2017 Vitus Venon VR first ride review£1,749.99

The Vitus Venon VR may one of be the best value road bikes on the market

Vitus recently invited us to Calpe, in the south of Spain, to attend the launch of this year's An Post CRC youth development squad and to try out some of the new bikes in its 2017 line up. We sent staff writer, Jack Luke, out on the updated Venon VR Ultegra disc along the (usually) sun-kissed coast, that many teams call home during the winter training camp season, to see how the bike stacked up.

Vitus Venon VR carbon disc 2017 spec overview

I took the updated Venon VR disc for a spin and so far we're pretty impressed
I took the updated Venon VR disc for a spin and so far we're pretty impressed

  • Frame: T700 HM-UD carbon
  • Forks: High-modulus T700 HM-UD carbon
  • Chainset; Shimano Ultegra 6800
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano Ultegra 6800
  • Shifters: Shimano ST-RS 505
  • Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800
  • Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra 6800
  • Cassette: Shimano 105
  • Chain: KMC X11L
  • Wheelset: FSA Vision Team 30 Disc Brake
  • Tyres: Michelin PRO 4
  • Brakes: Shimano BR-RS 505
  • Handlebars: Vitus compact
  • Stem: Vitus
  • Headset: Token A38M
  • Saddle: Vitus
  • Seatpost: Vitus UD Carbon

Vitus Venon VR frame and equipment

Although it may look stealthy, I do wish the bike came in something other than boring ol' black
Although it may look stealthy, I do wish the bike came in something other than boring ol' black

The Vitus Venon VR disc carries over the same frameset as the 2016 version with spec updates and a facelift throughout the whole range.

The updated bike now comes with a (pretty much) full Ultegra groupset
The updated bike now comes with a (pretty much) full Ultegra groupset

To start, gone are the mechanical TRP Spyre brakes of the previous generation of the Venon and every model is now outfitted with a full hydro brake set up.

Vitus supplied me with a top-end, Venon VR which — barring the shifters and brakes which are 105 level — now comes with a full Ultegra groupset.

Vitus has employed a skinny, wishbone seatstay to improve comfort
Vitus has employed a skinny, wishbone seatstay to improve comfort

The geometry numbers are pretty typical for an endurance geometry road bike, with a tall-ish headtube, long-ish wheelbase and slack-ish headtube all aiming to make the Venon as smooth a ride as possible.

All cables and hoses are routed internally through neat little interchangeable ports on the downtube and the frameset is fully Di2 compatible.

The bike has interchangeable rear dropouts — ours was set up with 135x9mm QRs and felt plenty stiff
The bike has interchangeable rear dropouts — ours was set up with 135x9mm QRs and felt plenty stiff

Interestingly, the rear-end can be swapped between a 142 x 12mm or 135 x 9mm QR via interchangeable dropouts, so if you happen to have some posh wheels lying about in either configuration, you’ll be covered.

Coming in at a very impressive £1749.99 ($2099, AU$2799.99), you certainly appear to get a lot for your money for your on paper.

Vitus Venon VR ride impression

After a morning of kicking about the hotel waiting for some truly biblical weather to pass, I headed to the hills in the early afternoon — and into the rain which had returned with a vengeance — with the young roster of the An Post CRC team who were all itching to escape the confines of their temporary home in Calpe.

Poor Sean was less than impressed by the weather. I personally couldn't stop smiling while getting to ride next to a true legend in cycling
Poor Sean was less than impressed by the weather. I personally couldn't stop smiling while getting to ride next to a true legend in cycling

I spent the first 20 minutes of the ride spinning up some gentle gradients at an exceedingly casual pace, following a photographer’s car among a giant pack of journalists and sponsors who were clamouring to get a photo with Sean Kelly who was leading the group.

After much slow speed wobbling, we eventually crested the hill and while most (probably wisely) opted to turn back towards the warmth of the hotel, I joined a small group of five riders who had decided that they wanted to do a longer ride along the coast.

Unsurprisingly, climbing at such a slow pace while exposed on the side of a coastal hill in the rain left me absolutely frozen to the core and as we hit the first descent I was thankful that my clumpy, numb hands didn’t have to work hard for the effortless power afforded by the 105 hydro disc brakes.

I was very impressed by the performance of Michelin's Pro 4 tyres
I was very impressed by the performance of Michelin's Pro 4 tyres

Safe in the knowledge that I could stop in good time, I let loose on the sodden, winding and fast descent and quickly found confidence in the ride quality of the 25mm Michelin Pro 4 Service Course tyres.

When mounted up to the stock FSA Vision Team 30 wheels — with their relatively generous internal width of 18.9mm — the tyres plumped up to a healthy 26mm, allowing me to drop a little pressure and take full advantage of their supple casing.

Getting as sideways as I dared, my unwillingness to risk sliding out on a high-speed descent was the limiting factor here and I left very impressed with the performance of this wheel-tyre combination, particularly on a £1,750 bike.

Heading further along the coast, I had a chance to work my spindly and cold-weary legs into a lactic stupor along some fast paced, rolling terrain.

The carbon seatpost aided the smooth ride of the Venon VR
The carbon seatpost aided the smooth ride of the Venon VR

Climbing out of the saddle, the ride quality of the Venon frameset struck me as very stable and smooth without feeling particularly wallowy. It’s no rocket, but this bike is designed for long days in the saddle, not brutal, short efforts.

The 44cm bars matched with the long, 105 shifters make for a pretty reachy set up
The 44cm bars matched with the long, 105 shifters make for a pretty reachy set up

It’s worth noting that the combination of the already lengthy ST-RS 505 shifters with the 44cm wide bars supplied on my 58cm test bike made for a very long set up, and had I been on the bike much longer I personally would have opted for a moderately shorter stem to compensate for this.

A closer look at that springy seat stay
A closer look at that springy seat stay

The slender, straight legged fork and skinny rear end did a fine job of absorbing the worst surfaces I encountered on our 50km ride along the coast. Having said that, the roads around Calpe are glass-like compared to the chundery gnar-fest that surrounds BikeRadar’s home in Bristol, so I’ll have to spend a little more time on the Venon before I can pass judgement on how it handles the rough terrain beneath this rowdy, gravel hungry rider.

Vitus Venon VR early verdict

I thoroughly enjoyed my short ride on the Venon VR. It’s smooth ride quality, excellent wheel-tyre combo and confident handling would put many other far more expensive bikes to shame.

On the subject of price, it’s also worth noting that Vitus was very keen to point out that — despite many other direct-sale brands doing so — it does not plan to increase the prices of its bikes in this post-Brexit economy.

Given little has changed from the high-scoring, previous generation of the bike, this Venon certainly appears to be one of the better value for money endurance road bikes out there.

Keep your eyes peeled for a full review once I’ve massaged some life back into my blue toes.

Vitus Venon VR price and availability

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