The Wilier Zero 9 is a performance orientated road bike in a race geometry and it has made a great companion for riding for our Italy week at the Hotel Belvedere.
Wilier is, of course, an Italian brand and it has been around since way back in 1906. The top end road bike in the range is the Zero 7, named because the frame is sub-800g – or 0.7-something kilograms.
The Zero 9 has a similar naming rationale in that the frame weighs 0.9-something grams. Wilier actually say it’s sub-990g. That still makes it lightweight, just not super lightweight.
While we’re dealing with weight, our complete bike, in an XL size and built up with a Campagnolo Chorus groupset and Campag Vento Reaction wheels, hit the scales at a reasonable 7.8kg (17.2lb) without pedals.
The Zero 9’s frame is made with 60 Ton Mitsubishi carbon fibre to provide stiffness in the most stressed areas, the same type of carbon Wilier use on the Cento 1, and other types of carbon elsewhere. Like most performance focused bikes these days, it comes with an oversize bottom bracket – BB386Evo standard – and a tapered head tube – 1 1/8in at the top flaring out to 1 1/4in at the bottom, both features designed to enhance stiffness.
It’s a busy frame with a sloping, slightly curved top tube, a down tube profile that defies description (check out the picture) and asymmetric stays that are intended to handle the differing forces applied to either side of the frame. The gear cables run internally, both emerging underneath the bottom bracket (it's Di2 compatible too), and the rear brake cable takes the inside route through the top tube. The carbon rear dropouts are integrated – they’re moulded in place rather than bonded there afterwards.
In terms of geometry, the Zero 9 is built to virtually the same dimensions as the Zero 7 which means it’s most certainly a sporty set up. I have the XL model here which comes with a 57cm top tube, a 17.1cm head tube and 73° frame angles. The stack (the vertical distance from the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 55.4cm and the reach (the horizontal distance between those points) is 39.6cm.
That’s me sorted because those dimensions fit me an absolute treat, thanks for asking. I’ve got decent flexibility, nothing amazing, and I’ve found the position absolutely fine for long days in the saddle. I’ve racked up about 17 or 18 hours on the Zero 9 over the past four days and the position hasn’t been a worry. Of course, the right position will vary massively between different people so check out Wilier’s geometry chart to see if it’ll work for you. Wilier offer sizes from XS (with a 51.5cm top tube) up to XXL (with a 58.5cm top tube).
The big difference between the Zero 9 and the Zero 7 is that the Zero 9 doesn’t feature Wilier’s Secret Squirrel SEI technology. That begs the question, what the hell is SEI technology? Well, it’s special elastic infiltrated film that they insert between the layers of carbon fibre, designed to absorb vibration and thereby increase comfort.
When we reviewed the Zero 7 here on road.cc, we were really impressed by the ride quality.
“Not a lot of road buzz makes it through to the contact points and it cushions little bumps and dents in the road surface well,” we said.
I wouldn’t say that the Zero 9 feels quite as smooth but it still offers a good level of comfort. Some of the road surfaces around this area of Italy aren’t great and we’ve ridden a few sections of cobbles and even a bit of strade bianche, yet four days in and I’m still feeling really good – certainly not battered and bruised.
There are certainly sportive bikes out there that provide more give, particularly at the rear end, if that’s what you’re after, but swapping the 700 x 23 Michelin Lithion 2 tyres for 25s would do a similar job.
As I mentioned, our Zero 9 is built up with a Campagnolo Chorus groupset with an FSA SL-K Light compact (50/34-tooth) chainset and a 12-25-tooth cassette. You’ll know if those gear combinations suits your fitness and the way you ride.
You’ll probably also know whether or not you’re a Campag sort of a person. Chorus is Campag’s third tier groupset after Super Record and Record and, as is the way across the range, you perform gear changes via a finger-operated lever that sits behind the brake lever, and a thumb lever on the side of the ErgoPower body. I’m not saying it’s any better or worse than the way that either Shimano or SRAM do things, it’s just different.
Chorus is a great groupset and it has provided all the braking power I’ve wanted on fast, hairpin-strewn descents.
So who should buy the Wilier Zero 9. With that geometry and its fast-handling nature, it is certainly a very capable race bike.
What about for sportive riders? Well, different people want different things when it comes to a bike for sportives. Some people want comfort, comfort and more comfort, so they’ll go for a bike with a high front end, big tyres, and stays that flex pretty much as soon as you climb on board.
As a rule, though, the Italian manufacturers make sportive bikes that are more like traditional road bikes, with a sports geometry and plenty of frame stiffness. They’re for people who want to get around the course as fast as possible. The Wilier Zero 9 falls firmly into this camp. As long as that’s what you’re after, it’s a very good choice.
The 2015 Wilier Zero 9 Chorus is available now at £2,999. A Shimano Ultegra mechanical build is available too for £2,499. For more info go to www.wilierbikes.co.uk.
road.cc Italy Week 2014
road.cc is in Italy from 4-11 October at the Belvedere Hotel in Riccione.
Visit the Italy Week page to find out what we’ve been getting up to
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.