The 1992 edition of Milan-San Remo was finished in a most spectacular fashion by Sean Kelly aboard a Vitus 992. His descent down the Poggio di San Remo, chasing Moreno Argentin at a breakneck speed, does a lot to dispel the general consensus of Vitus frames being of a ‘noodley’ nature. To be fair, Sean’s 992 was a vast improvement to its previous incarnation, the 979.
Sean ‘The King’ Kelly and the French brand of Vitus have long enjoyed a strong relationship, with Sean winning many races aboard their frames — despite their flexible reputation — although that could be more a statement of Sean’s ability over their ‘glued and screwed’ construction. Sean is now the Brand Ambassador for Vitus as they continue their path of innovation.
There’s an abundance of brands that have certain quirks and, inevitably, they end up with a staunch following. Vitus is no different: this 992 belongs to Rob, a collector in Adelaide who became fascinated by Vitus after watching Sean’s careening descent down the Poggio in 1992. He finally purchased the same purple frame on eBay in 2008, thus beginning a gradual journey of restoration.
Rob has subsequently and unintentionally built up a quiver of five complete Vitus bikes, with another 2-3 in the stands. The purple Vitus was originally kitted out with 9 speed Shimano Dura Ace, but Rob gradually acquired a Mavic Special Service Course (SSC) groupset, which he installed in 2011. Rather than selling or storing the older parts, Rob searched for another Vitus to build up.
This process continued, trading with other Vitus collectors around the world, and now the stable includes a 979, a Carbone 3, Carbone 9, and a rare ZX-1 Time Trial bike. A Mavic stem and seat post was added to the 992 and, along with the 16 spoke Mavic Cosmic Pro wheels, finally make for a very collectable and immaculate example.
The evolution of the 992 from the 979 can be seen in the proprietary Vitus tubes. Those used for the 992 have been ovalised, increasing overall rigidity. The 992 also features the revolutionary — at the time — integrated headset which, along with the streamlined ‘lugs’ and aero bottom bracket shell, shows why Vitus have such an ardent following.
To Rob’s credit, “a bike isn’t a bike unless it’s being ridden”, and he rode away from this photoshoot upon the prized purple 992. Don Brice is a professional photographer, also located in Adelaide, who captured every detail of Rob’s Vitus. Special thanks to Rob and Don — see more of Don’s work on his website or Instagram.