FIRST LOOK: Vitus Sean Kelly Limited Edition

by Henry Peacock

Price £2,879.00
Size 56cm
Colour Black/Green
The French brand Vitus was brought back to life by Chain Reaction Cycles in 2011, with all new models joining the range for 2012; this is their flagship model and at £2879.99 it's at a fairly serious price point, but it may be a less expensive alternative to the other exotica on the market.

Vitus is a name that'll be familiar to many as an iconic brand of yesteryear. It's now back on the road and this bicycle certainly has the looks; matt black paint with fluorescent green decals means you won't be hiding in any peloton. It's the type of bike that looks like it needs to be ridden fast, and it comes in at a competitive price point, writes Henry Peacock.

A bold statement

The French brand Vitus was brought back to life by Chain Reaction Cycles in 2011, with all new models joining the range for 2012; this is their flagship model and at £2879.99 it's at a fairly serious price point, but it may be a less expensive alternative to the other exotica on the market.

Just how special is it?

The carbon frame design is a shape that is a constant throughout the range with only the carbon lay up being different; Vitus say it is a super high-modulus Uni-Directional carbon fibre. At 950g, the frame weight is ranked amongst some serious competition.

We are told the frames have had design input from Sean Kelly himself and he may know a few things about riding a bicycle with 193 professional victories with nine monument classics to boot. I wondered during my initial ride if he would appreciate my penchant for high saddle and low bars approach. The green flashes hark back to 'King Kelly's' victory in the Tour de France points jersey competition and to his Irish heritage. 

The overall frame geometry is very compact, the chainstays short with the rear wheel as close to the seat tube as possible, and it definitely is a no-nonsense approach. The zero rake of the front fork brings the front end in as well. I have a feeling this is a bike that can change direction very quickly. With its geometry, it may be a big change from the high-headtube sportive models we've seen hit the market over the past couple of years.

The groupset is Shimano's high end cable offering, Shimano Dura-Ace 7900. At the price, it's nice to see a light frame and some top spec components. I like the brushed dark grey metal of the groupset, it adds to the overall look of the bike. From the very first ride, which I use for setting the bicycle up, I noticed the hoods aren't, in my opinion, properly positioned on the bars, so I had to carefully unwrap the bar tape move the hoods down onto the bend and re-wrap - a minor gripe.

Dura-Ace Rear Mech

The first few touches of the Dura-Ace levers provide effortless shifting and really powerful braking. The changes are rifle bolt precision smooth, when pushing the lever over to shift down up to three cogs can be done in one smooth motion. Chain Reaction Cycles kindly set it all up perfectly straight out of the box, I'm expecting a bit of cable stretch over the next few weeks so may have to tweak accordingly. 

The stem, bars and seatpost are 3T's aluminium alloy versions which they also do in carbon, for this price point this equipment does not surprise me, they have offered a lot for the money so this is the area where they had to provide a more modest offering. The bars and stem seem stiff enough when accelerating and compliant enough for longer rides. The natural drop type bars 'Rotunda Pro' will take some getting used to after having ergonomic drops for a few years. A friend of mine has told me that "they are the way forward", so I will have to get used to them.

The seatpost is aluminium, which is a fairly unusual sight as carbon fibre seat posts have become popular. But it it does utilise a very innovative system for saddle rail clamping, It is a clever design which uses two machined cylinders inside one another that can be rotated in very small increments, it is initially a bit of a fiddle but once set up it ensures the saddle can never change position no matter how much force is applied.

Ksyrium Elite Wheels

The Mavic Ksyrium Elite Wheels are light and relatively understated in their appearance, my first few accellerations yielded no brake rub in the rear, considering the brakes were set up with the pads almost touching the rim I am pleasantly surprised. We will have to wait till I can get out onto some longer rides and climbs to test their stiffness and durability fully.

The wheels are complimented with Michelin PRO3 Light SC tyres and having been a Continental advocate for a while it is good to get the opportunity to give other tyres a chance. With the recent downpours grit and gravel is everywhere, this will be a stern test for their durability. I'll be testing out the levels of grip in a few criterium races and sportives soon so fingers crossed. 

The overall weight for the bicycle comes in at a fairly skinny 7.2kg, this is impressive for the price, and the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg is easily in reach for this set up.

Keep an eye out for the full review on in a few weeks.

The Facts:
Price: £2879.99 (Current Sale Price)
Size Tested: 56cm
Buy From:
Frame: High-Modulus UD Carbon Frame - 950g Frame Weight
Forks: Full UD Carbon
Headset: FSA
Handlebars: 3T Rotundo Pro
Stem: 3T ARX Pro
Handlebar Tape: Cork Cushion
Chainset: Shimano Dura Ace 7900 53/39
Chain: Shimano Dura Ace 7900 10-Speed
Cassette: Shimano Dura Ace 7900 11-25t 10-Speed
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace 7900
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace 7900
Front Derailleur: Shimano Dura Ace 7900
Brakes: Shimano Dura Ace 7900
Saddle: Vitus
Seatpost: 3T Palladio Pro
Tyres: Michelin PRO3 Light SC 700x23c
Wheelset: Mavic Ksyrium Elite
Weight: 7.2kg (54cm)

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