Vitus is a French bicycle manufacturer best known for its steel cycle frame tubing, and its frames built with aluminium tubes joined to aluminium lugs by bonding – a construction method the company pioneered in the late 1970s.
Vitus is an iconic bicycle company born in France as a high-end steel tubing manufacturer in the 1930s and became one of the most sought after high-end race frames as we established ourselves as a frame brand in the 1970’s. Our rich heritage in road cycling and pioneering role in the development of aluminium and carbon fiber bicycle frames has underpinned a long list of top teams and riders that chose to race on Vitus. Most famous being Sean Kelly on board the Vitus 979 as the worlds No1 in the 1980s
As with any journey, Vitus has ridden a long road through cycling’s history with some ups and some downs, we have evolved as cycling itself has evolved.
We’re very proud of our past, but we’re even more excited about our future. We’re a young tight knit team of engineers, designers, product managers, marketeers & athletes with MTB and Road Race champions throughout the team. We are simply trying to make the best bikes we can so that you can be part of our journey.
1930’s – THE VITUS NAME IS BORN
The Vitus name first sprung to life as a premium steel tube set manufactured by renowned French steel manufacturer Ateliers de la Rive based in St Etienne, France. Along with the ‘Rubis’ and ‘Durifort’ tube sets, quality frame builders began to use the ‘Vitus’, a lighter double-butted set, for their better frames, alongside Reynolds 531DB. The company became a direct rival to Britain’s Reynolds and Italy’s Columbus.
1970’s – PIONEERS IN LIGHTWEIGHT ALUMINIUM TUBING
Vitus is now established as the premium supplier of steel tube sets in terms of lightness and strength with the introduction of the ‘Super Vitus 971’ tube set and not resting on their laurels Vitus push head with new construction techniques resulting in the development of the bonded lugged frames that would prove to make Vitus famous.
In 1978 French bike manufacturer Bador acquire Vitus coinciding with Vitus being awarded the patent for a new method of dry heat activated epoxy bonding 5086 aluminium-magnesium alloy tubing to slip-fit cast alloy lugs, drop-outs, bottom bracket and brake bridge. This would give a much stiffer and more durable frame than the earlier “screwed and glued” construction of the pioneering Italian Alan dural frames.
1980’s – THE GOLDEN YEARS & SEAN KELLY ERA
The 1980s was an iconic era for bike racing as technology rapidly evolved and some of the all-time greats hit their prime. Debuting in 1979 the Vitus 979 frame became one of the most successful racing bikes ever built. Raced by many including Australia’s Phil Anderson and Allan Peiper, Ireland’s Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche, Britain’s Graham Jones, Colombia’s Luis Herrera and America’s Marianne Mart.
It was of course Sean ‘King’ Kelly that became synonymous with the Vitus brand given his domination of the classics and Grand Tour win at the Vuelta Espania on board the 979, becoming the world’s No.1 ranked cyclist of the era. Sean’s uncompromising gritty style, all-round ability and powerful sprint earned him the reputation as the hard man of cycling, with many of his wins on board Vitus now an integral part of cycling’s folklore.
Vitus were now the world’s largest manufacturer of aluminium bicycles and at the fore-font of technology with most rival brands still using steel. During this period Vitus pushed the boundaries of frame construction further by introducing carbon tubing to the bonded 979 frame with the introduction of the Carbon 3, Carbon 7, and finally the Carbone 9 in 1986.
1990’s – THE VITUS ZX-1 WAS BORN
In the early 90s Vitus introduced the ZX-1. This futuristic looking one-piece monocoque construction frame, featuring an aerodynamic shape and internal cable routing was ridden to success most notably by French cycling legend Laurent Fignon in the Tour de France.
Vitus again was at the forefront of bicycle design. The ZX-1 was one of the first carbon frames to be manufactured using this technology, paving the way for modern carbon bicycle construction methods.
2000’s – END OF AN ERA
During the late 90’s and early 2000’s Vitus struggled as the cycling industry evolved at an incredible pace. The brand changed hands several times, once owned by giants of French cycling Look and Time. Despite a few efforts to kick start the brand again and return to its former glory, it’s parent company Alvarez went into administration in 2008 signalling the end of an era. Vitus closed their door having been one of the most influential and innovative cycling brands during that time.
2009 – NEW OWNERS, NEW BEGINNING, SAME PASSION
In 2009 a team of bike engineers in Northern Ireland were working on developing a brand-new range of bikes and discovered the Vitus brand was for sale. The history and heritage of the brand really fitted with the passion and vision of the team and combined with the Irish connection to Vitus through Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly the fit was perfect. The Vitus brand was acquired and Sean Kelly joined the team as a brand ambassador, a position he still holds today.
