The story of Vitus bikes is a familiar one at this stage – the brand’s French origins in the 1970s; the iconic partnership of Sean Kelly and the lugged-and-bonded aluminium 979 frame; later success in the early 90s with the ZX-1 carbon monocoque frame and the resurrection of the Vitus name in 2011 under the ownership of Chain Reaction Cycles. Here are the best Vitus road bikes 2020.
It’s now more than a decade since being relaunched and revitalised as the in-house brand of CRC (and now CRC/Wiggle), and over that time the Vitus design and product teams have learned much about the needs of modern riders, both amateur and professional.
In 2020 we find that knowledge distilled into the company’s best-ever range of road bikes, from great value sportive/leisure bikes packed with practical technological advances to cutting-edge road racing machines designed for competition at the highest level of the sport. Indeed the company’s experience supplying bikes to UCI pro racing teams – beginning with the sadly now-defunct An Post Chain Reaction Cycles team – has been influential in shaping its road pedigree, with rider insights and pro tech filtering down to bikes available at every price point.
For the 2020 racing season Vitus continues to support the Vitus Pro Cycling P/B Brother UCI Continental team, and is excited to be able offer pro-level SRAM eTap AXS builds on its top-tier racing platforms, the Vitus Vitesse EVO CRX (team bike of choice for 2020) and Vitus ZX-1 CRX aero disc bike.
However even if your ambitions don’t stretch to racing success, there is a Vitus road bike for you – read on to find out more about our pick of the best from the 2020 range.
First debuted in 2011 as part of the initial relaunch of Vitus bikes, the Razor has ever since then occupied the first rung on the road range ladder, being a robust, dependable and value-packed alloy bike that’s perfect for commuters, cycling newcomers or sportive riding.
But that’s not to say that it’s been neglected as ‘only’ an entry-level bike – look a little bit closer and we find a well-rounded package that has evolved with the times, offering a lightweight and double-butted 6061-T6 aluminium frame with a tapered headtube, carbon fork and sporty compact geometry. There’s a lot of bike on the table here for not a lot of money, with Vitus offering both disc- and rim-brake versions as well as a female-specific edition of both. The Razor range also belies its budget in terms of looks, a classy matte-black paint job and tan wall tyres combining to please the eye greatly.
From the 2020 selection we are taken with this model, the Vitus Razor Disc equipped with Shimano 2×8 speed gearing (a Razor VR Disc with 2×9 Shimano Sora is also available). Some might argue that rim brakes are a better bet at this price point, but we like the all-weather confidence that discs ensure, especially important in mass-participation sportives on unfamiliar roads.
The inclusion of disc brakes means this bike has plenty of clearance for comfortable, high-volume tyres, perfect for long-distance rides and less-than-perfect roads.
Away from the demands of high-end racing, Vitus has earned an enviable reputation for building benchmark bikes at specific price points, with the Vitus Zenium being a case in point in the highly-competitive ‘under a grand’ category. At this price, many leisure riders are looking to invest in their first ‘proper’ road bike, suitable for regular club riding and long-distance sportives, and often by taking advantage of the savings offered through cycle to work schemes.
It’s a notoriously tough arena and the Zenium comes out swinging, offering a T7000 carbon frame (featuring compact geometry and dropped seat stays for comfort), full carbon fork, 2×10 Shimano Tiagra drivetrain and disc brakes for a double-take inducing price tag.
Having first introduced the carbon-framed Zenium last year (previous model years used an alloy frameset), in 2020 it’s been refined and improved, with an expanded range topped by an Ultegra Di2 model and some subtle tweaks to frame design and spec sheets across the board. One of those tweaks is the provision of clearance for up to 32mm tyres, making the Zenium a potential partner for light gravel riding too.
What hasn’t changed is the platform’s all-but-unbeatable bang for buck – if you’re looking for a thoroughly modern carbon-framed road bike with year-round capability and fantastic upgrade potential, the Vitus Zenium has to be on your radar.
So good we included it twice? Let’s stay with the Vitus Zenium platform for a moment and see what you get when you stretch the budget a little past the base model. Next step on the ladder from the Vitus Zenium and sharing the same T7000 carbon frame we find the Shimano 105-equipped Vitus Zenium CR, and a very fine bike it is too.
However, a little bit further up the road is this model, the Vitus Zenium CRS with 2×11 speed Shimano Ultegra R8000 gearing (including hydraulic disc brakes) and a notable upgrade to lightweight, fast-rolling Prime Baroudeur tubeless-ready alloy wheels.
It’s a great example of how specifications improve as outlay increases and were it our money, we’d be extremely happy to spend it on the Vitus Zenium CRS. It’s an impeccably balanced bike with sport handling, comfort in spades and no obvious spec shortcomings.
If your ideal bike is an all-rounder capable of fast, punchy club riding; epic sportives on ragged roads; year-round training and quite frankly, pretty much anything you would like to throw at it, the Vitus Zenium CRS fits the bill.
The Vitus Vitesse EVO is the race bike of choice for the Vitus Pro Cycling P/B Brother UCI Continental team and this Shimano 105-equipped model is the entry point into the range, offering race-ready tech right from the pro peloton, but at a privateer price point.
The UCI-certified frame and fork is fully disc-specific and manufactured from T7000 carbon with a tapered steerer and full carbon fork. Unlike the aero shaping of its sister bike the Vitus ZX-1 the Vitesse EVO is characterised by more traditional tube profiles positioning it as an all-round race bike rather than a straight-line speed specialist.
