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review

Vielo R+1 Alto Classified

9
£6,999.00

VERDICT:

9
10
A fast, fun and comfortable road bike that exploits the clean lines of a 1x with the gear ratios of a 2x
Impressive shifting under load
Large spread of gears
Great ride quality
Hugely stiff
Yet another component to charge
Weight: 
7,870g
Contact: 
road.cc Recommends

This product has been selected to feature in road.cc recommends. That means it's not just scored well, but we think it stands out as special. Go to road.cc recommends

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The Vielo R+1 Alto Classified, the British company's newest bike, has used the latest technology to turn a bike that is 1x only into one that effectively has the gear range of a 2x setup. It has achieved this by incorporating Classified's Powershift rear hub, which keeps the same simplistic and smooth lines that the R+1 is known for while adding versatility, and showcasing what's achievable when it comes to the latest road bike designs.

If you are in the market for a new road bike, do check our best road bikes buyer's guide, which covers machines from a modest £300 to a much less modest £13,000.

What is Classified?

Before I head into how the R+1 rides, just what is Classified's Powershift system and how does it work? After all, it is one of the defining factors when it comes to describing how the Vielo performs.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - Classified system detail.jpg

Since its launch in 2017 Vielo has created its frames solely to work with 1x systems and considering the gearing options available today – especially SRAM's wide-ranging eTap cassettes – this has worked very well.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - top tube 2.jpg

In fact, when I reviewed the Force eTap-equipped Vielo R+1 back in 2020 I was very impressed. Single-chainring builds may not be for everyone, however, which is where this Classified-equipped model comes in.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - Classified system rear hub.jpg

The Powershift hub uses a planetary 2x gear system that operates wirelessly and is powered by contactless energy transfer from the thru-axle. This effectively moves the functionality of the front derailleur into the rear hub. You still use a rear derailleur and a multi-speed cassette in the normal way, it's just that there's no need for two chainrings.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - rear disc caliper.jpg

The system works in much the same way as other internal gears, with one of the gears acting as a simple direct drive and the other gear giving a reduction to 70% of that.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - drivetrain.jpg

For example, if you're used to running a 52/36T chainring setup, Classified recommends you pick a 52T ring. The resulting gearing would be pretty much identical, the Powershift reduction giving you the equivalent of a 36.4-tooth inner ring. And what's 0.4 of a tooth between friends?

Ride

The R+1 is a blend of speed, comfort and fun. Its geometry isn't as aggressive as a full race machine, or even that of some so-called endurance bikes, but from that you get balanced handling that allows you to ride it quickly through bends even if you aren't the most experienced or aggressive bike handler.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - riding 2.jpg

It's a bike that flatters, bringing stability and control to boost your confidence while the steering is still quick enough to help you relish the twisty bits. The wheelbase being a touch over a metre long adds to that planted feel, although the R+1 still manages to feel nimble through switchbacks and swooping corners alike.

There is a huge amount of stiffness through the bottom bracket area and the head tube, so pushing the bike hard is very rewarding. That makes the R+1 a capable sprinter should the need arise, and responsive too on the climbs.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - bottom bracket.jpg

Compared to 1x SRAM Force/Zipp equipped system on the 2020 bike I reviewed, this Classified option is just an extra 170g heavier at 7.87kg – but just as with that bike it feels much lighter on the open road and no slouch in the hills, and you have that reduction in gearing to help you up steeper and more challenging inclines to offset the added weight.

This version does lose a bit of top-end gearing compared to the earlier model, coming with an 11t sprocket rather than the smaller 10t, but not by a huge amount, so you won't see yourself spinning out on the descents that much.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - rear dropout and cassette.jpg

With the 48t chainring paired to the largest 34T sprocket and with the 70% reduction achieved by the Classified hub, there were very few climbs I struggled on. The main benefit of the hub system is that it creates smaller jumps between gears, especially when compared with a 1x system with a wide-ranging cassette. It feels efficient and if you tend to ride in narrow cadence range, it makes a lot of sense.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - crank.jpg

You shift between the hub gears by using a thumb lever that's attached to the bar just below the left-hand shifter and it's relatively easy to use – and as long as you keep the power output below 1,000 watts it'll shift smoothly under load. Maybe not for Mark Cavendish at the business end of a sprint, but that should suffice for the rest of us...

