Vielo was formed back in 2017 by father and son team Ian and Trevor Hughes. Ian is a bike-industry veteran with decades of experience running operations for one of cycling’s more technically innovative companies.
The vision for Vielo was to craft high-performance, fast drop-bar bikes focused on what British riders really need, both on and off road.
The Vielo V+1 is just such a bike, with this Generation 2 model, shortlisted for our 2022 Bike of the Year awards, designed to bring uncompromised speed to gravel riding and racing. And, for Vielo, that means a no-compromise 1x drivetrain at the heart of things.
Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR frame and fork
Most gravel bike frames have to incorporate some sort of design compromise to ensure an optimal chainline for both 1x and 2x chainsets. Vielo’s V+1 is designed solely for 1x, which means a perfectly symmetrical rear end, with no dog-legged dropped stays.
Vielo claims this also allows it to optimise the shape of the bottom bracket shell, the seat tube transition and the chainstay and down tube interfaces. Vielo says the resulting bottom bracket shell is 30 per cent stiffer laterally than a 2x design.
The rear end of the Generation 2 frame has also been revamped. That increased bottom-bracket stiffness has enabled Vielo to redesign the seatstays and chainstays for extra compliance.
The new seatstays, for example, noticeably flatten throughout their wide stance, from the seat tube to the dropouts, and Vielo hasn’t resorted to dropped stays to gain compliance. Instead, this is achieved through a combination of the stays and the reshaped seat tube.
Tyre clearances are impressive too, with room for 50mm whether you run 700c or 650b wheels; as standard, the V+1 comes equipped with 45c WTB gravel tyres.
My large test bike has the Strato-specification frame, with a claimed weight of 1,100g, including hardware, but for weight weenies Vielo’s V+1 Alto has a flyweight 800g frame. Complete bikes start from £5,999 with Shimano GRX Di2 or SRAM Force AXS.
The finish quality of our test bike is exemplary. Aside from the beautiful soft matt finish and imprinted graphics – no cheap stickers for Vielo – the frame and fork details are the stuff of superbikes.
The polished stainless-steel inserts on the frame and fork dropouts should prevent scratching when dropping wheels in and out. The thru-axles are beautifully machined, with smart quick-release operation. Add this to the CNC’d frame inserts for the axles and rear derailleur, and it’s clear Vielo has spared no expense in getting this bike to look right.
Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR specifications
My Vielo V+1 Strato, as with all of Vielo’s bikes, has a base specification that you can then tweak depending on your needs.
The Rival XPLR AXS-equipped V+1 Strato is available from £4,999, but an upgrade to Vielo’s slick-looking one-piece carbon bar and stem and SRAM Force components took my test bike to £5,299.
My bike’s drivetrain pairs the carbon-infused shifters from SRAM’s second-tier Force AXS groupset and its matching brakes, with the long-cage XPLR Rival AXS rear derailleur.
In combination with Vielo’s own nicely finished 44t chainset, with its CNC-machined narrow-wide profile teeth, shifting was flawless.
The gear range provided by the 44-tooth chainring and 10-44 cassette is fast becoming a favourite of mine. It matches the gearing of BMC’s all-road-focused BMC Roadmachine X, though the Roadmachine does have smaller-diameter tyres.
The biggest gear, of 123 inches, is the same as a 50/11 on a compact chainset and the easiest to turn 28in, just an inch taller than a 34/34.
I found the cassette much less jumpy than I’d expected given its wide spread. The gaps are close from the 10, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21t sprockets, before a three-tooth jump to 24, four to the 28 and 32t cogs, and six between the 38, 44 and 50t sprockets.
I found the gearing a boon both on and off road.
Braking from the Force brakes and Paceline rotors is spot on – powerful, easy to control and low on squeaks even in the wet.
The lever doesn’t have quite the ergonomic advantage of Shimano’s GRX Di2. However if, like me, you have large hands, you won’t have any problems braking from the hoods when chattering down rocky off-road descents. The levers offer plenty of adjustment to allow you to get the feel just right too.
The DT Swiss GR1600s are £500 gravel-specific alloy wheels with 25mm-deep rims. Their 24mm internal width is well suited to the huge 45c tyres.
At 1,650g a pair, they are light enough for gravel, though when paired with a couple of 478g tyres the resulting wheelset won’t appeal to weight obsessives.
The DT Swiss Spline hubs look sharp, thanks to their contrasting light grey shells and dark grey machined straight-pull spoke slots. The ever-dependable internals are from DT Swiss’s 350 hubs, which are built to last, and the freehub is quick to respond.
