Vitus’s revival is continuing a pace thanks to online megastore Chain Reaction. By becoming an online-only brand they can offer value for money to match that of the likes of Canyon, Rose and Boardman.
Highs: Great value package, race bike handling
Lows: Too much road vibration gets passed onto the rider
Buy if: You want a race bike bargain and are prepared to spend a bit of extra to improve its comfort
The original Venon was a simple, round oversized tubed affair, but this new Venon VRS is a collection of swooping lines and tapered tube shapes. Up front a short (150mm) tapered head tube keeps things low and racy, a feature only enhanced by the short wheelbase and straight fork.
In ideal conditions and on the best road surfaces the VRS is a belter; potential problems rear their heads if those situations are likely to be few and far between. On the average-to-poor road surfaces of the UK, we found that this bike could do with a little enhancement.
The Venon is impressive on the scales for its price tag – which is cheaper than many of its direct competitors. The same can be said of the equipment: a drivetrain that’s predominantly Shimano’s all-new 11-speed Ultegra offers a massive boost to proceedings, and the Easton wheelset isn’t far behind either. Obvious savings have been made with the FSA Gossamer chainset and Tektro brakes; but neither have shown themselves to be anything less than highly capable, thanks to the slick shift of the FSA rings and the good quality cartridge pads on the Tektro dual pivots.
The Vitus saddle bears more than a passing resemblance to a model from Charge. Its swoopy shape is hugely comfortable and a definite bonus to the bike, especially as we were grateful all the extra comfort it offered. The decent wheels are shod with some fat rubber from Kenda – they’re a claimed 25c, but with the Verniers they’re far, far closer to 29mm wide.
That could be considered a bit much for a bike on which the geometry suggests racing potential, yet we actually came away thankful that these were fitted – because we found the Venon a very firm bike to ride. On smooth sections of tarmac it flows and accelerates with the best of them, but as soon as you find coarser, broken surfaces the Venon suffers with plenty of chatter and vibration. That meant we did too: up front the slender aluminium bar doesn’t help to mute the hand-numbing high frequency noise. At the back it’s a similar situation thanks to the alloy 31.6 seatpost: even with plenty exposed, on this sloping frame it doesn’t help.
Dropping a few PSi on the tyres can and did counter this, but that meant the Venon felt more sluggish than it should on the climbs. We lived with it that way rather than suffer the vibration discomfort.
We wouldn’t want to discount the VRS completely, because the keen pricing that’s been achieved means you could enhance the bike and still come away with a competitive deal. We’d recommend an immediate switch to a quality carbon seat post and a better bar: just giving the VRS this comfort overhaul would add plenty of plus points and push it much further up in our estimation.
This article forms part of Cycling Plus magazine’s Bike of the Year 2014 Awards. Cycling Plus is available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.