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Just in: VO2 Vesp Tiagra

Full-carbon race bike hoping to make its mark in the crowded £1,000 market

The Vesp is the latest addition to Kent-based outfit VO2 Cycling’s road and TT/triathlon line-up. With a price of £1,000 it’s entering a notoriously competitive market, but a full-carbon frame and fork, Tiagra groupset and Shimano wheels should stand it in good stead.

The Vesp is a race bike. By that I mean the angles are steep, the clearances are tight and the wheelbase is short, so it’s definitely going to be one of those bikes that likes to be ridden hard. It even comes specced with 23mm tyres, remember those?

We’ve got the 54cm in for testing and the Toray high modulus carbon fibre frameset has an equivalent top tube length of 547.7mm, with a head tube measuring 148mm and angles of 73 degrees for both the head and seat. If you go by stack and reach (the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) that’s 555mm and 378mm respectively.

The frame itself is pretty light, with a claimed weight of just 970g for the smallest of the four sizes (49cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm) and 340g for the fork thanks to the inclusion of a carbon steerer.

In a bid to keep the handling tight, VO2 have gone for a tapered steerer and corresponding head tube which allows plenty of surface area to attach the chunky, square-profiled down tube. This, in turn, increases in size to mate with what can only be described as a behemoth of a bottom bracket area.

It’s a style we see on a lot of frames these days where the bottom half is oversized for stiffness and power delivery, the theme continued here with the meaty chainstays, while the upper half is narrowed and slimmed down to promote a little flex and therefore comfort.

The compact sloping top tube means you have plenty of seatpost showing, which, coupled with the svelte seatstays, should in theory take out the harshness from rough roads before it reaches the rider.

For clean lines the Vesp has internal cable routing, which can be either mechanical or electronic. There are some little grommets on the seat tube and down tube for battery and front mech wires.

The aesthetics of the entry points on top of the down tube divide opinion but they do reduce any chance of cable rub. I think they look pretty cool, keeping the cables uncluttered and out of the wind.

The Tiagra build we’ve got here uses the full groupset which includes a 52/36 chainset and 12-25 10-speed cassette; that’s on the racier side of compact gearing, but still a decent enough range to get you up most climbs.

Shimano also provide the wheels by way of their R501s; these are aimed at the Tiagra groupset level so it really is a full groupset. When I’ve ridden these in the past they’ve also offered a decent performance considering their price and make for a great set of training wheels. They’re shod with Continental Ultra Race tyres – again, decent budget performers.

The rest of the finishing kit is from ITM, all alloy in construction as you’d expect at this price point, and sized according to the customer’s measurements as each one is assembled to order. Our 54cm has a 10cm stem and 42cm handlebar, outer to outer. The website spec actually has Deda components listed so we’ll clear that one up for you before we get the full review done.

With its minimalistic form and purposeful racing profile, the San Marco ASP saddle finishes off what looks like a pretty decent package for the budding racer or the more seasoned rider looking for a quality training bike.

If the Tiagra build doesn’t appeal you can always upgrade to 105 (+£250) or Ultegra (+£700) and choose from VO2’s range of wheels. The decals can also be customised to match the colour of your club kit, lucky socks or whatever takes your fancy.

Delivery to the UK and Ireland is included in the price, and if you can make it to VO2’s Kent showroom then a full bike fit is included too.

As mentioned earlier, there is plenty of competition in the £1,000 carbon market, especially from the in-house brands of Planet X and Ribble. I’ve ridden a fair few of those, so we’ll try to get a few comparisons into the full review.

Right then, the sun is shining yet again so we’re going to go and get some more miles in on the Vesp and be back real soon with the full review. For any more details in the meantime, take a look over on

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

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