Vitus Zenium VR Disc review£1,000.00

Racy alloy disc machine delivers

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Available exclusively from online giants Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle, Vitus bikes have a deserved reputation for providing solid value for money. The Zenium is Vitus' affordable alloy racer and the VR Disc variant is specced out with Shimano 105, mechanical disc calipers and a full carbon fork.

The Zenium VR Disc is not a beautiful bike. It’s not ugly and the proportions of its alloy frame are pretty standard, it’s just that it’s almost wilfully plain, with graphics that are neither especially offensive nor remotely enticing. Like any predominantly white bike, it shows the dirt too, but the satin finish is at least reasonably easy to clean.

My test bike weighed 9.1kg in a 54 frame
My test bike weighed 9.1kg in a 54 frame

Leaving aside rather muted aesthetics, this is a thoroughly sorted bike in terms of ride and handling. It does have an edge to its ride quality and it doesn’t absorb the shocks from rough roads like an explicitly comfort-oriented bike, but it’s far from harsh.

With very direct external cable routing, shifting is particularly crisp

The Zenium frame’s back end is unremarkable in its design, with modestly proportioned chainstays sprouting from the standard, threaded bottom bracket shell and slim, near-straight seatstays. Nevertheless, there’s a palpable sense on the climbs that the bike wants you to give your all. Sat down, the slight sweep on the bar tops eases wrist strain, a little detail that suggests this bike was specced by someone who actually rides.

On descents, there’s an inherent ‘rightness’ to the way the Zenium changes direction. Road bikes almost invariably handle well these days, but this is a particularly fine example, offering that elusive sense of poise that one hopes designers strive for. It feels solid and accurate as you carve through a bend and doesn’t want for responsiveness.

The build is by and large a sensible one. Shimano 105 looks tidy and offers its usual competence, and with very direct external cable routing, shifting is particularly crisp, noticeably better than on some other 105-equipped bikes.

It’s good to see a step up to Fulcrum DB rims at this price
It’s good to see a step up to Fulcrum DB rims at this price

The Fulcrum Racing Sport DB wheels are a welcome choice, offering a quality feel and hubs with decent sized cartridge bearings. Their 17mm internal width adds tyre volume over traditional rims, with the nominally 25mm Michelin tyres measuring almost 27mm fitted. There’s space for bigger rubber in the frame and fork, likely more than the official maximum size of 28mm.

The Fulcrums aren’t especially light, but are a step up from the standard rolling stock you might expect at this price, and with no need for a braking surface on the rim, they look good.

Bad points? Well, the TRP Spyre disc brakes are as good as a pure cable disc is ever going to be thanks to the dual-piston design, but they don’t offer the modulation or outright power of proper hydraulic brakes, nor their self-adjusting properties.

With the pads running moderately close, some rub from the front brake was evident too. It’s a minor irritation that afflicts many disc road bikes, a consequence of flex in the fork legs or at the dropouts, but it’s disappointing given the welcome decision to spec the Zenium with a thru-axle up front rather than a basic quick-release skewer.

The total experience is a very good one. The Zenium VR Disc’s spec is excellent if not mind-blowing and the ride is beyond reproach.

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

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