PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : Bici-Bail Out! VeloVie’s Vitesse 300

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Bici-Bail Out! VeloVie’s Vitesse 300
We reviewed VeloVie’s standard Vitesse 300 a while back and, because I’m a bike snob, I was amazed at the big response that came back from readers.


I’m always looking for something expensive or hard to find as a way to compensate for what ever else it is I wish I had at any given time of day. With that in mind, testing the standard Vitesse 300 that now retails for $1200 didn’t get my blood lust up. That changed after riding it and the public snapped em up at a pretty quick rate. The Vitesse 300 was especially hot for folks looking for performance carbon with a price point that wouldn’t have them freaked in fear of the financial crush of crashing.

The feedback from new owners looking for this type of bike was nothing but praise for the 300 standard, so doing it all again with VeloVie’s lighter version 300 SE was an easy call…


click the thumbnail for the biggie pic…


VeloVie are a bit of a different company than traditional manufacturers. Not only are there retail shops stocking the brand, VeloVie also sell direct to the consumer through the Web. I knew VeloVie’s owners for years before the company formed and when I asked them why they wanted to try this sales format, the answer was quite simple… “We can bring a very good bike to the public at exceptional savings this way…”

Looking at the retail price, the case for “better” value seems plain in that the new 300SE tips the scales at just 950 grams and comes to you, frame-fork for just $1500 bucks (including shipping in the lower 48 in the US). You can also play with the custom build feature on the site and spec different parts, bit by bit, but their standard D-Ace 7900 build has you rolling for less than 4,000…

But as anyone buying some of the loads of counterfeit parts on Ebay can tell you… low price doesn’t always equal value.

Beyond any price point stands performance and the Vitesse 300 is simply not a flexy comfort touring rig. In fact it’s a solid build and is focused squarely in aggression.


The main triangle and in fact all of the tubes are made from a mix of high and very-high Mod Carbon (Torray T-800 and T-1000), where the already stiff standard Vitesse was “just” high mod carbon. And they didn’t go skinny anywhere in diameter. The top, head and down tubes are all fat…



The down tube is, as loads of bikes of this type are… Just plain jumbo from end to end…



The tubes for the SE are joined the same way as the standard 300, by bonding machine mitered tubes. The tubes could actually be ridden just bonded but step two is hand wrapping the joints with resin impregnated uni-directional carbon fiber (the wrapping actually adds not only security but stiffness). Then the whole thing is cured and finished smooth, making a bike that, when painted, looks like it could be a monocoque construction…



This build process might sound familiar because a couple of other substantially larger companies build their top line / light weight racers in the same way… In fact a couple of the leaders in stiffness to weight ratio are made in the same factory as the VeloVie…


The 300SE also seems to have a bit better finish detail than the standard 300, as the joints are a little smoother and the BB area a bit more clean for build up.



The bottom end simply says “piss off” to flex… The chain stays have the same ribbed shape and are every bit as beefy as the standard 300 (beef not just in visual size but in pretty thick tube walls) and the dropouts are now more friendly to making quick wheel changes (something I’m embarrassed to say I missed in the last review).



I’ll again remind you, unlike what you may hear in lots of reviews, “big stiff bottom bracket” is misleading as a bottom bracket alone pretty much doesn’t flex…

As it relates to drive train / bottom end flex, “Stiffness” is down to the performance of the down tube, seat tube and chain stays holding things in place (also a little wheel and fork…). When you see your bike flexing down low under strain, it’s the tubes around the bottom bracket shell that are letting that happen… That is unless you’re on a bike like the 300SE.

In which case you’ll look down and probably notice your cranks flexing or your shoe straps straining or your leg bones and ankles giving way more than on your last bike… But you won’t see much bracket movement relative to most bikes…

You also won’t get much of the twist-flex at the head tube from the 300SE.

Resisting twist at the head tube is high on the list of things this bike does well and you won’t find handling is suffering from the drift that comes when your head tube and fork twist out of line and allow the front wheel to get off track at high speed in corners. Stand up and yank on the bars sprinting and again you’ll find everything staying as it should…

I also noted bar flex more on the 300SE for the same make and model of bar than I do one pretty much any other bike I have used them on. That’s not to say that the bars were weaker. They were the same darn thing… It’s just that the frame was stiff enough to note the flex specifically at the bars and stem.

