The Vitus Substance SRS 1 combines modern all-road geometry with classic, skinny Reynolds 725 steel tubing to create a bike that majors on versatility without compromising off-road performance.
Vitus Substance SRS 1 geometry
The design combines a road-bike style 73.5-degree seat angle with a slightly relaxed head angle of 71.5 degrees. The fork offset of 43mm and the big 47c tyres create a 69mm trail figure.
The usual trail for a fast handling road bike is around 57mm, so at 69mm the Vitus boasts handling that is more relaxed than a road bike, making for great off-road stability. (Trail is the measurement of the front tyre’s contact point behind the steering axis: a small trail figure makes for a fast-handling bike, while more trail slows down a bike’s steering response).
This makes the SRS a truly excellent all-rounder. On dirt it inspires confidence with handling that’s nicely balanced between stability and swift reactions and it feels particularly at home when traversing technical singletrack.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.2||74||73.5||73.5||73.2||73.2|
|Head angle (degrees)||70.6||71.3||71.5||71.5||71.5||71.75|
|Seat tube (cm)||50||52||54||56||58||60|
|Top tube (cm)||52.2||53.5||55||56.2||57.8||59.5|
|Head tube (cm)||10.8||12.3||14||15||16.9||18|
|Fork offset (cm)||4.3||4.3||4.3||4.3||4.3||4.3|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||7||7||7||7||7||7|
Vitus Substance SRS 1 kit
The SRS comes with an off-road-ready 1x SRAM Apex groupset, combining a 40-tooth chainring with an 11-42 cassette. The super-low gear makes off-road climbs a breeze. Even when traction is an issue I always found the right gear to make progress.
Braking also comes from SRAM’s Apex. With bags of power and plenty of feel, they’re less vocal than Shimano’s hydraulics but did become a little screechy when wet and mud-caked. And I did experience a little rotor scraping at the rear after riding on muddy sections.
Looks out-do the performance though compared to the understated GRX found on BiviBikes’ Graveller and Ragley’s Trig, which were also on test, or the smart Force unit on Felt’s Breed 2, because the Vitus has a little more chain chatter and vibration.
The finishing kit all comes from the Vitus stable with the cockpit a particular high point. The gravel bar combines 16-degree flare with a flattened, almost aero-shaped top section that makes for a great hold when you’re grinding along on the flat at speed.
Vitus Substance SRS 1 ride impressions
The ride position, with its low 577mm stack and mid-length reach of 391mm, makes for a ride that feels rapid off-road and is no slouch on it.
The Prime Kanza wheels are stiff laterally; the WTB Venture tyres have a low textured grip through the central section and prominent knobs on the shoulder.
This makes for a fast-rolling tyre (for its size) on tarmac and one that offers plenty of cornering grip on dirt. That said, while the less-prominent tread’s excellent in the dry, it struggles in wet mud compared to something like a WTB Sendero.
The 650b wheel choice has its benefits when it comes to off-road cushioning and traction. Sadly, the downside is that it can’t match the speed of a 700c set-up on mixed-surface rides. You’ll beast big-wheeled rivals on the really rough stuff, but on tarmac, you’ll exert yourself to stay on the wheel of big-wheeled brethren.
Ride comfort is seriously impressive with the Substance; the skinny-tubed Reynolds steel frame offers the lively spring indicative of quality steel pipes and the full carbon fork, with its generous rake, nulls vibrations. It’s all wrapped up with the suspension-like cushioning offered by the huge tyres.
The Vitus saddle is the only chink in the SRS’s formidable armour. The flat shape is okay, but the hull feels overly stiff and that’s only compacted by the minimal padding.
It’s well-priced with it and the ride will impress too.
How we tested
Gravel riding is more popular than ever and if you’re looking to have a gravel adventure and have a two-grand budget, we’d suggest searching beyond carbon and looking at some of the toughest rides around made of metal.
This quartet of versatile and durable bikes was selected from brands you may not be aware of or because of a unique point of difference, but all dispense with carbon for steel and aluminium.
Each bike was tested on a variety of terrain on our local gravel routes that included rocky tracks and byways, as well as tarmac roads.
Also on test
- BiviBikes Graveller
- Felt Breed 20
- Ragley Trig
|Price||AUD $2800.00EUR €2200.00GBP £1600.00USD $2000.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Tyres||WTB Venture 650 x 47c Road Plus|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM Apex|
|Handlebar||Vitus 6061 gravel bar|
|Bottom bracket||SRAM GXP 68mm|
|Cranks||SRAM Apex X-Sync 40t|
|Cassette||SunRace RX8 11-42|
|Wheels||Prime Kanza 650b|