Wilier’s more modestly priced Mortirolo ended up in the top three in our 2009 Road Bike of the Year test. So its slightly dearer Izoard sibling – also named after a famous European climb – had a lot of expectations to live up to when it arrived at the gates of Cycling Plus towers. So just what do you get for your extra money?
- Frame & fork: The perfectly aligned, beautifully ﬁnished carbon monocoque frame and full carbon fork combo oozes class (9/10)
- Handling: It manages to combine some serious speed with an incredibly plush and comfortable ride (9/10)
- Equipment: Campag’s 10-speed Centaur perfectly complements the bike’s Italian ﬂavour but that 104in top gear is a limiting factor (8/10)
- Wheels: The Fulcrum 5s and Vittoria tyres performed well but are at the lower end of the spectrum for race wheels and tyres (7/10)
The Izoard is aimed at the aspiring or practising competitive cyclist, whereas the Mortirolo is more of an all-rounder, at home in sportive events and good for general ﬁtness riding. As you'd expect, the Izoard is lighter than the Mortirolo, it has higher spec kit and better wheels for a dash of extra speed. And its looks are more than skin deep.
Its comparatively short head tube and a gently sloping top tube make for a stiff frame and there are some interesting tube proﬁles on display, including a down tube that goes from round to diamond to round again at the oversized bottom bracket area. The ﬁnish is spot on, too; the Italians certainly know a thing or two about styling.
Being Italian, it makes sense that the Izoard is specced with Campagnolo, in this case 10-speed Centaur. It works as perfectly as you’d expect, with faultless, plush gear changes throughout, although if we were to make changes to the Izoard then we’d start with the gearing. The compact 34-50 chainset and 13-tooth sprocket provides a top gear of only 104in, and for a bike with racing pretensions this is too low.
If we had to change another thing on the Izoard, it would be the wheels. The Fulcrum Racing 5s – part of the Campag stable – are a step up from the Mortirolo’s Racing 7s, but they are a mid-range wheel designed for everyday use and training. We’d have preferred something from higher up the Fulcrum range or a comparable product from one of its competitors.
Out on the road, though, the Izoard really comes into its own, and you notice that it does have something in common with the Mortirolo. You can build carbon ﬁbre frames in different ways to give them different properties, and Wilier’s engineers have created some of the plushest riding bikes available. Aim it at potholes and over ruts and cobbles – as we regularly do during testing – and not only does it handle impeccably and without complaint, never throwing you off line, but your backside won’t be complaining either, such is the plushness of the ride.
The Izoard manages to balance this supreme comfort with a bike that you really can race on – crank up the gears and the power transfer is instantaneous. Sprints, climbs and descents are all handled with equal aplomb and there’s nothing about this bike that is anything less than conﬁdence inspiring.
The Izoard really does offer one of the best balances between all-out speed and day-long comfort of any bike we’ve ridden at Cycling Plus. It would make a great upgrade from an older or heavier bike and an ideal serious ﬁrst race bike.