The Vitus Energie 24 Youth CX bike is a smart-looking machine with a good spec list for the money. The geometry is well designed specifically for kids, which means there is no compromise on riding position – which boosts confidence, especially when the young 'uns are riding off-road.
Since brands like Islabike and Frog have come along, we've had good quality kid's bikes that are well designed with geometry that actually works for growing children. The frame proportions may look quirky compared to adult's bikes, but they are comfortable for kids; being in the correct position only boosts their confidence when riding.
That is exactly what this Energie achieved in the hands of my daughter, Isla. Watching her ride around the local park, on the road or on the gravel trails, she always looked well balanced whether on the hoods, the tops or the drops. When off-road she was also comfortable out of the saddle too.
What helps is that, even in the drops, the front end isn't that low, which gives a feeling of stability – as does the length in the wheelbase. Even with a very short stem the steering isn't overly quick, with the whole bike feeling very stable.
That doesn't mean it's boring though. With a weight of 9.4kg on our scales it's still light for a children's bike.
The 6061-T6 grade aluminium frame creates ride that makes the bike feel lighter than it actually is, plus Vitus's choice of the same material for the fork instead of cheaper, heavier steel means the steering doesn't feel heavy either.
All this makes a bike that is easily controllable, and most importantly, fun. That's the key ingredient after all; make a bike enjoyable to ride and they'll want to keep getting on it.
The Engerie uses an eight-speed cassette with 11-34t cogs paired to a 1x 32t chainring. Isla found that a good spread of gears and, while we didn't exactly go attacking anything too steep, on road rides of ten miles she didn't look to be struggling anywhere.
Keeping a 1x at the front drops weight over a 2x chainset, and keeps things simple too.
The shifting is taken care of by Microshift's R8 cassette, R9 rear mech and R8 shifter. It works well, with solid shifts up and down the cassette, although I'd say it's a little clunkier than the Claris Isla has on her own bike.
The shift levers are the S version, which stands for short reach, and it's a dedicated 1x system so you aren't getting a mismatch of different shifters like you get on some bikes of this size. They worked well enough for her hands, with the button for dropping the chain down the cassette in an easy to reach position at the top of the lever.
The paddle for shifting to lower gears sits further down the lever though, and she found it required quite a firm and long throw to shift to the next sprocket. It's not something she always nailed first time, but it was easier than shifting the brake lever on her Claris shifter.
Vitus has specced Tektro MD-C510 cable-operated disc calipers on the Energie, mated to a 160mm rotor on the front and a 140mm option on the rear. Overall stopping power is impressive without being too grabby, which gives decent control, and braking for those little hands isn't an issue.
The Energie is a cyclo-cross bike, so you are getting a pair of 1.5in Kenda Small Block Eight tyres. They still leave a good amount of clearance on the frame and fork for mud to fall through.
The Small Blocks are good for hard-packed surfaces and softish mud or grass, but anything too wet and sticky will get them clogged quickly. Still, tyres are easily changed should the need arise.
If road is more your child's thing then Vitus offers the Razor, which uses the same frame and fork and wears 1in slicks. Both bikes are available in 24in and 26in wheel sizes.
Speaking of wheels, the hoops here are Vitus-branded and feature 28-hole rims and hubs. They stood up well to a mixture of road and off-road riding, in conditions that were mix of dry and dusty or wet and muddy.
The rest of the build is Vitus branded too, and all components are designed with children in mind. The handlebar has a very shallow drop, and the short saddle Isla found to be very comfortable.
Both sizes of the Energie are £599.99 (as are the Razors) and I think that represents good value for money.
The frame is finished to a high quality, and while the welds aren't the smoothest they do at least give a feeling of robustness, which is exactly what you want on a bike that's likely to be crashed many times as your children grow in confidence.
In terms of competition though, there are some obstacles out there. Boardman offers the JNR ADV for just £480, and it comes with the same groupset and an aluminium frame and fork. They don't offer a 24in wheel size though.
If you are looking for a flat bar bike, my kids recently tested the Boardman JNR Hybrid in both 24in and 26in wheel sizes.
Frog's Road 67 comes with slicks, but also has clearance for wider knobbly tyres. In fact, according to the spec list it comes with both sets of tyres included in its £670 price.
