By Stefan Abram
Vitus has completely revamped its speed-focussed aero-bike, with the result being a model which is not only claimed to be stiffer and more aerodynamic than its predecessor, but that also hits the spot aesthetically – looking every bit the part of a racing machine as those from more established brands, such as Specialized or Cannondale.
But in being the inhouse bike brand of retail giant, Wiggle, one of the most head-turning properties of this bike has got to be the price – and just what components you get for it.
Deep section wheels and a super clean cockpit with cables routing through the headtube is available for just £2,799.99, while builds which incorporate electronic shifting begin at £3,599.99. But before we get into the nitty gritty of the spec, let’s first cast an eye over the frame and what’s changed in the ZX-1 EVO comparative to the outgoing ZX-1.
The frame has seen a complete redesign, with Vitus claiming that the new ZX-1 EVO is both lighter and stiffer than the previous model, as well as exhibiting “up to 45% less drag than the previous ZX-1 when built as a full bike.”
In terms of visible physical changes, the ZX-1 EVO features dropped chainstays, a larger rear wheel cutout in the seat tube, and a more angularly shaped headtube – with aims to improve the aerodynamics.
Perhaps the most striking changes has been the rerouting of the cables through the head tube, resulting in an extremely clean look – one typically reserved for bikes a little more expensive.
In addition to that, the seatpost has been swapped out for a propriety deep section item. This also features an adjustable saddle clamp which can be slid forwards and backwards to give a greater range of saddle laybacks – without the need to swap in a different post.
The pricing has changed quite significantly from the previous version, with a SRAM Force model now setting you back £4,199.99, as opposed to £3,699.99 previously. Presumably, the world-wide bike stock shortage has played something of a role in increasing the price, but there are some other factors at play.
A large part of this is likely down to the wheelset specced. Whereas before the Prime Carbon Black Edition 50 Tubeless Ready wheels were included, those have now been swapped out to the fancier and deeper section Reynolds AR 58/62 DB Carbon Clincher, Tubeless wheels. The inclusion of the one-piece Vision Metron 5D ACR Carbon handlebar will also have resulted in a bit of an increase.
So, although the ZX-1 EVO does cost more than its predecessor, there is at least the consolation that you are getting a little something more in return.
In a size medium, the stack comes in at 543mm and the reach 387mm, making it 5mm lower and 2mm longer than the previous model – and well within the ballpark of what we’d expect from a race-oriented bike.
The head angle has been slacked out a little to 72.4°, which is a little less steep than what you typically might see – but the change isn’t what we’d call radical in its magnitude.
The chainstays have stayed the same at 410mm and, as before, these remain the same across all sizes. If you sit in the middle of the bell curve, this is generally a good balance for snappy handling, but could feel a little cumbersome in the smallest sizes or a little twitchy in the largest.
We’ve had the SRAM Force equipped model on review and found the handling in the size medium to be spot on and the build to be impressively fast. For all the details on what it was like to ride, our full review can be read here.
There are two models which particularly stand out from the range and are well worth shining a light on.
The first is the ZX-1 EVO CR, the Shimano 105 build. This costs £2,799.99, but for that you are getting a completely race-ready bike.
From our review of the ZX-1 EVO CRS ETAP AXS (the SRAM Force build) we can vouch for the frame being excellently stiff and the handling great. Alongside that, you get the same Reynolds AR 58/62 DB Carbon wheelset and Schwalbe ONE Performance TLE 25c tyres as you do on the more expensive models – which is an excellent pairing.
You don’t get the Vision one-piece bar and stem, but the two-piece setup does make it easier and cheaper to tailor the reach and width to your choosing. As the rider’s position is responsible for the majority of aerodynamic drag, easier cockpit adjustments are almost a bonus.
We did really like the ergonomics of the Prime Primavera Carbon handlebar specced when we had it on review, so there’s no glaring problems in that department. But if you’re taking speed seriously, you’d likely want to replace it with a narrower option than the one that comes stock.
The Shimano 105 groupset itself is really excellent, with shifting an braking that is hard to distinguish from the higher tiers and is absolutely good enough to race on, even if it is a little heavier. A larger downside is that when it comes time to replace the gear cables, the process will be a little arduous with the highly integrated setup – but for that many that would be a trade-off well worth taking to save £800 over the cheapest model with electronic shifting.
The second highlight is the ZX-1 EVO CRS ETAP AXS which is actually the model we have on review, so we won’t go into too much detail here.
But to still give a summary, you’ve got those same Reynolds AR 58/62 DB Carbon wheelset and Schwalbe ONE Performance TLE 25c tyres to roll on – so no real complaints regarding the wheels – and a Vision Metron 5D ACR Carbon one-piece handlebar and stem for a very smart looking cockpit.
It would be nice if it were possible to specify the reach and width you require at the point of purchase, as they are a genuinely nice set of handlebars which it would be a shame to immediately swap out if the measurements don’t happen to exactly match your own.
As the name hints towards, you get the SRAM Force AXS groupset on this model which is an excellent pairing with this bike. The total integration doesn’t present a mechanical nuisance as there aren’t any wires for the shifting and periodically bleeding the disc brakes doesn’t require ever moving the cables from where they are in the frame.
You also get the lovely gear ratios that SRAM has developed, with a 48/35 crankset paired to a 10–33 cassette providing the same number of single tooth jumps as on an 11-speed Shimano 11–28 block, for a good close spacing between the gears for the majority of the cassette, before spreading out a bit as you move into the easiest.
But even with that, you get a top gear which is larger than 52x11 and a bottom gear that’s easier than 34x32 – which is the lowest combination you’d typically get on an endurance focused bike specced with Shimano.
At £4,199.99, it’s pretty great value for the components it comes with.
For a bonus extra spotlight, there’s the ZX-1 EVO CR ETAP AXS, which gets the newly electronic SRAM Rival groupset, making it the cheapest option that dispenses with the gear cables at £3,599.99.
While we often see bikes with higher tier groupsets specced with lower tier chains and cassettes to save a bit of money, this build has gone the other direction and actually features SRAM’s second tier Force cassette.
The reason for this is that there’s only 10-30 or 10-36 cassette options for Rival and it wasn’t felt that either of these would be right for the bike. The 10-36 has just misses out on too many of the single tooth jumps, while the 10-30 doesn’t provide quite enough range. So on went a 10-33 Force cassette to match the other SRAM build in the range.
But the price to performance ratio here doesn’t quite match some of the other bikes in the range, it’s £500 more expensive than even the mechanical shifting Ultegra build (£800 more than 105) and it comes with the Prime Attaquer Disc Tubeless wheels, which are much shallower than the Reynolds wheels specced on the other bikes and would mitigate the ZX-1’s speedy potential.
You’d be much better off going for the second cheapest electronic build, the ZX-1 EVO CRS DI2, which comes with Shimano Ultegra Di2 which costs £3,999.99 and does get those deeper section wheels. Or if that’s beyond your budget, going for one of the mechanical shifting builds would also be much better value.
For the exact spec and pricing of each of the six models in the range, we've included those details in the gallery above. Also included is the international pricing for each of the models, including GBP, USD, EUR, amongst others.
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