Vitus Vitesse VRi £2799.99

Mail order road bike with Ultegra Di2

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

There are seven frame sizes of Vitesse to choose from, so everyone should find one to fit. Once you do, the position is instantly speed-friendly – apt for a bike from the brand once ridden by Classics winner Sean Kelly, now a brand ambassador for Vitus.

  •  Highs: Enjoyably friendly ride and performance-enhancing components at a great price
  •  Lows: The rear end is harsh in comparison to the front, and it requires DIY fettling in the absence of a shop’s services
  •  Buy if: You want an enjoyable, friendly, bargain all-rounder and you already know your way around a bike

While the frame is relatively heavy – significantly more than the sub-kilo claimed by Vitus – the weight of the complete bike is competitive. Add a slightly stiffer carbon layup around the conventional bottom bracket for 2013 and you don’t feel shortchanged on payback if you press the pedals hard or point the Vitesse upwards.

The stiff and light Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels also put an obvious positive spin on any power you can provide through the full Ultegra transmission. The impressive spec for the price highlights the value of buying direct.

The short head tube allows you to get down low

The excellent Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres won’t need any introduction to review scouts either. Combining smoothness with serious rolling speed and totally trustworthy dirty, wet or sub-zero traction, they’re our favourite fast tyres for many reasons and a real boost to the velocity and confidence of the Vitesse. Their larger than average volume also underlines an already rough-road-calming feel from the smoothly sculpted mid-sized mainframe tubes. 

Add a well-shaped FSA handlebar and tapered leg fork and the front end of this Irish rover won’t unduly punish you for taking the most scenic rather than the smoothest route, though the big, flat wishbone at the top of the seatstays and the oversized alloy seatpost don’t take any prisoners if you don’t lift off the saddle when things get choppy and chattery.

That saddle is a firm but supportive colour matched Prologo Scratch Pro, which gave a glove-like fit for all our testers with a get-up-and-go attitude.

Prologo’s Scratch saddle proved very popular with our testers

The Vitus’ short wheelbase makes dodging the worst bits of road acne relatively easy, though. The slight compliance up front translates to rich traction and confident descending rather than nervous noodling, even on the twistiest Yorkshire Dales descents.

While it’s not fashionable, the straight pull, externally routed cable for the Ultegra rear brake also gives outstanding clarity for control even in the sketchiest of riding conditions. 

The drinks bottle, cage and basic tools in a drawstring bag do compensate slightly for the fact that the Vitus will be delivered to you by the postman, but without a shop to help set it up it’s definitely a buying method best suited to more experienced riders.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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