The scene was now set for new beginnings as the team worked towards the relaunch of Vitus with a clean slate, fresh ideas and lots of ambition to continue the Vitus journey and reignite the fire of this iconic brand.
2011 – VITUS RELAUNCHED
After a few years of development the Vitus brand is relaunched introducing an all new range of bikes across road and MTB. Some old Vitus names where reborn and a few new ones added to the range. The road range was topped by the all Carbon Vitesse road bike and on the MTB side the Nucleus hardtail, which would go on to become 4 times winner as hardtail of the year.
The new products were well received by customer and media with the Vitus team reaching their first big milestone. With a host of plans already in place to further evolve and develop the range over the coming years.
2012-13 – MTB SUSPENSION DEVELOPMENT
The big highlight in 2012 was the introduction of the Escarpe trail bike to the range. This formed the beginning of the R & D team understanding and improving our experience of suspension design and kinematics. Over the next few seasons as the bikes kept getting better so did the industry reviews resulting in the Escarpe being awarded trail bike of the year by MBR magazine in 2018
2012 also saw the introduction of a limited-edition Sean Kelly signature Vitesse road bike with an all new carbon frame and fork which would go on to form the basis of the An Post UCI professional race team.
In 2013 the Sommet and Dominer suspension platforms were added to the mountain bike range adding Enduro and Downhill categories to the range. To keep moving forwards Vitus signed with some top Enduro racers to help develop these new platforms further.
2013-16 – RETURN TO PRO PELETON & MTB STEP CHANGE
2013 was a land-mark year for Vitus in terms of road racing. Via the Sean Kelly relationship Vitus became the bike sponsor of the AnPost UCI Continental race team. Working with athletes to develop and improve our bikes is at the heart of Vitus and one of the best weeks of Vitus ‘new chapter’ was watching Sam Bennett out sprint a star-studded peloton in the 2013 Tour of Britain to take a stage win. The Vitus team had been working with the AnPost riders to increase the stiffness of the Vitesse frame to transfer the efforts of the the extremely powerful Bennett to the road. All the effort was worthwhile!
Over on the MTB side a full ground up redesign took place for the 2015 season with a patented suspension design introduced on the all new Escarpe, Sommet and Dominer bikes. That hard work paid off with an U21 Enduro World Series win by Killian Callaghan on board the Sommet in 2016 and a Downhill Masters World title for Colin Ross on the Dominer 2018. The Escarpe Trail bike was awarded ‘Trail Bike of the year’ by MBR in 2018
2016 – NUCLEUS WINS HARDTAIL OF THE YEAR
The Vitus team set a mission of putting the same effort into our entry level bikes as we do in the top end bikes and set out a goal of making the ‘best £500 mountain bike on the market’. We took all our experience and built an all new Nucleus that went on to win bike of the year for the next 5 years. We continue to make it a little better every year and intend to keep winning!
2018 – E-BIKES AND VITUS PRO CYCLING LAUNCHED
The ZX-1 is back. Vitus first Aero bike from 1991 is reborn as a 2018 cutting edge Aero bike. We join forces with Cherie Pridham and launch Vitus Pro Cycling in a new look race team featuring Olympian Ed Clancy & ex World Tour rider Scott Thwaites, becoming one of the top Continental race teams in the UK. Over the next few seasons the team will go head to head with some the fastest racers in the world at races like the Tour de Yorkshire, and continue to be an integral part of the Vitus R&D program.
We launch our first Ebike range in 2018 with a bang as the new E-Sommet wins the prestigious Ebike test in MBR magazine with a perfect 10/10, praised for its excellent geometry, confidence inspiring handling and light weight (for an E-bike)
2020 – WELCOMING ROB WARNER, JOE SMITH, & HELEN JENKINS
In 2020 we welcome the legend Rob Warner, top Downhill racer Joe Smith and two time World ITU Champion Helen Jenkins to the Vitus family – Rob is the UK’s first Downhill world cup winner and has an incredible amount of experience to bring to Vitus. Joe is one of the most respected and stylish riders in the modern era of Downhill racing – he will push our products the limit and help us develop products capable of winning at the highest level. After a 4-year break from Triathlon, having had two kids and two spinal surgeries, Helen’s comeback story is truly inspiring! The former two time World Triathalon Champion and Olympian brings a winning mentality second to none.
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