The brand Viner is based in the heart of Tuscany, Italy, in the village of Pistoia, near Florence. It is a family business that dates back to 1947 when it was formed by Viviano Nerozzi who combined the first two letters of his first name and the first three letters of his surname to come up with the brand.
The Viner Mitus 0.5 is the second-ranked frame in their range and surprisingly, the carbon frame is handmade in Italy where tubes are mitred, bonded and pressure baked in their own factory. This model tested came extremely well-equipped with Campagnolo’s Chorus groupset and Shamal Ultra wheels.
When this bike arrived the first thing that stood out was the fluorescent orange highlights on the otherwise sedate dark silver and white colour theme. It was like stepping back into the 1980s when kids thought it was ok to wear ‘Choose Life’ T-shirts matched with fluoro socks. To be fair the graphics are done very tastefully and in photos, and from a distance, the colour takes on a more red tone. It’s a little-known fact that a certain Italian car manufacturer paints their F1 cars almost fluorescent orange so they appear red on TV. So what could be more Italian?
The frame is relatively conservative in design and generally has rounded tubes throughout. Up front the fork is noticeably oversize in dimensions both from side and front on. These combined with the oversized head tube ensure the front end is rock solid. The sloping top tube is squared off where it meets the seat cluster in what is a very attractive and elegant design. The rear brake cable runs internally, while the gear cables are external and the chainstay boss is slotted to allow easy servicing.
One thing I didn’t like about the frame was how the rear chainstays widens to meet the dropouts very close to the bottom bracket. For people who ride with their heels in (like me) this can lead to the heels of your shoes clipping the chainstays. Most of the time my shoes missed, but the float on my cleats allowed them to occasionally clip, something I haven’t noticed on other bikes.
La Dolce Vita
On the road this bike does not put a foot wrong. I instantly felt at home on it and found it a pleasure to ride. One of my test rides was on what is becoming a local Wollongong tradition, the Friday Santa ride. It’s a gentle-paced ride where riders who choose to can dress up for the occasion, socialise and donate a little to charity. With having such a great new bike to test it really did seem like Christmas. On the flat the bike rolled along effortlessly, at least when I was sitting in the shelter of the bunch – especially so when the person in front was dressed as Santa! Seriously though, the Viner sped around the suburban street corners and dodged the slower tinsel-clad riders with aplomb. The hills on this ride are short and easy and best tackled fast and out of the saddle. The Viner loved these short, sharp accelerations and felt perfectly balanced on the descents.
On other rides I found the bike excelled in all terrain and most other surfaces. On rougher tarmac the bike felt solid and despite the firm saddle and stiff front end, it was comfortable enough to want to ride longer. On longer climbs the bespoke build package kept the weight down and climbing was performed efficiently both seated and standing.
Befitting an Italian bike, it also excelled in another essentially important aspect of riding. It looked good racked up at the coffee shop. I sipped my espresso and gesticulated wildly with my hands as I talked I reflected that this bike really is la dolce vita.
As you’d expect from a bike made in Italy, the Mitus comes with Campagnolo Chorus components. In general terms there is very little separating the leading component suppliers and a lot comes down to personal preference. I love the look of the groupset and find the lever hood shape to be comfortable. The brakes work excellently and gear changes were smooth. In my opining the Campag offers the most responsive feedback of all the brand options because each gear change gives a nice audible click. But personally I don’t find anything ergonomic about the downshift button on the Ergopower levers, especially when trying to access them from the handlebar drops. There’s always a slight bit of extra movement of the hand and wrist required to access the downshift button.
The Shamal wheelset got me reminiscing about the last time I rode a set back in the 1990s. While the new version doesn’t look as sleek as the old deep-polished alloy version, they have changed for the better and are much lighter and more robust than the originals. There is a lot of technically interesting things going on with the carbon hub body, aluminium spokes and G3 spoke pattern of the deeper 30mm rear rim (the front rim is 26mm). On the road this technology translates to a very dependable, stiff wheelset that can withstand a lot of abuse. I’ve ridden the lower-spec Zonda wheels before and these share a lot of the same features, but the lower weight of the Shamal makes a huge difference to the responsiveness of the ride. This wheelset weighs in at 1,425g which is competitive and they are durable enough to use every day, yet light enough to race on.
Providing the grip are Zipp Tangente tyres. These are marketed as being able to save up to nine seconds in a 40km time trial, mainly due to their more pointed profile. While I wasn’t able to confirm or refute this figure I can tell you they grip well, and feel nice and supple aiding comfort.
The overall quality of this bike is enhanced by the excellent build kit utilising 3T’s LTD handlebar, stem and seatpost. These are all very functional and lightweight, and are a good-looking match for the frame. Respectively the handlebars, stem and seatpost are listed as weighing in at 174g, 114g and 174g which are all very light. I liked the shape of the Ergosum bars but would have preferred to see 40cm wide bars on a small sized bike. These bars are also long in the reach, so smaller riders may prefer the 3T Ergonova that has a shorter reach and shallower drop.
Another standout was the Lizard Skin handlebar tape. The tape is equal in thickness to most cork tapes, yet offered superior grip and added comfort from the shock-absorbing rubber material. Lizard Skins tape is making a name on the streets and one of my new year’s resolutions will be to fit this tape to my own bike.
The seatpost that came with the bike was 350mm length. In most cases on a small size frame, this length is overkill and it actually made it impossible to drop the seat height any lower than 670mm from the bottom bracket (luckily just my size). The seatpost also comes in a 280mm length, which would be a better option for most small frames.
I would prefer to see more attention to detail in the parts selection for small frames and would like to have seen 40cm width bars, 170mm cranks and a shorter seatpost as standard. Still, a good bike shop can take care of all these things at the time of purchase, but it would be nice not to have to.
The final contact point, the saddle, is a Prologo Nago Evo. This is a very minimalist and firm saddle, but I liked the shape. I found it similar to a Selle Italia SLR, but with a more rounded profile. It is an unforgiving design with little flex but I find if the shape suits you then it is comfortable.
The overall quality of the frame and every component is excellent and is what you’d expect for a bike in this price range. The lavish white paint and decals are all superbly applied. While it was a little hard to get the seat height low enough, this was only the previously mentioned issue with the seatpost length.
This bike would easily adapt to any use, but where it best performs is on longer rides over varying terrain and surfaces.
Value for Money
Italian craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap, but with the Australian currency as strong as it is against the Euro, the value of Viner bikes has never been better.
With some minor adjustments to the parts size choices, this bike would make the perfect all-day ride machine. It is refreshing to see that Italian craftsmanship is alive and well and the Viner Mitus 0.5 offers a unique choice for the concerning cycling enthusiast with a affinity towards Italian style.
Frame – T900 Carbon
Fork – Full Carbon
Head Set – FSA
Stem – 3T ARX-LTD 100mm
Handlebars – 3T Ergosum LTD 42cm (c-c)
Shift Levers – Campagnolo Chorus 11
F Derailleur – Campagnolo Chorus
R Derailleur – Campagnolo Chorus
Cassette – Campagnolo Chorus 12-27
Chain – Campagnolo Chorus
Crank – Campagnolo Chorus 50/34 172.5mm
Bottom Bracket – Campagnolo Chorus
Pedals – n/a
Brakes – Campagnolo Chorus
Wheels – Campagnolo Shamal Ultra Clincher
Tyres – Zipp Tangente 700x23c
Saddle – Prologo Nago Evo
Seatpost – 3T Dorico LTD 31.6mm
Weight – 7.18 kg without pedals
Price – $7,499
Distributor – Get Biking
Ph. (07) 5499 6511