Whether you're planning that first step on the road bike ladder or looking for a capable, well-priced mudguard wearer to get you through the year-round commute, the Vitus Razor VR is worth more than a passing glance. With an alloy frame, carbon fork and Shimano Sora groupset, it's a capable machine for its £599.99 price tag.
Vitus is a brand from the past that slipped away, but online retailer Chain Reaction Cycles resurrected it with a 'direct to market' ethos along the lines of Canyon and Rose. What this means is that it can bring very good bikes to the marketplace at very sensible prices.
I remember buying my first road bike back at the turn of the century. I needed to get fit, the gym had been tried to no avail, and having spent my youth riding everywhere on a cheap mountain bike, I decided that splashing the cash on a 'racer' was the thing to do.
Credit card in hand, I ended up in a well-known motor factors, which also happened to sell bikes, and bought what is, effectively – on paper at least – a bike much the same as the Vitus Razor VR: an aluminium frame, with own-brand components, and a Shimano Sora groupset. But boy, what a way we've come.
The Razor is responsive with a great frame and carbon fork, while one of Shimano's entry-level groupsets has become 9-speed and very much refined.
The Razor VR may look relaxed with its long wheelbase, its short, compact top tube and lengthy head tube, but when you look at the figures you realise – no, actually, when you ride it, that's when you think – this is a sporty little number. Vitus itself describes the Razor as having comfort geometry, but when you take a look at the numbers it is actually a little more aggressive than you think.
The stack to reach ratio comes in at 1.44 which is a little bit on the racy side; most race bikes are around the 1.4 mark, with an endurance machine we'd be looking more at the 1.55 mark. (Stack and reach are the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube. For more bike terms/jargon, look here.)
Even though numbers alone rarely define how a bike rides, the Razor follows its datasheet with a sporty ride. The handling is very neutral, ideal for beginners, but still has that edge to engage the more experienced rider. This makes it great as a winter commuter no matter what your skill level.
For its weight the Vitus responds well to rider input. Acceleration and climbing are slightly better than expected of a 9.5kg bike, especially if it's already rolling – pushing off from a standing start can be a bit of a grind.
Through the bends, the Razor is confident – maybe not as sharp in the corners as a pure race bike, but you won't be left wanting. It's still engaging.
If you really have to push the Razor hard, you do notice a small amount of flex at the bottom bracket shell, which is rather tiny compared with modern standards. Even the straight head tube – when we're used to seeing tapered – looks absolutely dinky in comparison. But really, the Vitus isn't likely to be ridden that hard, it's not that kind of bike.
While the head tube may not be tapered, the down tube certainly is, with a bulbous profile that extends horizontally at the head tube end before flaring out laterally at the bottom bracket, making the most of any available weld areas for stiffness.
On rough roads, the alloy frame never feels buzzy like some of old. The Razor absorbs a lot of road imperfections thanks to its double butting, and the carbon fork takes a fair bit of sting out too.
The frame itself may look a little 'agricultural' when you take in its unsmoothed welds, but for the money there's little to complain about. It's well finished, especially when you add the metallic paint job.
Gears, brakes, wheels
The Razor's groupset is pretty decent for a sub-£600 machine: near full Shimano Sora, apart from the Octalink chainset – a real blast from the past and something that does suffer in the stiffness stakes, though it's an easy upgrade to sort out. Pairing a 50/34T chainset with an 11-28 cassette gives a large spread of gears, even if there are a few gaps in the range, considering it is only 9-speed.
The brakes are Tektro R315, deep drop to accommodate the mudguards the Razor is designed to accept. Braking performance is pretty solid, so you won't need to make an upgrade here.
Wheels and tyres are nearly always an upgrade waiting to happen on an entry-level bike, but here I don't reckon it is an instant necessity. The wheels are Vitus branded and they roll well while remaining true. The bearings seem pretty good too, as they took in plenty of wet rides without any issues.
Kenda Kriterium tyres are pretty basic with their wire bead and minimal 60tpi construction, but they roll surprisingly well considering. They're 25mm wide, but the Razor can accept wider. The only downside with ours was the fact that they had started to crack and perish around the edge of the tread, but it's hard to say how long they've been on the test bike.
As for the contact points, it's all Vitus branded and is as you'd expect: basic aluminium stuff that gets on and does its job.