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - Classified system button.jpg

When you use the Classified system with Shimano's Di2 it can be integrated into the shifter itself, so there's no need for the extra button. It would be great if this sort of collaboration could be arranged for SRAM levers because, as it stands, shifting between the two ratios doesn't feel all that natural – you have to drop your thumb to the button, which feels more of an add-on to the groupset rather than being an integral part of it.

One of the main things that shines through from the ride of the R+1 is the comfort. For such a stiff bike the Vielo has quite a plush ride even with the tyres pumped up hard, which is how I prefer them.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - riding 3.jpg

It may be a bit of a cliché, but it really is all about compliance, and Vielo has clearly done a great job with its carbon fibre lay-up and tube profiles.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - front.jpg

There is no flex felt anywhere where it is not wanted, but the R+1 manages to damp any harshness.

Overall, from a ride point of view the R+1 is a well-rounded performance bike without any of the trade-offs of a full-on race machine. If you want a razor-sharp-handling bike then there are more direct, point-and-shoot frames out there, but if you want a bike that you can cover big distances on, at speed and in comfort, then this is a very clever bike.

Finishing Kit

The Classified model is launched today (April 20), so the model you see here is a pre-launch review model, which is why it comes fitted with SRAM Red.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - shifter.jpg

Vielo will offer the production model with a largely SRAM Force D2 eTap groupset, with the Force 48t chainring replaced by a Vielo model and an 11-34 Classified cassette.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - rear mech.jpg

The rear mech is from SRAM's XPLR line-up, which is capable of covering sprockets from 10-44t, allowing you to use a range of different cassette sizes.

I've used the Force groupset on numerous bikes including the Wide AXS version.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - drop bar and lever.jpg

I find the shifting to be quick and crisp, and easy to use thanks to the single button on each lever. One lever moves the chain up the cassette while the other side brings it back down.

The battery life is very good as well, and the recharge time for the rear mech takes just a couple of hours.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - fork detail 2.jpg

You get all the benefits of an electronic system, such as the lack of cable stretch, and if you do need to tweak the gear alignment, is very straightforward.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - front disc brake.jpg
2023 Vielo R+1 Road - rear disc brake.jpg

For the braking Vielo specced a 160mm front rotor, with a 140mm rear. That is plenty of power required for a road bike and SRAM's hydraulic systems give a great feel of modulation for control.

On top of all of that, we've obviously got the Classified system, which we have reviewed reviewed in depth here.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - Classified front hub.jpg

It includes the Powershift hub, and the thru-axle that contains the rechargeable battery and uses Contactless Energy Transfer (CET) technology which wirelessly transfers energy actuation via induction coils.

Yes, it's yet another component that you have to keep charged, but the battery life is said to last around two to three months depending on how much you ride, so you shouldn't have to mess about with it too much.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - Classified wheel.jpg

The wheels are also from Classified, though the production model will get CF R50s, deeper than the CF R35s shown, with a 50mm deep-section carbon fibre rim.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - tyre and rim.jpg

During the review period I found the whole system to work very well indeed regardless of the weather.

Classified's own wheels aren't necessarily that exciting compared to some of the wheelsets you can buy, but they offered decent performance and seemed reliable after riding on rough backroads and smooth main roads alike.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - fork.jpg

Many brands are now offer their wheelsets built around Classified's hubs, so the amount of options are growing.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - seat tube detail.jpg

Vielo will spec Continental's GP5000 on the Classified model in a 32mm width. We've reviewed nearly all the various tyre models in the range, and they are impressive in terms of performance, grip and rolling resistance.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - bars 3.jpg

The handlebar and integrated stem is a revised version over previous models, with a 5mm-deeper steerer clamp that Vielo says provides a stiffer stem. It comes with an out-front computer mount.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - bars 2.jpg

I like the shape of the aero handlebar and, along with the stem section, it is impressively stiff when it comes to efforts out of the saddle.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - saddle 2.jpg
2023 Vielo R+1 Road - saddle 1.jpg

Finishing things off is the Vielo carbon fibre seatpost and a Selle Italia SLR Boost Super Flow carbon saddle.

