1980's vintage French built BONDED aluminum racing frame - a construction method the company pioneered in the late 1970s. Compared to modern aluminium bicycle frames, early Vitus aluminium frames, such as the 979, offered more comfort because of the small diameter of the tubes and greater degree of flex than their steel and modern aluminum counterparts. The frames lack some degree of lateral stiffness compared to their steel counterparts due to the bonding of the aluminum lugs, rather than the typical welding used by most manufacturers of that era.
The Vitus 979 was a favorite bicycle of racer Sean Kelly to win many European races in the 1980's (he later rode the Vitus 992, the 979's younger sibling)
Strengths: The Vitus 979 strengths: Very light weight (for its day), crisp handling characteristics, low maintenance with sealed cassette bearing BB and hubs, solid shifting, cool factor - the bike has style.
Weaknesses: The most prominent weakness of the Vitus 979 is the lateral flex of the frame. When riding up hills and standing on the peddles there is a noticeable sway at the bottom bracket. This translates into a power loss while peddling. It is also present while sprinting. When heaving braking on the front wheel some fork chatter occurs. Being an aluminum frame it does not soak up road bumps very well so long rides can be pretty tiring.
I purchased the bike back in 1985 to use for road racing. I am not sure how many thousands of miles I put on it to this day. I have ridden the bike fairly consistently in the 30 years I have had it. One thing I was concerned about was the assembly of the frame. It is glued together at the lugs with epoxy. With all of the vibration, temperature variations and regular riding it has held together amazingly well. The Vitus 979 I believe possesses some historical significance being one of the first production aluminum frames constructed in this method. Overall it is a fine quality machine that will put a smile on your face as you ride.
Bike Setup: This bike as originally set up has the Mavic 1010 grupo. Hubs - 550RD, Rims - Mavic G40, Brakes - Pro 420, Pedals - 640, Cranks - 630 (170mm), BB - 610RD, Rear derailleur - 801, Front derailleur - 810, Stem - Potence 360, Seat Post - SR Laprade, Headset - 310, Seat - Concor Profile
Current set up is all original except for the rims Mavic CXP21, tire, handle bar tape and brake hoods.
Date Reviewed: June 26, 2015
Strengths: I call this the "Super Bike". I bought it from an old racing guy and it was just a frame, forks, seatpost and tubular wheel set. There was also a very light cassette in the box of components I got from him. The frame is a tiny bit small for me but I just use it for bopping around town. This bike is super light and definitely made for going fast!!
Weaknesses: The tubular tires are a pain in the butt to replace because they are expensive! It's very light though and does have a forgiving ride. It flexes so much in fact that the front fork chatters when braking!
The Vitus 979 is an excellent vintage aluminum bicycle dating from 1979 to 1992. Unlike contemporary aluminum tubing, with its large outside diameter (OD), Vitus used a thin-wall tube set with the same OD as conventional steel frames of the era. The result was a bike that typically weighed two to three pounds less than comparable bikes. My 1986 979, equipped entirely with Campagnolo Super Record components, weighs under 18 1/2 lbs.
If you have a smooth pedal stroke, especially when out of the saddle, the frame will feel responsive and eager. If you are a heavier ride, especially one who likes to mash on the pedals, you will certainly be able to flex the bottom bracket area. Nonetheless, the 979 provides a rewarding ride. It was raced successfully by Lucho Herrera and Sean Kelly, and you can find some cool YouTube videos of them winning on their Vitus frames.
Should you buy one, I strongly recommend that you inspect the frame carefully - just as you would a steel frame. The tubes are glued and bonded into the lugs and if there are irregularities, they should be visible to the eye. The anodized aluminum cleans up nicely. All in all, a first rate bike and well worth the relatively modest investment.
-has some give
Weaknesses: -may be too flexible for some heavier riders
-hard to find certain parts of modern materials (carbon fork, seat post) to fit the narrow gauge tubing
My understanding was that this frame originally retailed for over $1200 in the late '80's. I purchased my 1987 Vitus 979 in 1991 from one of my coaches, and I'm still riding it today. Unable to afford a new bicycle of the quality I would want, I recently rebuilt my old Vitus and am now using it to train for Colorado's Triple Bypass Race, 120 miles through the Rockies.
This bicycle is lightweight aluminum, but unlike most aluminum frames, it's rather forgiving, as the small gauge tubing and bonding of the lugs instead of welding give it more flex than most aluminum frames.
I've ridden thousands of miles on this bicycle, and now that the rebuild is complete, I hope to continue riding it for many more. With the more modern components, the ride is better than ever! With my broad range freewheel & triple chainring, climbing is now a breeze!
Only 4**** overall, though, as the narrow gauge tubing makes it impossible to find certain components for it with more modern materials, i.e. forks and seat posts. Although, it does give it the flex a small rider like myself needs!
Bike Setup: -1987 vintage Vitus 979 bonded aluminum frame
-Cane Creek SCR-5C compact aero levers
--Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow saddle
-Shimano Sora front derailleur
-Shimano Tiagra Triple chainring
-Mavic Open Pro rim
-Nashbar 7 spd. Huge Gear 12-34 freewheel
-Shimano Tourney Megarange rear derailleur
-Mavic SSC dual-pivot caliper brakes
-SRAM bottom bracket
-Profile Design Red White Black Splash cork composite bar tape (w/o adhesive)
Unsure of the brand for the 4cm quill stem (yes, the bike is too big for me, so I did this to make it fit me) and the handlebars... those I replaced a number of years back.