Porsche 911, Mercedes AMG GT, Audi R8 – no, we’re not hanging out at the Nürburgring, but looking at Stuttgart’s rush-hour traffic. Supercars are part of the landscape here! So why not commute on a race bike? We’ve been commuting with the Wilier Cento10NDR for a while and found out whether the ACTIFLEX system really makes the Italian Stallion a super-commuter.
With their Cento10NDR, Wilier wanted to strike the perfect balance between performance and comfort. They claim that the endurance-oriented geometry and the ACTIFLEX system will make you ride faster for longer. The Italians combined the aero shape of the previous model with an endurance-optimised geometry and the specially developed ACTIFLEX system. Is this the stuff commuter dreams are made of? The Wilier Cento10NDR wasn’t conceived as a commuter, but rather as a fast and comfortable race bike with an endurance character. It’s an interesting concept which seems to be a perfect fit for our way of commuting.
What is commuting, exactly?
Every commuter has his or her own routine. Some of us just want to get to work without sweating too much — that’s why they opt for endurance bikes or electric racers. Others see their journey to work as the perfect morning workout and a chance to get a few miles on the clock. We belong to the second type. We’re not solely avoiding the stresses of morning jams — we also love racing our bikes to the office even if we’re carrying a backpack with a change of clothes in it. We fancy the odd gravel shortcut or full-on downhill sprint on rough, worn-out tarmac. This scenario requires a genuine racer with a good level of comfort and is the perfect testing turf for the Wilier Cento10NDR.
BUS or SUV? A dilemma for urban cowboys.
Wilier Cento10NDR in detail
Comfort has long been a hot topic in the race bike community. That’s why an increasing number of bikes feature elements designed to improve riding comfort — see the Trek Domane SLR with the IsoSpeed system and the Pinarello K10-S with its integrated shock absorber. Wilier sees comfort as an element that allows you to ride faster for longer, and that’s why the engineers at Wilier provide the Cento10NDR with their in-house ACTIFLEX system. Since this only consists of a few simple elements, it doesn’t affect the weight too much. A movable aluminium link connects the seatstays and seat tube and relies on an internal techno-polymer elastomer to dampen impacts in the rear end and smooth out potholes. The elastomer is available in three different stiffnesses to suit different body weights and allows you to adjust the damping to your personal preference.
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 R9150 /
Brakes: Shimano Dura-Ace R9110, 160/140 mm /
Gearing: Chainset: 50/34 Cassette: 11–28T /
Wheelset: Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon UST /
Tires: Mavic Yksion Pro UST, 700 x 28 mm
As usual, Wilier wants to offer customers a wide range of customization options. At first it might seem a good idea to offer Dual Brake technology and make the frame compatible for both disc and rim brakes, but aesthetically the rim-brake mounts on seat stays and fork spoil the otherwise clean and elegant overall look. However, the option of running both systems gives all nostalgic rim-brake lovers a chance to prepare for “disc revolution.” If you’re already devoted to discs, you’ll enjoy the superb braking performance and will also have the option of running tires of up to 32 mm and using a through-axle. Thanks to interchangeable dropouts, all rim-brake aficionados will be able to carry on using their favourite collection of 9 mm quick-release wheels.
In terms of geometry, Wilier focused on compact dimensions. The size L frame features a compact reach of 384 mm and a relaxed stack of 586 mm combined with a 177 mm-long head tube. This will allow you to sit more comfortably, avoiding unpleasant neck or back pain.
Wilier Cento10NDR geometry
|Top tube||517 mm||532 mm||547 mm||558 mm||574 mm||592 mm|
|Chainstay||406 mm||406 mm||408 mm||408 mm||411 mm||411 mm|
|Head tube||117 mm||136 mm||157 mm||177 mm||196 mm||217 mm|
|Reach||369 mm||374 mm||379 mm||384 mm||389 mm||395 mm|
|Stack||527 mm||546 mm||566 mm||586 mm||604 mm||625 mm|
Integration plays a crucial role on the Cento10NDR. In order to give customers lots of room for customisation, Wilier swapped their monocoque Alabarda cockpit of the Cento10AIR version for an in-house carbon stem and handlebar. All cables, hoses, and Di2 cables are internally routed. If you prefer, you can use a conventional handlebar too. The Ritchey Pro Carbon seatpost comes in a standard 27.2 size and allows for easy changes.
