Poland: Not the first place you'd think of as proving grounds for high-tech bike gear. But Poland, specifically the tongue-twisting town Krynica-Zdrój, was the site of the awe-inspiring global debut of the Wilier Cento1 SL. The Tour of Poland is held in August, arguably the least sexy month on the race calendar since the world is still hungover from the Tour de France. But 2009 Tour of Poland's Stage 5 spat out conditions equal to the most epic April classic. Rapid-fire hill after hill with treacherous descents and a rainstorm of Old Testament proportions. World Champion Alessandro Ballan of Team Lampre stole away from the peloton in a small group then crushed the breakaway in what might've been the gutsiest performance of the year earning him both the stage victory and eventual overall victory. His teammate Damiano Cunego followed up just a month later with a glorious solo victory on the queen stage of the Tour of Spain, Stage 14 up the ridiculous climb of La Pandera, again on a Cento1 SL. These victories were then followed up by a pair of super-high profile field sprint wins by Alessandro Petacchi in the 1st week of the 2010 Tour de France.
As you might expect, the Cento1 SL shares much with the standard Cento1. They have the same oversized bottom bracket construction that doesn't require the use of traditional external bottom bracket cups. Instead, the bearings are housed inside the frame itself. Wilier’s system allows the use of any Campagnolo Ultra-Torque crankset (10- or 11-speed), SRAM system, or Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 & 7800. The Cento1 SL and the Cento 1 share the same asymmetric chainstays to balance pedal loads and the same progressively-flaring seatmast to maximize in-the-saddle frame stiffness. And they have the same headtube design, round at the top and square at the bottom to deliver outstanding control and steerability.
What, then, are the differences? SL stands for superleggera, or super-light. The Cento1 SL is 130g lighter than the Cento1, and this comes from a handful of subtle-but-important changes. While the Cento1 makes widespread use of Mitsubishi 46 Ton carbon, the Cento1 SL uses a combination of 46 Ton and the newly-available 60 Ton carbon. The superior strength of 60 Ton ultimately means Wilier can use less carbon to achieve the desired strength and stiffness for the Cento1 SL. In addition, the Cento1 SL is built with nanoparticle zinc oxide resin to make the carbon stronger and more impact resistant by filling microscopic voids in between the fibers. This makes the frame stronger and is accomplished without adding weight.
The structural design of the bottom bracket shell is identical between the Cento1 SL and the Cento1, but the SL has a new CNC-machined alloy sleeve for the bearings that weighs 18% lighter than its predecessor. Wilier engineers shaved more weight by using in-molded carbon fiber cups in the head tube in place of the bonded aluminum cups of the Cento1. The Cento1 SL also has lighter paint and a micro-thin clear coat.
So how much, exactly, does the Cento1 SL weigh? Combine the frame with its Ritchey WCS Mast Topper, and you get a total weight of 1220g. Compare that to your typical 950g "wonderbike" from other brands. When you add to that nominal 950g weight a 225g seatpost, a 30g front derailleur clamp, another 30g for a seatpost clamp, and then 55g for bottom bracket cups you end up with an actual weight of 1290g. Advantage -- Cento1 SL. And how strong is the Cento1 SL? It passed the exhaustive "CSI" testing protocol of the European Community to ensure product safety.
A few final notes on the Cento1 SL: While the frame comes standard with an integrated seatmast and a Ritchey WCS Stubby seatclamp, you can cut down the seatmast and add a seatclamp for use with a 31.6mm seatpost. In addition, the frame comes with small composite spacers for use with a Shimano or SRAM crankset. These spacers are not necessary for use with a Campagnolo crankset. (Campagnolo cranks come with the bearings pre-pressed to the spindle, so you just slide the cranks into the bike, and you're all set.) And, lastly, please focus on the effective top tube length as you make a determination of your proper size. Given the integrated seatmast and the unconventional top tube, focusing on the seat tube measurement can cause unnecessary confusion.
The Wilier Cento1 SL is available in six sizes from X-Small to XX-Large, and it comes in three colors – Carbon, Giallo Lampre, and Matte Black. It comes standard with a Wilier Monoscocca full-carbon fork, with a Ritchey integrated headset, and with a Ritchey WCS Mast Topper. It requires the use of a braze-on front derailleur.
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