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New for 2021, the Vitus ZX-1 Evo CRS Di2 is a very impressive bike. In fact, I'd say it is better than that... it's an absolute rocket ship! Excellent stiffness levels, awesome handling, real world aerodynamic benefits and a spec list that defies the price. What more could you want?
Three years ago we reviewed the ZX1, and on the whole David was impressed, although he had a few issues with the stiffness of the fork. Well, Vitus has gone away and come up with a brand new ZX-1 Evo range and it's fantastic.
First of all, a large focus has been put on aerodynamics, and this is one smooth and neat looking frame. All of the cables, hoses and wires have been hidden from view completely and the aero tube profiles, coupled with the deep-section wheels, mean that the ZX-1 Evo absolutely flies.
It's not just quick, this thing is in superbike territory. Get down in the drops on a flat section of road and it's a time trial bike without the aerobars.
Even if you aren't smashing along it feels efficient, especially above 20mph. You can really cover some miles very quickly indeed without feeling like you are having to batter yourself to achieve it.
Another thing that helps are the comfort levels. I'm not going to suggest that this thing is like riding a magic carpet – it's a performance road bike after all – but it delivers all of the stiffness it needs, with no sogginess anywhere, while managing not to be harsh.
Feedback levels are impressive, and they aren't clouded by unnecessary chatter from road vibration, even with the relatively skinny 25mm tyres pumped up hard.
The stiffness levels help when climbing or sprinting. It's a punchy sort of bike that makes you want to get out of the saddle and give it a little dig; no power ever feels wasted, and stupidly hard efforts become addictive and feel rewarding.
At a touch over 8kg the ZX-1 Evo feels responsive too. Travelling through urban areas with many traffic lights and roundabouts never feels like a chore, even when every light seems to flick to amber just as you are approaching, requiring constant efforts off the line.
A quick glance at the geometry of the ZX-1 gave the impression that things were quite relaxed, and I really wasn't expecting it to behave as well as it does, especially at speed. On descents or anywhere else you're pushing the bike hard, it feels very poised.
When riding fast downhill, it almost gives the feeling that it's a heavier bike than it really is. It feels planted over rough road surfaces.
And then you've got the steering. The ZX-1 Evo feels balanced, direct and just so easy to control. There is quickness there, but it never gets to the point of being twitchy, even if you have to make quite a major correction to the handlebar because of gravel mid-bend or a pothole.
I could really let it all hang on out on my favourite downhills, with the low front end allowing me to get plenty of weight forward for the perfect position, and confidence in the handling meaning I could just keep a very loose grip on the bar and let the Vitus crack on with what I was asking it to do. It responded quickly and neatly to tiny shifts in my position to control the direction.
The ZX-1 Evo is just a class bike to ride, an utter joy, and I never tired of it.
As I've mentioned, the ZX-1 Evo's frame and fork are focused on aerodynamics, so there is barely a round tube anywhere to be found. Everything is profiled to cheat the wind and deliver excellent stiffness levels.
Vitus has gone for a 386EVO press-fit bottom bracket which means that the area around it is massive. The junction between down tube and seat tube is huge, and the chainstays are absolutely massive.
With all of this material, it's impressive that the ZX-1 Evo still holds on to decent levels of comfort.
Up front the fork is integrated into the down tube and head tube for a smooth transition and Vitus has followed the trend of many brands by directing the cables/hoses through the handlebar and stem before dropping them down into the spacers and head tube.
Everything else is pretty standard, to be fair. As for bolt-ons, you get a couple of mounting points for water bottle cages and that's about it, though the one on the down tube does have an extra bolt hole so you can adjust where you put the cage.
Other than that, it's designed for 12mm thru-axles and uses flat mounts for the brake callipers.
The Vitus is available in six sizes, from XS to XXL, with top tube lengths ranging from 520mm up to 592mm.
Geometry-wise, our medium test bike has a 551mm top tube, 129.6mm head tube and 510mm seat tube.
The overall wheelbase is 991mm, with chainstays of 410mm, while the head and seat angles are 72.4 and 73.4 degrees respectively.
Stack and reach figures aren't anything out of the ordinary at 543mm and 387mm.
Our CRS Di2 comes with the majority of an electronic Shimano Ultegra groupset, with a deviation to a KMC chain and a Sunrace cassette sporting 11-32t sprockets. It's a great setup that works really well.
Ultegra is a great groupset and this latest iteration of Di2 is very well refined, with impressive shifting speed, even under load.
Up front Vitus has specced a semi-compact 52/36-tooth chainset, which gives a large spread of gears when paired to the cassette – for a bike of this ilk, anyway.
Having the 32t on the cassette rather than the more normal biggest sprocket of 28 gives you a couple of extra bailout gears should you need them.
For braking, Vitus has gone for a 160mm rotor up front and a 140mm at the rear. It's a good setup for a road bike, and you can't fault the power or modulation from the levers and flat mount callipers.
When it comes to the cockpit, Vitus has gone for an all-in-one handlebar/stem unit, the Vision Metron 5D ACR. It's full carbon fibre and with a shallow drop that allows you get aero without having to dislocate your spine.
I really like the shape, and as it's carbon you have a good mix of stiffness with some shock absorption thrown in.
The aero carbon seatpost slides into the frame with a snug fit and the internal clamping system makes sure it doesn't budge.
