* Frame made in China to VeloVie’s design and carbon fiber specifications, and fabrication processes. VeloVie sources parts from SRM, Reynolds, FSA and others that are made in China / Taiwan / USA. All VeloVie bicycles are built to order in the USA.
WHO IS VELOVIE?
VeloVie is one of the largest direct to public bicycle manufacturing companies in the United States. VeloVie’s business model says “We can build a frame just as good if not better than the BIG guys and, by selling direct to consumer, we can offer the consumer a 40% savings from the traditional manufacturer/distributor/dealer route.” VeloVie also os offering Free Shipping – saving the consumer an extra $100.
VeloVie offers high-quality frames that are light, stiff, durable, and fit/finish second to none. They work with the finest component companies to ensure that the consumer gets a high-quality product. Companies such as SRAM, Reynolds, FSA, Essor, Michelin, Hutchinson and ROTOR. No off-brand or mixed components are offered. For example, a SRAM Red equipped bike will be full SRAM Red, with no mixing of Force or Apex.
WHAT IS THE VITESSE 500?
There are three models in the Vitesse lineup; 300, 400, 500.
300 – VeloVie’s first road race bike. It has gone through numerous improvements over the years making it lighter. Due to the inclusion of the 400 and 500, the 300 makes for a more comfortable Grand Fondo bike, built for longer and more comfortable miles.
400 – Using large round tube construction and agressive geometry makes for an ultra-quick steering pure criterium race bike. The steering is quick enough for the author to not recommend it for the first time rider.
500 – An ‘aero’ road race bike. The ultra-quick steering of the 400 has been turned back a notch to make this a quick handling criterium bike, but can also be used as a road race bike. Its steering is still a little more to the quick side and can be especially felt when transitioning from sitting to standing. Although this is not a true Aero frame, the tubes have enough ‘aero’ shape that it does feel faster than a standard round tube road/race frame. It is comfortable for long fast rides as well as climbing, but, due its quick handling, I would not recommend this for the first time rider. When asked about the 500, VeloVie replied that their intention was to build a road bike that was aero. They wanted to keep the road bike handling intact (i.e., 400) since it is easy to swing too far to the aero side and have handling more like a TT bike.
WHO’S THE COMPETITION?
Selecting other aero road bikes currently on the market (6/2014), I got as close as I could to matching, but, in some cases, no close match was available. Impossible task, but I will try anyway. In alphabetical order;
What this table shows is that take competitors bikes of similar quality, type and build, and average out the MSRP, the VeloVie Vitesse 500 averages about 40% less than its competitors.
WHO BUILDS THE FRAME? WHERE IS IT BUILT? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO NAME-BRANDS? IS IT GENERIC OPEN-BOX/NO NAME FRAME THAT THEY PUT THEIR STICKER ON?
These are some of the questions I have been asked.
Based on some of the recent frame and fork failures that have been seen on Facebook and bicycle forums, there has been quite a lot of negatives written about Chinese open-box product…products that anyone can purchase from Alibaba, slap a sticker on and sell as their own design and manufacture. ‘Alibaba’ frames and wheels are built to the bare minimum of strength and quality. Frames and wheels that have not undergone a thorough inspection, frames and wheels that might not be free of manufacturing defects.
I have read some of the accusations that have been hurled at VeloVie, accusing them of selling open-box products and implying unsafe frames/forks. I went to the Chinese manufacturers websites that were referenced in these slanderous forum posts and could not find a single frame that looks like the 500.
I contacted VeloVie to get their view. VeloVie states “Our frames are built in China, however we don’t give out the name of our manufacturer. We do use a tube to tube process however combining 30, 40 and 60 ton carbon in the construction of every Vitesse 500 frame (no openmolds here). Instead of going through the lowest to middle to top tier level carbon of the other brands (open molds utilizing the lowest level of carbon), we have a frameset designed with a specific feel in mind from the getgo without offering a cheaper, lower quality version. For those that are concerned with the look-alikes, there might be similar looking frames out there and they are not ours. We can guarantee the quality of ours, but not the quality of theirs.”
