In this article I go over the reasons and thought processes that I went though and what finally prompted me to take the plunge and buy the ultra lightweight Viner Maxima RS 4.0 from Planet X Bikes to race on next season.
Viner Maxima RS 4.0 Review
For those looking for a review, please note that I will in time write a report on my first impressions and then that will follow with an article on my experience with the frame as I build it up into a complete bike. Only then after I use it for a good amount of time in training and racing will I write a truthful and meaningful review. So depending on when you read this article, you may or may not be able to read those immediately. Thanks for your patience and for now here are the reasons that I firstly decided to buy the frame:
I have been on the lookout for a really lightweight frame (sub 800g) for more than a year, but as an amateur with a family, two cats, three chickens (really!) and a mortgage to look after, you can understand that I have a very limited budget with which to spend on cycling equipment and so almost every option I looked at was well out of my grasp.
Another point to keep in mind is that because my cycling budget is so stringent, it also means that when I do purchase any equipment, it HAS to be a good choice as I have very little room for error. This is why I spend a lot of time researching the product that I plan to buy, reading real world user reviews and generally obtaining as much information as possible before shelling out my hard earned cash.
Viner Maxima RS 4.0 Carbon Road Frameset
When I first stumbled across the Viner Maxima RS 4.0 Carbon Road Frameset, I thought that there must be some sort of mistake or at very least a catch somewhere because the combination of the impressive looking frame, it’s specifications (especially the weight) and that of the price tag seemed almost too good to be true:
Main Features & Specifications
- Hand finished and painted in Italy
- Material: High Modulus carbon fibre
- Frame Weight: 792g
- Fork Weight: 395g
- Di2 compatible
Good Great Price
This Viner frameset was originally listed for sale at £1,499.99 (1.964,99€ / US$2,099.99), which put it just under the level of another lower costing featherweight frame that I had my eye on, the Fuji SL.
Here & Now
At this original RRP level, the Maxima RS 4.0 was competitive, but to be honest if it was still at this level, I would have probably have saved up and eventually opted for something more like the Fuji SL or the new kid on the block Swift Carbon. This is because in my eyes, Fuji and Swift Carbon are currently more well known (or well used) brands than Viner. Established in 1947 by Viviano Nerozzi, Viner does have a very long and luxurious history (read more on the History of Viner below), but if truth be told, the handmade steel frame Viner bikes of the past don’t have a huge bearing on the modern carbon versions we see today.
However what really caught my eye was that the original RRP price of the Viner Maxima RS 4.0 has since been dropped to almost half that and to my delight found that it was listed at just under £1000, which really is a great price for a frame of this potential calibre.
Wait there is more…Sale Price
I then went back to the Planet X website a few days later and discovered they had a sale on and all of a sudden “my” Viner was being sold for the crazy price of just £697.00!!
Which when compared to the huge amount of frames that I had gone through in my seemingly never ending search, it looked to be incredible value for money… indeed it was almost way too good to be true…. I just had to do some research to find out more:
No ‘Real’ Reviews & Little In-depth Information
I really struggled to find out any real and meaningful information on this bike or indeed the current state of the modern Viner company. Granted that the Maxima 4.0 frame is still relatively new to the market and Planet X list do supply you with most of the basic details and the usual rhetoric that you find on almost all manufacturers and retail sites, but you do have to take most of it with a pinch of salt.
A Google search brought back a list of so called “reviews” from the usual suspects (Cycling Weekly, Bike Radar and Road.cc), but all of these are little more than adverts listing the same basic information that you can find on the Planet X website and seriously cannot be trusted or thought of as a genuine review without bias.
With almost every frame and bike that I have researched over the last year and indeed any other cycling product that I am interested in, one of the first places I turn to for information is the manufacturer’s website. Here again I was to be dissapointed as wwww.viner.it simply redirects you to their Facebook page, which seriously looks like it was put togeter in about 5 minutes and is really unprofessional.
What I wanted was real user experiences and views. So I decided to do some digging within the world of social media. Here I did find a fair amount on some of Viner’s other models like the Mitus and the older Maxima RS 3.0. But once again, there was not a whole lot on the Maxima RS 4.0 and I did begin to wonder if anyone out there actually had one!
I did come across one really good example on Instagram and as you can see if you click and read the comments below, I contacted the poster to get some more information from him and he kindly took the time to answer my questions. I was really encouraged by the fact that he genuinely seemed very impressed by the frame, it’s finish, the build quality and the very low weight and this spurred me on to find out more about the Viner Maxima RS 4.0 and to genuinely consider it as a serious option for my next frame.
So exactly why did I buy the Viner Maxima RS 4.0?
Armed with what I have already discussed regarding the price and very low weight as well as the initial contact I had with an instagram user, below are the other bits of information (both good and bad) and my thoughts on them that I weighed up and which eventually led me to take the plunge:
Italian & Asian Fusion
Bianchi, Colnago, De Rosa, Pinarello, Tommasini and Viner… I’ll come right out and admit it that I have a real weak spot when it comes to the great Italian cycling brands with long and illustrious histories. I have owned a number of Italian bikes over the years and as a youngster I used to race on a Colnago Master and I currently still own a 1990’s steel framed Pinarello Stelvio, so the idea of owning a bike with the Viner sticker really appealed to me… However:
Unless you plan on spending a sizable amount on your bike, these days a huge percentage of carbon bike frames are manufactured somewhere in Asia. This includes many of the cheaper options that you get from the most popular current brands like Trek, Specialized and indeed many Italian ones like Colnago etc.