It has a 9-speed Microshift set up, and you also get extra brake levers for riding on the tops, something a lot of kids feel more comfortable with.
The Vitus Energie has a winning blend of low weight and great geometry, which makes it a bike your child will enjoy riding. Watching Isla's confidence grow as she rode it was very satisfying, and it showed that Vitus has got the design right.
Yes, there are cheaper alternatives out there, but for the build quality and the spec list I still say that this bike is worth the money. It's robust enough to be passed down through the family too, and bikes like this often retain their value for resale.
Child-friendly geometry and a robust, well-specced build, topped off with an awesome paintjob
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Make and model: Vitus Energie 24 Youth CX Bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
CHAINSET: Prowheel A10XPP, 32T, Crank Length: 140mm
TYRES: Kenda Small Block Eight, 24" x 1.5"
BOTTOM BRACKET: Cartridge Square Taper, BSA Threaded, 68mm, English
BRAKES: Tektro MD-C510 Disc Brake, Flat Mount, Cable Actuated
REAR DERAILLEUR: Microshift R9, RD-R43M for 8/9/10 Speed
BRAKE ROTORS: Tektro TR160 & TR140, Front: 160mm, Rear: 140mm
HANDLEBARS: Vitus 6061 Aluminium, Reach: 65mm, Drop: 100mm, Width: 340mm
REAR SHIFTER: Microshift R8, SB-R480, 8 Speed
STEM: Vitus 6061 Aluminium, Bar Bore: 31.8mm, Length: 40mm
CASSETTE: Microshift R8, CS-H081, 8 Speed, 11-34T
HEADSET: Neco Semi-Integrated Threadless Headset, 1 1/8', 44 / 28.6 – 44 / 30
CHAIN: KMC X9, 8 Speed
GRIPS: Vitus EVA Cork
RIMS: Vitus Shining, A-M5, 24", 28 Hole
SADDLE: Vitus Steel Rail
REAR RIM: Vitus Shining A-M5, 24", 28 Hole
SEATPOST: Vitus 6061 Aluminium, 27.2mm x 350mm
FRONT HUB: Vitus KT, XF1F-12, 28 Hole, 6 Bolt, 100 x 12mm
SEATCLAMP: Aluminium 31.8mm, Stainless Steel Bolt
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?
Vitus says, "As the appeal of cyclocross continues to grow, so more clubs and juniors are keen to have a go at this exciting discipline. But it's not enough to simply scale down adult race bikes.
The Vitus Energie Kids is a ground-up rethink of how a bike should be built for growing bodies, smaller hands and new young riders who are keen to practise their handling and control. Cyclocross is a great way for kids to quickly improve their riding skills - the tight corners, hills, mud and obstacles - and doing it on a bike that fits and feels right will fast-track their progression and confidence."
The geometry is well designed which gives children great control and confidence when riding the Energie.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There is also a 26in wheeled option alongside the 24in.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's a well finished frame and fork, plus the paintjob is very eye catching.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame and fork are made from 6061-T6 aluminium alloy.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is well designed for the physiology of children, instead of this just being a shrunken adult's bike.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Isla found the ride quality good with no discomfort.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The Energie is stiff enough to cope with spirited riding efforts.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
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 handling is designed to be stable. A short stem keeps things direct, but the geometry keeps it from being twitchy.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Isla liked the shape and padding of the saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
There's a good spread of gears for all but the steepest of hills.
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Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The shift to an easier gear takes quite a long throw of the paddle, but overall the shifting is good and it's good to see short-reach levers.
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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?
It's a tough and durable set of wheels that stood up well to all kinds of conditions.
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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?
These are quality tyres that work well on hardpacked surfaces like gravel and dry mud. Puncture resistance also seems impressive.
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Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The saddle is a comfortable shape, and the shallow drop on the handlebar allows the child to get low, but not extremely so.
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?
The Boardman mentioned in the review is quite a big chunk cheaper, although there is no 24" offering. The Frog is more expensive, but you do get extras thrown in, plus extra brake levers on the tops and an extra sprocket on the cassette.
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Use this box to explain your overall score
A combination of low weight and well designed geometry means this is a very good bike for the budding road, gravel or cyclo-cross rider.
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,
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