The Sean Kelly Limited Edition is the flagship machine in the Vitus range and carries the name of one of the greatest Classics riders of all time.
Kelly recorded 80 per cent of his 193 professional wins aboard Vitus machines through the 1980s, and among the victories listed on the Irishman’s extensive palmares are nine Monuments, four Tour de France green jerseys and overall triumph at the Vuelta a Espana.
It was only natural, then, that Chain Reaction Cycles signed up the King of the Classics as brand ambassador when they set about resurrecting the Vitus marque in 2011.
Ten bikes make up the 2013 road range and we gave you an overview of them all when we dropped by a Vitus dealer day last month – but let’s take a closer look at the machine that’s just arrived at RoadCyclingUK review.
The frame is made from a high modulus T700 carbon fibre from Japanese company Toray, who supply carbon to a number of major bike brands. The frame has a claimed weight of 950g, which puts it in the light but not super-light category. It shares all of the features we’ve come to expect from high-end racing frames, with a tapered headtube matched with a full carbon fork, deep chainstays and skinny seatstays which come together to form a monostay. All that results in the right balance of stiffness and comfort, according to Vitus.
Cables run externally, although we’d expect to see internal routing on a high-end frame like this. Vitus tell us that at the time of development they preferred the simplicity and easy maintenance of an externally routed system but now internal routing is ubiquitous they will look to incorporate that in future.
Kelly’s influence is most keenly felt when it comes to geometry and the frame is undeniably racy, with a 73° headtube angle, 73.5° seattube angle and tiny 140mm headtube on our size 54cm test machine. While the geometry may not suit everyone, fair play to Vitus for staying true to their heritage in an age where headtubes are getting higher and higher. Vitus also tell us Kelly rides a 54cm machine and he believes it has the perfect geometry, so we’re in good company.
The Sean Kelly Limited Edition retails for £3,499.99 and it’s well specced for the money, with the frame dressed in SRAM’s top-of-the-range Red groupset, the lightest available on the market. The racing theme continues with 53-39t double chainrings paired with a tight 11-25t cassette – both of which are ideal for fast riding and racing but less forgiving in hilly terrain.
The wheels are the new Ksyrium SLS hoops from Mavic’s revamped 2013 range and, with a low claimed weight of 1,395g and retail price of £790, are an impressive addition. The wheels are finished with Mavic’s Yksion Pro GripLink tyres, which have a sticky compound and tread pattern designed to offer improved grip in testing weather conditions. At £34.99 they’re another high-end addition to the spec sheet.
The 3T finishing kit is Kelly’s own choice of components and that explains the aluminium Ergonova Pro handlebar and ARX Pro stem. Aluminium is still the cockpit material of choice for many pro riders but we were still surprised to see an aluminium Palladio Pro seatpost, when carbon fibre seatposts have become ubiquitous on high-end machines for their more forgiving ride. Otherwise, a Prologo Scratch Pro saddle in custom colours completes the build kit. All that makes for a claimed weight of 6.9kg.
The paintjob is another nod to Kelly with flashes of the emerald green of Ireland bringing the matt black frame to life. Kelly’s name is also on the toptube and right-hand chainstay, and his signature on the toptube and downtube.
All that’s left to mention before testing begins is that Chain Reaction Cycles bundle in a selection of High5 energy products, a multi-tool, tyre levers, a pedal spanner and a water bottle in with the bike, which is very nice of them.