Can a bike be fun yet practical? Race ready and versatile? All at the same time? The Vitus Energie VR seems to think so
The problem with us cyclists is that there’s always another discipline to dabble in, the constant N+1 rule that sees us constantly yearning for another bike to play out on. Obviously there are somewhat limitations to appeasing this need, mostly in the form wallet size and also stable space, but the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike will only hamper stable space!
So when the Vitus Energy VR Cyclocross bike landed promising to be a enjoyable ride weather you race it, adventure or simply take the trail less traveled all for just under £1200, we simply had to hop on board.
This is the second generation Vitus Energy VR Cyclocross bike, having already had a couple of seasons of ragging round the woods and fields, the design team have built on feedback from the original model and really engineer in everyone’s wish lists.
The alloy frame and full carbon fork has been constructed predominantly with cyclocross racing in mind, but with a nod to customers wanting to also turn the bike in to more of a gravel/ adventure machine too.
According to Vitus, building enjoyment and speed into the frame design was a two fold. With tubing profiles on the top tube and down tube designed to be stiff to counter side to side movement, but compliant up and down, allowing not only for comfort, but conversely the rider to take the fastest line, no matter what the obstacle, without getting rattled to pieces.
It’s clear the design team of the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike are cross riders and adventure makers, having thought long and hard about what would make the ultimate cross bike/ gravel bike for them.
So they’ve worked closely with the mountain bike designers and engineers at Vitus to develop and improve the handling of the Energy VR, especially on the descents and out of berms and corners.
This cooperative design gives the Energy VR a slighter longer top tube, by about 10 to 20mm, and a shorter stem, which combined with a slacker head tube angle of 71.3 degrees, over a more traditional 72degrees, like the Trek Boone, Vitus say this results in the bike being responsive, but without being overly twitchy.
The SRAM Rival 1 set up has also come from the Vitus team’s cross experience, with the single chain ring arrangement not only keeps things simple and lightweight during a race, it also creates space for really decent mud clearance, allowing the bike to take up to 45c tyres for 700 wheels and even 29×2.1, or 50c if your running 650b wheels and your really wanting to head out on the trails, as well as the ability to run mudguards, thanks to the integrated mudguard and pannier mounts.
The Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike has also been constructed with carrying in mind, so a rounded underside to the top tube has been included in order to prevent sharp angles digging in when the bike is on your back.
I rode the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike in it’s most natural state, in that I hit the road with the bike straight out the box. I had a rough idea in mind where I was planning on riding, not only off the beaten track, but also, as it turns out, off my OS map too.
It was a mix of road, bridal way, trail and quite frankly unmarked routes that I end up discovering on the bike, all pretty much on my doorstep in the Peak District, but until the arrival of the Energy VR, inaccessible.
The early section of roads to get out to the bridal ways gave me a good inclination as to the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike’s handling. It was, in a word, rapid. The bike was punchy and highly responsive to swinging in and out of corners and pulling away from junctions.
But it was on the the off-road sections that the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike really shone. It did feel fast and with gear shifting simplified to one side, I was able to purely focus my attention on picking lines through the muddy rocky trail.
It was noticeably harder not having a smaller ring to spin in, but it did feel like the effort was rewarded by speed and I was able to clear more of the natural rock garden than I thought I would.
I now realise, looking back through the ride data, that I wasn’t hanging about, and the effort was rewarded with no less than seven consecutive top 10’s in the Strava segment results, and one QOM – not bad for an out the box ride.
With results unknown, I was initially cross with myself for not being able to ride some of the steeper sections of the route, and realised that if I had thought a bit more about where the ride was going to take me, I would have dialled the ride more for the terrain and gone down a size or two at the front from the standard 40t that it comes with.
This oversight, however, did give me the ability to shoulder the bike on some of the steepest sections and thanks to it’s reasonably lightweight 9.03kg it was a breeze to run up the steepest climbs.
And steep it was, the only other tyre tracks seemed to be heading in the opposite direction and were all no doubt from burly full suss’er mountain bikes taking advantage of the natural trail features.
It wasn’t until I took a brake from hike-a-bike to realise just how far up I’d got. Looking to my right, I recognised a distant road instantly as the infamous Brickworks, a cat4 climb that they sent the Tour of Britain up a couple of years ago. Behind me was a vista that took in just about the whole of the North West, with everything from the giant telescope at Jodrell Bank, Welsh mountain ranges, the banks of the River Mersey and even across to Winter Hill, north west of Manchester City Centre.
Needless to say I’d taken the steep way up, and to my legs horror, was still climbing. The trail flattened out and the SRAM Rival 1 groupset clicked down effortlessly, despite the serious amount of Peak District mud, peat and sheep poo now adhered to it.
With the nobbly 35c WTB Cross Boss tyres also now nicely coated in green and brown stuff, I was rather apprehensive about the immediate road descent off the top, but I needn’t have been. Apart from taking some precautions with muddy tyres on tarmac, I was surprised as to how much positive feedback the bike gave me, leaving me in no doubt that I was fully in control at all times, allowing me to lean in to the corners more than I would have done usually.
With my performance confidence boosted the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike is the gift that just keeps on giving. It’s fantastic fun to ride and I don’t doubt for a moment it’s ability to make you grin from ear to ear on either the race track or stick on some mudguards and panniers and head off for an over night bike packing weekender.
Without hesitation, the pipe dream of the N+1 gravel or cross bike became a much closer in the form of the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike.
Not only is it’s versatility and capabilities as limited as the rider above it, but it’s outstanding value for the £1199.99.
Equally at home on the race course or the off-road commute home, the versatile and Vitus Energy VR Cyclocross bike will guarantee to make you really smile, no matter where your ride takes you.