Looking for a solid performing traditional racing bike rather than a sportive armchair? Read on the Wilier Escape might be what you are looking for……
I’ve never been a romantic about Italy’s prestigious history in bike design and manufacture. Paying over the odds for something naffer and Italian has never made sense to me. That’s why when this bike was presented as one of the best value ways to get an Italian build I was pretty sceptical - and note the phrase "Italian build" all the other important bits might be Italian, but the frame is made in the Far East.
The Escape tips the scales at around 9.5kg depending on what size you go for - our 56 was 9.43Kg to be exact (20.7lb). In a game of spec list top trumps you might find yourself looking at a Trek 1.2 or a ‘dale CAAD8. Both offering similar equipment levels at around £100 less and lighter to boot. Or if you require something Italian a Bianchi Nirone 7 Xenon is an all Italian for £750…..
For me the Wilier also comes up short in the looks department too; the frame consists of a peculiar selection of polygons not so neatly welded together (on our test bike at leaast) with a rather dated looking graphics. It doesn’t paint the prettiest of pictures from a brand steeped in tradition and style.
But a bike isn’t just a spec list and all bikes, of all nationalities, deserve a fair trial. The Escape might come up short elsewhere but out on the road it comes alive. The Wilier Escape is arguably the most enjoyable to ride and best handling road bikes in its price range, punching well above its weight. MAGNIFICO!
The Escape puts you in a comfortable but traditional feeling position. The less flexible out there might be sad to see a traditional shaped drop which will be an ambitious stretch for some. Features like this underline the Escape's credentials as an entry level racing machine; not an attempt to capture the ever expanding sportive first timer market. The handling is a real highlight; stable and predictable making it accessible to 23C virgins and mile weary racers alike. The frame feels plenty stiff enough for most applications but real gear grinders may pick up on some translation under load around the BB. An aggressively bladed carbon fork completes the chassis, with no toe overlap on my 45 Sidis.
Despite my initial scepticism about the Italian kit, it’s actually this which really shines. I'll be open about it I have never been that impressed with Camapagnolo but the Xenon 10spd on the Escape blows Shimano Sora, you'll find on similarly priced bikes, out of the water. The hoods have a nice feel and the shifter feedback is excellent; crisp and definite shifting, even when thumbed in winter gloves. Virtually no play before engaging really gives the feel of a much more expensive groupset. In fact the Xenon felt much closer to a Chorus 11spd than say a Sora does to 6700 Ultegra. No sign of a compact chainset, a nice traditional 53/39 double, further evidence of its racing pedigree.
The other bits of the Italian componentry also excel. In this price range wheels are never usually a highlight but the Miche Reflex RX5 not only look impressively well built but are confidence inspiringly smooth and efficient rollers. Albeit not the stiffest of hoops but the touch of flexibility helps give a suitably comfortable ride even with a large diameter aluminium seatpost. Not so impressive is the CST RIGIDA tyres. I would recommend trying to get these switched before you wheel it out of the shop. Maybe something fittingly Italian from Vittoria would suit.
The cockpit is taken care of slightly cumbersome looking Ritchey aluminium offerings, but Ritchey non- the-less, a stamp of solid reliability if you like. Critics might be expecting a carbon post at this price but most importantly all the controls have stayed put without slippage all test. The bar matches up really well with the Campy hoods making for several comfortable hand positions up top. Despite looking rather architectural the Selle Italia QBIK but offers good support and was a solid performer. No complaints there.
Another nice touch is the brakes. Unlike many entry level bikes, which come with unbranded brakes, the Miche offerings really impress. Combining well with the Xenon levers a solid and positive feel at the lever produces impressive braking even in the wet. Although expect a touch of brake pad squeal. Thanks to a good fork and solid front end there was no noticeable fork judder under braking.
Taking a closer look at the spec and you’ll see that the Escape is stacked with quality brand name components, tyres excluded, which all perform well. Not the lightest or prettiest but a genuinely great bike to ride and well worth considering if you are looking for a traditional racing bike.
Looks are subjective but handling isn't, the Escape is a pleasure to ride and is a really solid platform for anyone on a budget or just starting out with racing in mind.
At first glance it might look pricey but take a closer look at the spec and you’ll see that the Escape is stacked with quality brand name components, tyres excluded, which all perform well. Not the lightest or prettiest but a genuinely great bike to ride and well worth considering.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Wilier Escape Xenon
Size tested: 56cm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Lightweight double-butted alloy frame Race-bred handling at an entry-level price 10 Speed Campagnolo drivetrain"
Not the lightest at this price range but a fair description from Wilier
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Frame: Amadeus - Alu
Fork: Carbon / Alu. Steerer
Headset: Ritchey Integrated
Rear Hub: Miche Reflex RX5 10spd
Front Hub: Miche Reflex RX5
Spokes: Miche Custom Bladed
Rims: Miche Reflex RX5
Tyres: CST RIGIDA 700-23c Steel bead non-folding
Shift Levers: Xenon 10 Speed
Front Derailleur: Xenon 10 Speed
Rear Derailleur: Xenon 10 Speed
Cassette: Miche 12-25
Crankset: Xenon 52/39
Bottom Bracket: Miche
Seatpost: Richey Alu
Saddle: Selle Italia QBIK
Bar: Richey Alu
Stem: Ritchey Alu
Grips: GIST Tape
Not the tidiest looking welds
No complaints - not done enough miles to see how the wheels or BB last but all signs are good.
9.43 Kilos is not super competitive at this price range. real weight weenies might look elsewhere
Good saddle and well suited bars/hoods make the cockpit comfortable. Alu post is a touch harsh but - carbon upgrade would be on the cards
Not as bad as you initially think given the complete name brand list and a great performance from everything Miche. You should get the tyres changed for free at the shop though - or at least try
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A great ride quality and really impressive handling characteristics. All helped by it being a great fitting bike too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Polygon shaped tubing and slightly dated/dull looking paint job. Tyres. Maybe £50 off the price too would boost its score up
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Anyone looking for an entry-level RACING bike should give one of these test ride.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Pro C My best bike is: Canyon \"Grand Canyon\" Ergon24 team issue
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, mtb,