Wilier Cento1 Air Ultegra review£3,400.00

Italian aero race machine

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Wilier’s Cento1 Air has been superseded in the iconic Italian brand’s lineup by the Cento10, but as an aero road bike it still has plenty to offer. The 1 was based on the company’s Cento1 SR, its racing all-rounder from a few seasons ago. That basic aggressive geometry has been combined with the aerodynamic knowledge gained from its radical Twin Blade time-trial bike.

  • The Wilier Cento1 Air Ultegra is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.

Wilier Cento1 Air Ultegra frame and kit

The 1 gets a slimline frontal profile with an hourglass-shaped head-tube and deep bladed fork with a slim, angular-shaped crown, which all blends seamlessly into the main frame. At the back, it looks very much the time-trial bike, combining a deep aero seat-tube replete with wheel cutout that flows into a bladed carbon seatpost, made by Ritchey but a dedicated design to the 1 Air.

The very dropped seatstays blend into the seat tube with a shapely transition straight from the Twin Blade’s hindquarters. My XXL test bike has a 58.6cm top tube and 56cm seat tube, with a steep 73.5-degree head angle and 72.5-degree seat angle. 

Yes, it’s a big bike, but the 589.5mm stack 400.5mm reach provides a low riding position. The low bar is aided by the longer reach, making the ride position comfortable, as you aren’t arching your back to reach down.

The handling is criterium bike-sharp, so you can dance around potholes, traffic and other riders with confidence

The frame has a lot of neat touches — I love the internal cable routing, when combined with mechanical cables housing the barrel adjusters for the mechs, it looks neat and clean, as does the rear mech hanger housing the cable’s exit.

The frame weight is a claimed 1,120g and 360g for the fork, so compared to the latest lightweight all-rounders it is carrying a bit more, though the overall weight of 8.25kg is more than acceptable for a full-on aero machine.

The equipment is decent, with a full complement of Ultegra making for seamless shifts and confident braking. The wheels are Mavic’s latest iteration of the mid-range Cosmic Elite. These 30mm-deep alloy wheels have a new rim shape that’s a little broader and a little blunter. They spin on smooth hubs and the new rims are now tubeless compatible, as are the Mavic tyres that come in the package.

The Cosmics weigh 1,770g, so do carry a bit more weight than a standard shallow rim. The trade-off is between weight or a being a bit more aerodynamic. Under hard sprints I could induce a bit of brake rub at the rear.

I haven’t much experience of San Marco’s Squadra saddle, but I found it comfortable, its semi-flat shape being reminiscent of a Fizik Antares, but with a little extra length.

The cockpit comes from FSA’s basic Energy range. It’s good, and I'm always impressed when I find it on sub-£1,500 bikes, but on a bike that retails at over £3k I felt a little short-changed.

Wilier Cento1 Air Ultegra ride experience

When riding, there is a lot to like about the Cento1. It rips along at pace with resolute ease. I expected to get kicked around a bit by those unforgiving oversized and bladed tube shapes but that never really happened. It's a hard-riding bike but it never expresses any desire to deliver a vibration-laden beating. 

The handling is criterium bike-sharp, so you can dance around potholes, traffic and other riders with confidence, and it climbs better than most aero-shaped bikes. The downside is a little brake rub under hard sprints but overall in the ride feel stakes I’d give the Cento1 Air a solid B+.

There is a bit of a theme running through the 2018 Cento1, in that I feel it suffers a little in the value stakes. The drivetrain and brakes are great, and the wheels are decent, but the cockpit is entry level and the saddle, while being comfortable, is also from the basic end of the range. Overall, it’s a great bike, but not great value with it.

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