The lightest frame in the Vitus road range, the Vitesse EVO is designed to eke out maximum advantage on the toughest of climbs yet still retaining the stiffness required for a sprint finish and the comfort to prevent fatigue over long race days.
This model is equipped with Shimano 105 R7000 11-speed gearing, the latest version of Shimano’s workhorse drivetrain which despite not carrying the cachet of high-end groupsets gives away nothing in terms of reliability, durability or performance. Finishing kit is a mix of quality parts from Zipp and from CRC’s in-house components brand Prime, including a tubeless-ready Prime Baroudeur wide-profile alloy wheelset complete with Schwalbe Pro One 25mm tyres.
The Vitus Zenium CRI tops out the versatile Zenium range with the inclusion of Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, making it a tempting choice for riders who want the versatility and all-round capability of the Zenium frame married to the push-button reliability and personalisation possibilities provided by electronic gearing.
Introduced in 2017, Shimano’s R8050 Di2 groupset incorporates many of the technologies first introduced on its flagship Dura-Ace drivetrain, including Synchro Shift (a function that automatically shifts the front derailleur when the rear derailleur is shifted) and the ability to fully programme nearly every aspect of the system via Shimano’s e-Tube app.
The Vitus Zenium CRI’s frame and drivetrain is complemented by a lightweight, robust and tubeless-ready Prime Baroudeur alloy disc wheelset and quality finishing kit from Vitus including an aluminium aero bar and stem, carbon layback seatpost and comfortable saddle.
The Vitus ZX-1 is the company’s aero-inspired road bike, optimised for the objectives of minimising drag and improving straight-line speed. The original ZX-1, introduced in 1991, was one of the first monocoque carbon fibre bikes in the pro peloton. Vitus revived the name for this reincarnation, which continues the same spirit of innovation as its predecessor and once again saw pro race action (and plenty of podium places) as the 2019 bike for the Vitus Pro Cycling pb Brother UK team.
For 2020 the ZX-1 is centred on a T7000 UD carbon frameset, with matching full carbon fork and a full complement of drag-reducing trickery, including Kamm Tail air tube profiles, a subtle rear wheel cutout and integrated fork and seatpost. Stiffness has been optimised thanks to an oversized and asymmetric FSA 386 EVO bottom bracket offering wide bearing placement and pedalling efficiency, while Vitus also point to the use of multiple carbon fibre layups which they say help maintain a balanced power transfer on the drive and non-drive sides of the bike.
This incarnation – the ZX-1 CRS – is the second in a four-bike range, offering faultless mechanical shifting via Shimano’s Ultegra R8000 11-speed groupset and the added bonus of no-upgrade-needed Prime Black Edition 50 Carbon Disc tubeless wheels, their wide rim profile meaning that the supplied Schwalbe Pro One 25mm tyres measure up closer to 28mm. It’s the kind of package designed for powerful and competitive riders seeking to save every watt in the hunt for a podium place.
Staying with the ZX-1, which in 2020 is one of two platforms that Vitus has been able to spec with SRAM’s new 2×12 speed eTap AXS groupsets. Introduced to widespread acclaim in 2019, this groundbreaking technology moves to 12-speed shifting with the extra cog providing a smoother gearing progression compared to rival 11-speed groupsets and allowing for wide-range cassettes with smaller jumps between gears. AXS is SRAM’s own wireless eco-system, enabling connectivity and communication between groupset componentry and third-party devices without the need for cabling or wires of any type.
Additionally, an AXS smartphone app enables firmware updates and gearing function control through a Bluetooth connection.
But back to the ZX-1 Team, which carries the Force version of the AXS groupset, offering ostensibly the same functionality as top-tier Red eTap AXS but at a considerably lower price. That saving makes the ZX-1 Team great value as a pro-spec race bike, providing not just the benefits of the proven ZX-1 frameset but the latest in cutting edge drivetrain tech, with hydraulic disc brakes to match.
No corners have been cut elsewhere on the spec sheet either – rolling smoothly underneath we find the same impressive Prime Carbon Black Edition tubeless wheelset with deep 50mm rims for maximum aero efficiency, plus quality finishing kit from Prime, Prologo and Schwalbe.
Sitting at the very pinnacle of Vitus’ 2020 road bike range is the flagship Vitus Vitesse EVO CRX eTap (Red), the company’s lightest production frame matched with the very best componentry on the market and all-but identical to the race bike of the Vitus Pro Cycling Team.
Brother UCI continental team – just without the candy red paintwork. This bike is defined by the presence of SRAM’s top-tier Red eTap AXS, the lightest and most technologically advanced drivetrain available from the US-based company, with wireless electronic 12-speed gearing, advanced chain management and easy personalization via the SRAM AXS app.
Designed and built for aggressive competition and as a weapon of choice for athletes with ambition – and priced accordingly – this bike won’t be for everyone, but if you have the drive, passion and legs to race at the highest level the Vitesse EVO CRX should be on your shopping list. Matched with SRAM’s premium groupset and a top-drawer selection of parts from CRC’s component arm Prime, it’s made to throw down with any so-called superbike in the heat of the pro peloton.
If you want more in-depth insight into the Vitesse EVO CRX the pro team have joined up with Gee Milner for a great dream build video, showing the process from bare frame to race-ready bike.