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.

1982 “Ferrari Red” Bianchi

Vintage Ferrari Red BianchiThis weekend I became the owner of this 1982 Bianchi. As soon as I saw it I knew it needed the right home. I have not determined the exact model yet. However, I have a suspicion that it might have been either a custom build, do to the fact that it’s forks are chrome, or a Bianchi Sport SS. From all my research it appears that stock Bianchi forks would have probably been the same color of the bike.

It has full Shimano Golden Arrow components, the predecessor to the Shimano 105 components. These components were available from 1983-86, but Bianchi released them with their 1982 Sport SS Road Bikes. So it’s very possible that this bike is a Bianchi Sport SS. One thing that is confusing is the “Red Ferrari” color. It was a limited color, which is one of the other reasons I believe it might have been a custom order at the time.

Shimano "Golden Arrow" 105 components

The frame is an Ishiwata Magny frame (Manganese-molybdenum alloy double butted tubing). A really good frame from Japan. There is a lot of discussion on the Ishiwata Magny frames, but the overall consensus is that it is a very well made frame and is becoming a more collectible item. According to Sheldon Brow, “While Bianchi is best known as an Italian brand, it was having bicycles built in Japan to its specifications for several years in the late 1980s. These were particularly nice bikes, with better workmanship than the Italian models.”

Bianchi Magny Ishiwata

Visually, it is a beautiful bike and rides very well. I have taken it out on some nice rides since getting it and I am shocked at how well it feels. For being 30 years old the frame and components feel amazing. It shifts really nicely and it feels light pedalling up hills. I have an early 1980s Benotto which I am restoring and the Bianchi’s frame geometry looks almost identical. Which is another confusing matter. The Benotto frame is highly regarded for its geometry.

Right now I am really enjoying this beautiful bike. If you know anything more about this bike, or if this page helped you identify yours, I would love to hear it.

I replaced the bar tape with some nice comfy yellow Specialized tape. I am looking for some brake hoods to replace these, but in the meantime, electrical tape holds them together nicely.

Vintage red bianchi

Classic Bianchi Decal

Shimano Golden Arrow levers

Shimano Golden Arrow shifters

Velvet leather Corsaire 315 San Marco

Edoardo Bianchi decal

Nice Shimano brakes.

Shimano Brakes

Front chrome forks on vintage Bianchi

Ambrossio 19 Extra rims. I really like these rims. I have a set of Mavic’s too, but I prefer these. Ambrossio 19 rims