Japanese manufacturer Ceepo is quite a new player in the triathlon bike game, but has stirred up a lot of interest recently, not least through its partnership with Ironman. The company prides itself on being a dedicated triathlon outfit and does all its own manufacturing; the Viper is the company’s top-of-the-line frameset and new for the 2009 season. (Note: Ceepo supply frameset only but kindly built up a model for us to get our grubby hands on.)
Pretty much everyone’s first comment about the Viper seems to somehow involve Gotham City, given the Batman-like styling. This seems to polarise opinion pretty fast – most athletes liking the off-the-wall design, a few seeing it as a bit of a freaky Joker.
The second thing that gets a comment is the tight tolerance of the cutaway around the rear wheel: we’re taking about a gap that David Blaine would struggle to get an ace of spades through without creasing it, yet despite this there was little or no rubbing of the tyre however hard we sprinted or cornered the bike. There’s not a hint of flex here.
You’d hope a bike with Ironman branding would offer the all-day comfort required to cover 112 miles, and the Viper delivered. Vibration damping was excellent and the geometry steep enough to be efficient in the tuck without feeling twitchy and nervous.
The only gripe was in regard to the extremely narrow tri-bar pads. While narrow is undeniably better from an aerodynamic point of view, even on the wide setting these were only viable for about 15-20km at most in the full aero position before we found ourselves having to rest our aching forearms and shoulders.
Dura Ace coupled with a KMC gold-plated chain performed to a high standard. The brakes were a little feeble-then-grabby on the carbon rims, which could catch you out on a windy descent. That said, the Zipp 808 wheelset was flawless when it came to high speed efforts, with a satisfying rumble when you really cranked it up.
The fact that it was possible to race the Ceepo after only a couple of test rides is testament to its comfort and predictability. It was a pleasure to take it round the race track for a real thrashing, and it seemed to have an ‘X factor’ that made the rider feel excited to be racing on it. Running off the bike was fine, too, with none of the aches or cramps that arise if the riding position is
too extreme. All told, ride-wise there really wasn’t much to fault.
The Viper’s frame is made from high-modulus carbon fibre, with a bespoke carbon aero fork and integrated carbon seat post that is cut to suit the size of rider. This will of course impact resale value – something you do have to consider on this sort of machine.
The test bike was supplied with a finishing kit that amply befitted such a high-quality frame, including Zipp 808 carbon wheels, Dura Ace groupset and CKT carbon tri-bars. It’s clearly designed with aerodynamics in mind, hence the brake callipers being mounted on the rear of the front fork and behind the bottom bracket, which serves to substantially reduce drag. Due to the large surface area of the frame, it’s not super, ultra, mega lightweight but tipping the scales at 1.4kg for frame and fork only, neither is it exactly heavy. The finish quality is exceptionally good (as it should be at this price point) and makes the Viper a desirable product.
The Ceepo is a bike which says, “I’m fast, look at me!” For that reason it will probably appeal to a certain type of rider; one who is performance-driven, and either sponsorship-level quick or at least rich enough to be happy splashing out £3,500 on a frameset alone.
All you have to decide, then, is whether you really are a Caped Crusader at heart, or more of a Robin type. If it’s the former, then get yourself down the Batcave and run up a shiny black tri-suit to match your shiny new black bike!
Frame Ceepo Viper high modulus carbon
Forks Ceepo aero carbon
Groupset Shimano Dura Ace, KMC gold-plated chain
Wheels Zipp 808 carbon deep section; Continental Competition tubulars
Cockpit Pro alloy stem; CKT Concord Tri bars and base bar
Seating Specialized SL Gel 40
Weight1.4kg (49.38lbs) for frame and fork only
Sizes 49, 51cm
Price £3,500.00 for frameset only; £6,500 for built-up model tested
Contact : Triathlon Consultants Ltd 0118 934 6799