What's Cool In Road Cycling

OPUS VIVACE 1 Review: Quality & Value Raise The Bar

The Opus Vivace 1 is the top line model in the Canadian brand’s rather extensive line up of over 100 different models.  But the sweet spot here is just how much bike they offer for an even sweeter price of under US$3500 ($4400 Canadian dollars) – proprietary designed full carbon frame, Ultegra gruppo and hydraulic disk brakes… this is a lotta bike.

opus vivace 1 bicycle

The Opus brand started in Canada about 10 years ago – and grew out of a desire by the well known Canadian distributor Outdoor Gear Canada (OGC) to seize opportunity when Opus founder Stéphane Lebeau (then an employee of OGC) proposed they design and sell their own line of bikes.  The distributor had a track record of bringing in some pretty big brands to distribute in Canada, successfully growing them, and then losing the business when the motherships took over the business that OGC had built.  Starting their own brand represented a chance for them to do what they were best at – and do it for themselves.

They currently offer over 100 different models ranging in price from Cdn $549.99 – $4999.99 in their lineup – road, trail, city & sport, youth and electric – the result of doing things right in their relatively short life.

opus vivace 1 bicycle view

One surprisingly practical direction the company took a couple years ago was to move entirely into what I’ll call “value-priced” bikes. Like so many brands do – they at one time offered a high end models with price points of several thousand dollars – spec’d to the nines, and as nice as anything on the dealers’ floors.   But going up against top end brands like Trek, Specialized and a slew of other established brands was a tough sell for dealers, whose customers were more willing to spend the big bucks on brands they already knew.  So in another stroke of business genius, Opus management decided to focus on well spec’d but less expensive models that would have a broader appeal, and be an easier sell for dealers.

And that brings us to the Vivace 1 – their top end fast bike built for racing and fast riding of all kinds.  This model along with the…


& Horizon adventure bike are the top-end Opus proprietary designs, dreamed up at company HQ in Canada.

But let’s get back to the Vivace 1…

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle

How did they make a bike this good, for this price?
Simple – they sourced the best production from a place where it’s also the least expensive.  Carbon production has come a long way from when we first started seeing carbon bikes some 15-odd years ago. While once viewed as the place where the worst production of almost everything existed, Asia has transformed into the home of many of the best factories and production sources in the world. Being “made in Asia” no longer a sign of low quality – and when it comes to making a lot of bicycle parts – Asia is as good – if not better, than anywhere in the world. Add in the lower labor costs and Asian production can’t be beat for many brands and goods. Ever wonder why so many of the world’s most expensive luxury brands come with “made in Taiwan / China / insert other Asian country” tags?

So Opus designed their own bike, then took it to one of the best factories in Asia, sent their own engineers to oversee production, and have turned out some very good frames at costs far below what you’d expect from North American or European producers.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle

Material choice also plays a factor. By paying a small weight penalty, choosing less-costly mid-modulous carbon fibre allows for significant cost savings (which are passed on to the consumer).  This grade of carbon also absorbs more road junk, and when designed and layed up right – the ride qualities are very good – and indeed better for many riders who don’t need or want an uber stiff ride.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle frame

And given how many of us roadies are in our 40’s, 50’, and 60’s – a more forgiving ride lets the bike take up the shocks so our bodies can enjoy riding that much longer.  But don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing flimsy or mushy about this bike – the frame is stiff enough to meet almost any riding or racing demand.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle headtube

The head bearing is 1.5″ diameter on the bottom, the industry’s biggest standard platform to stabilize a road fork.  The lower crown race is carbon moulded into the fork to reduce stress while shaving a few grams too – something Opus offers on all their bikes down to $1500 price point.

The 130mm tall headtube allows flexibility to fit a more upright riding position that many mature riders prefer, or a clean racer look with the stem slammed to a height that’s still low enough for elite level racers.  And to give even range for fit, Opus approves the use of up to 35mm of spacers under the stem as opposed to the more standard maximum of 30mm most companies recommend.

That fork is beefed up to handle braking stress, but also roomy enough to take 30mm tires – which means options aplenty to cover many different riding styles and conditions.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle fork

And then we have the hydraulic disc brakes and 12mm thru axles  – designed to UCI standards a couple years before the UCI even adopted them.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle rear triangle

The tube shaping is important too, but so is carbon layup. This is the secret sauce for every quality builder – and how they build in the intended ride qualities for each frame design.  The tubes are large in size, but that big volume also allows for thinner walls to reduce weight, while using the lower cost carbon to keep the price down, while still achieving some admirable ride qualities.

The choice of disc brakes and thru axles is something not yet so common on what a lot of us consider “fast” road bikes. But riding ’em is believing, and closer examination and time spent in the saddle proves just how much the future is here and now.

