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Review: Wilier’s Cento10 NDR Elastomer Suspension is a Cobblestone Crusher

La Triestina Cento10NDR: A Comfortable and Versatile Racing Bike

The Wilier Triestina Cento10NDR is an endurance bicycle that incorporates both new and old ideas about comfort. Positioned at the endurance end of Wilier’s racing bikes, the Cento10NDR is the bike that Total Direct Énergie and Astana have in their arsenal for the cobblestone classics. What sets the Cento10NDR apart from the Cento10PRO is its rear elastomer suspension. While both the Cento10PRO and NDR focus on race performance, the Cento10NDR is the arrow in your quiver that keeps your rear end comfortable and produces watts all day long, regardless of whether you’re riding on gravel or cobblestones.

Actiflex: The Heart of the Cento10NDR

The Wilier Cento10NDR is Wilier’s version of a high-performance racing frame capable of offering comfort and speed. This “all-day” comfort is achieved through its rear stays equipped with “Actiflex,” Wilier’s method for absorbing the rear vibrations generated by road bumps. This is not a new idea, but each company that tackles it has a different approach. Trek has ISO speed, Moots has/had YBB, Pinarello has Dogma FS, and that’s just scratching the surface. The commonality is a fixed horizontal plate that compresses vertically, creating movement when necessary. This keeps the distance between the saddle and the pedal axis the same. Wilier’s design uses an aluminum rocker arm and a “technopolymer dissipator” (elastomer) that provides the rear wheel with a few millimeters of travel based on the rider’s weight and the chosen elastomer configuration. The torsional stiffness of the aluminum link is comparable to that of traditional stays. The stiffness of the rocker arm and its responsiveness achieve the competition performance that Wilier aims for, while also allowing the rear wheel to move over bumps similar to a full-suspension mountain bike. The unit consists of the aluminum lower arm, four eyelet bushings, a special technopolymer elastomer, and the arm bolts. This elastomer fully controls the kinematic movement of the rear triangle. According to Wilier, this special technopolymer has remarkable mechanical properties. Based on what I can feel, it’s similar to the elastomer seen on the BMC Team Elite hardtail cross-country bike. The material boasts great weather resistance and can function at temperatures from -40°C to +150°C. That’s pretty extreme, and it’s hard to validate such a claim, although we didn’t feel any change in comfort and responsiveness, both in the cold spring mornings and in the scorching summer heat. The elastomer is available in three different colors for different density levels, so the Actiflex suspension can be fully customized based on the rider’s weight or the terrain they expect to encounter. The elastomer can be changed quickly with a 25T adjustment tool and some mechanical knowledge, but I wouldn’t recommend changing it in the parking lot before a group ride the first time. During the review period, I used the medium gray elastomer most of the time. This specific density offered the right amount of road feel and small bump reduction. I’m a rider who also likes a bit more pressure on the rear shock of my mountain bikes, so you’ll have to find your setting by dialing in the appropriate elastomer. The travel in the rear of the Actiflex is active, not bouncy, and it doesn’t feel like a rear tire with low pressure like some suspension seatposts. Instead, I maintained the same tire pressure I typically use on our paved and sealed roads (around 75 psi for 28mm tubeless), and the ride was comfortable and dialed-in – like finding the right tire and pressure combination – but much faster and with fewer adjustments. The Cento10NDR frame accommodates 28mm tires with plenty of clearance, and the maximum I could fit was a 32mm IRC Serac CX Sand tire.

Geometry of the Wilier Triestina Cento10NDR

Sizes (*tested): XS, S, M*, L, XL, XXL
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 72 degrees
Chainstay: 40.8 cm
Seat tube: 51cm
Top tube: 54.5cm
Head tube: 15.7cm
Wheelbase: 991mm
Stack: 566cm
Reach: 379cm
Weight: 17.6 lbs with stock wheels

The Ride

The Wilier Cento10NDR is not your typical endurance bike with a higher and more relaxed front end. Since the primary audience for this bike is the competitive rider, Wilier has designed a lower-than-normal front end for quick turns and precise handling. The feeling can be a bit strange on the initial rides, with such a stiff and responsive front end and a rear suspension, but the more I rode the Cento, the more the bike balanced out. Accelerations and sprints feel natural on the Cento10NDR, and there’s no sense of sluggishness when getting out of the saddle. The frame has a classic aerodynamic shape that is clearly taken from the Wilier Cento10AIR. Wilier designed the Cento10NDR with its “Balanced Design” concept. This is something most manufacturers are doing and means that the ride feels the same across all Cento10NDR frame sizes. The tube sections of the different sizes are different to ensure that stiffness, comfort, and ride quality are the same in each manufactured frame size. This is noticeable in the ride, but it’s hard to discern which specific piece affects it. What stands out is that Wilier has created a fantastic bike where all aspects work well together and provide a memorable riding experience. The combination of Wilier’s Barra and Stemma is very clever and gives the front end of the Cento a professional, very pro look. The integrated stem and handlebar help internally hide the cable routing for a modern and clean cockpit. The sophisticated design of the steerer tube, combined with the unique shape of the head tube, allows Wilier to thread up to three cables inside the frame. The three cables enter the steerer tube through the “Alabarda” or Stemma & Barra, directing the shift and brake cables from the levers exactly at the right angle into the steerer tube. So, if you’re using electronic shifting and disc brakes (like ours), the bike will have no exposed cables, giving the Cento10NDR a nice clean look. Although the cockpit looks clean, the adjustments are not as easy. I had to work hard to find the right fit and couldn’t smoothly change the stem length. The proprietary spacers are a nice touch, but they are split in half to help adjust stack height. This makes them unusable for a compression spacer on top. I found a workaround by using standard 1-1/8 spacers to compress the stem and bearing stack. For those looking to achieve a super pro setup, they’ll have to cut the steerer tube to size. This is common in integrated stem and handlebar setups, and the look is impeccable once you get the setup dialed in, but it can be a bit challenging to achieve. Our Wilier Cento1-NDR came with Fulcrum Racing 5DB wheels with 28mm Vittoria Rubino tires. The wheels have a 26mm deep, slightly aerodynamic rim and are tubeless-ready. The 17mm internal width is narrower than most modern rims, but combined with the 28mm Vittoria Rubino tires, they roll smoothly. The Fulcrum wheels are bombproof and their weight reflects that: 1,610g…

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