Wilier Triestina have been a pillar of Italian bicycle manufacturing since their conception in 1906, with their distinctive red copper coloured frames quickly rising to prominence on the Italian road racing scene. Cut to the present decade and we’ve followed Wilier’s recent bike developments with interest.
For multisport athletes, 2019 sees Wilier add another speed weapon to its armoury, the tri-specific Turbine, which was launched at Challenge Roma in 2018 as the ride of top German iron-distance pro Andreas Dreitz.
Wilier claim the Turbine to be one of the ‘most complex projects’ that the brand has ever developed. So it’s time to put chamois to saddle for an extended test period and see just how good it really is for us age-groupers.
When developing the Turbine, Wilier outlined five key objectives: aerodynamic efficiency, a wide range of set-up positions, braking efficiency, ease of transportation, and overall weight. In regards to aerodynamics, the all-important tubing profiles are all designed around the use of NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) aerodynamic profiles. These kammtail shapes are highly aerodynamic airfoil shapes developed for aircraft wings and designed to smooth airflow. They’re a proven, wind-cheating high performer at all yaw (side, crosswind) angles.
As with most aero bikes from major bike companies, the Turbine has been designed and developed using CFD (Computational Flow Dynamics) software, which allows designers to accurately predict the aerodynamic performance of frame designs at the click of a mouse. The frame is then tested in conjunction with a rider in a wind tunnel to simulate real-world conditions and performance.
The addition of disc brakes not only massively improves the braking performance in all weather conditions, but aids the frame design’s aerodynamics by not having to cater for rim brake placement. It also allows the fork legs and seatstays to be placed further away from the wheels, which greatly reduces turbulence and improves airflow near these areas (it also gives enough clearance for athletes to run up to 28mm wide tyres). The flat mount disc brake callipers sit snuggly behind the fork and on top on the rear chainstay, within the rear triangle, while the 405mm long seat stays help give the Turbine a stable ride feel.
Like the highly impressive Pinarello Bolide TR+ Wilier have also incorporated an aero nose-cone, which sits in front of the head tube and is sculpted to improve frontal aerodynamics. Both the head tube and bottom bracket area feature boxed areas of tubing to improve stiffness and provide better power transfer, while also enhancing the frame’s aerodynamics.
Unusually for today’s tri bikes, the down tube doesn’t feature a cut-out for the rear of the front wheel to tuck into, which is claimed to guide aerodynamics off the front wheel and onto the frame. Yet the seat tube does feature a rear cut out for the front part of the rear wheel to sit snuggly in, helping airflow off the frame and over the rear wheel. Three different seatposts are available – 0mm (inline), -25mm (setback) or ‘positive’ (+65mm forward) position – depending on your preferred position. Wilier say you can determine what you need via your own pro bike fit experience or to try out the different options with a Wilier dealer.
Part of Wilier’s original remit is a recognition that many triathletes transport their bikes to all corners of the globe. Wilier teamed up with American aerobar experts Profile Design, to create a unique, foldable, integrated base bar and stem paired with Profile Design’s Aeria Ultimate alloy extensions. The overall package is a sleek aerodynamic one that offers as much adjustability as you could ever need in regards to stack height and pad width position (you can also angle the extensions upwards to 15°).
The unique base bar design allows a large part of the base bar to slide out and slide back in via two bolts on either side. This reduces the overall bar width drastically and allows you to fit into most bike boxes without having to tamper with the base bar or extensions and takes a couple of minutes to slot back together. It’s a neat design solution that definitely makes things a lot easier when packing your bike for overseas adventures.
For long-distance triathlon, Wilier have integrated hydration systems covered, too. The stem shape of the monocoque base bar is based on Profile Design’s Aeria Ultimate Stem, making it compatible with Profile’s HSF/AERIA fully integrated hydration system (for an additional spend).
On the road, the Turbine provides a solid, stable and rewarding ride over all road surfaces, which can’t be said for all tri bikes out there. It really shines on technical roads, and allows you to attack corners and descents with confidence; put simply, its precise, snappy-handling makes it a really fun bike to ride. On the flat, its straight-line speed provides a rapid ride that’ll satisfy your need for speed.
In conjunction with Profile Design, Wilier have done a great job with their base bar and extension. It’s very easy to add extra shims to adjust the stack height up to 70mm, if required, or adjust the armrest width to the three, different narrow to wide positions. We found the option to be able to angle the extensions up really useful and it helped us find a position that not only offered a great aero position, but also huge comfort when in the full aero tuck for mile after mile. You’ll find there are more than enough position variations to satisfy the continual position-tinkerers among us!
Our test Turbine came equipped with a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain (second to Dura-Ace in Shimano’s pecking order), with two sets of shifters, one set incorporated into the brake lever unit and the other set located on the end of the extensions. As we’ve said in previous tests, this groupset really does work faultlessly, shifting is fast and smooth, and overall it’s a real joy to use.
The Shimano 140mm rotors and Dura-Ace caliper give a faultless braking performance for a tri bike, providing great modulation with precise stopping power.
The Mavic Comete Pro Carbon SL UST Disc wheels (weighing 1,755g per pair), with their 64mm deep-section rims, performed well in all wind conditions and directions that we encountered. We also found the Mavic Yksion Pro 25mm tyres offered impressive, confidence-boosting grip through corners, and we have no reason to doubt their claimed low-rolling resistance based on their road performance. The comfort offered by the San Marco saddle is impressive and remains a real standout performer of any tri/TT saddle we’ve used.
At 8.9kg, the Turbine isn’t the lightest triathlon bike we’ve tested. This is reflected in its acceleration speed and it does make it noticeably more laboured on the climbs than we were anticipating. Yet it’s possible to live with the slight weight penalty in return for aero gains if most of your events have fairly flat bike courses.
Above: The Wilier Turbine comes as a frame-and- cockpit-only option (€5K); with Miche training wheels and Ultegra Di2 (€7,700); Miche and Dura-Ace Di2 (€9,200); the Mavic/Ultegra Di2 model seen here (€9,500) and a top-end Mavic/Dura-Ace Di2 version (€11,000).
Overall, then, the Wilier Turbine is a great package. Does it represent good value for money? Various build options are available from €7,700 up to €11,000 with a choice of three different colour ways. Looking around at what’s on offer from other brands within the £8k price bracket and £7,099 (Sigma Sports) would get you a Cervélo P3X, a long-distance tri primo fully equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2, hydration and storage systems, but with DT aluminium training wheels, leaving you with ample cash leftover to buy your preferred race hoops. Or there’s the multiple-Ironman World Championship-winning Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 9.0 LTD for £8,599 as ridden by German powerhouses Jan Frodeno and Patrick Lange. This comes equipped with a full Shimano Dura Ace Di2 groupset and high-performing Zipp 858 NSW wheels, including integrated hydration system and storage box, with a total weight of 8.5kg (just leaner than the Wilier).
But we’ll leave the choices up to you. We’d personally be more than happy to have the Turbine as our race bike, but would be even happier if it came equipped with a lighter, top-end Shimano Dura-Ace groupset for the money!
The overall verdict: 87%
Highs: Precise, snappy handling makes it a really fun ride with great straight-line speed and impressive comfort.
Lows: The hydration and storage systems aren’t included; the performance uphill feels laboured.
Buy if: You want a comfortable and rapid ride that’ll stand out from the multisport bike crowd.
Buy from: www.chainreactioncycles.com
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