Vitus Bikes first emerged as a frame builder in 1970s France; the brand is now part of Chain Reaction Cycles, offering some highly impressive models at very good prices.
The original Vitus was a brand of tubing manufacturer Ateliers de la Rive and is best remembered for the 979 aluminium frames of the late Seventies and early Eighties, produced in a joint veture with Bador and CLB-Angenieux. The bonded construction was revolutionary at the time and the small-diameter tubing (actually standard size for the era) provided plenty of comfort at the expense of a certain amount of rigidity. Vitus is also known for having been an early adopter of carbon-fibre.
Test ride the new Vitus range at road.cc's Bike Live Demo Day in Cannock on April 21
Nowadays the Vitus brand is owned by the Wiggle-CRC group and sells through Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle. The group's immense buying power means prices are competitively low. The current range of road bikes comprises (in escalating order of price) the Razor, Zenium, Venon, Vitesse Evo and ZX1.
We'll also look at the new Substance multi-surface models and the Energie cyclocross bikes.
The Razor is Vitus' cheapest line of aluminium road bikes with prices as low as £499.99. The 6061 alloy double butted frame (the central sections of the tubes have thin walls to save weight and add comfort while the ends are thicker for strength and durability), which is the same across the range, has been redesigned for 2018. The geometry sits somewhere between that of a race bike and an endurance road bike, so your ride position is fairly relaxed without being too upright.
The Razor is built with slim seatstays that are designed to flex slightly to provide comfort, and comes equipped with mudguard mounts. All models are fitted with 28mm tyres for more comfort. The drivetrains are Shimano throughout while the brakes are from Tektro.
The opening model, the Razor Claris (£499.99), is built up with Shimano's entry-level groupset gearing and a carbon legged fork. This one is bound to sell well in 2018.
The £599.99 Razor VR, available in both standard and women's versions (above), is similar but you step up to nine-speed Shimano Sora gears.
The VRX (£699.99) comes with Shimano's 10-speed Tiagra gearing and Shimano brakes.
Buy if: You want an entry-level aluminium road bike that offers lots of value.
Although all of the Zenium bikes are made from aluminium, the two cheaper models are built from 6061-T6 alloy while the two more expensive SL models are built from 6066 alloy and are lighter. Aside from the material, the frames are identical, each coming with a hydroformed top tube and slim seatstays. The idea is that this increases the amount of give in the frame to enhance comfort and reduce fatigue.
Whereas the Razor bikes (above) come with rim brakes, the Zeniums have disc brakes and hidden mudguard mounts adding to the appeal for commuters and all-weather riders. There’s no brake bridge between the seatstays but there are bolts for fitting one if you want to run mudguards. The Zeniums come with 52/36-tooth chainsets and have clearance for tyres up to 28mm wide.
The £899.99 Zenium Disc features a full carbon fork, Shimano Tiagra gearing with a 10-speed cassette, Shimano RS-170 wheels and TRP's cable-operated Spyre brakes. Vitus has crammed a lot of value onto this bike.
Pay £1,099.99 for the Zenium VR Disc and you'll get Shimano 105 (11-speed) gearing and hydraulic disc brakes. Again, this looks like great value for money.
The other two Zenium bikes in the range are built around the SL version of the frame. They have carbon seatposts rather than the alloy posts of the cheaper models, and DT Swiss instead of Shimano wheels.
The £1,299.99 Zenium SL VR Disc (above) features Shimano 105 components but this time with DT Swiss E1800 wheels, while the £1599.99 Zenium SL VRX Disc has Shimano's second-from-top Ultegra groupset and DT Swiss' tough ER1600 wheels.
When we reviewed the 2017 Vitus Zenium SL Disc we said, "Vitus Bikes has kicked another goal with the Zenium SL, a fast endurance bike with the superior stopping power of disc brakes, a fun and fast frame and an excellent-value spec."
Buy if: You're after a disc-equipped bike that's suitable for everything from commuting to big rides at the weekend.
The Venons see us move into carbon fibre territory with a frame that's new for 2018. These are sportive/endurance road bikes, designed to put you into a riding position that's a little less stretched and more upright than previously – certainly a more relaxed setup than you get with a full-on race bike. All models are equipped with disc brakes and have clearance for tyres up to 30mm wide.
The range kicks off with the Venon Disc Tiagra (£1,299.99) which has a spec very similar to that of the Zenium Disc with Shimano Tiagra gearing, Shimano RS-170 wheels and TRP Spyre cable-operated disc brakes. This model is specced with a compact chainset whereas all the others use 52/36-tooth chainrings.
The Venon CR Disc 105 (£1,699.99) has a similar spec to the Zenium SL VR Disc: Shimano 105 components, including hydraulic disc brakes, with DT Swiss E1800 wheels.
A women's version of this model (above) has a shorter stem and narrower bars as well as a women's specific saddle.
The Venon CRX Disc Ultegra (£2,099.99) is the equivalent of the Zenium SL VRX Disc with Shimano's second tier Ultegra groupset (obviously!) and DT Swiss ER1600 wheels.
It's a big step up to the top-level Venon CRI Disc Ultegra Di2 at £2,899.99, but if you're willing to pay the extra you'll get excellent electronic shifting and RR-38 wheels from Prime (a Chain Reaction Cycles brand) with a 38mm rim depth. All of Vitus's Di2-equipped bikes have Prime wheels for 2018.
Buy if: You're looking for a carbon fibre endurance road bike and you value the all-weather stopping power of disc brakes.
The Vitesse Evo is a lightweight race bike that's available in rim brake and disc brake versions, both of them UCI accredited. The rim brake models have clearance for 25mm tyres while the disc versions will take 28s.
The frame is made from T700 carbon with an oversized down tube, an oversized bottom bracket and a tapered head tube, and the fork is made of the same material. As you'd expect, the geometry puts you into a low and aggressive ride position – a traditional race bike setup. All models come with Shimano groupsets and 52/39-tooth chainsets. The rim brake models have 11-28-tooth cassettes and the disc brake models feature 11-30s.
When we reviewed the 2017 Vitus Vitesse Evo Disc Ultegra we described it a "fast and responsive race bike that excels on descents and is no slouch on climbs". We called it "an affordable package, backed up by superb performance".
The most affordable model in the 2018 range is the Vitesse Evo 105 at £1,499.99. Alongside the very reliable Shimano 105 groupset you get DT Swiss P1800 Spline 23 wheels.
The £2,299.99 Vitesse Evo CR Ultegra is good value with Mavic's reliable Ksyrium Elite wheels. Vitus really hasn't skimped on the spec here with Ritchey bars and stem and a Fizik Antares saddle.
If you can stretch to £2,799.99 you can get the Vitesse Evo CRI Ultegra Di2 with electronic shifting and Prime RR-38 carbon wheels.
The highest specced model is the Vitesse Evo Team Dura-Ace (above, £3,699.99) with the mechanical version of Shimano's top level groupset, Mavic's deep section Cosmic Pro Carbon wheels and a Fizik Antares saddle. That's a lot of excellent kit for the money.
You can choose between two disc brake models, the cheaper of them being the £2,399.99 Vitesse Evo VR Disc Ultegra with Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. The Vitesse Evo Cri Disc Di2 (£2,999.99) has a Shimano Ultegra groupset too but this time in its electronic format. This model has Prime's RR-38 carbon wheels.
Buy if: You're looking for a responsive carbon race bike that performs well across the board.
The Vitus ZX1 was a carbon fibre monocoque race bike launched way back in 1991 by Vitus 1.0. The name has been revived for 2018 on this new model that has been in development since 2014. Like the original, this version has aerodynamic features: the Kammtail tube profiles are designed to reduce drag, for instance, and the fork crown integrates with the frame. The new ZX1 takes disc brakes, comes with an asymmetric bottom bracket and chainstays and the wheels are held in place by thru axles front and rear.
The most affordable model is the £1,999.99 ZX1 Aero Disc 105 which, as the name indicates, is built up with Shimano’s mid-range and highly regarded 105 groupset. The wheels are Mavic Cosmic Elite Discs with 30mm-deep aluminium rims fitted with Continental’s entry-level Ultra Sport II tyres.
Step up to the ZX1 CRI Aero Disc Ultegra Di2 (£2,999.99) and you get Shimano’s second tier road groupset, including electronic shifting, and Prime’s RP-50 carbon-rimmed wheels. This one might well be the pick of the bunch in terms of value.
The highest specced ZX1 is the Team Aero Disc Dura-Ace (above, £3,999.99) which comes with the mechanical version of Shimano’s top tier groupset along with DT Swiss ARC 1100 DiCut wheels in a 48mm depth.
The 2018 Vitus ZX1 isn’t yet available for test so we can’t tell you how it rides, although we will be putting together a review as soon as we can.
Buy if: You’re after a race bike with aero features and plenty of value.
The Substance bikes are entirely new for 2018, each model built around a 4130 chromoly steel frame with mounts for racks and mudguards. Vitus sees the Substance as a tough adventure bike/all-rounder that's able to handle various different road surfaces, the idea being that you can use it for everything from commuting to bike packing. The two cheaper Substance models have quick release 700C wheels, while while the two more expensive models — designated V2 — have 650B wheels and thru-axles.
The Substance range starts with the £699.99 Substance Sora which is built up with a chromoly fork, Shimano’s fifth tier road groupset and TRP’s cable operated Spyre disc brakes. The 48/32-tooth FSA VeloPro chainset is paired with a 9-speed 11-32-tooth cassette to help you get up steep hills fully laden. 37mm-wide tyres will keep the ride comfortable even over rough roads.
The £799.99 Substance Tiagra (above) moves you to a 10-speed drivetrain.
The first of the V2 models is the £1,199.99 Substance V2 105. You won't be shocked to learn this has a Shimano 105 groupset with hydraulic brakes. However, the chainset is a 48/32 FSA Omega Adventure Mega-XO for a gear range that should get you up just about anything with the 11-32 cassette. It rolls on WTB Frequency Race i23 TCS 650B wheels with WTB Byway 47mm tyres.
For £1,299.99, the Substance V2 Apex1 has a single 40-tooth chainring and a wide-range 10-42-tooth cassette, with the same WTB wheel and tyre combination. Single chainrings are popular on gravel bikes for their simplicity and give away very little in gear range: the Substance V2 Apex1 has lower top and bottom gears than the 105 version, but not by much.
We’ve not yet reviewed the Substance so can’t comment on how it rides, but it looks like you're getting high value for money here.
Buy if: You’re looking for a multi-surface bike with plenty of versatility.
Vitus offers four Energie cyclocross bikes, two with aluminium frames and two with carbon fibre. They all feature disc brakes, SRAM 1X drivetrains with a 40-tooth chainring and an 11-32 cassette and Novatec hubs laced to WTB rims, although the level of the wheel components varies.
The entry-level model, simply called the Energie (£999.99), is built around a triple-butted 6061-T6 aluminium frame with a T700 unidirectional carbon fibre fork. This one comes with Sram's Apex components, including hydraulic disc brakes.
The Energie VR uses a 6061-T6 aluminium frame and you step up a level to SRAM's Rival groupset, although this time it'll cost you £1,199.99.
For £1,599.99 you jump up to a T700 carbon fibre frame and the Energie Carbon CR Rival 1, with SRAM's Rival components.
The £1,799.99 Energie Carbon CRX, above, has the same T700 carbon frame and fork. It still gets a 1x drivetrain, in this case Force, which is second only to Red in SRAM's hierarchy.
Buy if: You’re after a race-ready cyclocross bike with a 1x drivetrain.
Vitus Bikes full 2018 road range
|Model||Bike type||Frame material||Groupset||Brakes||Price|
|ZX1 Team Aero Disc Dura-Ace||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace||Disc||£3,999.99|
|ZX1 CRI Aero Disc Ultegra Di2||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Disc||£2,999.99|
|ZX1 Aero Disc 105||Aero||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,999.99|
|Vitesse Evo CRi Disc Ultegra Di2||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Disc||£2,999.99|
|Vitesse Evo CR Disc Ultegra||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Disc||£2,399.99|
|Vitesse Evo Team Dura-Ace||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Dura-Ace||Rim||£3,699.99|
|Vitesse Evo Evo CRi Ultegra Di2||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Rim||£2,799.99|
|Vitesse Evo CR Ultegra||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Rim||£2,299.99|
|Vitesse Evo 105||Road||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Rim||£1,499.99|
|Venon CRi Disc Ultegra Di2||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra Di2||Disc||£2,899.99|
|Venon CR Disc Ultegra||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Ultegra||Disc||£2,099.99|
|Venon CRW Disc 105||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,699.99|
|Venon CR Disc 105||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,699.99|
|Venon Disc Tiagra||Endurance||Carbon fibre||Shimano Tiagra||Disc||£1,299.99|
|Zenium SL VRX Disc||Road||Aluminium||Shimano Ultegra||Disc||£1,599.99|
|Zenium SL VR Disc||Road||Aluminium||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,299.99|
|Zenium VR Disc||Road||Aluminium||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,099.99|
|Zenium Disc||Road||Aluminium||Shimano Tiagra||Disc||£899.99|
|Razor VRX||Road||Aluminium||Shimano Tiagra||Rim||£699.99|
|Razor VRW||Road||Aluminium||Shimano Sora||Rim||£599.99|
|Razor VR||Road||Aluminium||Shimano Sora||Rim||£599.99|
|Razor Claris||Road||Aluminium||Shimano Claris||Rim||£499.99|
|Energie||Cyclocross||Aluminium||SRAM Apex 1||Disc||£949.99|
|Energie VR||Cyclocross||Aluminium||SRAM Rival||Disc||£1,199.99|
|Energie Carbon CR Rival 1||Cyclocross||Carbon fibre||SRAM Rival||Disc||£1,599.99|
|Energie Carbon CRX Force 1||Cyclocross||Carbon fibre||SRAM Force 1||Disc||£1,799.99|
|Substance V2 Apex||Gravel||Steel||SRAM Apex 1||Disc||£1,299.99|
|Substance V2 105||Gravel||Steel||Shimano 105||Disc||£1,199.99|
|Substance Tiagra||Gravel||Steel||Shimano Tiagra||Disc||£799.99|
|Substance Sora||Gravel||Steel||Shimano Sora||Disc||£699.99|
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.