Lightweight and very fast, the Vitus Vitesse Evo CRI Ultegra Di2 offers race bike handling and speed with a very good parts package at a price that embarrasses most other brands. If you want a highly capable race bike, this is a top choice.
The Vitesse Evo is available with either disc or rim brakes, and it's a fully UCI accredited frame design – it's been used in top-level races by the An Post-Chain Reaction team.
Last year, I tested the disc brake version of this bike, the Vitesse Evo Disc Ultegra, and I was very impressed: 'Fast and responsive race bike that excels on descents and is no slouch on climbs.'
In this rim brake guise it's turned up a notch. The lower weight – 7.5kg versus 8.6kg – is a whopping difference and one you notice immediately. It feels much more responsive and flighty, with hills despatched much more readily. More fun too, I'd say.
Power transfer from the oversized frame is very good. Stamp on the pedals and the Vitesse is highly responsive. No lag or hesitation, it stomps forward with the sharp reactions you'd want and expect from a race-bred bike. The front end feels very sharp and direct, the handlebar doing a good job of communicating the road surface underneath the front tyre without being overly harsh.
Not surprisingly, the Vitesse Evo's geometry is at the racier end of the scale: this is a bike designed for racing and with pro feedback, so it's all aggressive and low for maximum attack. This 56cm bike, one of seven sizes available, has a 563mm stack and 393mm reach (stack and reach are the vertical and horizontal measurements from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube), 560mm top tube and 155mm head tube. The 990mm wheelbase is a shade shorter than the disc brake version.
Those are the sort of numbers that mean you'll adopt a forward-leaning, head down position. That's good if you want to get a wiggle on and make rapid progress, whether at the pointy end of a road race or simply trying to bag a few KOMs. The short wheelbase provides a high level of agility and nimbleness on a tight race circuit, which contributes to its lively ride.
Provided you have the flexibility to handle the position, it's a comfortable bike, and not just for an hour's blast – I found it a good choice on longer jaunts, too. There's a pleasing level of composure on rough roads; it certainly won't rattle your spine to pieces. It's more comfortable than the disc version of the Vitesse, which I found a bit too firm, differences that could be attributed to the frame, wheels or tyres, or a combination of all three.
It's a carbon fibre frame and fork, with T700 fibre used in its construction, with an oversized down tube, tapered head tube and BB386 Evo press-fit bottom bracket, all designed to deliver race bike levels of stiffness while keeping the weight low.
That focus on stiffness is balanced by the slim top tube and seat stays which are designed to absorb vibrations and impacts.
Tyre clearance is pegged at 25mm, increasing to 28mm on the disc version. The frame uses regular dual pivot brake callipers, not the newer direct mount brakes that many bike companies are moving to.
There's full internal routing for the brake cables and gear wires, and it's nicely done with no rattling, and there are blanking plates on the redundant ports for a mechanical groupset.
The seat tube accepts a 27.2mm carbon fibre seatpost with an external clamp. Many modern race bikes now have internal seat clamps, which offer cleaner aesthetics and arguably improved aerodynamics and frame compliance, but an external clamp is so much easier to use.
If you're on a tighter budget, the Vitesse can be had with a Shimano 105 groupset for £1,499, or mechanical Ultegra for £2,099.99, but if you can stretch that budget then £2,899.99 gets you this full Shimano Ultegra Di2 build, with Prime RR-38 carbon fibre clincher wheels and top quality Ritchey finishing kit. (Bigger budget? You can get a Shimano Dura-Ace and Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon build for £3,699, which is still impressive value for money.)
Needless to say, the equipment is faultless. The Ultegra Di2 groupset shifts with ease and precision, and for racing (I did race this bike as part of the test) I'm a real fan of electronic shifting.
The 52/36 chainset and 11-30 cassette is an ideal setup for racing or just fast riding, high enough to keep up with the fastest moves and attacks, yet low enough to grapple a hilly ride with some steep gradients. The low weight of the bike certainly helps when scaling the big climbs.
A Ritchey handlebar and stem show Vitus wasn't prepared to skimp on key components, with the company's own carbon seatpost providing a bit of extra vibration damping. Handlebars come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and while I liked the traditional drop shape of the Comp Streem II, I'm not such a fan of the wing-shaped top section, designed to provide an aerodynamic edge. That's just me, though, you might like it just fine.
