Vitus Substance CRS-2 eTap AXS Rival | £2,499.99 | 9.6kg
CYCLING WEEKLY|October 14, 2021
Stefan Abram gets to grips with a great-value gravel machine

Substance is the name for Vitus’s range of gravel bikes, designed to be capable off-road and comfortable over long distances. The wide range of mounting options for bags and accessories make them well suited to multi-day trips.

This CRS-2 eTap AXS model is Vitus’s top-spec build, coming with SR AM’s 2x12 Rival AXS groupset which features electronic shifting and hydraulic braking.

Frame

The Substance CRS-2 Rival AXS is equipped with a carbon frame and fork with tyre clearances of 650b x 47mm or 700c x 42mm. This is a little on the narrow end for a gravel bike: typically you’d expect a frame to be rated for 650b x 53mm (2.1in) or 700c x 45mm. There is, however, masses of clearance around the stock 650b x 47mm WTB Venture TCS Road Plus tyres, so there is scope for squeezing in something a little larger.

There are additional bottle bosses on the underside of the down tube and on each of the fork legs, providing an easy avenue for a bit of extra carrying capacity. In addition to this, there are also the more traditional mounts for a full set of mudguards and a rear rack.

The geometry of the frame favours stability. The head angle is on the slacker side at 71.5° in a size medium, which has the effect of making the steering a little less twitchy. For context, gravel bikes generally have head angles of a bit over 72°, while the slackest tend to be at around 70°.

The bottom bracket drop is 68mm, which is reasonably low – although again not boundary pushing – and has the effect of lowering your centre of gravity, making you feel as if you’re ‘in’ the bike, rather than perched on top of it.

Although the Substance is in line with the majority of gravel bikes with its 435mm chainstays, this is still fairly long. The effect of this is to again make the bike feel more planted and stable, but on the flipside it’s generally a bit less responsive in sharp corners.

While some brands are heading further down the path of proprietary parts and unusual standards, the Substance’s bottom bracket is threaded, rather than press-fit; the seatpost a standard 27.2mm and the axle spacing is 12x142mm on the rear and 12x100mm on the front – no surprise switch to 15x110mm here.

“This CRS-2 eTap AXS model is Vitus’s top-spec build, coming with SRAM’s 2x12 Rival AXS groupset”

Groupset

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