The handlebar is oversized at the clamp but seriously reduces in diameter where your hand grips, and could do with more padding for comfort. The thin bar tape that comes as standard isn't really enough.
The saddle should get a special mention. It's a personal matter, but I found it superbly supportive without being overly squidgy, and the curved shape suits a lot of riding positions.
On the value front, the Vitus looks pretty good, but it is up against some pretty stiff competition, most notably the Verenti Technique recently tested, which comes with a Shimano Tiagra groupset, full carbon fork and a tapered head tube for just £50 more.
Overall, the Razor is a great bike whether you're a new rider or more experienced and looking for a stable winter machine that'll be happy in rubbish weather conditions, especially as its composed road manners make it so easy to live with.
Ideal first road bike, and with the ability to use mudguards it would make a great quick commuter too
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vitus Razor VR
Size tested: 54
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
"Equally at home on long winter training rides or daily commutes to the office; the Razor VR combines incredible value, sharp looks handling into a bike that's equally at home on a year-round commute as it is in the sportive peloton.
The Razor VR features a Shimano Sora groupset with Vitus wheelset and finishing kit to complete the package.
Lightweight 6061-T6 Alloy Frame With T700 HM-UD Carbon Fork With Alloy Steerer
Our lightweight 6061-T6 alloy frame has been designed with all year riding and commuting in mind. Up front we have added a T700 HM-UD carbon bladed fork with alloy steerer to reduce road buzz from rough sections of road for increased rider comfort.
We have added ample clearance for mud guards and added eyelets for ease of fitment on both frame and fork. Additionally we have included pannier rack mounts to broaden the bikes capabilities as an all rounder for commuting and social riding.
Our comfort geometry offers a more relaxed riding position which translates into increased comfort and reduced rider fatigue, a feature that we have come to appreciate ourselves when making early morning commutes when carrying a bag on our back."
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Frame: 6061-T6 Alloy
Forks: High-modulus T700 HM-UD carbon
Chainset: Shimano FC-345
Bottom Bracket: Shimano Octalink
Shifters: Shimano Sora 3500
Front Derailleur: Shimano Sora 3500
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Sora 3500
Cassette: Shimano HG300
Chain: Shimano HG-53
Rims: Vitus alloy
Front Hub: Vitus alloy
Rear Hub: Vitus alloy
Front Brake: Tektro R315
Rear Brake: Tektro R315
Handlebars: Vitus compact
Headset: Token A1M integrated
Seatclamp: Vitus bolt
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A rather'engineered' finish to the welds but exactly as expected on a frame of this price and they do the job. Finished off with a metallic paintjob which is hardwearing against scuffs and knocks.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from aluminium alloy in a 6061-T6 grade while the frame also uses an alloy steerer but with high modulus T700 legs.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is more relaxed than a race bike but the Vitus will still crack on at a decent speed. A shorter top tube and taller head tube than normal makes for a slightly more upright and therefore comfortable ride.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Our 54cm has a stack of 550.6mm and a reach of 381mm arriving at a ratio of 1.44, a little racier than many other bikes of this type.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, the alloy frame is not harsh at all.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The stiffness is pretty good. A little bit of flex if you really push it around the bottom bracket.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, for an entry-level bike it is surprisingly sprightly.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
A little, it'll be made worse with mudguards too, so something to keep in mind.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's surefooted and a very easy bike to ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Vitus saddle is firm enough to be supportive while offering comfort, though the Vitus handlebar is stiff and could really do with some thicker handlebar tape.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
After a good few years of riding oversized bottom bracket shells in both diameter and width, you can feel how flexible the old school Octalink version is.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Kenda Kriterium tyres roll pretty well.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
9spd Sora is a good groupset, especially on a bike of this price. My first upgrade would be to a Sora crankset, though, as the Octalink is very outdated.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so, what for?
The Vitus branded wheels are of a decent quality and roll well. Spoke tension and trueness remained good throughout the test period.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so, what for?
The Kenda Kriteriums are actually quite supple considering the casing is only 60psi and they stood up well to punctures. Our test models were starting to crack and perish around the edge of the tread, though.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Vitus branded finishing kit is basic stuff but it is perfectly adequate. The handlebar diameter beneath the tape is quite narrow so they really need plenty of tape to take the sting out.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Vitus Razor VR is a really good entry-level bike that is also suitable as a second ride for year-round commuting. A quality frame and finishing kit mean it stands up well against its more expensive competition.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.