Frame and Fork

The R+1 comes in two options, with this Alto version's frame weighing around 880g, with the Strato coming in a little heavier at 1,100g.

The only exit or entry point you'll find on the frame is the one for the rear brake hose as it leaves the chainstay. Other than that, it is a completely smooth frame, and the fork is much the same.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - seat tube shape.jpg

I'm a big fan of this yellow paint job with its subtle dark highlights, although there is also a new Cyan Blue colourway too.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road Classified New Colour.jpg

As you can see, the R+1 is far from a conventional road frame, especially at the rear end.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - seat tube detail.jpg

The seat tube, due to the lack of the need for a front mech hanger can wrap nicely around the rear wheel, while the distinctively shaped seatstays sit very low – the R+1 is very much a sleek and aero-looking frame.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - seat tube bosses.jpg

With no need to accept an inner chainring, there's no need to offset the chainstays to accept wheels or tyres, which means they can offer improved lateral stiffness.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - fork clearance.jpg

Vielo recommends a maximum tyre width of 32mm, which is pretty wide for a performance road bike and similar to that found on the likes of Specialized's Tarmac SL7.

The R+1 is available in five sizes, ranging from XS to XL with effective top tube lengths from 505-605mm.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - front.jpg

This one is a medium with a 555mm top tube. Its 142.5mm head tube is relatively short for a bike of this size.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - head tube.jpg

The head angle is a surprisingly slack 71.25 degrees – surprising, as for a bike that handles this well at speed you tend to think of something with a steeper head angle. What we have here is something more akin to a gravel bike – as I say, though, that doesn't show up on the road.

The seat angle is 74.25 degrees, which goes in the other direction as it's steeper than that you'll find on many other road bikes.

2023 Vielo R+1 Road - seat tube and stays.jpg

This gives a stack and reach of 543.9mm and 401.1mm respectively.

The wheelbase is 1,011mm including 400mm chainstays.

Value

The Classified build as specced with the Force groupset and kit mentioned above will be available from Vielo for £6,999, with an upgrade to a Reverb AXS dropper post for an extra £650.

It's hard to say how that compares with the opposition, as while a fair number of brands both large and small have told us they're building Classified bikes, few have actually hit the market yet.

A Vielo R+1 Alto with a Force eTap groupset is currently £7,599 on Vielo's website, although admittedly that comes with Zipp's 303s wheelset (as we reviewed back in 2020), which does make the Classified build look very appealing.

Another British company Handsling has the Powershift-equipped CEXEvo gravel bike in its range and presently in stock. It comes with Parcours Alta wheels, SRAM Force eTap AXS and looks good value at £5699.99. I recently tested and was impressed by the non-Classified Powershift model.

Conclusion

With its 1x build only option the R+1 looks to be the perfect bedfellow for Classified's gear system and the partnership works very well indeed. As I mentioned earlier, I was happy with the 1x 12 speed system on the previous R+1 I tested, which had a huge range of gears but there were big jumps between some of them. The Classified hub reduces the gaps and gives you the equivalent range of a standard 2x setup.

Overall, whatever the gearing, I still consider the R+1 to be a great bike if you want speed and performance, but with the kind of handling that makes it an easy bike to ride for just about anyone. It's also extremely comfortable for a bike with such a stiff frame and fork.

