The new Vitus Venon Evo further blurs the line between gravel and road
The UK brand's latest drop bar bike promises road bike handling and performance and gravel bike tire clearance.
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Vitus teased their latest bike, the Vitus Venon Evo, at Sea Otter Classic 2023. And with its recent launch, Vitus thinks the new Venon Evo is the bike that a majority of road riders need: road handling, road fit and feel, but clearance for up to 45 mm gravel tires.
The direct-to-consumer brand showed off the Venon Evo in two variations: one with a 2x drivetrain and slick tires, and the other with a 1x drivetrain and knobby gravel tires. They used the same frame, which makes the Venon Evo another one of these one-bike-for-everything proposition.
A new kind of drop bar bike?
We’re starting to see more and more bikes that strictly adhere to the road bike with more tire clearance motif. The Allied Echo, BMC Kaius, and Cervelo Aspero are big ones, and there are even folks out there using the Specialized Crux with road wheels and tires. The Venon Evo falls right in with that crowd.
As if the line between road and gravel didn’t need to be blurred anymore, the Venon Evo purposefully tries to do that. Front center, headtube and seattube angles, and trail numbers are pretty standard fare for what we’d call an endurance road bike, particularly ones like the BMC Roadmachine or Cannondale Synapse. But the chainstay length is as long as a speedier gravel bike, and the claimed max tire clearance of 700c x 45 mm is gravel bike territory.
Trail figures range between 70 mm in smaller sizes to 57 mm in the XXL size. Most riders in a size medium or size large will see a trail figure closer to the low 60 mm range, which makes places it decidedly alongside other road bikes rather than most other gravel bikes. So while the bike fits 45 mm tires, the handling should be much more comfortable on smooth dirt than chunky gravel.
Either way, geometry isn’t particularly aggressive, with reach and stack numbers that should work for a vast majority of riders.
Look around more and you see other things that blur lines. A gravel bike typically has a third bottle cage mount under the bottom bracket, but the Venon Evo doesn’t. It also lacks the top tube bag mount that most gravel bikes come with. It does come with fender mounts front and rear, however, a great choice for folks riding in wet weather with any frequency.
Further, it comes with a small rubber chainstay protector to protect against chainslap, something a surprising number of gravel bikes lack.
The Venon Evo takes inspiration from other Vitus drop bar bikes that share the Evo name, including their ZX-1 Evo aero bike and Vitesse Evo lightweight road bike. Vitus says the front end of the Venon comes from the ZX-1, with internal cable routing and tube front-end tube shaping that has some aero emphasis.
The back of the bike – chainstays, seatstays, and seattube – is said to pull from the Vitesse. They say the back of the bike should be more compliant, just with dropped chainstays for improved tire clearance.
Each Venon Evo frame uses a BB386 EVO pressfit bottom bracket and a 27.2 mm round seatpost. The FSA SMR internal cable routing system isn’t the easiest system to use, but it thankfully routes cables and hoses under the stem rather than through it.
Claimed frame weight is between 780 grams and 850 grams unpainted and depending on size. We estimate frame paint to add about 150 grams per size. That makes the Venon Evo frame highly competitive amongst road bike frames much less gravel bikes.
Vitus Venon Evo build kits
The Vitus Venon Evo will come in seven different build configurations: three with 1x drivetrains and gravel tires, and four with road tires and 2x drivetrains. They are divided by nomenclature, with Venon Evo-RS for road-centric builds and Venom Evo-GR for gravel-centric builds.
All road builds feature electronic drivetrains from SRAM and Shimano, tubeless 28 mm tires, and alloy wheels.
All gravel-centric builds are 1x-only, though because the Venon Evo shares the same frame, one can adapt the drivetrain to 2x and use the same frame. Only the Venon Evo GR Rival uses a mechanical drivetrain; all others use a variation of SRAM XPLR 1x gearing, with carbon wheels, flared handlebar, and 40 mm tires.
So what is the Venon Evo then?
I’d call it a standard road bike that happens to have plenty of tire clearance for folks who want to ride a wide tire, be it for gravel or dirt roads. Or you can call it an all-road bike. I personally think this style of bike is the right choice for a vast majority of riders, so you can call it that, too.
And if you want something a bit more rugged, Vitus offers the Substance that should work just fine.
Stay tuned for our review of the Vitus Venon Evo soon to come. Until then, more information can be found at vitusbikes.com.