An iconic brand of the 1980s and 90s, Vitus has had a new lease of life from the backing of the mighty Chain Reaction Cycles and, in Irish road cycling great Sean Kelly, has the endorsement of a Vitus star during those glory years.
If the Zenium rides anywhere near as well as the seven-time Paris-Nice winner used to sprint, it should do very well indeed.
There’s nothing flash about the appearance of the Zenium but the simple colour scheme and classic frame geometry make for an understated but good-looking bike. Some of the welding could be a little neater but 6061 alloy is a proven performer and standard at this price point.
The Shimano R501 wheels aren’t going to set your heart racing, but they’re a solid choice from a global brand that’ll take plenty of hard riding. Similarly the Schwalbe Lugano tyres are on the heavy and budget side but offer good durability and puncture protection.
The FSA Gossamer Pro Compact chainset and cranks is another solid choice with the 50/34t chainrings suited to winter training and novices. FSA also provide the brake calipers, so they do an acceptable job.
The rest of the groupset is Shimano Tiagra. Although Tiagra is the subject of some cycle snobbery, with 105 viewed as the entry-level for ‘real cyclists’, the weight difference is negligible – if you could somehow do a blind test, we personally believe that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The 12-25t cassette doesn’t quite offer the climbing range that a 12-28t would but, for flat riding or racing, there’s less of a mid-cassette jump. Finishing kit is more FSA, but a Vitus own-brand saddle tops off the build.
There’s a familiar feel about the Zenium once you start spinning the pedals. It feels like a road bike should and, with a ride position that strikes a good balance between comfort and aggression, it immediately makes you smile. On our various test loops, it didn’t do anything jaw-dropping, it just put in a pleasing performance.
On the flat it fizzes along efficiently, responding well whether you’re driving a big gear down on the drops or cruising more sedately on the hoods. There’s a touch of alloy frame harshness through the rear end, but it’s within acceptable limits, and the carbon fork does a good job of smoothing out road buzz to your hands.
It doesn’t deliver breakneck acceleration if you jump hard, but it’s not flexy either, and you definitely feel as though it’s working with, rather than against, you.
Hit some climbs and, although it’s no pure climbing machine, far from lightweight and has a functional rather than featherweight wheelset, it’s efficient and feels like it climbs below its weight.
Spinning in the saddle feels surprisingly lively, and once the gradient gets too much to push the 34/25 bottom gear seated, or you just want to put in a dig, the Tiagra copes well with a full pressure shift. Climbing out of the saddle, although not a dance on the pedals, isn’t a slog either.
Reaching the crest and going with gravity, the Zenium again is accomplished rather than scintillating. It doesn’t put a tyre wrong, the brakes scrub speed well, there are no unexpected twitches or slides and it accelerates promptly.
The Zenium feels familiar because it rides like many other solid mid-priced alloy road bikes. It won’t set the road on fire but it won’t let you down either.
Contact : www.chainreactioncycles.com