BLB VIPER PRO
Brick Lane Bikes started as the dream of a courier with the sole aim of creating the first all-track bike shop in the UK. The small but perfectly formed East London shop soon grew into a Mecca for Europe’s fixed fraternity. The shop’s success stimulated BLB to launch its own bike range, which now includes fat bikes, commuting numbers and singlespeeds. But its original fixed remit still looms large, as seen by the Viper Pro…
First things first, the Viper’s unabashedly a bike designed for racing, which becomes clear at the sizing options. You see, while it comes in four sizes – small, medium, large and extra large – it features an integrated seatpost, designed to keep the weight down and increase rigidity. BLB will cut the post down to your individual measurements, which might limit resale value but should ensure power’s transferred with less wastage. It might be princess-and-pea stuff, only measurable in the labs, but the Viper certainly feels fast.
It’s crafted from 6061 aluminium, commonly used by many manufacturers as it’s easier to handle than many alloys and so reduces frame production costs. However, BLB has gone the extra mile by using double-butted tubing, which means you can shave further weight without sacrificing strength. It’s a feeling that’s noticeable from a standing start where, yes, it takes effort to crank up to max speed, but once there it just keeps going, enhanced by a burly seattube and bottom bracket. And a standing start’s what many of you will seek to master, as although it’s a racing thoroughbred, proficient urbanites can happily unleash their skillset within the inner-city network. Whether you’d want to retain the BLB’s Notorious 90mm carbon rear and H+Son 42mm upfront in urban streets is questionable for urban riding, though; in fact, especially if the weather’s inclement, it’s worth having a spare set of shallower rims upfront and outback to slot in. Those with Hoy quads might also look to upsize the 47t crankset we tested to 48t or even 49t.
Messengers look away now but, on our request, BLB supplied our Viper with a front brake. You can go without, saving handlebar clutter and £32.99, or you can add a rear brake to the front for a further £65.98. The head angle of our XL model is a pretty steep 75°, again highlighting its racing DNA. Just be aware that it twists and turns with your every movement, albeit the 35mm tapered fork adds a degree more control when fighting switchbacks.