As well as the delightful alloy Zenium SL, BikeRadar’s recent sojourn in Spain gave us the opportunity to ride Vitus’ top-end carbon frame, the Vitesse Evo. The Evo is the bike Continental team An Post-Chain Reaction has been racing for the last two seasons, and even if you plump for the cheapest spec, you still get exactly the same frameset the pros ride.
Understated and rich of spec
The Evo offers an impressive spec for the money, with quality Shimano Ultegra components even on the cheapest model
The Vitesse Evo’s carbon frameset is textbook modern race bike stuff, tied up in a package that’s refreshingly-gimmick free. Vitus has taken the radical step of not writing acronyms on every part of the frame, and it’s a design that’s mostly made of straight lines, making for a clean and uncomplicated, if slightly ordinary looking bike. Vitus claims a reasonable if not exceptional weight of 840g for the frame alone – not record breaking, but very respectable.
The frame’s stiffness comes courtesy of the obligatory oversized downtube, a huge BB386EVO-standard bottom bracket shell, and some substantial chainstays. Comfort-adding features are equally unsurprising, with slim seatstays, a profiled top tube and a sensibly narrow 27.2mm seatpost promising compliance. Aesthetic bells and whistles are limited to tidy fully internal cabling and a low key livery – the latter is part of the weight savings actually, as the frame sports waterslide decals and lacquer rather than any paint.
Waterslide decals and a coat of lacquer save weight over a full paint job
While the team uses Campagnolo groupsets exclusively, Vitus sells the Evo in three different Shimano-equipped builds, of which the mechanical Ultegra version on test here is the cheapest. There’s no short-changing on the components, with the only substitution being a good-quality KMC chain.
The wheels are Mavic’s cheapest version of the Ksyrium – not exotic, but dependable stuff, and higher in spec than the rolling stock many bikes at this price level get. They’re shod with 25mm rubber, and if you want bigger this isn’t the bike for you as clearances are fairly tight.
A racy ride for racy riders
I put the Evo to the test in the hills around Calpe, Spain
It’s a horrible reviewer’s cliché to say that a bike goes where you point it (I’ve never ridden one that didn’t), but there’s no doubt that the Evo’s taut frame contributes to a feeling of precision when you’re descending – it’s a thoroughly satisfying bike to throw down a hill. My test ride, which my Garmin tells me took in 93km and 2457m of climbing, included long, technical descents with plenty of fast sweeping turns as well as tight hairpins.
The Evo felt right at home in this terrain and despite a lack of familiarity with the roads, I felt quite secure hammering down them with abandon, braking hard and late before turning in with my weight pressing on the outside pedal.
Simply put, this is a fun bike to ride quickly and this racy personality makes for pleasant ascending too. The comparatively modest Mavic clinchers did nothing to blunt its sprightly climbing abilities and those chunky tube profiles certainly seem to have the desired effect, with none of the fun-robbing flex of lesser machines evident.
If you're getting dropped on the Evo, the problem isn't the bike
If there’s a downside, I’ll need some rougher roads than the ones in Spain to find it. In that environment the bike excels, but the relative firmness over the rare potholes I did encounter suggests the Evo might feel a little too focused for UK riders who aren’t interested in going fast all the time. It’s certainly not a harsh ride, but it’s relatively uncompromising, and in fit terms it’s fairly aggressive too.
The Evo isn’t unique in its abilities – it’s just a thoroughly competent machine and a well-priced one too. There are very few bikes under two grand that get the same frameset the pros are riding, so for that reason alone it’s worth your attention. We’d like to see some more daring colour schemes than the ones currently offered, but for our money, it’s quite the ride.
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