The Wilier Triestina Zero.9

The 2014 U.S. National Road Cycling Championship was a lively race, full of unexpected twists, attacks and breaks. When Eric Marcotte crossed the finish line and won the title, he was riding his trusty stead the Wilier Zero Nine.

The field was strong. He had raced against favourites like Taylor Phinney, Ben King, Phil Gaimon and Alex Howes.

It was an exciting finish. After a gruelling final climb which stretched the already tired front group Zwizanski attacked. Semper grabbed his wheel and Jones and McCabe joined.

2014 US National Road Cycling Championship
What’s left of the field nears the top of the last climb of the 2014 US National Road Cycling Championship

Jones attacked again with just 2km to go. But the chasing group wasn’t far behind.

Finally, in the last corner the attackers were caught by the chasing group.  With Jones, Wren, Stemper, Kyer, Marcotte, Howes, Zwizanski, Rathe, McCabe, Miller, Butler, Reijnen and Busche coming together, it came down to a sprint finish.

2014 US National Road Championships
Eric Marcotte sprints to the win on the left

It was a fitting end to the season for both Marcotte and the Zero 9. By the end of the year both had seen numerous podium finishes. Something race journalists may not have expected for the Wilier Zero.9 – the Cinderella in the family of Wilier pro bikes.

Unlike it’s two siblings, the Wilier Zero.7 and the Wilier Cento 1 SR, the Zero.9 had been largely looked over by journalists and pro-racers alike. The reason? It was partly because of marketing and partly because of its name Zero.9.

The Zero.7 is an excellent climbing bike weighing 790 grams or less, hence the name Zero.7. While the Cento Uno is an aero bike weighing just under 1300 grams.

The Zero.9 was also named according to its weight. With a size M weighing in around 940 grams.

But the name created confusion. With many people assuming that Zero 9 was simply a heavier version of the Zero 7.

But Wilier had built a very different bike. They tried described it in their marketing by comparing it to both the Cento 1 and the Zero.7.  It was a bike for climbing, like the Zero.7, but it’s stiffness wasn’t limited by the 790 gram limit. And unlike the Cento Uno, it wasn’t an outright aero bike either.

With a race geometry, an oversized bottom bracket, and the same carbon construction as the Cento Uno, Wilier seemed unsure of where to place it in an increasingly specialized field. As a result, like Cinderalla, it was often overshadowed by its siblings.

Wilier Zero 9 geometry
Wilier Zero 9 geometry

But the Zero.9 has yet another surprise. It’s an incredibly good road bike.

Road.cc wrote, “The Wilier Zero 9 is a performance orientated road bike … for people who want to get around the course as fast as possible.”

In 2015 Outside Magazine ranked it 2nd after the Specialized Tarmac and above the Trek Emonda. Dramis wrote, “It seems like every year Wilier sends a bike to the Test is another year a Wilier makes it into the Top 3. Every Wilier I’ve ever tested has been a standout, from the Cento 1 to the incredible Zero.7, they’ve all been winners. The Zero.9 continues that tradition.”

Bicycling Magazine concluded, “If you want a bike to toe the start line and be a contender at the finish—just add your pedals and bottle cages, and the Zero.9 is ready to go.”

So what made the Zero.9 so good? Wilier, an Italian Bicycle company since 1906, is known for producing top-end road bikes. They take what they learn from each model and improve the next. In recent years they invented the asymmetrical chain stay to improve power transfer from the chain to the rear cassette and the 386 bottom bracket to reduce the flex from the pedal to the bottom bracket.

When they made the Zero.9 they continued in this tradition. The Zero.9 geometry and the Zero.7’s are virtually identical. Also, like both the Zero.7 and the Cento Uno, the Zero.9 uses the high-modulus 60-ton carbon fibre in its construction. Making it a very strong, lightweight, and responsive machine.

2015 Wilier Zero 9
Wilier Zero 7 Geometry
2015 Wilier Zero 7

But they also improved the Zero.9 where they could. Because the Zero.9 needed to weigh less than 990 grams they had about 200 grams to play with to improve the Zero 7’s handling. And they kept the 386 bottom bracket. The outcome was a balanced bike that rides confidently in descents and sprint finishes.

While the Zero.7 was heralded as one of the world’s best climbing bikes, due to the face that it is one of the most balanced frames in the peloton, it did have one flaw – a bit too much flex.

The Zero.9 fixes that problem. Brad Ford of Bicycling magazine remarked, “Through turns and on descents, I could pilot the Zero.9 with confidence.” And the power transfer of the 386 bottom bracket with the Asymmetrical chain stays makes it incredibly light and responsive when attacking.

But one of the best surprises of the Zero.9 is the comfort. For a bicycle designed to be stiff and lightweight, the geometry and carbon do an excellent job of providing a comfortable ride. This was one of the things I noticed during rides.