That is the fact of it. So whilst I’d be lying if I said I still don’t dream of owning a hand crafted Italian masterpiece, the reality is that for my budget, I was almost certainly going to have to get a frame made somewhere in Asia.
The good thing I discovered about the Viner Maxima RS 4.0 was that after manufacturing, they are hand finished in Italy. So in theory at least a little part of it is still Italian! :-)
Other Features I Like
Internal Cable Routing
Yes I know it can be a pain to set up and maintenance is less straightforward, but as I have decided to go for a lightweight frame over an aero one, I did want a “climber’s bike” that was still as aero as possible. I also like just how much cleaner it all looks with the cables hidden away. I was also encouraged by the fact that it has a service opening beneath the bb, something that I suspected by looking at the product photos and then was confirmed to my via my contact on Instagram – so thanks very much once again.
Nothing is Perfect
Below I have also listed what I considered to be the bad points against the frame. I took all these into account and as I still went ahead with the purchase, none were deal breakers.. for me anyway:
Aaargh, this was for me really the biggest issue I had with this frame. Not only do I already have a Stages Power Meter fitted to a Dura-Ace crankset and Shimano Hollowtech cranks are not instantly compatible with PF30 Bottom Brackets so you need to either get an adapter or a special BB like those made by Praxis, but I am also terrified of ending up with a noisy and creaking BB.. that for me is a nightmare and takes away all enjoyment of cycling.
I have however decided (with a lot of research) that there is a good way around this. Praxis Works make a excellent Conversion BB that not only accepts Shimano 24mm spindles, but fits in to PF30 frames in such a way as to stop creaking (so they say) and is the solution I think I will go for. I’ll be writing more on this with a full review in the future.
Price & Where To Buy
As far as I know all current Viner bikes are sold through Planet X in the UK, who as they say “specialise in Bikes at no-nonsense prices”.
At the time of writing they still have the special deal on the frameset that I got where it is available for the almost silly price of £697.00, but I think this will end soon and I imagine it will return to the still excellent price of around £800.
The Viner Maxima RS 4.0 and other models can also be purchased as a complete bike
For more info and current prices, take a look at Viner on the Planet X Website.
About Viner Bikes
Below is a little on the History that I have managed to dig up on the Vinner Brand:
Based in Pistoia, not far from Florence in the Tuscany region of Italy, Viviano Nerozzi started Viner in 1947 and created the name from his initials (VI & NER). Before then he had owned a shop in Pistoia selling scooters and bicycles.
Viner started out making robust city style bikes, but in the 1950s started production of racing bikes and even sponsored some local teams and cyclists.
In the 1960s they sponsored the Furzi-FT professional team and provided bikes for pro cyclists like Conti and Polidori for the Giro d’Italia.
By the 70’s Viner was very well respected and ranked alongside many of the other great classic Italian bike brands. Indeed it wasn’t only the Italian’s riding them, because in 1978 the Dutch team won the 100km Team Time Trial at the World Championships riding on Viner bikes.
In the 80’s and 80’s a number of the world’s best cyclists and pro cycling teams like Mapei, Navigare and Scrigno all used Viner bikes and their list of achievements includes World Championship titles, Grand Tour stage wins right up to 2008.
At the age of 69, the founder and main driving force behind Viner, Viviano Nerozzi passed away in 1994, however the family owned business continued on for many years. However as with many other traditional brands, they struggled in the modern world.
More Information on the History and Vintage Viner Bikes can be found on the following websites and I thank them for the info and images that I have used in this article:
As far as I have been able to establish, Planet X purchased Viner in 2013 and set out to resurect the brand to it’s former glory days.
UCI Pro-Tour Proven Race Frames
The fact that a pro teams have used the more current Planet X era Viner frames was a real positive for me and gave me more confidence in the frame I was looking at. Yes, I know pro’s are paid to ride whatever they are given, but even so the equipment they use has to be of a good enough standard so as to be able to compete at the highest level in our sport.
Team Christina Watches
In 2014 Viner returned to the Pro peloton, sponsoring Danish team Christina Watches. Captained by Stefan Schumacher, other team members included Gavazzi, Balliani, Rossi and Jonny Bellis and Jake Tanner from the UK. They rode on the Viner Maxima RS 3.0 bikes equipped with Campagnolo components. The Maxima RS 4.0 is said to be an improvement on the RS 3.0, which if I am to believe it, has to be a good thing.
Team IDEA 2010
Based in Milano, Italy, Team IDEA 2010 ranked 8th in the UCI European Tour and used Viner Mitus frames for the 2015 race season.
Note: You can still buy the Viner Maxima RS 3.0 and Mitus frames from Planet X (see where to buy below).
So there you have it, it took me a while and I had to do ALOT of detective work, but I finally gained enough confidence to part with my meagre budget and buy a modern Viner frame.
Will my decision turn out to be a winning one? Only time will tell and as I said at the start, once it arrives I will begin an article on my first thoughts and impressions of the frame. From there I will progress to my experiences with it as I build it into my race bike and then finally as I ride and then race it I will write a full, in-depth and honest review on the Viner Maxima RS 4.0, so hopefully you don’t have to spend as much time researching it as I did!