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For some, grams are all that matters; minimizing them becomes a singular focus. But there is another force at work against a cyclist at speed, grams of drag, and minimizing these grams can be just as important. Sure, we're happy to ride sub 1100 gram bike frames, but we know that there are diminishing returns once you get below 900g. The cost, the flex, the paranoia about possible fragility: These are things we wouldn't mind sparing ourselves. If the goal is to ride faster for a given power output, then shedding grams of drag is an important consideration. Wilier developed their Imperiale along those lines, and we have it here as the Imperiale/Shimano Ultegra 6700 Complete Bike.

Wilier spent considerable time pondering aero issues in the development of their Cento Crono family of TT bikes. They've consulted extensively with aero mastermind John Cobb, and they've combined these lessons learned with details from the Cento1 to make their first-ever road racing frame specifically designed to maximize speed by minimizing drag.

The aero priority of the Imperiale is made clear by the soft curves of the head and down tubes. They both have special shapes to clean the disturbed air flowing off the rotating front wheel. The complex curves on the sides of the down tube add stiffness while helping guide the air over the sides of the tube toward the rear of the bike. This continues along the sides of the head tube to function in a similar fashion, smoothing air towards the back of the bike frame. The top tube slopes away at a slight angle while tapering to a smaller cross-section, allowing the air from the head tube to smoothly flow through your legs and then to the rear. The seat tube has a cut-out and is just wide enough to mask the rear tire. The chainstays and seatstays both have trailing stabilizers on the rear of the tubes. These add stiffness for quick acceleration while also serving to guide the air off the rear of the bike.

Aerodynamics isn't the whole story with the Imperiale. Like the Cento1 you get asymmetric chainstays and an integrated seatmast to deliver maximum stiffness. Pedaling forces put different loads on the driveside chainstay vs. the non-driveside chainstay. Engineers have known this for over 20 years and Wilier modernizes the concept here. And think of the integrated seatmast as a true extension of the seat tube. These are two design details that translate into superior stiffness and superior use of your power.

We have the Imperiale paired with a Shimano Ultegra Build kit. You'll get 6700 parts for the complete drivetrain, along with the brakes. Ritchey gets the nod for the rider compartment, and those parts include a WCS seatmast topper, a WCS Alloy Handlebar, and a WCS 4-Axis Stem. The Fulcrum Racing 5 Wheels are perfect for training and racing, and they're wrapped in Vittoria Rubino Pro Clincher Tires.

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 Imperiale/Shimano Ultegra 6700 Complete Bike is available in six sizes from X-Small to XX-Large and has a White/silver finish. It comes standard with a Wilier Aero monocoque carbon fork and a Ritchey integrated headset. It requires the use of a braze-on front derailleur.

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Wilier Imperiale/Ultegra 6700 Complete Bike - 2012

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