Italian Super Bike Heritage & Innovation: Wilier Triestina HQ Tour

Italian Super Bike Heritage & Innovation: Wilier Triestina HQ Tour

(metallic whooshing) – It’s a long process. It starts from the light. We have the idea, we have the need, because there are several
reasons why you need a new bike. And then we start. – After spending quite some time on the Wilier Triestina stand
at the recent Eurobike show, the staff asked me would I like to come and visit them at their HQ, here in Bassano del Grappa. And what with them releasing two pretty cool bikes this year, both the Zero SLR and the Cento10 Hy, who was I to turn down
an invitation like this? But their story started
quite some time ago. Let’s go inside and have a look. (hypnotic EDM music) A quick trip down memory lane, then. Well, Wilier was actually
founded way back in 1906 and actually focused on
making normal, everyday bikes because cycling was seen
as a method of transport. Now, Wilier, they stayed
true to those roots up until just after the Second World War, at which point they decided
to enter the road racing game and take things very seriously, including sponsoring a team that included this guy, Fiorenzo Magni, an absolute legend within
the sport of cycling and here’s why. Now, you can be forgiven if
you’ve never heard of Magni, the reason being his career
was largely overshadowed by two fellow Italians, Gino Bartali and also Fausto Coppi, who were busy battling it out elsewhere. Now, there’s a really iconic
image actually of Magni, who was riding a mountain time trial, and he had an inner tube
held in between his teeth and the other end was actually wrapped
around the handlebars, enabling him to pull up and still be able to release some power. Now that image, iconic as it is, he’s also got some results
to back it up, too. He won the Giro d’Italia three times. He won the Tour of Flanders three times. If that doesn’t impress you, the Tour of Flanders
victories were in a row, a hat trick, onboard this very bike. Now, the bikes used by
Magni and his teammates back in the late 40s and early 50s were advertised as 100% copper. True, but not strictly true. They’re actually copper-plated. But how? Well, the frame builder decided to chrome-plate the tube sets and then they put it in a bath of translucent colored copper paint and I’m led to believe
through electrolysis, that paint was actually
attracted onto the frame and stayed there in place. Electrifying stuff, quite literally. It became almost like
a trademark of Wilier and this red copper appearance, in as much that’s it’s
got his own name, Ramata. This one here is about 80 years old and it’s, well, stood a
fairly good test of time. But over here, we’ve got a modern remake of that finish, and I’m sure you’ll
agree, it looks beautiful. Sadly, the use of bicycles
took a really big decline in Italy during the 1950s. And in 1958, the doors actually
closed due to this here, motorcycles and scooters. They took favor in terms of transportation over a bike and it’s quite ironic, really, they’ve got one parked up next to one of their delivery
vans or something like that. But 11 years later, 1969,
the Gastaldello brothers, they bought the name and
they re-entered the market. And since then, they’ve had
loads of big achievements. Think Cunego, think Alessandro
Ballan, Marco Pantani, Scarponi, Alessandro
Petacchi, Sylvain Chavanel. Need I go on? Now we’re at the modern day. (upbeat EDM music) Now, this modern day
includes the new Zero SLR that Ollie took a first
look at a few months ago and also this, the Cento10 Hy,
an eBike, believe it or not, that actually just won an
award in the Eurobike show for design and innovation. Pretty well-hidden there, the cables, and also integration was
one of the key things that jury noted on. Now, it is an eBike, like I’ve just said, but they’ve marketed it as a hybrid bike because they believe it’s
actually two bikes in one. Because once you take out these wheels and you replace them with
some standard wheels, remember, this one’s
got a hub-based motor, you’re going to have a
normal bike, let’s face it. And also quite an impressively light one, just over seven kilos, because this bike with the
motor in it and also the battery is just 10.2 kilos. That’s pretty impressive. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering how does a bike go from concept to consumer? Well, let’s go and find out. – It’s a big team of people involved. Everybody puts his own ideas. And then finally we say,
okay, that’s the target. It must be light, it must be aero, it depends the model you’re looking for, and then, yes, start the big story. The first thing is about the sizes. What we are talking about? It’s a racing machine? Okay, let’s start to fix what must be the length of the frame,
the angles, whatever. If it’s endurance, of course
it will be longer or shorter. First of all, we set about and then we start to talk about the shape. If it’s aero, we start to
talk about the neck profile. It normally means truncated neck profile. So we have a small wind tunnel
where we get some profile. It’s a process. Step by step, we try to find
for every single tubing, every single detail, the right design. There are some tests that must be made to get the EN standard,
to follow the EN standard. But, of course, we are a
little bit more strict, so we make a longer, heavier
test than EN standard to be 100% safe. The teams is very important. They push us to get, they
want everything super light, super stiff, super everything. I remember years ago really
push us to get a new TT and we come out with the Twin Blade. It was something really
special for that year. And then also for example,
also the new Zero SLR. Yes, the input of the team was okay, this is something that is
coming but today is too heavy. So yeah, let’s make a light 6.8 disc. And that’s what’s coming,
the new Zero SLR, in fact. So okay, now we just
work on the super light. The future is something different than super light, of course. – Wilier’s frames are
all made in the Far East, with the exception of
one, the Superleggera, which is a steel bike and it’s still made here
in Bassano del Grappa, and that even comes in that
Ramata-style paint work, if it tickles your fancy. A couple of reasons, then, why the frames are made
out there in the Far East. Firstly, manufacturing experience. They’ve been doing it
for a very long time now. And secondly, new manufacturing processes. They tend to be discovered
in the Far East quicker than anywhere else in the world, which can only be good news for a bike geek like me, I reckon. Now, once these frames arrive
back here to Wilier HQ, there’s a service which is
offered called Infinitamente, or something like that anyway, and it’s a custom color process, which allows you to
customize your bike online to your exact requirements. Now, if you’re like me, you could probably waste hours
designing your ideal bike or you could go one step further and have that Ramata-style
paint work or also Cromovelato. Now, the folks here at Wilier, they’re pretty good when
it comes to painting bikes and they wanted to show
me how they did theirs, so let’s go and have a look. So the painting isn’t
actually done at the HQ because obviously you need
some specialist equipment. And I said to them, “do you know what, “I quite fancy having a go at this today.” For some reason, they
