May 22nd, 2010
In relation to the total number of carbon frame manufacturers, there really aren’t many custom carbon frame choices in the market place. There is now another one, and it’s quality for price may surprise you. Introducing the Vipera from Max Lelli. I would have to assume that it got that name from the diamond shaped head on the top tube that make it look as though it’s shape was inspired by a serpent.
The Vipera is a semi-custom carbon frame, hand made in Italy. I say semi custom because you don’t have infinite options such as seat and head tube angles, but fit options are quite adjustable. You can choose your length on seat tube, top tube, and head tube making it relatively easy to fine tune a stock geometry to fit your specific needs.
The tube shapes are certainly not traditional, but work well together. The top tube is flat on top with the diamond head at the front. The down tube is flattented on top and on the bottom but with rounded sides. It’s large to start with but flare to an even larger diameter where it meets the head tube. The flare is not only to help add stiffness to to help it mate cleanly with the tapered headtube. The head tube uses a 1.125″ upper and a 1.5″ lower. The seat stays are curved with a flattened inside edge, and joined to the seat tube with a large flat (with buldge) monostay. Chainstays also are different with a what basically looks like a fairly traditional ovalized stay but with an extra tube added on the wheel side to stiffen it laterally. Overall I really like the shapes of the tubes and how they all blend together. Without paint, this could be very well one of the coolest shaped frames I’ve ever seen.
While I can understand the theme of the Vipera coming from the top tube, I think that the paint just takes it a little too far. This frame is nice enough on it’s own that it doesn’t need the addition of themed paint. In this case I think the paint takes away from how nicely these tubes are shaped. I’d love to see this with just a simple down tube decal or perhaps some very minimal paint that accentuates rather than detracts.
There are some nice details on the frame such as the tapered steerer, replaceable hanger and kevlar lined seat tube(a small detail that I particularly like). The carbon finish is very nice and it’s a bit of shame that so much of it is covered by the paint.
Weight wise the frame is very respectable. They claim a weight of sub-900 grams, but I don’t know on what size that weight is based. This one is a 56cm top tube and the weight was approaching 1000 grams(983 gr).
The fork that comes with it is from the Far East and looks to be pretty substantial. By substantial I mean that the fork is big. Wide, and thick, it looks like it shouldn’t have any flex at all. It seems very inspired by a Storck fork. Even with all of it’s size it still has a decent weight, this one was 364 grams uncut.
Where I think this really starts to stand out is when you consider price and delivery times. While I don’t have an exact price yet, I do have a estimate. I’m told that this should be in the $3200-$3500 range. Certainly one of the most affordable custom carbon frames available. Delivery time to the U.S. is said to be within 30 days from placing the order.
My only regret about this one is that it isn’t built for me, so it is too big and will difficult for me to really get a feel for it when riding.