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Vielo V+1 Alto review

24 Nov 2021
Verdict:

The V+1 generation two is an upgrade on an already proficient racy gravel bike

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Efficient ride feel • Balanced handling geometry • Innovative features
Against 
Frameset is expensive • Limited to using at least a Vielo chainring unless running Campagnolo’s Ekar groupset

The Vielo V+1 is a racy gravel bike that first launched in 2018. Now in its second generation, the V+1 retains its edge while upping tyre clearances, among other tweaks. Gravel is such an established discipline these days that, inevitably, subsectors are springing up within it. In fact two distinct niches have formed, with equally distinct cultures around them.

First there is 'adventure' gravel. The bikes are rugged and relaxed, built for long days over rough terrain, and the riders wear things like flannel shirts – left open to flap in the breeze, naturally – and neckerchiefs. They probably have beards too.


Then there is 'race' gravel. The bikes are just as much at home on tarmac as they are on hardpack, and their riders wear Lycra and worry about functional threshold power.

The original V+1 leant towards the race side of things and, if anything, with this second generation the manufacturer has doubled down on the V+1's aggressive credentials.

 

Last year Vielo released its first road bike, the R+1, so the brand has taken a number of design cues from that bike and applied them to the reiteration of the V+1.

• Read our Vielo R+1 review here

Most notably, Vielo has completely carried over the down tube to bottom bracket junction from the road bike. Being a brand that champions the benefits of 1× gearing and designs bikes as such, that junction can be completely symmetrical as it doesn't have to allow for a front derailleur or second chainring.

It enables Vielo to claim a stiffness increase of 30% in that area, but going 1×-specific affects the chainstays in an equally positive way.

This is particularly pertinent for gravel bikes that need to juggle far bigger tyre clearances alongside adequately stiff chainstays inside a narrow road Q-factor (the width between a chainset’s crank arms).

By going 1×-specific, Vielo can offer the V+1 with 700c × 50mm tyre clearance without having to resort to doing anything funky like dropping or slimming the driveside chainstay.

Stiff in all the right places

I'd say all this contributes substantially to the frame's feeling of overall efficiency while riding. Pushing hard along flatter, faster gravel roads or having to get myself out of sticky situations on technical trails, the frame felt palpably rigid beyond the squirm of the tyres and was responsive to larger inputs of power. It created a ride feel that was far more similar to road frames than I would typically expect from a gravel bike.

Many other brands employ a similarly beefy down tube-BB-chainstay spine, but pair that with a more svelte upper half of the frame in an attempt to generate comfort.

Interestingly Vielo has gone the other way, reinforcing the torsional solidity further by widening the top tube laterally and bulking up the seat tube compared to the previous V+1. Consequently the seatpost is 30.9mm in size, which is uncommonly large these days.

Vielo says this allowed it to improve the frame’s resistance to twist as well as create room for aftermarket dropper post options should the desire be there. It often isn't in an aggressive gravel bike such as this, so I would question the necessity of including that opportunity if the wider post made the ride overly firm.

As it is, however, the bike falls on the liveable side of direct in terms of comfort, so on balance I'd say the option is good to have and is another neat feature to add to the V+1's already impressive list.

Vielo has balanced the bulk by drastically slimming and curving the seatstays (one of the only features retained from the first-generation V+1) as well as exposing more of that chunky post to flex by increasing the slope of the top tube.

The result creates enough passive suspension to take the sting out of the ruts and rocks I often blundered straight over, with the large 45mm tyres that are specced as standard smoothing out most of the higher-frequency vibration that is ever-present on naturally uneven surfaces.

Up to this point you'd be forgiven for thinking that the 50mm tyre clearance is the only saving grace for typical gravel bike versatility in what is otherwise quite an aggressive design. Yet Vielo has cannily balanced the V+1's racy efficiency by building in confident handling geometry.

Slack angles – the V+1 has a 70.5° head tube, for example – paired with a long wheelbase means the bike is all but unflappable on hairy off-road descents.

It let me pick and switch lines along choppy, rutted tracks with little worry that my input at the bars over such terrain would result in any nervous reactions from the bike beneath me.

So is the V+1 the perfect racy gravel bike? Almost. The muted, matt colour options are a little too Farrow & Ball for my liking, and the frameset's £3,999 asking price would have me wincing under heavy rock strikes, but the splitting of subjective hairs aside, Vielo has come damn near close to nailing it.

Pick of the kit


Castelli Unlimited bibshorts, £130, saddleback.co.uk

What I like about the Unlimited bibshorts is how many features Castelli has packed into what are on the face of it straightforward bibshorts. There are two hidden mesh pockets on the bibstraps, and the subtle thigh pockets also function as double-layered crash panels.

Despite being as comfy as more regular options, the shorts are made from a denser fabric that Castelli says is more resistant to scratching and tearing. Having plunged down countless kilometres of overgrown bridleways in them I can attest to their durability.

Alternatively…


Go all-road

The V+1 is all clean lines and crisp design, so Sram’s wireless AXS groupsets complement the design well. The V+1 Alto with Force/Eagle eTap AXS mullet gearing sits at the top of the V+1’s range at £6,299.

Go only-road

The V+1 is no slouch on tarmac, but for all-out road riding Vielo offers the R+1. The £5,499 Strato build uses Campagnolo’s 13-speed Ekar groupset, which offers great range without gear steps being too big.

Spec

Frame Vielo V+1 Alto
Groupset   Shimano GRX Di2
Brakes Shimano GRX Di2
Chainset Vielo Alloy
Cassette Shimano GRX Di2
Bars Vielo Carbon
Stem Vielo Alloy
Seatpost Vielo Carbon
Saddle Fabric Scoop Ultimate
Wheels DT Swiss GR1600, WTB Riddler 45mm tyres  
Weight 8.68kg
Contact vielo.cc

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£5,999