The Wilier Cento10NDR around Stuttgart
From the first crank spin, the Wilier feels nimble and accelerates well — the stiff bottom bracket and head tube area are partly responsible for this. The ACTIFLEX system doesn’t seem to affect the pedalling motion and works discreetly in the background. The frame feels agile and nimble as it is, but a lighter wheelset or a a set of more powerful legs would make that traffic-light sprint even fiercer. Once you reach cruising speed, the efficient frame and the ACTIFLEX system become one of the Wilier’s true strengths: when riding in the saddle, powerful pedal strokes will cause most of the weight to shift onto the rear wheel, but the “suspension” system sucks up the vibrations and small hits and allows you to carry on without breaking your rhythm. Only when hitting big compressions does the flex of the carbon seatpost and the rear end feel like the rear wheel is pinching on the rim. Whilst the seatpost flexes lightly with each pedal stroke, the sinking feeling in the rear end made us wonder and check whether there was enough air in the tire. Once you get used to this feeling, you’ll start appreciating the perks of the frame and enjoy the relief in your neck and back and focus entirely on your pedalling rhythm.
The compact, upright riding position takes advantage of the relatively high front end. In combination with the steep 72.5° head angle, the front end feels pleasantly direct. When pedalling in the saddle, the steering feels smooth and good-natured. In this riding position, however, you’ll need a firm hand to carve around tight corners. However, if you shift your weight towards the front wheel — for example when pedalling or descending aggressively — you’ll have to control your steering inputs carefully to prevent the front wheel from twitching nervously. Soon it becomes clear that Wilier gifted the Cento10NDR with a pool of racing and endurance genes.
The Wilier feels predictable when pushing the limit on fast descents. In particular, the powerful hydraulic Dura-Ace brakes encourage you to brake harder at a later stage. In our city-to-city race we struggled to push the small 140 mm rear disc to its limit. The Wilier delivers a solid, good-natured downhill performance and feels composed and predictable in tight corners. Unfortunately, the Mavic Yksion Pro tires offer a relatively small threshold of grip even in the 28 mm version — however, the Cento10NDR unleashes its full potential on powerful, high-speed pedalling sections on demanding terrain, on flat roads, and on climbs with single-digit gradients. Once the road gets very steep, the 7.88 kg bike (size L) lacks the kind nimbleness you need to chase KOMs.
Whether you’re in the bike locker at work or waiting for green lights, it’s always the same story: people look at you with amazement and envy. The harmonious design combines a clever balance of square and round lines — without any cables or hoses spoiling the clean overall look. The design definitely stands out from the crowd but still remains discreet. Bella Italia on two wheels: just the right choice for urban cowboys with the spare dosh. Of course, the Wilier isn’t just a road warrior for urban areas, but also an elegant racer for weekend heroes. With its price tag of € 9,700, the Cento10NDR costs almost as much as a small Italian sports car. Considering all the clever solutions, high-end spec, racy performance, and innovative comfort, the price is all right.
The Wilier Cento10NDR delivers speed through compliance rather than light weight and aerodynamics. As we know, it’s the combination of all features that creates a successful concept: a bike for every day and every road. Wilier’s comfortable racer will get you through Saturday’s Gran Fondo and Sunday’s long endurance race. (The Cento10NDR is only conditionally suited for gravel adventures.) And when you wake up on Monday, you can spin to the office and burn off the lactic acid you accumulated over the weekend. Chain to the right, indicators to the left — the Commuter Cup can begin!
– Implementation ACTIFLEX System
– Customisation options with top integration
– Great looks
– Brake mounts for rim brakes spoil the overall look
– Mavic tires
For more info go to: wilier.com
This article is from GRAN FONDO issue #009
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Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Valentin Rühl