Verdict

A fast, fun and comfortable road bike that exploits the clean lines of a 1x with the gear ratios of a 2x

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Vielo R+1 Alto Classified

Size tested: Medium, 555mm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame set: Vielo R+1 Alto, fully integrated

Brake lever/shifters: SRAM Force D2 E-tap 1 x 12 speed

Battery pack and charger: SRAM

Rear Mech: SRAM Force D2 XPLR E-tap 12 speed 10-44

Chainring and cranks: SRAM Force D2 Wide crank arm with power. Vielo 48T Chainring

Rotors: SRAM CenterLine 140R/160F

Chain: SRAM Force 12 speed flat top

Cassette: Classified 11-34

Wheels: Classified R50 with Powershift system

Tyres: Continental GP5000 700x32c

Saddle: Selle italia SLR Boost super flow carbon

Bar-stem combo: Vielo. With outfront mount

BB: Token Ninja for Dub axle

Bar tape: Vielo Silicone

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?

Vielo says: "1x is no fad. It the logical next step. Lose the second chainring and you gain a beautiful symmetry. Nothing is offset, with a perfectly balanced downtube, bottom bracket and chainstay contributing to 30% greater lateral stiffness. Tube shapes are designed to maximise aero efficiency, and with less cabling (especially in the Alto version) streamlining is optimal and clutter minimal."

The R+1 is a fast road bike which, thanks to well-balanced geometry, isn't limited purely to those with racing aspirations. The Classified rear hub gear system adds versatility to the 1x set up.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

The R+1 Alto is available with a SRAM Red groupset for £9,999, SRAM Force for £7,599 and SRAM Rival for £5,299. All groupsets are eTap AXS, with electronic wireless shifting.

The slightly heavier Strato models that can accept mechanical groupsets start at £3,699 for 105 Di2, going up to £5,699 for the top-end model.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
10/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

The level of manufacturing detail is very impressive, and the paintwork has a deep lustre to it – a bike as beautiful to look at as it is to ride.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Both the frame and fork are made from carbon fibre.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The R+1's geometry is very much performance-orientated without being fully race-focused. It's a welcome balance that allows any of us to ride it hard and fast, while its slightly more relaxed riding position keeps the comfort high. You can find full geometry charts on Vielo's website.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

The size medium we have here has a stack height of 543.9mm and a reach of 401.1mm, which I would say is pretty typical for a bike of this size and style.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The frame delivers excellent comfort levels regardless of how good - or bad - the quality of the road is.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Stiffness is impressive, especially around the bottom bracket when you go to sprint or climb.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Due to the stiffness mentioned above, the full amount of your power goes directly to the rear wheel.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?

No.

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?

The slightly relaxed front end means the handling doesn't become twitchy or fidgety. The whole bike is very balanced and gives excellent levels of feedback, which in turn gives you plenty of confidence to ride hard through the bends.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The frameset does such a good job on the comfort front that you could actually get away with some stiff components without sacrificing long-ride plushness. The Selle Italia saddle was a great shape that I found supportive and comfortable.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

SRAM's Force crankset is one of the stiffest out there, and there isn't much flex from the bar/stem combo either.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

The Classified system brings the efficiency of a 2x 12-speed groupset without the need for two chainrings and a front mech.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
10/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
10/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
9/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

The mix of SRAM and Classified components works very well indeed. The Force components work as well as they always do while the Classified hub allows you to shift under huge loads without issue.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10

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?

A decent set of wheels, but nothing flash. Many other brands are now building wheelsets using Classified hubs.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10

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?

I was very impressed with the performance of the Schwalbe tyres on my test bike although actual models will come with Continental GP5000s. Their performance is also very good too – we rated both the clincher version and the tubeless version very highly indeed.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10

Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)

The controls work very well indeed. I really like the Vielo integrated bar/stem combo for its shape and comfort.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's hard to say at the moment as there are so few Classified built road bikes on the market.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
6/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

The ride quality of the R+1 is very impressive, and I just love the way it behaves on the road. It is responsive and you can ride it very hard indeed without the associated twitchiness of a true race bike, while also being very comfortable.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 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,

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 road.cc 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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