The record of companies trying to break into the bike transmission market is not a glittering one. There have been plenty of alternative derailleur/shifter manufacturers in the past, but with the notable exception of SRAM none has really made an impact. But as SRAM has demonstrated, it’s not an impossible task. Latest company into the fray, and showing off its designs at Interbike, is Vivo.
Readers with long memories may recall that Vivo has prior form when it comes to bicycle transmissions. As well as being responsible for Grunge Guard covers that encased your derailleurs in specially-shaped rubber sleeves, Vivo also briefly produced a rear derailleur about ten years ago. The new V5, though, has nothing in common with that earlier system beyond the fact that they’re both recognisable as derailleurs.
While the V5 rear derailleur has some unique features like the inboard cable routing, it’s the shifter that’s most interesting. Like SRAM’s Doubletap flat bar shifters, the Vivo unit uses a single lever for up and downshifts. But rather than having one click for one direction and two clicks for the other, the V5 lever can move in two axes. Shifts to bigger sprockets are achieved with the familiar thumb action, while shifts to smaller sprockets are triggered by pushing the lever towards its own pivot to release cable.
It seems to work OK on a workstand, and the shift quality is perfectly respectable. Few would argue, though, that Vivo has an uphill battle ahead of itself. Having a good product is one thing, securing those all-important original equipment orders in the face of competition from Shimano and SRAM is quite another.
Vivo is also working on a front derailleur as well as road versions. One to watch…