I didn’t ask, but I’m assuming the fork on the SE is the same as the standard 300. It suits the character of the frame well as it’s light but has a very good degree of stiffness and doesn’t let the front wheel get wonky at all…



And the fork had to be pretty beefy looking else it suffer from looking like those gym guys that have no legs and look like walking pop-sicles…

Seat stays also have the same split tail look as the standard 300. The detail adds a little “schizzle” without being a pain in the ass to clean. No curves or wiggle really. Just business class…



And VeloVie keep the wheel cut seat tube as in the standard 300, though the SE makes it look a little neater with a white finish…




Ride?
The 300 SE is basically what happens when you take the already buff Vitesse 300 and make it wash down a couple Viagra with a can of Redbull. One of the stiffest bikes I’ve been on has simply been made a bit stiffer (but without need to call your doctor after 4 hours…).

Handling is precise and predictable. For some, the extra feedback from a bike like this is great. It tracks well and allows you to feel your contact patch and push to the edge.

Some people like more compliance because smoothness makes for less to think about… If you’re the kind of person who gains confidence from more feel and feedback, this one is your ticket. If smoothness and compliance to help eat up the chatter and stay planted is what floats your boat, this one might be a bit of a hot potato.

There are those that argue that stiffness does not mean more power transfer and speed…

I’m not one of those people and there are two many genuinely fast guys earning a paycheck that agree that a stiff platform allows them to throw down the power better than something more noodly.

Not all riders are hooligan sprinters and attackers and prefer a smoother ride, but the ones that are maniacs love a bike like this…

The drive train efficiency is great on this bike, just like it is with others in it’s type-class. Zero complaints here as, along with the relatively low weight the bike also seems to carry it’s grams relatively low on the frame, standing up and swinging it around gives you the feeling that not much effort is going to waste… In fact, I got a better appreciation for Zipp’s Vuma Quad cranks with the VeloVie. I always thought they felt relatively stiff and using them on this platform proved that out. And swapping to a set of “brand B” light cranks had me realize that carbon cranks have come up a level or two in the last 2 years where stiffness to weight is concerned…

And So…

At the end of the day, what I found with the 300SE is that it’s a pretty nice platform for showing me how stout (or not) other components are… (I’m embarrassed to say I include myself in the list of parts that give a little more than I noticed before). This bike asks you to throttle it and shows you what’s what… (So much so that I decided to get a frame and fork to test a few components on…)

The 300SE, as was the case with the standard 300, is nobody’s version of an uber-smooth relaxed touring rig. If tooling around all day and never getting your heart rate over 80%, along with a silk pillow ride is your gig, this ain’t for you. It’s not teeth rattling on par with some of the old “race – aluminum”, It soaks up a little high frequency buzz like good carbon. But it’s definitely in the category of the type of bike best suited to merciless attacking and inflicting pain on one’s friends. It’s of the breed of bikes that want top stiffness and low weight like some of today’s popular rigs like Cervelo’s SLC-SL and Scotts CR1.

I look at this group of bikes and think them a bit like a car that has been prepped to best suite track days or racing… They are a bit more purpose focused that some people might ultimately need, but they’re the sexy beasts that most people think they want and several of us genuinely love.

Personally I can’t think of too many other bikes I would want if I were racing on a budget. While I’m not racing on a budget and own too damn many bikes already, I wanted one like this for a couple of reasons. Not the least of which springs from thoughts along the same lines as racers that want to push things but don’t necessarily want to do so on quite as large a pile of cash…

For me, testing things means riding them and pounding on them and frankly I like that I can put pressure on components and feel what they’re doing yet if I push it a little to far I’m not tossing a Parlee Z1SL or Crumpton SL or Colnago or Kuota KOM or Serotta down the pavement… Not that these are not great bikes to push it on, and you certainly can order something from any of these companies at the far end of the stiff scale, even to the point of giving up some comfort. But when pushing it is the rule of the day, doing so on something that costs 1500 bucks makes more sense to me than getting nasty on something that costs several times that much…

Another reason you’ll see a new 300SE here at Pez again shortly, with a funked out paint job and some new parts for us to test, is that I wanted a bike that just annoys the crap out of the guys riding bikes that cost 2-3-4 times as much…

They don’t care when I’m rolling quickly on 5 figures of “unobtanium”, as that just makes sense… But it kinda heats up their cheese when it’s a bike this inexpensive and the kicker is that I’ll have one with full custom paint and still be under 2k for the frame set…


Anyway…
With the economy what it is today, there are a lot of folks talking about a used- this or a third tier bike from brand-a, b or c…

Personally if I were looking for a performance oriented bike with great weight spec’s and stiffness but didn’t want to make the piggy bank squeal in pain, the Vitesse 300 or 300SE would be it…

In fact I am…

And It is…


And you’ll see another Vitesse SE here soon…

Till then hit up VeloVie’s Site.


Have Fun,
Charles Manantan



Thanks for looking. If you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews, or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limitations.

Send your comments to: manager@pezcyclingnews.com



 

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