Dan Trent reviews a lightweight marathon bike optimised for a single ring drivetrain
Need to Know
- All-carbon marathon machine built for speed
- Stiffer chainstay design optimised for 1×11 drivetrain
- New trail-friendly version in the pipeline
A collaboration between renowned engineer Patrick Morewood and fellow South African Victor Momsen, the VIPA answers the question of what do you do after leaving the bike company that still bears your name.
An all-out XC speed machine for racers and KoM chasing whippets, the VIPA superficially resembles a Specialized Epic minus proprietary Brain shock and ‘Horst link’ suspension design. Given it has just 80mm of rear travel — 15mm less than the Epic — Momsen hopes you won’t miss either.
Marathon machine or not, the VIPA is outwardly burly with a massively oversized front triangle screaming stiffness and speed. Same goes for the asymmetric rear end — again all carbon — and a design that, like Specialized, aligns the shock with the forces going into it for accurate response.
Morewood’s favoured low-leverage ratio varies from 2.12 to 1.99 and has a ‘rising to falling’ curve. This initially accentuates the naturally rising rate of the air shock, dropping off at the end as the air is compressed to make sure you get every millimetre of travel.
Weighing just under two kilos, the medium size frame includes a 142mm Maxle rear, mount for a front mech and stealth routing for a dropper post but external cabling for gears and brakes.
Not trendy says Momsen, but likely to be appreciated in emergency late-night fettling between stints in a marathon race.
Watch highlights from the Mont-Sainte-Anne XC World Cup
The VIPA looks fast and proves itself exactly that on the trail, the minimal but well-controlled rear suspension encouraging a stand-up-and-attack style.
Morewood’s DH roots mean it’s something of a ripper at heart though; a tad slacker than an Epic and happy to pump and jump shallow trail centre undulations in the pursuit of yet more speed.
Beware of the sizing though. The medium, as tested, counts as a 17in in Momsen’s literature, and will be cramped for anyone over 5ft 9in.
The large is listed as a 19in, but taller riders may be better served by the Epic, which is available in an XL option. Other than that, there’s a lot to like about the VIPA, not least for proving marathon bikes aren’t necessarily all about work and no play.
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