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THE FRAGILE THIN LINE

April 24, 2012

I want you to take a good look at this photo.

Forget the many black and white photos of model cyclists, mock grimacing to sell ‘suffering’ to the cycling masses, this photo shows real suffering, warts and all.

Most cyclists will recognise this. And if you don’t, I pray you never succumb to these levels of fatigue, pain and degradation.

66 miles previously my brother was a King of the Road, driving a break of 5 in the Sloan Trophy Road Race, riding strongly on his Viner Perfecta along the hard man’s route in Northumberland. The wet weather didn’t seem to bother him, after all he’d ridden in worse weather in the Northern fells. So as the freezing hail started to batter him on the last lap, he just carried on, plotting how he was going to beat his fellow escapees, and cross the line first.

Then the attacks started happening. Karl could go with them, but suddenly in the last kilometre, he’s legs felt weaker. He started crawling, the weakness enveloping him as the cold bit hard. Now it wasn’t about winning, it was about getting to the finish line in one piece. A group of three riders who clipped off from the chasing bunch pass him alarmingly quick. He’s now 8th on the road but he doesn’t care now. He needs food and the finish can’t come quick enough. He’s spectacularly crossed that fragile line that exists for every cyclist – the line that haunts all of us, where suddenly we cross from a superman to riding like a 5 year old child.

200 yards to go and the ‘bonk’ or hunger knock hits hard. He can’t lift his head, even his neck muscles have given up, and his eyesight starts to go. He wobbles over the line and collapses, seconds before the remnants of the bunch thunder through, sprinting for the remaining points. He’s then carried to a dirty wet patch on the side of the road, a blanket thrown over him and given sustenance. How the mighty fall. Karl now looks like a victim of the Great War, shivering with shell shock. There’s no comfy team bus to sit in. This is grass roots racing, where the hardmen survive. Karl’s a hardman, but today wasn’t his day. He crossed the fragile thin line.

Photos of Karl in the Sloan Trophy, driving the break and looking strong.

BITTEN BY THE VINER BUG

April 20, 2012

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t expect to get so passionate about Viner, but once you’ve ridden one you understand. Steven Gordon-Head understands as well. A newcomer to cycling after many years rock climbing and skiing, within a month Steven had bought two Viners. His aluminium Icarus was his first ‘proper’ road bike, and was purchased from Pure Motion, just around the corner from him.

“By the start of August I made the decision to buy a road bike and on the short list was a Pinarello FP2, Bianchi C2C, Willier and a Cube or wishful something from PMC. I explained what I had looked at and how much I wanted to spend, Brad explained that for the cost of the Pini, which was in a sale, he could do the Icarus built to my size and requests…. I said that whatever I wanted Campag on the bike, not Shimano or USA stuff. I was amazed to find that I could have an Italian dream machine in my budget, so at the age of 57 I bought my first “serious” road bike.”

Steven didn’t waste time updating his Icarus. “My current spec is now Icarus 55 frame with carbon fork, Miche 50/34, 172 alloy crank, Miche brakes, Veloce 10 speed, Deda RHM 2 bar with Quattro 2 110 stem. Look Keo classic pedals, Miche Connect wheels with 23mm Scwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres, Jag red cables, Sella SL saddle with Deda magic stick seat post. The bright red bar tape is Fizik and the number of comments I get on that alone is amazing.”

After a few rides of his Icarus, Steven’s Viner bug bit hard. A few weeks later he was the owner of a 2010 ex-stock carbon Magnifica. Although this new bike had a similar build and look to the Icarus, the ride was very different.

“By comparison to my Icarus the Magnifica feels like a whippet, put the power down and it goes, is much more comfortable riding over the road. Cornering is much more positive, like thinking I want to go there and lean and its round. My first ride was a solo 40 miles and it felt like I popped round the corner. Interestingly I have noticed that my average speed has risen by over two miles per hour and it is much easier to hold high speed now. Looking forward to riding it in my next event.
I think that is enough bikes for now, especially as my 2 daughters are miffed that my bikes cost more than their two cars!”

SIBLING VINERS

February 10, 2012

Well after nearly a year my brother’s Perfecta 2.11 is finally built! The story of the build is a heartbreaking one. After he got all the various kit to build up onto the frame, he suffered a break-in at his flat – resulting in all his still boxed Campag equipment going missing. He also had a training bike and his beloved Orange MTB nicked as well. It took Karl a while to sort out the kit again, and by the time he’d assembled it all, winter was apon us. So he took his time and built it up over the last months and finally it’s finished!

