So, here we are - the Viner Maxima RS road bike that I was measured up for before Christmas, which was handmade in Italy, and that I went out to collect earlier in the year. It's light, it's pretty, it's very, very expensive.
Now the big question: how does it shape up out on the road?
I've already written in detail about the manufacturing process. Check out the link above for the full story. Each frame is made to measure so it's going to fit perfectly, and you get to choose the geometry you want.
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.
I won't go too deeply into the geometry of my bike because it won't be quite the same as anyone else's, but the head and seat angles are both 73 - nothing too wild there. The tube lengths, though, aren't standard. No-one makes a stock frame that's exactly the configuration that Velo Solutions reckon is ideal for me.
Of course, I could always get an off-the-shelf frame and swap the stem, mess around with headset spacers, alter the position of the saddle on the seat clamp and so on - which we've all done a million times in the past - although that'll always have some influence, great or small, on the ride. You might find that a manufacturer makes a frame with dimensions that are exactly right for you, but I'm not so lucky.
The Maxima RS frame is made in Italy from high density, low void carbon fibre tubes that are hand bound with layers of carbon sheeting to form the joints. Then it's compressed in an autoclave (a high-pressure oven, basically) that forms it all together.
At 50mm in diameter, the down tube is wide but not crazy-wide, while the top tube is 40mm across - again, broad but not extreme. You can go for an integrated seatpost if you like, but that's not the most handy option for travel, especially air travel, so I went with a standard build with 31.6mm seatpost instead.
The bottom bracket on this Maxima RS is of the threaded, external variety although you can go for a BB30 standard if you prefer. And the cables run externally but internal routing for Shimano Di2 electronic shifting is an option too.
Up front, the head tube holds a 1 1/8in headset bearing at the top, flaring out to a meaty 1 1/2in at the bottom (the external diameter is 56mm) while the fork is Deda's RS OV - full carbon, naturally - with legs that are well over 50mm deep in the upper section.
Things are much more slender at the back, the narrow seatstays running almost parallel to one another above the brake bridge before curving gently out to join the chainstays at the neatly CNCed Ergal aluminium dropouts.
The finish is exceptional. You can barely see the joints even when you're up close and looking for them, and the matt black look that I went for is super-stylish. I guess that's a matter of taste and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you disagree... you're completely and utterly wrong. There are various other options to choose from if you prefer, but you just can't get any cooler than this one.
As for weights, the fork comes in at 340g and the complete bike (less pedals) weighs 6.9kg (15.2lb). Viner quote a frame weight of 980g, although that'll obviously vary with size. I've not stripped this Maxima RS down to put it on the scales but, sized for a 6ft 3in (190cm) rider, it's going to be just over 1kg for the frame.
You get a five-year warranty on all models in the Viner range, which is great news. The less-good news is the price. Let's be honest, the cost is going to send most people running for the hills. We're talking £5,000 for the Maxima RS frameset. Yes, I know it's loads of money. And yes, you could go on two million training camps for that. I know. But if you want to add a comment at the bottom telling us all anyway, fill yer boots.
The complete bike, as seen, costs a whopping £8,567, while the cheapest complete bike option (with Miche Primato and Campagnolo Athena components) is £5,972. Okay, 'cheapest' might not be the best choice of word here.
The Maxima RS, you'll not be surprised to learn, is the top-level Viner. You can get Viners at much more manageable prices too. The entry-level alloy Icarus, for instance, is £951 complete with Miche Team and Campag Xenon kit.
Talking of complete bikes, I've not told you about the components yet, so I'd better crack on with that right now...
Our Maxima RS has a Miche SuperType build. Miche are a family-run brand based in San Vendemiano, Italy. I went to visit them to collect some of the parts. They don't make a full groupset, though, so they supplement their products with others from compatriots Campagnolo.
This bike comes with 11-speed Ergopower levers from Campag's top Super Record range, and the derailleurs are both Super Record too. The band-on front mech is alu and carbon composite with titanium bolts, while the rear mech, with both upper and lower bodies made of carbon fibre, is arguably the best product that Campag make.
