This Vitus Zenium road bike became a versatile companion

Vitus does not have the instant name recognition of Trek or Specialized, but maybe they should. The company is based, somewhat surprisingly, in Belfast, Northern Ireland. There’s a US division, and I first tested their road bike called the Zenium when I reviewed an indoor trainer.

Once the warm weather arrived, I started testing the Vitus Zenium out on the real pavement. The story of how that all went is one full of surprises and chance encounters.

The first big surprise is how light this bike is. At barely over 20 pounds, it almost feels like it isn’t even there — light enough that on many road trips including one in a town called Lanesboro, Minn. that I felt like the only real impediment was my own weight. 

I’ve tested and reviewed dozens and dozens of bikes over the years, but the carbon construction, the way the entire bike feels when you ride, the balance, and the styling all made the Zenium feel ultra smooth and incredibly agile. On one trip, I kept noticing how there seemed like a lot of extra power to the bike and the glide is tremendous, but those factors are all related to how light the Zenium is for short rides to work (which I did a few times) and long rides.

I can’t overstate the importance of carbon construction. It was a turning point for me in my life about 10 years ago when I first reviewed a high-end bike that costs around this same price point of $2,099. Up until then, and even as a kid, I used what I lovingly refer to as “Walmart bikes” which just means, bikes that are not very light and don’t have optimal 

Other than the weight, I noticed the Shimano 105 R7000 11-speed drivetrain is ultra smooth as well. Vitus mentions on their product page how the bike is ideal for quick and snappy rides, where you feel the bike is just ready to race, but also works fine for short day trips. I get what they mean. It’s comfortable to ride for 15-20 miles easily, but if you just need to go to a remote office, it’s fast and zippy, almost like a race-car that can beat everyone around the track but also ideal for endurance races just the same. It’s the best of both worlds. Other bikes I’ve tested that were more ideal for performance and speed just didn’t work great for really long rides.

I loved the Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes on this bike. On that trip in Lanesboro I mentioned, I could race up to a bridge or a turn-off at high speed, and then trust that the brakes would bring me to a nice and even stop quickly and efficiently. Walmart bikes, not so much.

Actually, the Zenium is a long jump from the Walmart bikes of years ago. At the $2100 price-point, it’s a bigger investment in some ways, but also a true investment in the sense that the bike will perform and keep you cycling for many years to come. And here’s my main point, A decade ago when I started riding higher-quality bikes, it changed everything. I enjoyed the performance, which means I enjoyed cycling way more. No clunky gears to shift through, no wide tires meant for kids learning to ride on a cul-de-sac, no old-school brakes that barely work a few years after you start riding. The Zenium is really meant for longevity and performance.

I honestly don’t know enough about bike design to say why this all works so well. Vitus says it this way: “Front and rear thru-axles keep the handling predictable and sharpen the bike’s responsive feel and efficiency, especially when you are out of the saddle and working hard up the climbs.” I can’t say I know what that means, but I believe it.