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Vitus: the Historic Marque Makes a Comeback On- and Off-Road

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Vitus Vitesse VR

Vitus – the high-end tubing supplier and later premium framebuilder – was a marque born and bred on the cols and cobbles of France. Its lightweight steel was used by Peugeot, Motobécane and Gîtane in the ’70s, and the company branched out into making its own frames, including pioneering aluminum and carbon-fibre models.

The Vitus 979 is a true classic of cyclosport history, at the front of the first wave of aluminum frames in the pro peleton, most notably under Sean Kelly who rode a 979-framed bike in several Tours de France. The Carbone, meanwhile, was introduced in 1982 and was a lugged seven-tube composite frame.
Then, the name disappeared.

Now, the brand has resurfaced, and is offering both mountain and road bikes, ranging from entry-level to elite-ready bikes.

The new top-end road model is named the Vitesse VR, and is a 3K-weave monocoque carbon frame equipped with Ultegra throughout (including wheels), plus a Controltech cockpit. The manufacturer claims a weight of 7.83kg in its 56cm incarnation, and it is sold for £2,199 / $3,083.

The Optimum III cross-country bike, meanwhile, is made from high-modulus carbon and equipped with a SRAM and Truvativ XX drivetrain, Truvativ carbon bar and WTB Laser Disc cross-country rims. It retails for £2,999 / $4,218.

There is also a bargain-basement urban singlespeed commuter; Chain Reaction Cycles is Vitus’s exclusive worldwide stockist.

Yes, these guys are making a leap into the unknown in many ways, but my experience would suggest that a company with such a long history of materials excellence should not be underestimated.

Click below for a picture of the Optimum III, as well as some classic frames from the company’s heyday.

Vitus Optimum III

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13 years ago

those old Vitus 979s bikes were pretty…they were wet noodles, but they were pretty.

I could get the big ring to rub on the front derailleur sprinting on a 52×15 on a 52cm…noodly…

13 years ago

Ron Kiefel road them while on 7-11, branded as Serotta (or maybe Huffy). He had a red one with the lugs highly polished with Semi-Chrome. I road on one in the ’80’s, built up with Campy Super Record, weighed in at about 21 pounds, Columbus, SL frames built the same were running 24 pounds. Vitus cost a lot less too, great for a 140# 17 year old working for tips at a hotel.

Ghost Rider
13 years ago

@jc, me too…at least they were supple over rough roads, unlike the next wave of ultra-harsh aluminum frames (which gave aluminum its bad reputation as a frame material).

13 years ago

“Born and bred on the cols and cobbles of France.” Where are they made now?
Is it pretty safe to assume the brand name was purchased by someone in China?

13 years ago

Had a Vitus back in the 80’s and loved it – hopefully they get things back to the level they were before.

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