To get the Izoard in 2012 with a similar spec you’d have had to part with more than £200 more, so we’re glad to see that, this year, the Italian legends have made significant cuts to the RRP without sacrificing spec. In fact, improvements have been made, with a better cockpit and chainset on offer.
Frame & equipment: More for less
The Izoard’s geometry stays pretty much on a par with their top-flight sport bikes (such as the Gran Turismo) but adds a little length to the chainstays, which combines with slender seatstays to add plushness to the ride.
The frame and fork, although essentially the same design as last year, have a new carbon layup that’s helped shift a few grams. Cabling is all external, which is easier for mechanics but less so if you ever feel the need to upgrade to electronic.
As the Izoard design hasn’t changed fundamentally, the front end is still built around a standard straight head tube. Its longer dimensions, mated to a broad-crowned fork, mean it’s as stiff and direct-handling as you’d need, though, so there isn’t any real need to update it to the current fashion for all things tapered.
Ride & handling: Still superior but let down by tyres
It’s the handling of the Izoard, which we loved before, that still sets it apart; the longer rear end induces comfort while the front retains a sharp, snappy feel that we associate with the best of the Italian breed. The new, lighter Fulcrum Racing 5 wheel package adds to the bike’s perky pickup when accelerating, and add value too.
Wilier have opted to fit mainly own-brand finishing kit, but the bar, stem, seatpost, cranks and brakes are all from FSA. The shallow drop bar complements the sportive-focused ride perfectly and the cranks run smoothly.
The Wilier saddle is by Selle Italia and modelled on their Q-bik design – broad and flat-nosed with a slim profile, it’s more padded than some and more comfortable than most.
Our real criticism of the XP is down to the simplest of things – its tyres. Great tyres can transform a bike, with slick, fast rubber adding to even the most average of rides. Sadly, Wilier keep persisting with an own-brand tyre (which we changed after our first few outings).
Underneath the bold graphics is a hard rolling compound with a waxy surface that’s uneven in the dry and downright slippery in the wet. Gaining enough grip in foul conditions meant dropping the psi, which helped a little but left us prone to punctures. Like wearing trainers with a dinner suit, this final touch embarrasses what is otherwise a very fine ride.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, on sale Friday 1 March and available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.