Miche provide the rest of the groupset, including the chainset that comes with 52 and 36 tooth chainrings. Unusual. What do you make of that? (I don't want to insult your intelligence but, for comparison, a standard chainset might be 39/52T or 39/53T and a compact is typically 34/50T).
It makes a lot of sense to me. Matched up to an 11-26 cassette - also Miche Supertype - it gives you a big old range of gears for both climbing and keeping the power on while you descend. The smallest two sprockets are steel while the others are Ergal 7075 aluminium, CNC finished and heat treated. The dual pivot brakes are forged alloy with carbon fibre bonded to the outside and the Evo Max bottom bracket comes with red anodized cups.
The wheels are interesting too. They're Miche SuperType 358s with carbon fibre rims: 58mm deep at the rear for aerodynamic performance, 38mm at the front for increased control. Even strong sidewinds don't knock this front one offline much at all. I've certainly never found myself fighting to keep control. The hubs come with a carbon fibre body and high-quality SKF bearings with cone adjustment.
These wheels are hand-assembled in Italy. Someone gets busy with a spoke wrench to ensure they're round and true coming out of the factory, and they've stayed that way throughout testing. The wheels weigh 520g (f) and 730g (r), plus 93g for the pair of quick releases, and they come with Challenge Criterium tubulars fitted.
The cockpit is from Deda: Zero 100 aluminium parts as standard although our bike has a Zero 1 stem substituted in. They're not as high level as everything else on the bike but the carbon Deda Superzero seatpost is lightweight and easy to adjust and you can't go wrong with the Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow saddle.
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.
This is when the 36-tooth inner chainring really comes into its own, giving you some low ratios to keep your cadence high up the steep sections. I'm a real convert to a 36/52T chainset; it gives you the best of both worlds. It's a big jump between the two, admittedly, but you get used to that in no time. As for the Miche SuperType cranks, they're lightweight and if you can tell any difference in performance between these and any other high-end cranks, well, you're a site more perceptive than I am.
Campagnolo's Super Record groupset shifted flawlessly throughout testing, as you'd expect. It's first-rate, easy to adjust and the silicone lever hoods are super-comfy, although you'll need to decide for yourself whether you prefer the Ergopower controls over Shimano and SRAM designs. Some people like the little thumb lever on the inner edge of the body, some people aren't so keen; that's purely a matter of taste. You'll hardly ever need to downshift five sprockets at a time but it's an option when needed - which is more than you can with either Shimano or SRAM.
The Miche SuperType 358 wheels really slice through the air compared to standard shallow depth options. The pro peloton is chock-full of deep section rims these days because they really do make a significant difference. (They make a great noise too. Somewhere between a whirr and a hum, I'd say.)
The 38mm/58mm combo used here is a good choice for most conditions. You'll very occasionally get buffeted by a strong sidewind, but I never felt these wheels were anything but a big advantage during testing. They're pretty light for their depth too and easy enough to service if you trust your spanner spinning skills enough.
The only real downside is that braking on the carbon brake tracks can be a bit... what's the word? Grabby? It's not as good as you get with aluminium rims, basically. It's not as consistent, so you need to be a bit more switched on, especially in the wet. That's normal with carbon rims. No-one has developed a carbon rim/brake pad combo that can match alu in all conditions.
The only other thing to mention is comfort and on that front, well, it's a bike that's been made to measure. It's the ideal fit. In terms of your ride position, you're not going to get any better. The Selle Italia SLR saddle is my favourite design so it's a winner on that front too, as far as I'm concerned, and the Campag lever hoods I mentioned earlier mop up any vibration that gets through the fork.
If you want a really plush ride, a stiff 58mm-deep back wheel fitted with a 22mm tub that needs to be pumped up to 150psi isn't the best choice ever. You could easily swap to something with a larger air chamber if you really feel the need, but this is a performance bike, after all, so you probably won't want to compromise the performance too much.
We always have to add a couple of negatives to our reviews, even on a bike that costs £8,500. So, what would I change here? Hmmm, tricky. On the frame... not a lot. You could make a case for a BB30 bottom bracket (which is available as an option) but this bike is super-stiff anyway. And maybe some people would prefer internal cable routing. But I'll happily stick, thanks very much.
