Vitus has a prototype endurance bike and we’ve got our hands on it

The Venon is an endurance bike with clearance for gravel tyres

2022 Vitus Venon prototype road bike

Vitus has had an endurance-bike shaped hole in its range until now, but that’s about to change with the development of the Venon – and this one is all about versatility.

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The Venon has been in development at Vitus since the design team finished the very well received ZX-1 CRS aero bike.

The new endurance platform uses the same high-grade carbon as the ZX-1, which helps keep the weight competitively low, according to Vitus. The bike will be named the Venon, resurrecting a Vitus name discontinued back in 2019.

Road or gravel?

The 30mm-wide tyre specced here looks swamped by the very generous clearances of the Venon frame.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The idea behind the Venon is to make a bike that has versatility at its core – and that primarily means plenty of tyre clearance.

We’ve got a prototype of the Venon and our bike comes in a road setup replete with 30mm WTB Exposure slick tyres, but there’s a huge amount of clearance to spare.

Vitus tells us the frame is capable of taking 45mm gravel bike tyres safely. Or you could run it through the winter with 35mm tyres and mudguards because the Venon will come with proper mudguard fittings, too.

Like Cannondale’s new Synapse, Vitus isn’t submitting this one to UCI scrutiny and getting an approved sticker. That’s because it’s not aimed at Vitus’s race team; instead, it’s a bike built for everyday riders.

Versatility in the details

The Venon gets a removable bridge so you can fit proper mudguards.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The details also point to versatility. There’s a removable bridge on the rear stays, allowing for mudguard fitment or maximum tyre clearance.

The front derailleur mount is also removable, should you want to run a 1x drivetrain. Plus, the bottle cage mounts on the down tube can be run in two positions, enabling you to occupy the lower position and fit a frame bag for a bit of bikepacking.

Like the ZX-1 aero road bike, the new platform uses FSA’s clever ACR (Aerodynamic Cable Routing) system to run the cables internally, so the bike looks very clean but everything should still be easy enough to access from a mechanical point of view.

Vitus is as yet undecided on the full Venon line-up, but the brand is certain there will be both road and gravel editions. So that likely means 1x and 2x versions, with SRAM eTap AXS and SRAM XPLR models, plus mechanical and electronic Shimano GRX builds, too.

Vitus Venon prototype first ride impressions

First impressions of the Venon have been very positive.
Russell Burton / Our Media

So, how does it ride? I haven’t had a huge amount of time on the Venon – just a few hours – but my first impressions are positive.

The ride position puts the Venon very much in the fast endurance bike mode. It’s in Cannondale Synapse, Giant Defy and Merida Scultura Endurance territory.

The ride is plenty comfortable, but that’s to be expected when you’re running 30mm-wide tyres. I’ll be sure to switch in something a little narrower as part of my testing. I’ll also try something wider to see how close the Venon is to the best gravel bikes.

The Venon feels very much at the sporty end of endurance bike design.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The mix-and-match approach to the drivetrain, with its SRAM Red and Force parts, probably isn’t representative of the final specifications but, as I’d expect, it all works seamlessly together.

The 50mm-deep Prime wheels feel as though they hold speed well and respond quickly to efforts, though I’ve been lucky to avoid any really windy conditions as of yet. I still need to find out how they fare in brisk crosswinds.

It’s early days for this pre-production prototype but, as we’ve seen from some of the best endurance road bikes, the Venon appears to bridge the gap between road and gravel, enabling riders to fine-tune the build to suit the terrain.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Do you like the idea of a bike that maxes out on versatility, or do you prefer your machine to be focused in its design and capability?

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Vitus Zenon prototype specification

  • Weight: 8.7kg (58cm, including Shimano Ultegra 6620 pedals and 2x bottle cages)
  • Frameset: Vitus Zenon prototype carbon frame and fork
  • Shifters: SRAM Red eTap AXS
  • Rear derailleur: SRAM Red eTap AXS
  • Front derailleur: SRAM Red eTap AXS
  • Cassette: SRAM Force 10-33t
  • Crankset: SRAM Red AXS (48/35t)
  • Wheels: Prime RR-50 V3 Carbon Clincher Disc
  • Tyres: WTB Exposure 30mm tubeless-ready
  • Saddle: Vitus with CrMo rails
  • Seatpost: Prime Carbon
  • Handlebar: Prime Orra Aero
  • Stem: FSA SMR ACR 110mm