The WTB tyres proved just what I wanted through wet, muddy March test rides, their textured tread and prominent shoulder blocks keeping me turning the pedals where lesser tyres would have left me trekking on foot.
I also like the Vielo’s contact points. The Fabric Scoop saddle is a certified classic and I haven’t found many riders who actively dislike the shape. It’s a safe and deservedly popular choice for just about any bike.
The full-carbon seatpost has an eye at the top, through which you access the saddle clamp. This makes it easy to adjust the saddle position and angle, but on a couple of hard landings the saddle did tip, even with the correct torque setting.
Vielo’s own one-piece bar and stem is a great-looking piece of kit. The flattened tops aren’t overly deep and I found their slight back-sweep very comfortable.
However, their six-degree flare is a lot less than you’ll find on most gravel bars, and when riding out of the saddle in the drops my wrists made contact with the corners of the bar. Ideally, I’d prefer a little more flare for gravel, but that’s my personal preference.
Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR geometry
Vielo has settled on a shape that successfully combines the sportiness of a road bike with the stability of a gravel bike.
My large test bike is like a 58cm road bike with its effective 580mm top tube. The 70.75-degree head angle is slackened for off-road stability, but it’s not so relaxed it feels laboured on the road.
The 73.25-degree seat angle is road-bike steep and the 592.2mm stack height is less than on most endurance bikes and is virtually as low as a race bike’s. In combination with the 408mm reach, this results in a bike that responds well to being ridden fast.
The 48mm rake, slack head angle and wide tyres deliver an off-road-ready trail of 71mm. If you wanted to run the V+1 on the road, switching to 28mm tyres would drop the trail to 69mm, which is what you’d expect of an endurance bike. It seems the V+1 has versatility in its quiver too.
Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR ride impressions
Vielo’s V+1 sits squarely in the fast gravel camp – it’s much more of a rival to Cervélo’s Áspero than it is to BMC’s bump-squashing URS LT.
I absolutely love the way the V+1 responds, with the rigidity through the bottom bracket making it feel just like a road bike. Its craven ability to inject pace in an instant is just wonderful.
I was concerned that its road-bike like performance would come at the expense of comfort, but with 45mm of rubber between you and the road or track – and the ability to play with tyre pressure – you get plenty of comfort.
Even running tyres at the harder road pressure of 60psi as I rode to my favourite gravel routes, the V+1 never felt anything but smooth.
The gearing excelled regardless of the surface, topography or general terrain. The mix-and-match SRAM Force, Rival and Vielo drivetrain proved reliable and never put a foot wrong, with the Rival derailleur’s sprung clutch controlling the chain and protecting the pastel matt paint from damage.
The front end does feel marginally stiffer than the rear when riding on choppier washboard-rutted trails, though the one-piece bar and high-quality bar tape do an admirable job of reducing fatigue-inducing vibrations.
When it comes to the ride, the V+1 is up there with some of my all-time favourite fast gravel bikes, the likes of Cervélo’s Aspéro and 3T’s Exploro Racemax. It’s extremely capable, but Vielo hasn’t had to resort to relaxed pseudo-mountain bike angles.
And though the geometry resembles that of a road bike, riding the V+1 was never a nervy experience off-road. It’s a very clever piece of design.
Vielo V+1 Strato SRAM Rival AXS XPLR bottom line
The V+1 may be a small-batch production bike from a niche brand based in the north-east of England, and the team behind Vielo says it’s all about making bikes for the British riding experience.
However, if anything, I think Vielo is doing itself a disservice, because the V+1 is easily a match for the gravel offerings from some of the biggest global brands.
In some ways, it even has the better of them, with the focused frame design not compromising anything to achieve its optimal 1x shape. The resulting ride is simply stunning.
Yes, it’s expensive, I’d prefer a bar with a bit more flare, and I think the saddle clamp could be a little more secure. But those are minor niggles on a bike that’s nearly perfect as a racy rough-stuff special.
Gravel Bike of the Year 2022 | How we tested
Testing for our 2022 Gravel Bike of the Year category started on a loop around Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.
This fast blast takes in wide, well-paved gravel roads, proper mountain bike singletrack trails and forest fire roads, with the ride out using connecting towpaths and bridleways, and the ride back taking in a bit of tarmac. It’s exactly the kind of multi-terrain route on which we want a gravel bike to excel.
Following this, each bike was then taken on a 70-mile/113km route over mixed terrain with plenty of elevation changes.
The bikes were then ridden back-to-back over a few weeks, during which we assessed the pros and cons of each, finally coming to a decision on the best gravel bike on test based on how well it handles, its spec choice and – arguably most importantly of all – how much fun it is.
Our 2022 Gravel Bike of the Year contenders are: