We're over at CRC today have a gander at their huge warehouse (picture that bit at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark) and also to get a sneak peek at the up-and coming 2012 Vitus bike range - yes, it's 2012 soon on Planet Bike.
These days Vitus is owned by CRC and for next year's range they've teamed up with a cycling legend who knows a thing or two about the marque: Sean Kelly, his relationship with Vitus goes back to the classic 979 frames of the 1980s. Together Sean and the chaps behind Vitus have come up with a new range of bikes for 2012, and a special edition that's described as '2011-and-a-half', meaning you'll probably see it in September.
In fact we we got to see the new bike for the first time at the same time as Sean did which was quite an exciting moment, and he was obviously chuffed that all the hard work had come to fruition. Vitus have had a solid start after the badge was resurrected with this year's range, and the 2012 bikes will be building on that. They're totally new bikes though, and the road range will be built around one Carbon frame and one Aluminium, with a TT bike in the offing too.
The new Carbon frame is a single-piece monocoque; for the moment all the bikes down the range – from the Sean Kelly special edition down through the Venom and Vitesse to the Dark Plasma – will be sharing exactly the same construction, athough with different Carbon layups for the different frames; the moulds will remain the same. Sean's input has been in the geometry and the ride qualities of the frame; he didn't want to end up with a Carbon frame like some he's ridden which he described as 'gummy' - we kind of know what he means there although we expect he's a harsher judge than most! Lighter, stiffer and stronger were the watchwords: the new bike has an asymetric head tube and for now the jury's still out as to whether it'll be a BB30 for 2012, currently it's running with outboard bearings and is apparently stiff enough like that.
The shape of the frame reminds us a bit of the NeilPryde Diablo that we tested last month, with a sculpted head tube and beefy chainstays mated with thin seatstays for a to take some of the sting out of the road add comfort, and filter out road buzz. The big downtube goes from a sort of rounded triangular section ('trianguloid', we decided) to a flattened oval at the bottom bracket for maximum stiffness at both ends, and the top tube is quite heavily flattened. The special edition model is built up with full mechanical Dura Ace, Ksyrium wheelset and FSA Aluminium finishing kit, including the pro's favourite 130mm stem.
The Vitus bikes are pretty competitive for this year but they're working hard to make the bikes even better value. That means that instead of the full Shimano groupsets that the bikes currently come with there'll be more of a mix of kit, with FSA chainsets and brakesets among the changes. That should mean that for a particular groupset the bikes get cheaper, though. Pricing isn't set in stone but the Sean Kelly special edition, of which there will be around 25, will retail for £3,500. As built it weighs in at about 15.5lb without pedals, while we were there the CRC chaps headed off into the depths of the warehouse to look for something suitable and came back with some rather flash-looking Speedplays.
As with last year there'll also be an Aluminium-framed model too, with more hydroformed tubes and smoother welds than the 2011 models. We'll do a full announcement of the range when we have all the details...
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.