didn’t seem very keen. Can’t think why. Right, so the first stage
then of this journey obviously is a big production line here and I don’t want to interrupt too much. But we first will have the nude carbon frames
and forks sent here, as well as the handlebars too, because they also spray
those, a multi-stage process. Let’s have a look at the next stage, which is actually the preparation
of the frame and fork. So when the frames are actually
released from their molds, they’re very often left with just a little bit of residue on them, which is perfectly normal, but in order for that paint
to actually stick onto it, the frames need to be
prepped really, really well. So behind me, there’s a
team who are sanding down frames, forks, handlebars. This is such a labor-intensive
process, believe me. If you get this one step wrong, the rest of the steps
are going to be terrible because it just does not work. It’s part of the ecosystem, if you like, of the actual painting process. So when they’re sanding down
the various different frames, they’re actually using
different grits of sandpaper. So they start off with
quite a coarse one, I guess, and then end up with something very fine. The reason behind this, you
want it to be super smooth so there’s no grooves, there’s
no ridges, nothing like that, so the next stage of the
process is much easier. That next stage is priming the frame. So sadly I missed them getting
primed but here they are. But then, just over my shoulder, I’ve got some chrome-style forks. Now, these chrome forks that are in there, they’re not actual chrome. Instead, it’s a Cromovelato-style finish. So that means, basically, it’s a silvery, reflective-style paint
on top of the carbon. The frames are also done in it, too. Now, the reason they’ve done this is because the topcoat of paint, which is called Admiral
Blue, is quite translucent and it allows that silver
to really pop through. Something which I have picked up on though is when they’re mixing the paint and putting it into the
actual paint gun itself, they use some filter paper, similar to what we would use when you’re making a coffee
or something like that, which means that there’s no lumps or bumps coming through into the canister, which allows a nice, even flow. Now, obviously, we’re
not going to sit here and watch the frames dry because that’s literally
like watching paint dry. Instead, we’re going to
go to the next stage, which is applying the decals, or decals, depending on where you come from. (rhythmic jazz drumming) Right, I’ve got a big sheet
here of different decals. Each bike, of course, does
have its own model name so you need to make sure
you put the right ones on the right bike
because they are painting all sorts of different models here. Now, it is labor-intensive, again, because everything is done by hand. I don’t think I’d be very good at this because it involves a
huge amount of precision with lining things up because, remember, it is for a consumer
at the end of the day. Once that’s done, though, we
go back into the spray booth for another part of painting. And this is the lacquering process. So by this, it means we’re
going to have a nice clear coat on top of the frame, so
you can see that paint work and it’s going to be protected too from any stones that may
well flick up off the road and, importantly, seal in those decals that have been painstakingly
applied by hand. Once the lacquer is on, well, just to speed up the drying process, it’s moved into this sort
of giant very low-heat oven, just to bake it in place. Right then, we’ve got a primed frame. We’ve got a painted frame. We’ve got a decaled frame. We’ve got a lacquered frame. It’s nice and dry. It’s ready to go. No, it’s not. Oh, no, no, no. The next stage is actually
(motor whirring) the polishing. So check this out here. We’ve got a little buffing wheel controlled by air, always good. A little of polishing
compound would go on here and then gently go over the frame to remove any tiny little imperfections before the final bit,
where it goes in that box, down the road, and,
well, it gets built up. Let’s go and take a look at that. We’re back then with the frame, decaled, painted, lacquered, all of that. What happens next though? Well, if you’ve ordered just a frameset, it’s going to get boxed
up, sent out to the dealer, and you can assemble
and build that yourself. But if you’ve ordered one
of those hybrid bikes, so an eBike, or a mid
to high-end road bike, that’s where these lot come in handy. (relaxed ska music) So we’ve got two teams of mechanics here. Firstly, we’ve got a
guy who’s normally here who’s just having a quick break who is assembling wheels
all day, every day. So he’s putting on rim tapes, innertubes, tires, cassettes, reflectors. You name it, he’s dealing with that. And then he’s seating them on with this quite fancy machine there. Then there’s eight mechanics up here who are working on these work stations, which are pretty cool. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve not been to very many factories. But they’re essentially
on rails or a track, so when they finish one job,
they can wheel it around or scoot it around to their colleague, who can finish off and do
that next step in the journey. And with bikes being
more and more complex, I guess you could say, with
internal routing and everything, having it put together by someone who does it all day, every day is way easier than
trying to do it yourself, at least for me. Now, it’s not quite as straight forward as just assembling bikes
all day, every day. Other things have to be
considered too, such as brakes. Yep, something as simple as that. In the UK, we don’t have our brakes like they have in Italy, for instance, and with a big international market, these things really have to be considered. (relaxed ska music) Now, once the bikes have been
test ridden by the mechanics, they’re then passed over
to this pair behind me, who then take them apart very slightly and wrap them up securely before them putting them
into a cardboard box. It’s really well-built, believe me. You see a lot of people traveling through airports with these. And the rest, really, is left
with the dealer, I guess, where they put on some handlebar tape, put the wheels in, turn the bars, and then you’re ready to ride. (relaxed ska music) There we go! We’re near the end because
now we’re in good sights. The bike is about to begin its
journey off to that dealer, so one happy cyclist can go
and collect their new bicycle. Let me know what you
thought about this video down there in the comments section below. Personally, when I was invited out here, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought I was going to
find a fairly small warehouse or factory, something like that. Instead, I’ve been greeted with a really state of the art facility but with loads of old
memorabilia hanging about. And, well, I’ve been getting
these grubby little hands all over it. Let me know down there
in the comments section what your favorite bit has been though. And also remember to
check out the GCN shop at We’ve got a whole heap of
goods for you to check out. And now for two more great videos, how ‘about clicking just
over here and just over here? And me, I’m going to go and do my hair in that Cromovelato paint work.