Atop sits a Vitus titanium-railed saddle, and I'd say it's the weakest link of the whole build for me. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I just didn't get on with the shape. Saddles are like that, though – something that works for one person won't always work for others.
Vitus hasn't scrimped on the hoops and rubber.
For the wheels we are talking carbon Reynolds AR 58/62 DBs; that's 58mm deep for the front and 62mm for the rear. This is a serious set of wheels to come as standard on a bike of this price.
Their performance on the road is very impressive. You can definitely feel the aero advantage and they don't really get buffeted about on windy days either.
They're impressively stiff, too, although it is more difficult to tell on disc brake wheels than rim brake wheels.
As you'd expect, they are tubeless compatible and come fitted with a set of Schwalbe's One Performance tyres in a 25mm width. Super supple and very grippy, the Schwalbes are an absolute joy to ride, suiting the performance of the Vitus down to a tee.
Their rolling resistance feels very low as well, and while I've found some Schwalbe tyres to be a little on the fragile side, I had no issues with these during the test period.
At £3,999.99, the CRS Di2 isn't cheap, but it is great value for money.
If you're a regular reader you might have come across me banging on about how great the Orro Venturi STC is. Not only is the ride phenomenal, but it knocks many of the competitors into a cocked hat when it comes to price.
But an Ultegra Di2-equipped Venturi with deep-section Fulcrum wheels and integrated carbon bar/stem will cost you £4,399.99. I'm putting the Vitus on a par when it comes to ride quality, performance and handling here.
I recently rode the Scott Foil 10 and was very impressed. It's a bike with similar intentions as the ZX-1 Evo, but price-wise the closest I could get was the Foil 30 at £3,959.99. That's with a mechanical Ultegra groupset and not deep-section wheels.
Specialized's Tarmac SL7 is even more expensive, with the Ultegra Di2, deep-section wheel-equipped Pro model coming in at a cool £7,000.
The ZX-1 Evo is one of those bikes that I just didn't want to give back. Often, I get a great bike to ride and it's sad to have to drop it off in the office, but you kind of know something else as good, if not even better, will be along in the next month or so that will make you forget and move on. I'm not so sure that's going to happen with the ZX-1 Evo.
The ZX-1 Evo delivers on everything: performance, excellent geometry, comfort and impressive value for money
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vitus ZX1 EVO CRS Di2 2021
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
ROTORS: Shimano ST-R800, F-160mm R-140mm
GROUPSET: Shimano Ultegra R8000 11 Speed
WHEELS: Reynolds AR 58/62 DB Carbon Clincher, Tubeless
BOTTOM BRACKET: 386EVO 24
TYRES: Schwalbe ONE Performance TLE 700x25 Tubeless
CRANKSET: Shimano Ultegra R8000 52-36T
CHAIN: KMC X11
HANDLEBAR/STEM: Vision Metron 5D ACR Carbon
CASSETTE: Sunrace CSRX1 11-32 11 Speed
SEATPOST: Vitus ZX-1 AERO Carbon
SHIFTERS/BRAKE LEVERS: Shimano Ultegra R8070 Di2 11 Speed
SADDLE: Vitus Ti Rail
BRAKES: Shimano R-8070
THRU-AXLE: Vitus Switch F-100x12mm R-142x12mm
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Vitus says, "Why? Because we just wanted to go faster! We wanted you to go faster! Two years ago, we reset our expectations, starting with a blank piece of paper. The goal to make this bike aerodynamically fast, feel fast, and look fast."
The ZX-1 Evo is a very quick bike, and it manages that without costing a fortune.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There are six models in the range, with this one sitting third from the top. The CRX eTap AXS tops the range at £5,399.99, then there's the CRS eTap AXS at £4,199.99.
Below this CRS Di2 is the CR eTap AXS at £3,599.99, the CRS at £3,099.99 and the CR at £2,799.99.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The overall quality of the frame and fork is excellent, plus I'm a big fan of the grey paint job.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork are made from carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is very race orientated, although the head angle isn't quite as steep as I would have expected. It has in no way affected the performance of the steering though.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack and reach are farily typical of what I'd expect to see on a bike of this type and style.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's a firm bike, but that doesn't affect the overall comfort levels.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness levels are very impressive, especially around the bottom bracket area and the front end.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very efficient, there is no power lost as you stamp on the pedals.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Highly responsive.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The ZX-1 has well-balanced handling which is quick enough to cope with the performance of the bike without becoming a handful at high speeds.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I found the Vision handlebar/stem combo to work really well in terms of hand positions, and while the saddle shape isn't one of my favourites, I found it to offer decent comfort levels on both long and short rides.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The deep-section Reynolds wheels offer impressive levels of lateral stiffness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels again, their deep section really helps the aerodynamics and Schwalbe's One tyre has low rolling resistance.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The Shimano Ultegra components are top notch when it comes to the performance and the Sunrace cassette and KMC chain don't upset that.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
It's impressive to see a set of wheels of this quality at this price point. They suit the performance of the Vitus perfectly.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Excellently grippy tyres that roll very smoothly.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The choice of components is very impressive for the money. The Vision integrated handlebar is comfortable and offers plenty of hand positions.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The ZX-1 is very competitively priced, as you can read in the review. Similarly specced quality bikes from a range of manufacturers can't compete very easily.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is an excellent bike straight out of the box and it is not just down to the kit you are getting for your money. It backs that up with a quality ride feel and some great geometry.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!