I love it when the location of a brand reflects the brand's character...

Wilier is based in the foothills of the Dolomites, only a short ride from some of the best climbs in the world including the epic monte Grappa (26km at 6% !).

So it's no surprise that the Zero SLR, their flagship race bike, loves to climb.

When it was launched earlier this year Wilier claimed the Zero SLR was the world's first lightweight, fully integrated disc brake road bike. I guess the quick pitch is something that looks like a Venge and rides like a Tarmac...

It's certainly very light for a bike with disc brakes, coming right in at the UCI's minimum 6.9kg limit. The medium-size black-and-white model has a claimed 780g frame weight, with another 345g for the monocoque fork and 335g for the dedicated one-piece Zero carbon integrated bar.

One of the reasons we were really excited to work with Wilier is that they really understand the whole "custom bike" thing. They were very pleased to only supply us framesets; and allow us to build each bike to our own unique specs. As such we have chosen a custom build with a Wilier bar/stem, Di2 and Enve 5.6 wheels for our test bike.

The SLR is available in a choice of 3 colours; black is the lightest - but the blue and the red ones are the ones to go for; they look sublime. I tested the red one, and constantly got nice comments from random riders. Wilier have always had nice paint schemes; it's just something they get right...

We've had "Hi-Mod" carbon for years; now Wilier introduce their own take on it, with "HUS-MOD" carbon. The SLR also features "multi-directional fibre mesh to increase rigidity in every direction" and, "Liquid Crystal polymer to improve impact resistance and vibration absorption"... I love Italian marketing; it's like when Pinarello try and say with a straight face that a bendy top tube is more efficient. No one is better at joining up random adjectives in a sentence than the Italian cycling trade...

I have not crashed on the bike yet; so cannot comment on its impact resistance! I can say that vibration absorption and ride comfort is good overall; and the ability to run 28mm tyres certainly helps too.

The front end of a bike can make our break it; and the fact that Wilier has a proprietary one-piece bar could have been a worry. But I have to say it's really impressive; it's 330gms for the complete bar/stem combo, stiff without being harsh, and has a lovely shape. The drops are not too deep, the reach is perfect and the tops are flat, but with enough shape to them to be a lovely place to rest your hands.

I was really impressed; these are certainly the best one piece bars I have ever used.

I'm a huge fan of integrated cabling (especially as I dont have to build the bikes, it's maybe less popular with the mechanics!). But it looks great; I adore my long-term Tarmac SL6 but its front end now looks comparatively 'old school' with exposed cabling.

Less impressive in my eyes was the seatpost area...

The carbon seatpost has a Kammtail-like truncated aero profile and is perfectly fine. The seatpost clamp bolt is easy to access and to tighten, but is sunk into the frame (presumably to be more aero and to allow more seatpsot to be exposed). The mechanics thought it was fiddly when packing the bike for transit, and if you spend a lot of time putting into and getting it out of bike boxes this could be a frustration.

The bigger issue for me is the look of the clamp area, which protrudes out of the seat tube underneath the top tube (almost like the inverse of the latest Roubaix). It's like they realised it could not fit and then just lumped a bit of extra carbon onto the frame. For me, once I saw it, it was impossible to unsee, which was a shame on what is otherwise a stunning frame. Your mileage may vary though, it's a subjective thing!

But this is a minor niggle. The overall package shows real attention to detail, and you could argue that Wilier aren't afraid to put function ahead of cosmetics when required.

Wilier uses 12mm Mavic Speed Release thru-axles with the Zero SLR's frame and fork. It's a clever system that allows you to take the the wheel out without totally removing the hub - quickening removal and replacement.

It basically gives the stiffness of a thru axle with the speed and ease of a quick release; an impressive combo and one we're likely to see more of.

You expect an Italian bike to handle well and this is no exception...

Point the bike where you want it to go, and it darts there. The light frame and stiffness of the platform mean that it climbs very well too (to be honest, almost all modern bikes seem to climb well - I struggle to tell the difference now).

This is just a quick first impression of the bike... Is it technically better than my benchmark, the S-Works Tarmac? I can't say it definitely is; but at the same time I think it performs just as well overall. It's a deeply impressive frame, that performs brilliantly and just happens to look fabulous (bonus!) and has that certain style that only Italian frames can pull off. And that is a pretty impressive combination. Welcome Wilier!

The Zero SLR is available as a complete bike in a number of standard configurations, as well as frameset only/custom builds. Check out some of the many build options, see the full range of colours and create your own unique Wilier in our online Bike Builder.