33 thoughts on “Italian Super Bike Heritage & Innovation: Wilier Triestina HQ Tour

  1. I'm a huge fan of the Superleggera and that "Modern Classic" style of bike.

    Do you think you guys can do a piece on that sort of steed? Superlegerra Vs. Colnago Master?

  2. I own one cento 1 SR 2015.. like it really much, thinking of repainting it to the ramato color.. it has slightly angled top tube.. like most of the high end bike these days.. wilier rocks

  3. Taiwan is considered the carbon expert but not sure I would enjoy a fork tube breaking that had been manufactured in one of their plants.

  4. What are ‘deckles’? Oh, you mean ‘de cals’. Maybe it’s like the old northern cyclists who still insist on pronouncing gilet as ‘gill-it’. 😄

  5. Great video JC is excellent and the bikes are really beautiful. At 3:36 "Need I go on?" Unfortunately yes, Femke van den driessche. Ironic that one of the next bikes featured is a lovely e-bike…

  6. Go and see Colnago,,,,,,COLNAGO,,,,,,,or even. DER❤️SA…….since you are in the motherland… are the best Jon….you bring out the kid spirit In all of us old farts that love cycling……

  7. sad. I thought that the frames are made in italy. 🙁 Yea China and Taiwan may be big but… why there is no little competition. if i was about to give like 6000Euro for bike.. i would love all his components to be made in their facility ? 🙂

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