His Perfecta boasts a mix of Campag Record and Chorus 11spd, a pair of Planet X CNC Superlight brake calipers, Deda finishing kit and the new Fizik Kurve saddle. Because of the recent ice and snow, Karl has only ridden his Perfecta on the rollers – but he’s already noticed a big difference from his Ribble. It fits him like a glove and he’s been spinning 53×11 easily on the highest resistance setting! He can’t wait to get out on the road on it.

His choice of seatpin colour has polarised opinion though. People either love it or hate it. Personally I love it. It adds a nice contrast, and no one ever bats an eyelid if a white bike sports a black seatpin, so what’s wrong with doing it the other way round?

Hopefully a road test report will appear soon.

A BRACE OF GLADIUMS

January 17, 2012

As I suspected, the new 2012 Viner Gladium 2.0 is proving a popular choice. The guys in Pistoia made a wise choice with the new Gladium – a full carbon made to measure frame at a lower price point is certainly going to introduce more cyclists to the brand. I haven’t heard or read any ride reviews of the new frame yet, but I suspect as with all Viner’s that they’ll handle brilliantly.

These two bikes have been built up by Pure Motion Cycles and Bike Science for two lucky customers – hopefully the owners will get in touch and send me a ride review! Remember these two Viner dealers offer a full bike fitting service, allowing you to get a perfectly fitting (and therefore handling) Gladium.

PANTO SEASON

January 1, 2012

I recently received these stunning images of a Viner Special Professional from Brian Stanwyck of Viner UK. The bike belongs to a friend of his, Ray Gibbs, who picked up this immaculate original in Italy via eBay. It appears to be a mid to late 70s version, pearlescent white, resplendent with Campag Super Record, and beautiful, detailed pantographing. A very rare cherry coloured leather Campagnolo Electa inflatable saddle provides the rider support. The Electa saddle sported a thin inflatable tube under the leather cover which could be inflated to the rider’s desired comfort. If you look carefully you can see the presta valve just poking out from under the nose of the saddle. This was pumped up using the supplied rubber bulb.

All in all a stunning way to start a new year.

PURE MOTION

December 29, 2011

When I left Art college in Loughborough, I ventured down south and eventually ended up working in Covent Garden. I took my bike with me, and living in the Twickenham area eventually discovered the North and South Downs. Now being a young northener with a chip on my shoulder, I thought the ‘south’ didn’t have hills or hard terrain. How wrong I was. I still have fond memories of rides out with the Twickenham CC, discovering the beautiful lanes in Surrey and Sussex, and toiling up climbs such as Leith Hill, Box Hill and Ranmore. They also had cracking descents. Problem is I didn’t have a Viner then to enjoy them.

It’s a shame Pure Motion Cycles weren’t around then. I used to ride through West Byfleet quite a bit. I’ve no doubt if I still lived in South West London I would be a regular there, gawping at the Viners they have on display.

Brad and Andy had always been Italian bespoke steel frame fans, so it was only natural that when they set up Pure Motion Cycles, that they become a Viner dealer. They stock a lot of the range, including the steel Divina and Passo, the alu Primus and Vigor Plus and the full carbon frame range including the Titan Karbon.

Boasting (like all Viner dealers) a full fitting and measurement service, they custom build every Viner bike, getting in the finished frameset and building it to the customers exact specification, most of their top end framesets being made to measure. Their finished builds are also pretty eye catching, most sporting colour coded brake cable housing and handlebar tape, and quite a few sporting the Pure Motion lime green colour (like the Kronus pictured above, built for a local triathlete). Pure Motion are also a Miche carbon wheels test centre, and have quite a few built Viners to test ride.

Pure Motion also have a cycle team and have weekly rides which start out from the shop. If you’re interested in test riding a Viner or venturing out with Pure Motion for a ride, please get in touch with either Brad or Andy on westbyfleet@puremotioncycles.com

PERFECTA CROSS REVIEW

December 9, 2011

Sheldon Smart, over at the bikeridr blog, has been competing in the Alberta cross season, astride a Perfecta Cross Bike. The bike was kindly loaned by SRI Importing, and appears to have worked wonders for Sheldon. Sadly he’s had to hand the bike back, but not before he had the chance to write a review and shoot this great video, showing off the stunning Perfecta. A big thanks to Sheldon for letting me reproduce this:

“I heard it said once, that having beauty around us in our day-to-day lives greatly enhances our overall quality of life, which I would have to agree with – especially when beauty comes in the form of a bike. In my opinion, the VINER Perfecta that I rode this season, is as as nice to look at as it is to ride and race. And that goes a long way with me because admittedly I enjoy things that operate exceptionally well, but also look good do it – form and function come together in this bike like the two halves of DNA’s double helix.