Eric Marcotte shared with Bike Radar that if he were to have the opportunity to ride the Zero.9 again he would. “Haven ridden and trained on this frameset for a year now, I’d choose it myself. Super responsive, great position and comfort for me on the bike, good positioning over the bottom bracket for cornering, stiffness in the bottom bracket, and sharp front end.”

Eric Marcotte’s Zero.9 special paint after winning the U.S. National Championship Road Race

In the Dutch magazine Bike & Trekking, the Zero.9 was also well received. They wrote that out of the 3 Italian race bikes they reviewed Bianci Intenso, Olympia Ikon and the Wilier Zero.9, it was “the Zero.9 that would have a permanent place in my shed.”

Conclusion

In an age where cyclists are searching for marginal gains, the Zero 9 continues in the tradition of romance. An Italian bicycle that evokes emotions and a design that places weight on form, function and history.

While the Zero.7 and Cento Uno find themselves neatly in the category of Climbing and Aero frames, respectively. The Zero.9 defines its own. It is uncompromising in its power transfer, comfortable over diverse terrain, and light enough to crest any climb at the head of the pack. It is a Racer’s bike.

I’ve found this bike to be perfect for the hilly countryside of my area. And as a bike that is on the rare side, if you do have an opportunity to ride it, I would highly recommend you take it.

Apple TV. Is it everything I had hoped it was?

Having toyed with the idea of hooking up my Samsung monitor as a TV for a the last few months, yesterday I took the next step and purchased an Apple TV. Was it everything I had hoped it was?

Is Apple TV all that it is hope to be

Not exactly. The name Apple TV had conjured up ideas and hopes of the first truly interactive web home interactive tv viewing experience. I thought with Apple computing tied with the traditional concept of TV something amazing lay in waiting. Sadly it did not live up to its name. To my dismay, despite the fact that it is hooked up to WiFi, Apple has not given it the Safari browser. That was my first huge disappointment.

However, I consoled myself, at least it is advertised to connect to apps from my iPhone via airplay. Eagerly I began playing with my iPhone apps to see how they would connect. It did not turn out to be nearly as AirPlay friendly as it was advertised. Even Safari didn’t work with AirPlay. Perhaps they plan for that in the future but as of right now it does not work. Some apps did allow me to stream video to Apple TV, such as Crackle, TED Talks, and VEVO. However my favorite TV watching apps CityTV and Global TV do not. Which kind of defeats the whole point of an interactive TV.

There are some pluses, playing music from my home computer’s shared library is very cool. And airplay seamlessly lets me play music from my iPhone to the Apple TV.

Overall I will still use the music sharing, whatever video sharing I am able, and the video rental features. Hopefully with the upcoming release of OS X Mountain Lion in the summer I will be able to use my browser from my computer on the TV. Then we will be taking a big step forward for mankind. Until then I can only hold my breath. If you were intrigued by the idea of plugging the Apple TV into a computer monitor I have posted my setup here.

3 things I wish I had known before moving to Media Temple

Recently we migrated our server to Media Temple’s grid servers. I had heard good things about Media Temple from others before making the decision to migrate, however while migrating we started to encounter challenges that I was not forewarned about. So here are 3 things that I wish we had known before moving, I hope they will help you avoid the pitfalls we encountered.

Media temple gridserver

1. Mysql Views are not allowed

We discovered this while attempting to install our database on our new MediaTemple database. I sent a support request about this, they replied that they are planning on allowing views in the future, but don’t presently. While most web applications do not use Mysql views ours did. As a result I spent needless hours rewriting code to work without views. It was frustrating to say the least.

2. Maximum 500 emails per hour and 60/min

Here’s another small fact to know before deciding to move over to the grid server. There is a limit of 500 emails per hour. 500 emails an hour sounds like plenty. It’s not. Our application communicates to our users via email, sending updates and notifications constantly. We now pay for a 3rd-party API to send emails to our users. This is unnecessary and MediaTemple should really look at changing this.

3. No static outbound IP Address

This proved to be the biggest frustration of them all, especially because I asked one of MediaTemple’s support people about this before migrating and they ensured me that they had offered static outbound IP addresses. They do not. MediaTemple will give you a static IP address for all incoming requests. However, it will not give you a static IP address for outgoing requests. This was a big deal for us because we were using a secure API that required a single static outgoing IP Address. However, MediaTemple was unable to provide us with one. When I asked if they would be able to NAT the outgoing IP Address range to one address, the response was “Uhhhhhh?? Let me ask our server team”. Not very reassuring. They eventually responded with “no”, but without any reason why. We did come up with a work-around solution, but it is not ideal to say the least.

Despite these unpleasant surprises there are definitely some strong pros to MediaTemple. Its grid server uses a very eloquent node sharing system. This allows server resources to be freed up and reallocated where needed. Also they offer mysql containers to ensure dedicated ram is always available for your database requests for an additional fee. There support isn’t the greatest especially when compared to some of the hosting companies I also use, like LiquidWeb.

Overall I would recommend MediaTemple’s Grid Server, just know what you are getting into.