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The Buga - we're guessing you pronounce that 'booger' and not 'bugger', but neither's exactly great - is Viner's flat bar offering for the burgeoning cycle to work market and it's an interesting alternative to your more standard £1k fare. Italian born and bred, the whole of the bike (except the tyres) hails from the boot and the frame is made by hand there. You'll pay a premium for that Italian chic, but if it's something that you value then the Buga is certainly a rounded machine that's good to ride.
The heart of the bike is a hand-built frame crafted from Dedacciai Fire hydroformed Aluminium tubing. The front triangle is the same as Viner's Celer road bike but the back replaces the carbon stays with more metal. In a world where even colours like olive and cappucino are deemed a bit risqué for the urban market it's great to see Viner bucking the trend: the turquoise livery might not be to everyone's liking but it's a refreshing change and it'll get you noticed. The frame is nicely built, well finished and mated to a Deda Carbon fork that's painted to match.
For a drivetrain you get Campag Xenon with Miche's sporting shifters. These have two thumb actuated paddles, similar to Shimano's original Rapidfire offerings from way back when. All this serves to prove is that for all their fettling over the years the Japanese giant hasn't significantly improved on the original design: the Miche units are simple to understand and use, if a little clunky in the shift. We had some problems with chainsuck on the test bike which I think was down to a bent link in the chain, but other than that the transmission was fuss free. The compact chainset and 13-26 cassette give a range of gears wide enough for pretty much everything.
The Buga (smirk) is positionally in the middle of the hybrid camp: not too long, not too short. This makes it ideal for a slightly longer commute (say 5-10 miles), anything longer than that and you'll probably want to be a bit lower. The quality of the ride is excellent; the bike feels very sure footed and the steering is nice and precise while remaining neutral. We piloted the Viner over everything from smooth tarmac to rough off road tracks and it handled it all with aplomb. About town there are times when you'd want it to be a little more agile, but that's a small gripe.
The Miche Excite wheels are well made and will easily stand up to a bit of loaded riding. I fitted a child seat with no handling problems and no brake rub, and you could run a rack and panniers too as there's braze ons to accommodate them. They're fairly heavy though, so don't expect to be flying up the climbs. They're a factor in the bike's all-in weight (10.3kg/22.8lb) which is a fair bit heavier than some other bikes you can find for this kind of money. This isn't the machine to go for if weight is your primary concern.
So is the Buga (fnarr) good value? Well, if you're buying from one of the bigger names then you'll get more for your grand, kit wise: ten speed transmissions, carbon rear stays and lighter all-in weights are pretty common at this price. From a purely hard-nosed standpoint you have to dock some points for value, but if you're buying with your heart as well as your head than you may well be swayed by the Italian hand-built frame and the European components, and you'll end up with a solid performer whose frame is plenty worthy of some upgrades when stuff starts to wear out. And you won't pass ten other people on the same iron on the way to the office. How much is that cachet worth to you?
Comfortable and dependable flat barred commuter with a bit of Italian flair.
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Make and model: Viner Buga flat bar
Size tested: L
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
100% hand made in Italy frame, Deda Fire Hydroform frame & carbon forks with front & rear Mudguard and Rack braze on’s and mounts
Campagnolo Xenon Shifting –, Front and Rear Mech
Miche Sporting Shifters, Chain, BB and Cassette. Miche Team Chainset
Miche Excite Wheels
Deda Finishing Kit - Big Logo Stem, Big Microwave Bars, Deda Metal Stick seat post
Selle Italia XO Trans Am saddle
Schwalbe Lugano Tyres
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Viner say, "Designed to take a front and rear rack and mudguards, this bike will allow you to carry load away from your back, keep you head upright in traffic and the muck off your clothes, yet will spin you to your destination with surefooted ease."
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
No problems at all with the frame and fork, they're well put together and nicely finshed. The colour scheme will divide opinion...
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Deda Fire Hydroform Aluminium tubing for the frame, Deda Carbon fork
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's a mid-position hybrid, good for short to medium-length commutes but a bit upright for really long stuff
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's a very stable and assured ride and it's well damped, excellent through town.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, plenty of stiffness although the chainset isn't the stiffest
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Pretty efficient although we had some problems with chain suck
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Not a problem
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Fairly neutral, very precise
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike handled well, it's at its best when cruising although it's agile enough in traffic
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Campag Xenon and Miche sporting shifters get the job done but feel a bit agricultural at times, and we suffered from a bit of chain shenanigans
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
Nicely made wheels that are built to last. They're not light but you could load the bike up without fear.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
It's all good stuff: nothing stands out for good reasons or bad
Did you enjoy riding the bike? yes
Would you consider buying the bike? maybe
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? maybe
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
There's plenty to like about the Viner Buga - not the name, obviously - and it's an interesting alternative to the more established bikes at this price.
Age: 36 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: Schwinn Moab, urbanised with 700cs My best bike is: Trek 1.5 with upgrades
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.