Adding disc brakes still adds a small weight penalty to the bike, but many agree the increased braking performance is well worth the trade off. But to get the most out of disc brakes also requires slightly heavier hubs and axles – in this case 12mm bolt in thru axles. But it not only improves the braking – it also has a very nice and noticeable positive effect on overall handling.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle disc brake
The big 12mm thru axle does more than just connect the wheel to the forks.  It creates a very strong triangle when bolted into the right and left fork blades – something that comes in handy to anchor the added forces of the disc brake rotor down here.

Compared to standard sized quick release hubs, the larger and way more sturdy thru axle works with the forks and rear stays to form a much stronger triangle to anchor the wheels. This impacts handling in a very positive way by stiffening the bike at both ends, so that rider input goes more directly to forward motion, steering and braking – and in a way that makes the bike respond as you’d expect under these different forces.

All this is especially noticeable for me as I’ve been recently riding a good ol’ steel frame with caliper brakes and standard qr’s. And I’m not saying the Vivace 1 is the stiffest riding bike out there – because there are lots of frame designs and builds (that also cost a ton more) that will satisfy anyone’s craving for a stiffer ride – but most of those are pure race bikes.

The Vivace 1 strikes a very nice balance for a solid and responsive ride, while using cost-effective medium modulous carbon and smart design ideas like a 27.2 mm seatpost to allow the bike to smooth out the road buzz.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle disc brake

The extra strength at both axles can be noticed under a few different riding measures –

  1.  With braking forces now in action near the hub, (vs the outer edge of the wheel at the rim) there’s more leverage also applied to the fork when braking – force that wants to bend the fork in towards the frame.  Enough movement here can change the geometry of a bike – something you really don’t want happening when braking hard under speed .  There’s a lot more physics here than I’m ready to wade into, but let’s just say you want a very solid structure here to resist those braking forces, and leave it at that.   The combo of Opus’ very solid fork and the 12 mm thru axle combine to do what you want.
  2. The small diameter and lightness of quick release skewers really aren’t strong enough to resist the kinds of forces you can generate under heavy braking.  And the bigger and heavier you are – the greater these forces are.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle fork


Opus Vivace 1 bicycle seat stays

The rear triangle is as much about “da business” as the front.  The large volume tubes allow for a bunch more stiffness, while the disc brake placement allows for a nice clean section at the top of the seat stays.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle stem

Cockpit and seatpost are good value from Profile Design – straight forward aluminum designs that also leave room for upgrades, to save weight and change the ride qualities.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle selle italiaThe Selle Italia saddle again leaves room for upgrades, but I’m still using it after many hours of riding, and it’s doing a great job keeping me comfy, and the 27.2 mm seatpost steps in to smooth out the ride on the solid frame.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle ultegra

Drive train is Shimano Ultegra – very nice under all circumstances.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle bottom bracket

Finish details are very good too. Internal cable routing is slick and clean – the kind you don’t even know is there – which is exactly how I like it.   In areas like drop outs, BB edges, and tube joints where we typically can see the signs of lower quality finishing, the Vivace is precisely finished.


Riding this bike became more fun for me the more miles I logged on it. Having ridden dozens of different makes and models over the past 15 years has given me a certain understanding of how various brands and designs perform, but it’s also taught me an important lesson that I can have a great ride on a much wider variety of bikes than I used to think. I think of it as the opposite of getting stuck in your ways – and that’s a good thing as I’ve passed the half-century mark in my own life.

It’s also taught me that just when I think I’ve seen it all – along comes a brand like Opus to illustrate, to my very pleasant surprise – just how good a bike priced under US$3500 (yes that’s $4400 Canadian) can be.  I’ve ridden enough $10K + bikes to have at some point considered myself a genuine snob – but that was back before high quality production and smart designs crossed roads with the cost saving economies of scale we have available today.

I’ve had this bike on the full slate of rides – easy, short, long, hard & fast, and can tell you it performs well across all types. The large fork – head tube – down tube – chains stays make for a very solid bottom end that combines efficient power transfer with positive and precise handling. The seat stays are designed to add enough strength to the back end to control the added braking force from the disc, while not overpowering the comfort quotient.

Opus Vivace 1 bicycle 2018

While my tester was the 2017 model, the 2018 versions feature a couple new colors like this bad ass Stealth Black, and a wheel upgrade to  Argent disc wheels from American Classic, and Shimano Ultegra 8000 gruppo.

Overall it’s a huge value package – full carbon frame from the guys who actually designed it (vs just just bought the design from someone else).  The frame is rock solid, the hydraulic braking exceptional and confidence inspiring, and that price  – under US$3500.  Wham – this one’s a winner.

• See more and find your nearest dealer at OPUSBike.com
• US dealers please contact VITTORIA North America


Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products you see here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper / safe use, handling, maintenance and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

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