I’m not one for reviewing products for the sake of it – but as a genuine buyer and regular rider of the Vitus Zenium CRS Ultegra I feel more qualified than most to offer my opinion on this all-carbon road bike from Chain Reaction/Wiggle.
The Vitus Zenium (in this and its lower-priced versions) has received some great reviews already, which only served to confirm my own impressions from several months of riding it.
All versions share the same carbon frame and all-carbon fork – which is itself a rarity at the prices you’ll pay for the various equipment levels.
The CRS Ultegra also comes with a carbon seat post, while the Tiagra-equipped version makes do with alloy. Wheels and tyres are also slightly compromised on the less expensive versions, but they still ride and roll well.
Another difference is in the brakes (all disk). The CRS comes with full Ultegra hydraulic disks, while the Tiagra has (still very good) TRP Spyre mechanical stoppers. Through axles help braking control, and steering response.
Where the lower-priced components will have an effect is in the overall weight, and the CRS Ultegra comes in about 1 kg below the Tiagra version. The Tiagra’s still not heavy, though, at about 9.4 kg for the large size. My CRS is a fraction under 8.2 kg (medium).
There’s also a Shimano 105-equipped version, which will be somewhere in between.
Frame and fork are finished in an irridescent blue that Vitus call “chameleon blue” – that changes shade depending on the ambient light, from a mid blue to nearly purple. It’s attractive if not spectacular.
But how does it ride?
Very well, is the answer. The frame is stiff in all the right places, helped by a distinctly oversize down tube and substantial bottom bracket area. But compliance is built into the frame, too, with the slightly dropped seat stays playing a part. The compact frame means a decent amount of exposed seat post for further compliance. But a lot of thought has clearly gone into the carbon layup, too. The forks absorb road chatter well, without giving any impression of flexing, and the overall ride is comfortable for hours in the saddle.
That saddle is Vitus’ own brand. I was very aware of the cutout and the fairly firm padding when I first got on board but it never became uncomfortable. Frankly, I forgot about it. The surface is grippy enough and is showing no signs of wear after a few months and hundreds of miles’ riding.
The Ultegra group set is up to Shimano’s high standards, and you can expect the same from the lower-priced versions as well. Braking is controlled and powerful, and mostly quiet. The Spyre mechanical brakes fitted to the Tiagra version will be slightly less powerful but are well-regarded and perfectly adequate.
Wheels are own brand Prime – Baroudeur on the CRS, which have deepish rims and presumably aero pretentions. They’re rigid and roll well on Schwalbe One TLE tubeless-ready tyres (with tubes fitted). The Tiagra has shallower rims, and rolls on Vee Roadrunner tyres. Both are on-trend 28mm tyres, which no doubt help with the ride quality.
The frame can accommodate up to 32mm tyres if you want even more comfort.
The Schwalbe Ones are grippy and fast, and seem to be wearing very well.
With a good chassis, decent wheels and very good tyres, my Zenium CRS handles excellently, and the stiff frame puts down the power well. I’ve set Strava PRs on most of my local hills on this bike, thanks to it’s reasonable weight and good power transfer.
Gearing is 52/36 up front and 11-32 (11 speed) at the rear – a pretty classic range for a road bike that suits nearly all riders in most conditions. I’ve only used the smallest gear a few times and rarely use the hardest one, though more powerful riders might use it more.
Gear changes are faultless. The Sunrace cassette works fine with the KMC chain – the only deviations from Shimano’s group set.
The bar and stem are alloy, also in-house, and the flattened tops are again on-trend, as well as being practical and comfortable, while helping aerodynamics a little.
The bike isn’t obviously aero, but zips along anyway.
Frankly, in the price ranges the Vitus is pitched at, you won’t find much competition – with an all carbon frame and fork, sure handling and good equipment levels for the money.
Vitus say: “The award-winning Vitus Zenium – Local criteriums, speedy sportives, weekend club runs or your go-to training bike, the Zenium has you covered.” They’re not wrong.
At under £1700 for my CRS Ultegra hydraulic version and well under £1000 for the mechanically braked Tiagra sister bike (when bought directly from Wiggle), only Boardman are likely to come close.
You’ll pay a fraction under £2500 if you choose the Ultegra di2 (electronic gears) version, which comes in grey rather than blue.
You can buy the Vitus Zenium online from Chain Reaction or Wiggle, as I did. Sizing is accurate – I’m on the boundary between medium and large, and opted for medium as advised. I can only say it fitted, right out of the box. I just had to clamp the bars into the stem, fit some pedals (a pair of flat pedals was included), and I was away.
There is 25mm of spacers under the stem, as you can see above, so you can ‘slam’ the stem if you want a racier, more aerodynamic position.
With stocks of new bikes everywhere in short supply, buying online can be the quickest way to guarantee you’ll get your bike sooner rather than later. Mine arrived (in Jersey) in about a week.
Here’s the link to Wiggle’s road bikes. (Yes, I make a small commission, but no, you don’t pay any more)