Bike of the Week | Vitus Substance SRS1

A go anywhere, do anything bike at an attractive price point

Bike of the Week Vitus Substance SRS1

As we’re constantly telling you, gravel and adventure bikes are all the rage at the moment. It seems like every bike brand wants to have multiple horses in the race, and Vitus – a direct to consumer brand now sold exclusively by online behemoths Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles – is no different.

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We’ve already reviewed the Vitus Substance CRX, a racy full carbon gravel bike, but the Substance SRS 1 caters for those who are less focused on competition and more interested in cruising and adventure.

What is Bike of the Week?

Every week, we bring you a detailed first look at one of the latest bikes (or framesets) to arrive at BikeRadar HQ – from road to commuting, gravel to enduro, and anything in between.

This is our chance to introduce the bike and everything that makes it unique before hitting the road or trails.

Head to our Bike of the Week hub for previous editions.

Priced keenly at just £1,599.99, the heart of the bike is the Reynolds 725 double-butted steel frame.

Yes, bikes with steel frames like this are generally a little heavier than their carbon or aluminium peers (Vitus claims 10.61kg for a size medium), but there are plenty of positives too.

Beyond the much talked about differences in ride quality – steel is real, in case you hadn’t heard – you also get a frame that can take more abuse and keep on trucking.

Vitus Substance SRS 1
The Vitus Substance SRS 1 is a steel-framed, go anywhere, do anything bike.
Russel Burton / Immediate Media

On top of that, steel framed bikes and their elegant, svelte tubes stand out in a sea of black carbon bikes with oversized tubes. This makes them incredibly instagram-friendly, which is likely to be a crucial deciding factor for any wannabe gravelista.

Likewise, the BSA threaded bottom bracket and fully external cable routing won’t win any prizes for innovation, but both are wonderfully simple and should make maintenance a breeze.

As you’d hope, the Substance SRS1 is fitted with a full complement of rack mounts, mudguard mounts and bottle mounts too.

Carbon is undeniably good for certain things though, and the fork is one of those areas where it can really make a difference. With that in mind, Vitus has specced a carbon fork, which should hopefully help prevent the front end from being overly harsh.

The Prime Kanza wheels (named after one of the most famous gravel cycling locations) have 650b alloy rims that are 30mm deep, 25mm wide and have a healthy 21mm internal width. They’re tubeless ready and claimed to weigh just 1,550g for a set, which would be impressive.

The wheels are shod with chunky WTB Venture TCS 650b x 47 tubeless-ready tyres. We’re generally big fans of WTB’s gravel tyres here at BikeRadar, so this wheel and tyre combo bodes well for the Substance SRS1.

WTB Venture TCS 650b x 47 tubeless ready tyres on Prime Kanza wheels
The WTB Venture TCS 650b x 47 tubeless-ready tyres and Prime Kanza wheels look like a great combination on paper.
Russel Burton / Immediate Media

The drivetrain is made up of SRAM’s 11-speed Apex 1x groupset, with a KMC chain and 11-42 tooth SunTour cassette substituted in.

The SRAM Apex X-Sync 1x chainset is fitted with a 40t chainring, giving a decent spread of gears for general on- and off-road riding, and the rear derailleur has a clutch mechanism to help keep the chain in check.

The finishing kit is also by Vitus, and consists mostly of good quality aluminium parts that help keep the price down and should prove reliable over the long term.

The handlebar is notably progressive too, with flattened tops to improve comfort and flared drops for improved control off-road.

The Substance SRS1 is available in six sizes, from XS to XXL. According to Vitus, these sizes should cater for cyclists ranging in height from 155cm up to 200cm.

The geometry is fairly relaxed, with a size medium frame having a stack and reach of 567.5mm and 381.9mm, respectively. The 73.5-degree seat-tube angle and a slack 71.5-degree head-tube angle, paired with a 90mm stem (smaller and larger sizes get correspondingly shorter and longer stems), should provide a calm and confident steering response.

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Vitus says “the Substance is the bike that will go anywhere you point it; on whatever surface you choose”, and we’re very much looking forward to putting that claim to the test.