As for the components, I'd perhaps change the bar and stem. Even though some people will only trust metal cockpit components, I might go with something like a Deda Presa Carbon bar. But once you get a bike that's as high-end as this, any little changes you make are pretty much negligible. The phrase 'gild the lily' comes to mind.
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.
As for me, I'm saving the pennies. I'm going to need a bigger piggy bank.
Hugely expensive, but if you want the ultimate custom-made road bike and you have the funds, this bike is superb
road.cc test report
Make and model: Viner Maxima RS
Size tested: Carbon, made-to-measure
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame Very high density, low void carbon, hand bound
Fork Full carbon Deda RS OV
Chainset Miche Supertype 52/36T
Bottom bracket Miche Supertype
Levers Campag Super Record
Derailleurs Campag Super Record
Cassette Miche Supertype 11-spd Ergal 7075
Chain Miche Supertype
Wheels Miche Supertype 358
Tubs Challenge Criterium
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Gel Flow
Seatpost Deda Superzero
Handlebar Deda Zero 100
Stem Deda Zero 100
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
It's a high-performance road bike - a race machine, although you can have it in a sportive geometry too.
"Viner say, "MAXIMA RS has revolutionised the world of customized bikes because of its new and unique totally italian-built construction.
Frame customizing begins with the hand-crafting of the new-concept carbon tubes, which are high-density and with a very low void content.
Innovated carbon fibre binding makes it possible to create tubes that can respond to all the technical and physical characteristics of the athlete. This system provides customized tubes in carbon fibre that is far more resistant than other equivalent materials available in the bicycle industry. The frame is constructed using one of the very few computerised templates in the world, and an electronic tube assembly system according to each athlete's specifications, to guarantee extremely high construction precision. This is followed by hand binding of the intersection points on the tubes using various layers of carbon sheeting overlaid to guarantee maximum frame sealing protection. Frame compression is performed in high-pressure vulcanising autoclaves to ensure that the carbon is treated with the latest pressure-temperature curve technology. This provides extremely accurate control and reinforcing on both internal and external surfaces.
The frame is then finished by careful hand smoothing on all machined parts, followed by spraying with a specific resin to ensure perfect paint adherence. Frame paint colour is applied in several layers, each coat separately re-baked according to high-precision temperatures and timing under thermocouple control using register diagrams. Finally the frames are coated with several layers of transparent flatting varnish to provide a high-gloss finish and maximum protection against U.V. rays, aggression from atmospheric agents and sweat. This results in a frame that is a true thoroughbred; it can be adapted to the specific bio-mechanical requirements of the road racer, rider or mountain biker. Maxima RS guarantees springy comfort even during the most gruelling and competitive races."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's excellent. The frame is hand made and hand finished. You really aren't going to find better.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Made to measure, each Maxima RS will vary according to the individual. I went for the race geometry over a sportif geometry - with more reactive steering and a shorter wheelbase.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Not applicable because it's made to measure.
Riding the bike
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Very manoeuvrable.
Very direct power transfer
Lightweight and stiffness result in fast pick up of speed
Virtually no flex when you get out of the saddle
The geometry is aimed at manoeuvrability - although you can opt for more stability if you want it
A real strength. You can ping it around the bends super-fast
Can't see the cassette lasting ages, although it's more about weight than durability here
Can't call Super Record bargain components, but the Miche components are a good price for the performance
Wheels and tyres
Reasonable weight considering their depth
Comfort is not what deep section wheels and skinny tubs are about
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
Got on really well with the wheels. The rim depths are a great combination for aerodynamics and handling.
Excellent performance from the Campag Super Record. You can't go wrong.
The lever body is really comfy to rest on and simple to operate
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Oh yes
Would you consider buying the bike? I'm saving hard
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yep
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
If you averaged up the scores given, the Maxima RS wouldn't get 10 for performance. But, that's because I specifically went for a build that emphasised manoeuvrability over stability, for example. If I'd wanted more stability, Viner would have built it with a longer wheelbase... but that's not what I wanted.
Also, some of the components aren't the most durable ever... but I wanted lightweight, racy components so, again, it would be unreasonable to then mark the bike down when Viner provided exactly that.
I guess I have to bring the overall score down to 9 on the basis of the price, but the bottom line is that this is the best road bike I've ever ridden.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,