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Vitus Vitesse Evo review

25 Feb 2021
Verdict:

This latest race bike shows top-level performance don’t have to cost the earth. Photography: James Carnegie

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Impressive stiffness • Precise handling • Ample comfort • Great price
Against 
Not the lightest for a race-level bike

Vitus was among the first brands to introduce carbon frames back in the 1980s and it was well ahead of its time with bikes such as the ZX-1, a futuristic carbon monocoque design that in 1991 looked like it came straight from the pages of a comic book.

But despite this pioneering spirit and an abundance of pro wins with Irish legend Sean Kelly, Vitus hasn’t been particularly visible in the top tier in recent years.

During the first decade of the 21st century the company changed hands a number of times and slipped into decline, but Vitus was relaunched in 2009 and renewed investment has seen it slowly returning to prominence.

This, the new Vitesse Evo, is its latest race bike, launched at the tail end of 2020, and it is the company’s main weapon in its fight back to the top flight of road racing. 

All change

I reviewed this bike’s predecessor last summer and while I didn’t detect any significant flaws in its overall performance I did feel it lagged behind its competition in a number of areas.

For a race bike it felt a bit outdated, with few concessions to aerodynamics and lacking the integrated cabling and seat clamps that are now ubiquitous on top-end bikes.

Buy the Vitus Vitesse EVO now from Wiggle

Plus it was a touch on the portly side. But even as I was writing that review Vitus engineers were putting the finishing touches to this new model – one that would address all of my concerns.

This latest Vitesse Evo, says the brand, is the culmination of two years of R&D, with input from both Sean Kelly himself, who remains an ambassador for the brand, and its current sponsored pros at Vitus Pro Cycling Team p/b Brother UK, for whom it will now be their go-to race bike.

 

Key updates include a slightly longer reach and a claimed 11% increase in the stiffness of the head tube, a 9% stiffer rear triangle and upwards of 50% more rigidity at the bottom bracket.

Added to that is a new fork (a claimed 69.5% stiffer than before), which all told makes this new Vitesse Evo a claimed 35% stiffer than the previous version.

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The frame has been given clearance for 32mm tyres, a modest aero makeover (although it doesn’t claim to be a full aero race bike – Vitus has the ZX-1 for that).

Buy the Vitus Vitesse EVO now from Wiggle

It has dropped around 10% in weight too, with a painted size medium now coming in at a claimed 910g, while the carbon layup and move to dropped seatstays has simultaneously helped to procure a dash more rear-end compliance.

 

Rock solid performance

From its first test run the new Vitesse Evo was clearly a different beast to the outgoing model. While the claimed stiffness gains are impossible to quantify, the step up is palpable. The old version was by no means flexy but the new bike felt much more purposeful, especially when paired with the Reynolds AR29 wheelset.

Whether it was head-down charging on the flat, attacking a steep incline or a full-gas sprint, the stiffness shone through impressively. The Vitesse Evo surged forward with every forceful pedal stroke. The front end in particular felt reassuringly steadfast against all-out efforts.

Pleasingly too, the solidity is sufficiently consistent throughout the frame as to leave no feeling of disconnect from front to back. This is highlighted in the handling, which is again noticeably more refined than before.

 

During my test rides the Vitesse Evo responded sharply, precisely and most importantly in a predictable and consistent fashion. What’s more the frame delivered ample comfort, certainly well within acceptable limits for a race-oriented bike.

Hands down the Evo delivers a polished performance. Not only has this latest frame shape met the modern era head-on, it brings appreciable improvements over the older model. And the best one of all is that the price hasn’t been hiked up as a result.

In fact the top-of-the-range Sram Red eTap AXS equipped EVO CRX costs just £4,799, which is far cheaper than many similarly specced bikes and £200 cheaper than the previous version I tested.

Buy the Vitus Vitesse EVO now from Wiggle

But really, unless you want the spangly glitter paint scheme, there’s no reason to buy that model over this model, which costs a significant amount less at £3,749. The performance of Sram’s Force eTap AXS groupset is as good as the flagship offering, the only real sacrifice being a few grams in weight.

If Vitus wants to earn a place back on the A-list once more and to reassert itself as a brand synonymous with the top flight of racing, it’s going the right way about it. Considering these days we are used to seeing pricetags beginning with 7s, 8s, 9s, even 10s of thousands, there’s no denying that this particular spec of Vitesse Evo is a lot of bang for your buck.

Pick of the kit


Sportful Fiandre Light gloves, £50, saddleback.co.uk

I hate wearing thick gloves on a road bike. They reduce dexterity and impair feedback through the bars. I’d never wear gloves at all if I could get away with it, but that’s not practical in winter so I’m always on the hunt for a pair that offers decent protection and some insulation while feeling like I’m not wearing them at all.

Sportful’s Fiandre Light gloves are superb in this regard. The softshell fabric is water-repellent and despite being thin and light, by my reckoning they are good down to about 6-7°C.

Buy the Sportful Fiandre Light gloves from ProBikeKit now

Alternatively…


Top dog

The top-of-the-range Sram Red eTap AXS-equipped Vitesse Evo CRX costs £4,799, far cheaper than many similarly specced bikes from competitors, and has an attractive, shimmering glitter paint finish.

Buy Vitus Vitesse Evo CRX with Red eTap AXS from Wiggle now


Entry level

For just £1,999 you can get the same new Evo frame and fork paired with Vitus’s own-brand Prime carbon wheelset, equipped with the highly dependable Shimano 105 mechanical groupset.

Buy the Vitus Vitesse Evo with 105 from Wiggle now

Spec

Frame Vitus Vitesse Evo CRS eTap AXS
Groupset   Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Brakes Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Chainset Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Cassette Sram Force eTap AXS HRD
Bars Prime Primavera X-Light Carbon
Stem Prime Doyenne Alloy
Seatpost Prime Primavera Carbon
Saddle Vitus Race Performance
Wheels Reynolds AR29, Schwalbe Pro One Performance 25mm tyres  
Weight 7.63kg (large)
Contact vitusbikes.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£4,999.99

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