Italians Viner have 63 years of history behind them and an equally long expertise in using steel tubing, something they celebrate in their retro-ﬂavoured Divina.
We aren’t Luddites, but in this age of technical jiggery-pokery and carbon everything, the simplicity and elegance of a steel frame like the Divina’s – with its glinting chromed lugs and cool powder blue paint job – is something to enjoy. Many will be tempted by its looks alone.
For those after eye-catching ﬁrst impressions and handling suited to relaxed café runs, the Divina will make a pleasant Sunday special. But anyone craving reasonable performance as well as nostalgic style and framebuilding would be advised to look elsewhere.
Ride & handling: Comfortable and stable but flexible frame soaks up your efforts
First impressions were mixed once we slung a leg over the suede San Marco Regal saddle. The heavy hits of our pothole-strewn test route were absorbed well by the thin steel tubing, but the constant vibrations from chip-sealed surfaces aren’t damped as well as on other steel bikes, though the Divina is still a comfy, relaxed ride.
All the elegance and shock absorption that the slim tubing affords comes back to haunt you when you attempt out-of-the-saddle acceleration, with frame ﬂexibility soaking up your efforts before eventually returning them to you as forward motion. The problem isn’t helped by the extra-long trail of 6.9cm created by a relaxed 72-degree head tube angle and raked forks.
This geometry makes the Viner stable but also resists the side to side movements that climbing and sprinting out of the saddle requires. All of which makes climbing steep hills a chore and sprinting to be ﬁrst to the café a disappointment. Instead, the Viner fares far better when you stay seated and press on the pedals.
This stable geometry also affects cornering and handling at slow speeds, which require a ﬁrm hand as it means larger weight shifts are necessary to initiate a turn. This reduces as your speed picks up, where the stable handling makes smooth ﬂowing lines feel like the natural choice and helps you hold a consistent line through bends. But ramp up the speed again and the ﬂex that cornering causes in the frame, fork and wheels robs the Divina of its poise, and the fastest corners just aren’t as much fun as they should be.
The viner’s steel frame is lugged and brazed the way viners have been made for the last 63 years: the viner’s steel frame is lugged and brazed the way viners have been made for the last 63 years www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
Frame & equipment: Stunning retro chassis with all-Italian outfit
The frame is made from Dedacciai Zero Replica steel tubing, for a modern twist on classic steel pipework. The alloying elements – carbon, magnesium, chrome, molybdenum and vanadium – have been tweaked to limit weakening of the steel in areas heated during manufacturing and to improve tensile strength compared to older steel alloys. Each tube is brazed into small but shapely lugs, just as the ﬁrst Viner frames would have been.
The classic look is partly down to the front triangle’s lack of oversizing and the absence of bulbous ﬂares and tapers – the clean and slender cylindrical tubing gives the Divina a waif-like appearance compared to modern oversized carbon ﬁbre frames. Slim, straight seatstays and gently curved fork blades add to the understated aesthetic, with the subtle ﬂare of the chainstays the only external sign of tube manipulation.
In terms of looks, the Divina’s elegance and paint scheme shine, but rough ﬁnishing of the chrome plating and the ease with which the paint is chipped means on closer inspection it isn’t perhaps quite as impressive.
An all-Italian outﬁt consisting of Campagnolo Veloce 10-speed shifters and derailleurs supplemented by a Miche chainset complements the Divina’s supermodel looks, though the off-silver ﬁnish of the cranks jars with the impeccable anodising of the Campagnolo kit and the polished round drop Deda Speciale bar and matching stem and seatpost. The chainring bolts on our test bike also began to corrode after a wet ride, which isn’t a good look.
The RX5 wheels maintain the low-proﬁle style with shallow aluminium rims laced with double-butted spokes to adjustable bearing Miche hubs. While they spin up to speed quickly and the hub bearings are very smooth, the low spoke count and low spoke tension meant steering stiffness was poor, which only added to the ﬂexible feel of the fork.
Miche forged alloy chainset: miche forged alloy chainset www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk