There’s a strong possibility that you’re not familiar with Viper – the bikes have only been in the UK for a few months. The brand is a big name over there in mainland Europe, though.
We’ve got details of a selection of bikes from the forthcoming 2007 Viper Concept range, courtesy of importers MTB Distribution. At the moment the UK website (www.viper-bikes.co.uk) only has the 2006 bikes on it, but you can be sure that the full 2007 range will be on there shortly. These pictures are of the European-spec bikes – the ones in UK shops will have a few changes, most notably to the tyres (from short-knob treads to ones more suitable for, shall we say, “mixed” conditions) and bars (several bikes will have 1in risers instead of the flat bars pictured).
We don’t know whether we’re at the deep end or the shallow end, but we’ll dive in with the TR range first. The TR bikes are the kind of mid-range, not-too-racy hardtails that form the bread and butter of most MTB ranges. The frames are custom drawn aluminium, with CNCed dropouts, ovalised chainstays, wishbone seatstays, chunky head tubes and of course a smattering of gussets. The range starts at £269.99, with the TR 4.0 pictured coming in at £749.99. For that you get a Manitou Axel Comp fork (with lockout), SRAM X-7/X-9 transmission and Hayes HFX-9 brakes.
The 2006 Viper range had three jump bikes in it, and that goes up to five for 2007. They all feature heavy-duty frames with big hydroformed main tubes and hefty box-section stays. Prices run from £259.99 to £949.99 – that top-end bike is the Skinny Boy, with Marzocchi Dirt Jump 3 forks, Race Face Evolve DH cranks, bar and stem, Hayes HFX-9 V8 brakes, XT running gear and a Fi’zi:k Freek saddle to top it all off.
If your tastes run more to the XC race, the Pro Line is the bit of the Viper range at which you should probably be looking. There are two frames to choose from, one Scandium and one carbon fibre. On top of those are various spec packages ranging from Deore right up to XTR or X.0 – if you can’t stretch to the high-end stuff, start with the cheaper package and upgrade it as it wears out… The Carbon Pro XTR pictured is £2,299, which is clearly a large sum of money but manages to look like pretty good value for a full carbon monococque frame with most of an XTR groupset on it (the brakes are Hayes). An example of a bike a little further down the range is the Scandium X.0, with RockShox Reba SL forks, SRAM X-9/X.0 transmission, Thomson seatpost and stem and Hayes brakes for £1,449.
There’s also a line of full suspension bikes. Some of them have several pivots, while the XC-oriented Fugitif show here manages to do away with most of them by employing flat carbon stays that flex in a similar manner to Cannondale’s Scalpel. A little link at the top end takes the side loads off the shock. The X.0 model pictured comes in at £2,099.99 with an X-9/X.0 transmission mix and those Hayes brakes again.
We should have some bikes to test shortly – in the meantime, we’ll just mention www.viper-bikes.co.uk again…