The Venon has always been up there in the value stakes, and Vitus has invested in a new carbon frame and fork with contemporary axle and brake standards, plus increased tyre clearance for 2018. That has cost it in terms of componentry.
The full carbon fork has a 12mm thru-axle and a flat brake mount with internal routing through the tapered leg. Vitus has used a big boxy design to keep the tall 170mm head-tube stiff. That also gives plenty of space for fully internal cable routing to enter just behind the head tube, and the brake and rear gear cable don’t reappear until way down the chainstays.
The down tube is boxy too, with the unidirectional T700 carbon weave glinting clear through the gloss lacquer. The top tube is squared off, and whatever the Vitus website might say about a 27.2mm seatpost that’s definitely a 31.6mm diameter post sticking out of the stout seat tube on my test model.
The bottom-bracket area is massive for a sportive bike, swallowing the press-fit bearings whole and extending into a big box section head for the chainstays. The chainstays are from the chunky steak cut school, and there’s a 12mm thru-axle and flat-mount brake position to match the fork.
The feel of the brake levers isn’t on the same level as Shimano 105, being harsh on the hands David Caudery / Immediate Media
Straight, square section seatstays complete the frame circuit and they’re brace free to give clearance for up to 30mm tyres. There are no mudguard or rack mounts, which is a shame on a bike that’s potentially well suited to commuting, cargo carrying or wet-weather riding.
The ride position is cruise rather than combat oriented. Despite being tall in terms of head tube, seat tube and standover height, it’s pretty short when it comes to top-tube length and reach, so you’re slightly taller and more upright on the Venon.
Add 28mm Continental tyres that measure nearly 30mm at 80psi to smooth-rolling Shimano RS10 wheels and the Vitus spins along nicely on smoother roads. While the ride position means you’re likely to be catching a bit more wind there’s more than enough stiffness in the frame to ensure all your wattage arrives at the back wheel.
There’s more than enough frame stiffness to ensure all your wattage arrives at the back wheel Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Unless you were counting gears carefully enough to notice you’re working with a 10-speed rather than 11-speed block you’d be unlikely to realise the Tiagra kit wasn’t 105. The lever shape is similar and, while the cranks are solid rather than hollow, they feel much the same.
However well it transfers power, the Vitus is a heavy bike with heavy wheels, which means a lot of inertia to work against. Acceleration is labour intensive and climbs sap its speed early.
While the shape of the levers is similar to 105, the results from pulling them are very different. Compared to hydraulics, the cable-operated Spyre disc brakes have a stiff, hand-straining feel and less fine control, even with new cables, and that’s only going to get worse as they get gritty.
I’d suggest spending more to get the 105 Venon as a better value option, but, even then, the ride quality won’t be to everyone’s taste.
While the fat tyres screen out surface buzz, bigger lumps in the surface are transmitted through the frame and seatpost with jolting force that knocks it down the test rankings.