Viner Magnifica review£1,699.00

Speed loving Italian racer

BikeRadar score3/5Find prices on Bicycle Blue Book

Viner has a long history in high-end and custom road bikes, and has sponsored teams in the UK and Italy. With this pedigree and positive reports from UK-based racers, we can’t help wondering why Viner bikes aren't more common. 

The Magnifica is the company's entry-level all-carbon bike. The well-made frame gives fast, rewarding handling for high-speed riding that could be put to good use by ambitious sportivistes or lightly built racers. Along with the fork and groupset, it could form the heart of a highly versatile bike, but look to change the finishing kit tested here.

Viner magnifica: viner magnifica
Viner magnifica: viner magnifica

Ride & handling: Great at high speeds but has problems when the going gets tough

With its production spec, the Magnifica was great fun for a couple of hours' fast cruising on open roads but wasn’t suited to the cut and thrust of racing or endurance testing sportives. However, with a few key changes the potential of the frameset was unleashed.

The faster we rode this Italian racer, the more assured the ride became. The solid front end and sorted geometry ensured that mid-corner line changes or evasive action were both as instinctive as they needed to be. Sweeping bends and fast, wide descents were a joy thanks to a remarkably stiff front end. 

Low speed, technical cornering was competent but not as stable as expected, due to noticeable lateral flex in the wheel set. But keep the effort consistent and the speed high and you were rewarded as the lively, engaging nature of the bike shone through. 

A bike should encourage you to ride more and not punish you for choosing the long way home, but the Magnifica felt harsh on anything other than pristine roads. So, nursing our aching backs, we went in search of the stiff link. After swapping the seatpost and wheels for our benchmark items, we got a much better impression of the Viner’s true nature. 

Up front, the stiffness that makes for great handling has been achieved by sacrificing vibration damping in the fork. With our favourite carbon seatpost and 32-spoke wheels, comfort was improved enough to make longer rides manageable but still lacked the vibration damping we’d prefer for all-day epics.

The power transfer was far better once we’d replaced the flexible wheels and, where previously there was a sense of lag between effort and acceleration, the ride felt sporty and came closer to meeting our expectations for power transfer. Acceleration from low speed, either on a climb or out of corners, was still not race-winning but the front end was planted and gave us the confidence to haul on the bars on our way to top speed.

Viner magnifica: viner magnifica
Viner magnifica: viner magnifica

Frame: A ride feel greater than the sum of its parts

The Magnifica is constructed using a selection of pre-fabricated Dedacciai tubes and mouldings in T700 high-modulus unidirectional carbon fibre. These tubes are then bonded together and given an external wrap of composite by Deda to create a frame that combines some of the structural integration of a true monocoque but without the prohibitive cost. 

This construction method has become popular with smaller frame builders and Viner has some input into the design process by selecting tube shapes and composite layup to tune frame characteristics.

With oversized tubing where it counts, slimmed down seat- and chainstays to aid comfort, and large diameter mouldings at critical junctions, it is easy to see the benefits of using frame components from a single source. The Viner has a pleasingly cohesive look and, while not the gold standard of composite construction techniques, the approach selected does mean the Magnifica comes at a greatly reduced cost.

All this engineering practicality is given some visual impact by Viner’s paint shop. We loved the bold, macho red, white and carbon-weave décor and so did the majority of people we met (non-cyclist passers-by even commented).

The Magnifica has a classic European inspired geometry but even with a 130mm stem fitted, the short top tube left our tester feeling a little cramped on a medium frame. It’s worth checking that a suitable position will be achievable as the top tubes across all sizes are quite short (the largest frame size has just a 57.5cm top tube).

Viner magnifica: viner magnifica
Viner magnifica: viner magnifica

Equipment: New Campag groupset let down by a few less shrewd choices

Some of the kit on our test bike was a letdown, but you can buy the Magnifica as a frameset and Viner dealers may offer prebuilt packages with different equipment.

The Deda Ultra seatpost and stem and Sfida bars look like top-end carbon efforts but the carbon is, in fact, a thin external layer. Carbon wrapping of an aluminium core can be an effective technique. However, in this case it has achieved little aside from adding some aesthetic appeal. A quality aluminium bar and stem with a full carbon post would improve comfort without sacrificing front end stiffness.

While Viner have got the frame and forks right, they have neglected the next most important components – the wheels. The own-brand Caesar Evo wheels don’t do the frameset justice, and while we have to commend their smooth bearings and the semi-aero profile of the rims, that is where the praise ends. 

The Caesars gave a harsh, unforgiving ride but still managed to be flexible enough laterally to rub on the brakes when we sprinted. They cornered like a superlight wheel, fine for sweeping bends on smooth roads but whippy on rough surfaces or in tight corners. Add in several truing sessions during our testing and some brake pulse from poorly finished rims, and we’d advise against buying these.

On a brighter note, the 2009 Campag Centaur groupset was a treat to use. The new Ergolever shape (Campag’s name for the brake levers) was a revelation. The ribbed rubber hoods were great at damping vibration and grippy even in the rain. We found the shifting crisp and positive in good conditions but it quickly needed attention once the weather turned.

Special mention has to be made of the bottom bracket, which made us aware of just how much friction is present in many other external bearing BB designs.

Viner magnifica: viner magnifica
Viner magnifica: viner magnifica

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