No complaints with a Fizik Antares saddle, unless you don't get on with the shape of course. I do and found it very comfortable.
The Prime RR-38 carbon fibre wheels, an in-house brand of the Wiggle/CRC giant, provide improved aerodynamics over a box section aluminium wheelset but keep the weight down, ensuring they're a good all-round choice for flat road riding and hillier terrain.
Weighing just 1,360g, they feel responsive and immediate when making sudden changes of direction. Braking in the dry is good, nice and predictable with no snatching. You can read an in-depth review of the wheels here. I can't comment on the wet weather performance as it didn't rain while I was testing this bike.
Fitted to the wheels are Schwalbe Pro One tyres measuring 25mm wide. It's another example of Vitus not being prepared to skimp: these are very good tyres with a proven reputation, good rolling resistance and decent durability.
Vitus is being really aggressive on price here – it's a lot of bike for the money, and few brands are able to match it. Comparing it to the usual benchmark for value, Canyon, the German company's Ultimate CF SL 8.0 Di2 offers a carbon fibre frameset with an Ultegra Di2 groupset for £2,649, currently discounted to £2,449, but it has heavier and non-aero aluminium DT Swiss PR 1600 Spline wheels.
Likewise, a Rose X-Lite Four with Ultegra Di2 costs £2,557, but that's with aluminium DT Swiss P1750 Spline wheels; upgrade to Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbons and the price steps up to £3,715.
Again, a Specialized Tarmac SL5 Comp costs £2,600, with mechanical Ultegra and aluminium wheels.
So while the Vitus is a few hundred quid more than these rivals, you get better wheels and branded finishing kit.
Overall, the Vitesse offers an exceptionally good ride with fast handling that will suit speed merchants and budding racers, but enough comfort if you have your eye on longer rides and sportives and don't want an excessively upright position. Add in the excellent value for money and a decent parts list, and you have a very appealing bike.
A fast, light and responsive race bike at a very compelling price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vitus Vitesse Evo CRI Ultegra Di2
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
High Modulus T700 carbon frameset
Full UCI certification
Raced and developed by the An Post Chain Reaction Cycles pro team
BB 386 Evo, the widest and most efficient bottom bracket standard
Asymetric and oversized BB increasing power transfer
Top tube and seat stays designed for vertical compliance
Rim and disc brake options
Internal cable routing
Chainset Shimano Ultegra R8000
Bottom Bracket Shimano
Shifters Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8070
Front Derailleur Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8050
Rear Derailleur Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8050
Cassette Shimano Ultegra R8000
Chain KMC X11
Rims Prime RR-38 carbon
Front Hub Prime
Rear Hub Prime
Spokes Double butted
Tyres Schwable Pro One
Front Brake Shimano Ultegra R8070
Rear Brake Shimano Ultegra R8070
Handlebars Ritchey Comp Streem II
Stem Ritchey Comp 4 Axis
Seatpost Prime carbon
Weight 8.4 Kg / 18.51 Lb
Tell us what the bike is for
Vitus says, "The lightest bike in the Vitus range – a true all-round race bike. Designed with minimal weight to charge the climbs, efficient stiffness to accelerate out or corners, yet all day comfort to glide through rough road surfaces with minimal fatigue.
"Our Vitus frame design team worked closely with the An Post Chain Reaction Cycles UCI Pro Continental race team throughout the design and test phase to ensure the perfect balance of ride characteristics to ensure the Vitesse was competitive in races like the spring classics, to the high mountains of France.
"Coming in rim brake and disc brake platforms, both fully UCI certified, the Vitesse allows you to define how you want to ride."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very good build quality, no issues.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Full T700 carbon fibre frame and fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
If you like race bike geometry you'll get on fine, if not you might struggle with its aggressiveness.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Impressively comfortable for a race bike that is focused on stiffness.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
No flex when you give it the full beans.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
No lag or flex at all
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively Direct.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very direct and responsive.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels contribute to the low overall weight and agile handling.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are plenty stiff enough.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
There's nothing I'd change if I was racing this bike.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Thoroughly impressive race bike performance backed up by very good parts for the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.