I spoke with Bryan, Velovie customer service manager. He asked me a few questions about my height, riding style, etc, and gave the results to the certified mechanic to build the bike. The pre-order went very smoothly and quickly so lets see what the build looks like and how close the fit is when it arrives.
While selecting your bike, you have the options to spec items such as frame size, bars, stem and crank arm length as well as upgrade options such as wheels.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
A week later, a large shipping box arrived. When I opened it, I noticed immediately how well it was packed. Foam lined the outer walls of the box and each part of the frame was covered in bubble wrap and protective pieces of foam. The wheels were packed in bubble wrap and zip-tied to the frame. Every open space in the box had some sort of cushioning. Nothing was allowed to rattle or move. I pulled out an entire bicycle frame with components attached. There were no dents or scrapes and everything was in a perfect new condition. With the way it was packed, I could tell that VeloVie cares about the quality of their products.
All that was left to do was to (a) place the bars on the stem and tighten the stem cap, (b) put the wheels onto the frame and (c) put a pair of my pedals on the crank. Within 5 minutes, I had a fully assembled bike.
I put it up against my regular road bike to see how they translated my answers into a fit. Based on just a few questions, they got everything right! Its exactly the same fit as my current bike. These guys are good!
CHECKING THE BUILD
One of my pet peeves is to ensure perfect shifting out of the box. The two things that can be done are (I) adjusting the rear derailleur and (II) check the alignment of the rear derailleur drop out. In my experience; ‘II’ accounts for more occurrences of poor shifting than ‘I’.
Putting the bike in the stand, I removed the rear derailleur and checked the alignment of the dropout…perfect. Replacing the rear wheel, I ran it through the gears. Shifted perfectly. I then checked the torque of every nut, bolt and screw, and again, perfect. Whoever built this bike understands fit and did a fantastic job.
There are three levels of the Vitesse 500 to choose from
- SRAM Apex – Starting at $2,399
- SRAM Force – Starting at $2,899
- SRAM Red – Starting at $3,699
All three models use the same frame/forks, the only difference is the level of group – Apex, Force, Red. This is good for the consumer since you can start out with an Apex equipped bike and as you wear out parts, you can replace with one (Force) or two (Red) higher level of components. Even if you might choose to start out with the Apex group, you can rest assured that this frame is worthy of running SRAM Red. Starting out with an Apex equipped 500 will save you $1,300 compared to the SRAM Red model. For this difference in price, you could just about purchase the Veloce 100 Apex (TT bike) as well!
6 AVAILABLE SIZES : 45cm, 48cm, 51cm, 54cm, 57cm, 60cm.
SO HOW DOES IT RIDE?
It took me 3 rides to be completely comfortable on the bike, to trust it when sprinting as well as hard effort climbs. This bike is very maneuverable and, with its aero shape, is easy to launch a breakaway and keep it going. I’ve put about 2,500 miles on the bike and every mile has been a pleasure.
VeloVie has chosen top partners to be able to outfit the bike with the best. The bike came with a Selle Italia saddle, Hutchinson Atom Comp tires, and a full SRAM FORCE 11-speed group (derailleurs, levers, crank, cassette), not the mix/match set of components many of the other manufacturers provide in order to keep their costs down.
The bike took everything I could throw at it, the harder I pedaled, the faster it went. It tracks well on hills standing or sitting. It descends quickly, but, again, not recommended for the first time rider. Quick steering coupled with high speed descents can be a white knuckled ride for the novice.
The noticeable things that make the Vitesse 500 stand out are the shape of the tubes. Semi-aero tubes give the bike climbing skills as well as the ability to hammer out a high speed breakaway. The bottom bracket shell is a standard BB30, but, with the extra beefy chain stays and seat stays, this is a very stiff frame. During the testing I have done, I have experienced only rock solid performance. This is a really great bike, especially for the price!
Do I recommend this bike? Definitely!!!
Would I buy one? Definitely!!!