Ceepo's Viper-R

From it's inception Ceepo has focused its efforts on triathlon-specific bicycles. The 2017 Viper-R is a prime example of Ceepo's triathlon-oriented design. Part one of TriathlonWorld.com's series on bikes built exclusively for triathlon.

| November 3, 2016 | GEAR

Ceepo got its start in the early 1990s when founder Joe Tanaka, an avid triathlete, decided to build his own custom triathlon-specific bike. His first effort was an aluminum frame and he was pleasantly surprised to find himself riding 90 minutes faster in his first long-distance effort on his new bike.

A decade later Tanaka followed with the carbon craze and started manufacturing carbon frames in Taiwan. He would continue to refine his designs and, in 2009, signed a deal with Ironman to become the official bike partner for the M-dot brand.

Tanaka's Ceepo bikes were, in many ways, the precursors to the tri-specific bikes that have become so popular of late - this year we saw Cervelo launch the new P5X and Diamondback's Andean is another bike that won't be UCI legal. (Don't worry - we'll be looking at tri-specific bikes like the Dimond and Ventum in this series!)

Tanaka has qualified for Kona more than a few times, so he's all too familiar with what it takes to be able to ride 180 km fast enough to beat the best Ironman athletes in the world.

When I rode my first Ceepo frame back in 2009 one of the first things someone said to me was "can you cut a steak with that thing?" The super-thin and sleek tubes blew away the UCI 3:1 ratio.

Looks are one thing, but we all know that the most important factor when it comes to a fast ride in a non-drafting race - regardless of the triathlon distance - is how long you can stay in the aero position. Handling, comfort and fit are critical components to a fast bike split and Tanaka and his engineers have steadily improved on the ride quality of the Ceepo bikes. The difference in handling and comfort between the first Viper I rode in 2009 to the latest versions of the bike are impressive - one athlete I work with who bought a Viper earlier this year says its the most comfortable bike she's ever ridden.

Tanaka and his engineers have always done a nice job of keeping the bikes simple, too. While the rear brake is hidden behind the bottom bracket, it remains easy to adjust. The front end of the bikes have always been simple, too, providing lots of different options for bars, stems and fitting.

I had a chance to ride the 2016 Viper last year and was very impressed with the bike. While it's truly at its best on a course like the one in Kona, where you're mostly in the aero position and either driving up gradual climbs or dealing with stiff cross winds, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Viper handled extremely well on technical descents and climbs, too.

We're looking forward to putting the 2017 Viper-R through its paces soon. The latest version of Ceepo's speedster incorporates many of the features that have become the latest craze in tri bikes: integrated storage and aerodynamic drinking options.

The biggest innovation for the 2017 Viper-R is the integrated front end which manages to combine stiffness, performance and ease of assembly. The stem is also combined into the bento box, too, so you get lots of storage in an aero package, too. There's an aerodynamic tool box off the back which uses a simple attachment bracket.

Designed with Di2 in mind, the Viper-R has an accessible battery location in the lower section of the downtube. As has been the norm for the high-end Ceepo bikes for a while, the frame is made with 40T high-modulus carbon and weighs just 1,250g.

Every year we seem to see more and more Ceepo frames at Ironman races around the world, but this isn't just a bike for long-distance racing. You'll see people ripping up Olympic-distance courses on the Viper, too.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the Viper here at TriathlonWorld.com