Sporting the popular matte black and carbon colorway with subdued logos, the VeloVie Vitesse looks good, rides great and delivers on its promise of high performance on a privateer budget.
Pro ride on privateer budget
If you want a new pro-level bike from one of the big hitter brands, you'll need to shell out the cost of a decent used car to get it. It's never been easier to get the exact same technology that the pros ride--and it's also never been easier to blow ten grand (or more) on an off-the-shelf, bone stock bike. If you're rolling in that kind of cash, good on ya. Bikes at that price point are awesome bikes - but there is an alternative.
We've spent the past few months flogging a VeloVie Vitesse 500 with SRAM Red 22. It's a sexy-looking bike that delivers huge value at $4,847 for a full SRAM Red 22 build with VeloVie's house-brand carbon wheels, saddle and cockpit. With an overall bike weight of 14.3 pounds for a 54cm that fits like a 57, it's light but not ridiculously light, and the finish quality of the frame is very good but not great. It's a compelling package with a stiff BB and head tube, adequate vibration damping, aggressive handling and clean aesthetics. This would be a fantastic rig for a crit racer, an aggressive recreational rider, or a privateer seeking premium performance on a budget.
Full SRAM Red 22 (left) provides pro-level shifting and braking and helps keep the Vitesse 500 light. Our 54cm (fits like a 57cm) hit the scale at 14.3 pounds. No pencil-thin stays here (right). The beefy seat and chainstays make for a very laterally stiff rear end.
SRAM Red 22
This review will focus on the chassis of the Vitesse 500, not the components. Having said that, you can equip your Vitesse 500 with any level of SRAM components. We went with Red 22 and had the same experience that we've come to expect: comfortable ergonomics, distinctive shift feel, low overall groupset weight and high performance.
If you prefer a carbon frame that feels stiff and shoots forward when you start throwing the bars side-to-side and stomping on the pedals, you'll dig the VeloVie Vitesse 500. The headtube and bottom bracket are exceptionally stiff with little discernible flex. Whereas many frames these days feature pencil thin seatstays to improve vertical compliance, you'll find oversized seatstays and chainstays on the Vitesse 500 meeting at an extremely beefy junction at the rear dropouts.
While 27.2 round seatposts have had a resurgence in recent years because they can be used to help engineer a smoother ride, the Vitesse 500 has a teardrop-shaped, oversize seatpost.
A teardrop seatpost and the oversized stays (left) make the Vitesse 500 vertically stiff. It's not a jackhammer, but it's not a Roubaix, either. External shift cables (right) make changing out derailleur cables a breeze but mean that you'll catch a bit more breeze as well.
The Vitesse 500 does a decent job of damping road vibration, but it falls on the less plush side of the carbon frame and fork spectrum. You're not getting totally jack hammered when you're in the saddle, but you're not floating on clouds either.
While internal cable routing has become all the rage and might help air flow marginally more smoothly around a bike frame, it can make working on a bike a huge pain. If you prefer the simplicity of external cables, you're in luck. Partially. The Vitesse 500 has external shifter cables but an internally routed rear brake cable. Shifter cables generally blow out before brake cables so if you want easy shifter cable maintenance, you're in luck again. If you need the aero advantage of 100 percent internally-routed cables or prefer how they look, look elsewhere.
If you're into wide tire, you'll be disappointed again. You can fit 25c tires on the Vitesse 500, but 28s don't fit. Not a problem for most race-oriented riders, but if you want to throw on fatter rubber for commuting, winter training or comfort be warned.
The 54cm frame we tested had a 56.5cm top tube and VeloVie designed it to fit like a 57cm bike. We'd agree with that assessment. We found the 72-degree seat tube angle and 73-degree head tube angle gave the Vitesse 500 fast handling. It takes minimal rider input to initiate turns and push hard into corners, but the ride didn't feel unstable at high speed. The fast handling coupled with the aforementioned stiffness again underscores that this would be a great crit racing bike. And if you love unfinished, matte black carbon fiber with red accents, you're in luck. Many companies use this popular look. The VeloVie take on the red-and-black look is simple, understated and classy.
The VeloVie Essor Pace 32mm deep carbon rims accelerate well, handle well in crosswinds and have an overall quality feel with adequate braking performance. Hidden nipples make truing more difficult and at 1400 grams for the pair, they're not super light. They're also not a wide-body rim, so if you're looking to get onboard the wider is better trend, look elsewhere. If you must have a murdered-out, carbon clincher and don't need a super light or wide wheel, you'll get the look for less with the Essor Pace.
Great value for brand-agnostic riders
Overall, the VeloVie Vitesse 500 impressed. As we discussed in our first impressions piece, VeloVie does an awesome job of making it easy to order directly from them and get the bike ready to ride within minutes of opening the well thought out shipping box. It's a pound or two heavier than the super high zoot bikes it strives to compete with, but it also costs thousands of dollars less and for almost every rider, it's light enough and plenty stiff. It looks cool, it handles well and it's well-suited to powerful riders who want to bang hard. If you're budget conscious, want a sweet bike for less money or just don't care about the name on your downtube, then give the VeloVie Vitesse 500 a try. You'll have fun riding it. We did.
For more information visit www.velovie.com.