There’s little question, that the fact that this bike is designed and handmade in Italy, plays into why it looks the way it does. Everything from the unique contours of the top tube, the subtly flared chainstays, to the colour scheme, all make this an unquestionable work of cycling art that literally makes me happier when I see it. And it didn’t just have this effect on me – not a race went by when I didn’t have at least one person come up and ask about that bike and comment on how nice it was. There aren’t many CX bikes out there that can do that.

Now looks, though important, do only go so far. So on the performance side, simply put, this is the best bike I’ve ever ridden and raced. I’ve become partial to the feel of the full carbon frame, which somehow delivers both the responsiveness and stiffness you want in a race, and the comfort you need to keep from having your teeth rattled free from your skull. Initially I was luke warm on the Campi set up, but as the season went on, I came to enjoy that as well – consistently precise, crisp shifting just came to be expected. To me, the only downside to this bike is the wheel set it came with. Fulcrum Racing 7 CXs, aren’t a bad wheel set; they are strong, and track high speed corners really well, but they are a heavy wheel set choice in relation to such a high-end frame as light as this one. If you put a lighter set of wheels on this bike, it would be scream like a lunatic with its hair on fire!

So, even though the CX season still rolls on strong in US right now, I lament that the race season here in Alberta is long over, and I am sitting here reluctantly concluding my review of this bike with this post. Handing this bike back over to SRI Importing will be sad affair.

For those of you looking for something a little out of the ordinary, a CX bike that’s not only fast and light, and all those good things, but also has something special about it, a level of design passion you might not find in a bike from one of the larger manufacturers, a handmade Italian VINER Perfecta just might be for you.”

OLD ADS REVEAL SOME INTERESTING POINTS

November 27, 2011

You might remember I wrote a post a while back where I tried to get to the bottom of a problem with the various old steel Viner frames that come up for sale on ebay.

Thankfully by getting in touch with Viner in Pistoia, I managed to understand the difference in the various cut out details in the lugwork on these 1970s and 80s frames.

Recently Guido over at italiaanseracefietsen has unearthed  these 1981 US Viner adverts, and he’s kindly let me publish them. What a find! They finally explain the other ‘cut out’ detail I’ve seen on some ebay frames. As well as the ‘stars’ and ‘crosses’ I’ve also seen old Viner frames with a simpler, almost heart shaped cut out. These were the frames that were deemed ‘fakes’ on some internet forums. Well these ads have confirmed that these frames are indeed original Viners – the Record racing frameset (see below). A cut price frame that kept the angles and clearances of the Special Professional, but used cheaper Falck tubing for the rear triangle and plainer paint finishes.

The ads have also thrown up some other interesting details, such as the strange half circular attachment on the right hand rear drop out on the above Special Professional. Is this for extra strength? These Special Professional’s were intended to be raced on, perhaps these were bolted on to stop the rear drop out bending when a crash happened?

More importantly for anyone intending to buy an old steel framed Viner from this era, all Viners have the seat tube length stamped onto the left underside of the bottom bracket shell, with the Special Professionals also having the top tube length stamped on the opposite side on the bottom bracket.

GLADIUM 2.0 COLOUR SPECS

November 24, 2011

So anyone contemplating getting the new made-to-measure Viner Gladium 2.0, here are the colour specs available. At the moment the 2012 Viner catalogue and the website don’t have these images, so thanks to Viner UK for letting me publish them. As per the other frames in the carbon range, gloss or matt finish is available. Jury is still out on the ‘violet’ version, but at least it’s something a little different in the 2012 range.

TITAN KARBON – THE IDEAL SPORTIVE BIKE?

October 24, 2011

It seems, judging by Rob Pryor’s feedback, that the Titan Karbon would make a superb Sportive bike. Rob of SRI Importing kindly let me use these photos of his Titan, which has created a bit of a stir for the last 10 months he’s had it. I can imagine there aren’t that many on the roads in Canada, so it’s understated beauty and rarity will no doubt make other cyclists stop and look.

Underneath that beauty lies some real substance. Essentially what Viner have done is take a Maxima, replace the carbon tubes with titanium, and add the rear triangle from the Mitus 0,5. As Rob can vouch, you still get the famed Viner stability, poise, handling and cornering but the titanium tubes add a real ‘softness’ to the ride, soaking up bumps and rough patches, resulting in Rob still feeling freash after long rides. However the carbon rear triangle still adds stiffness, so that no power is lost when climbing or sprinting. Add to the fact that you can have it built made-to-measure then surely the Titan Karbon would make the perfect Sportive bike. A perfect fitting bike with the titanium tubes meaning a 100km plus Sportive could be tackled without aches and pains, but still with enough race pedigree to make climbing easier.

And there would be no doubt that the Titan Karbon would stand out from the usual Sportive crowd, even with it’s understated beauty.