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Vitus ZX1 review

26 Mar 2019
Verdict:

A lot of bike for the money. It won’t blow you away in any one particular aspect but equally you’ll not be at all disappointed

For 
Dura Ace at this price is great value, as are the wheels • Decent comfort for an aero frame
Against 
Vitus is a direct to market brand, so you can’t easily ride or test one before you buy

This article was originally published in issue 82 of Cyclist magazine

If you want to spend all Saturday afternoon down at your local bike shop, poring over your next dream machine while sipping a cappuccino, look away now.

If, as is the case for many, you just want the best bike you can get for your budget, you’ll no doubt have noticed the substantial savings to be had by buying a direct-to-consumer brand – something you can do while sitting in your PJs, drinking coffee on your own sofa, any time of day or night.

Consumer direct brands were/are (delete as appropriate) considered the scourge of the industry for removing a key part of the usual supply chain: the local bike shop.

But whether you view the growing number of such brands as villains or simply smart for seizing the initiative in a heavily price-driven market, is up to you.

Canyon seems to bear the brunt of the flak, but I still see a heck of a lot of Canyons out on the road.

Less so Vitus, but if the latest ZX1 Team Aero Disc is anything to go by, that could well be about to change.

Let’s talk money

The Vitus ZX1 Team Aero Disc costs a penny shy of £4,200.

That’s a substantial amount of cash, but when you consider it’s fitted with Shimano’s flagship Dura-Ace disc brake groupset and a set of DT Swiss ARC 1100 DiCut carbon tubeless wheels (which if bought aftermarket would esasily set you back £2k on their own), plus finishing kit by highly regarded brands such as Ritchey and Fizik, it stacks up as a lot of bike for the money.

And Vitus has hardly slung all this posh kit on an old boneshaker either.

The ZX1 is an iconic marque for the brand.

The original version was a ground-breaking bike – according to Vitus it was the first commercially available one-piece carbon monocoque road frame, launched in 1991 – and now 27 years on it has resurrected the name for this new top-end carbon aero road frame.

This time around, Vitus hasn’t tried to produce a game-changer.

Instead it has wisely stuck to tried and tested geometry and CFD-proven kamm-tail tube profiles for some aero gains.

This keeps weight down, and the resultant ride feel is more comfortable than some pure aero racers.

By its own admission Vitus did not set out to make speed the highest priority for the ZX1.

‘As aero bikes go it’s not a TT-inspired bike, but an aero package built into something that’s also fun to ride all day long, and can still be competitive at the front end of pro racing,’ says product manager Jodie Shann.

‘This is what the An Post-CRC pro team, who we used to help test the bike, demanded.

‘The bike takes up to a 30c tyre, which is probably the biggest contributor to comfort.’

Certainly I would agree the ZX1 on test here profits from the latest 25mm Hutchinson Fusion tubeless tyres on the DT Swiss wheels, which together deliver a sublime ride quality.

The tubeless set-up ensures road buzz is dampened remarkably well, making for an amenable ride on even the most rutted country lanes.

The compact frame design also means there’s plenty of exposed seatpost to flex and lessen the impact of shocks beyond those that the tyres can absorb.

Quick to go, quick to stop

The combined stiffness of the frame, fork and wheels delivers a pleasing surge up to speed.

The 48mm wheel rims are not at all sluggish during accelerations, and they help the ZX1 to hold on to pace without a power-sapping struggle.

While aero benefits are hard to quantify without our own wind-tunnel (sadly the boss has yet to rubber-stamp our plans to convert the stationery cupboard into one), stability at speed is something that’s instantly tangible.

The ZX1 feels calm and collected on high-speed descents and, although it’s not the most responsive I’ve tested, its relative neutrality gives it a welcome predictability.

There’s a squirrel that owes its life to the assured handling of the ZX1.

When it comes to stopping, Vitus has opted to make the ZX1 disc brake only.

‘Not only do you get more consistent braking performance, you get stiffer wheel/frame interface with 12mm thru axles, plus the ability to have much wider tyre clearances,’ says Shann.

I have to agree. While some people still find it hard to accept discs, I feel they now have very few drawbacks.

Take them away and all you might gain is a few grams shaved off the total weight, but you’d stand to lose a lot more.

The ZX1 is a great all-rounder, and the discs are a big part of that.

Switching between this and some substantially pricier test bikes from ride to ride, it never felt like a step down to return to the ZX1.

Like a mate who is just easy to get along with, the ZX1 seems to build allegiance through being dependable and straight-talking.

By the same virtue, this friend wouldn’t necessarily be the one you’d pick for a wild night out. It’s not a thrill-a-minute kind of ride.

In fact, it’s not outstanding in any one particular way, but it’s still one heck of a lot of bike for the money.

That, I’d wager, will make it very appealing to a lot of people.

Spec

Frame Vitus ZX1 Team Aero Disc
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Cassette SShimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Bars Ritchey WCS Streem II
Stem Ritchey WCS 4-Axis
Seatpost Prime carbon  
Saddle Fizik Antares R3
Wheels DT Swiss ARC 1100 DiCut, Hutchinson Fusion 5 tubeless 25mm
Weight 7.11kg (large/56cm)
Contact vitusbikes.com
Price: 
£4,200

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