However, we did still note other examples – though far more minor – of less-than-perfect surface finish, particularly where separate frame sections were bonded together.
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[¹]: As documented by Bike Radar as well as by multiple Cento Uno owners here.
[²]: This is pretty common, as bicycle companies will report the XS weight for the frame weight. However, there is a 20% difference for certain Wilier frames, which is starting to get more serious.
[³]: Thankfully, companies are catching on to this. The price of the Pinarello Prince, which is made in Taiwan, is coming down mostly because they released a new top of the line model, the Dogma.