Two days after the launch of the new Substance range from Vitus we were heading out for our photo-shoot on the all-new carbon CRX. It’s quite a privilege to get hands on such a recently launched bike. Just because it’s a bit of a whippersnapper, though, we didn’t give it an easy time – putting it through exactly the same tough test as the other of two in our trio.
Specifically listed as being for high-speed adventure, we were expecting great things from the Substance and it’s safe to say weren’t let down. Constructed using Toray’s renowned high-modulus T700 carbon fiber, we had reason to expect good things. But the Vitus designers didn’t stop there. They’ve also incorporated a few neat additions to give this bike a broader appeal.
Want to ride all day in the wilds? No problem, as a third bottle cage mount has been added to the underside of the down tube. Want to add ’guards? Again, like the others here, rack and mudguard mounts are present, meaning it can be your commuter bike, overnight tourer or general hack for fun on all surfaces.
Fortunately, our route covered all bases so we could really push these machines. From loose and hardpacked gravel, potholes and concrete farm slabs, to climbs for testing the gearing and low-speed stability as well as 40 mph scorching downhills. And it was in this final area that the Substance really grabbed our attention.
It’s an age-old cliché that a bike goes where you point it and, of course, it’s true. But what blew us away was the high-speed changes of direction that the Vitus can handle. And more importantly the grip it yields at the front and the way that’s communicated to the rider. It really is outstanding, and very impressive indeed.
Some of that confidence it inspires probably come from the custom-made Vitus Adventure Flared bars that the bike was fitted with. The lower, wider stance allows good control of both steering and braking at speed. Featuring WTB Frequency Race rims the bike is also tubeless ready, meaning it’s potential for grip and comfort can be further improved.
High speed – Fantastic handling when hammering it.
Lightweight – Low mass carbon comes into its own on draggy climbs.
Flared bars – Combining road tops with more off-road lowers creates better control.
Not so good
Stiff fork – Positive for handling but can be tough on the wrists.
Saddle – Again, a personal thing but could be a lot comfier.
Brake pads – Needed replacing after (an admittedly hard) six-hour hard slog.
A fantastic bike that handles incredibly well, the Substance is designed and built for speed rather than comfort. Admittedly not everyone will get on with it for this reason, but our testers loved it. If you can afford to splurge just that little bit more on this breed of bike, then Vitus deserve your business.
Size/Weight: 58 cm/9.25 kg
Frame/Fork: Toray T700-HMUD carbon fiber
Groupset: SRAM Apex 1x HRD
Brakes: SRAM Apex HRD
Chainset: SRAM Apex 1 Xsync 40t
Cassette: SRAM XG-1150 10-42t
Bars: Vitus Adventure
Stem/Seatpost/Saddle: Vitus alloy/Vitus
Wheels: Alex Bear Claw hubs, Vitus spokes and WTB Frequency Race i23 TCS 650B Tubeless Ready rims.
Tires: WTB Horizon Road Plus TCS6 50 x 47c