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May 15, 2011

Back in December last year, Mat Brett of the cycling website embarked on an exciting experience. The purchase of a Maxima RS. His journey started with his initial measurement and fitting with Velo Solutions at Le Beau Velo. Mat was then invited to the Viner factory, where he was lucky enough to see the full manufacturing of his hand made RS frame. A few weeks later the frame was delivered to Le Beau Velo, where the frame was built up. Much like a bespoke suit, Mat nipped over to Shoreditch for the final fitting process where he eventually got hold of his new Maxima. All he needed to do now was ride it! Mat has kindly let me publish photos and extracts from his recent ride review.

“When I had my bike fit with Velo Solutions at the start of the process, I was offered a sportif geometry or a race geometry. Many of the key distances were the same across the two different designs – the saddle height, obviously, and the measurement from the saddle to the handlebar. But the race version that I went for has a slightly shorter top tube and a longer stem for quicker steering, and a slightly shorter wheelbase. It’s generally more manoeuvrable.”

“How does the Maxima RS ride? I could sum it up in one word: beautifully. But you’ll be wanting more details…

This is such an excellent bike it’s hard to know where to start. I’ll go with the cornering because that’s what struck me first. I’ve been flinging this bike into bends faster and tighter than I’ve ever done before.

The fact that the bike fits perfectly helps here, of course. Your weight is balanced just right so you never struggle to stay in the correct position when you brake hard. You just sit there in full control.

The really surprising thing, though, is just how far you can push the handling. Steer sharply and lean the bike over steeply and the front end stays rock solid. You don’t have to make any little corrections to get exactly where you want to go, or make any allowances, so next time you hit a corner you lay off the brakes more, take it a little faster, and you still get around without any nervousness. And the sooner you’re safely around the turn, the sooner you can get back on the gas.

That gives you tons of confidence when you’re in a group. Say you’re riding on the inside of another rider approaching a left-hander. You just know that you’re not going to drift as far right as they will so you don’t feel the need to scrub off any extra speed just in case. Basically, after a few rides on the Maxima RS, you know that no-one is going to out-corner you and that gives you another weapon in your armoury.

With this race geometry, you can dart around in a group too – not that I’m suggesting you wreak havoc on your local club run, but sometimes a gap will appear and you’ll want to nip into it, or a pothole will appear and you’ll want to nip around it. This is a highly manoeuvrable setup. I’ve not ridden a bike in the sportive geometry so I can’t say exactly how they compare, but if you want more stability, you might want to think about that option.

When it comes to acceleration, the Maxima RS is equally impressive. Weighing 6.9kg (15.2lb), it’s pretty darn light – and that’s sized for a tall rider. If you’re shorter, it’ll obviously be a touch less. There are lighter road bikes out there, of course – although not all that much lighter. But the real value of this frame isn’t just its weight, it’s the weight combined with its stiffness.

Try to bend this bike out of shape and you just won’t do it. Throw the bars around, jump on the pedals, fire your quads up to the max and sprint… do whatever you want, it’ll stay perfectly straight, so every last bit of power you can find gets exchanged for speed, the frame charging zero commission. You dig deeper, the bike responds immediately rather than just when it gets around to it. Simple.

Climbing is… I want to say ‘ace’ but you that’s not really a bike review word, so I’ll go with ‘superb’. It is ace, though. Again, the spot-on fit helps. With your weight well centred, you can stay seated and spin away comfortably on the longest climbs if you like.

I’ve been lucky enough to ride goodness knows how many bikes over the years, some cheap, some expensive, and the Maxima RS is more than a bit special. It’s stunning. And the fact that it has been made to fit me exactly elevates the ride to a level higher than anything else. It feels absolutely right.

Who should buy this bike? Put the price to one side and the answer’s easy: everyone. Okay, that’s not true: performance riders who want to go fast on the road. Road racers, sportive riders or anyone else with a need for speed. It’s just a lovely bike to ride. You climb aboard, it feels great. You turn the cranks, it feels great. You hit the hills, it feels great. It makes you feel like a better rider, it really does.

But then there’s the small matter of the price, and the vast majority of us – nearly all of us – are never going to spend this much money on a bike, or anything close. Is it twice as good as a £4,000 bike? No. As in any market, the returns diminish the more you spend on a bike. You can get a great bike for half the price and a very good bike for a fraction of the cost. In purely financial terms, not many people will be able to justify it. But if you want the ultimate and you have the funds to indulge your passion, here you go.

If you want to read the full review, including Mat’s appraisal of the groupset etc, then click here.
Thanks to Mat and

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