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Vitus 979 originality and value

Old 12-13-22, 07:13 PM
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Vitus 979 originality and value

Comes with shimano 600 groupset and mavic MA40 rims, how good does aluminum frame age? Does ride quality differ from steel? How much should I pay in CAD?

Thanks.

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Old 12-13-22, 07:20 PM
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Quite a few of us ride on old Vitus bikes, and can ride pretty fast on them, even these days. I'll say I don't think the frame "wears out" as some believe. The thinner, more flexible tubing is even coming back into fashion, with the idea that a flexible frame doesn't rob you of power, but may actually make you go faster! How's that for aging well?

I've never seen a Vitus 979 frame come unglued. I hear it can happen, but as the result of some trauma like a crash, not because of riding it.

A good price for that, in person, would be $350-400. I wouldn't spend too much more, there are better deals out there!
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Old 12-13-22, 08:36 PM
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As a former employee of a national Vitus frame importer/distributor, albeit in relatively limited quantities (100s not 1000s), I can confirm that newish bonded 979 frames coming unstuck was an all-too-frequent occurrence.

From personal observation I wouldn't be surprised at all if at least 25% of frames _subjected to regular and normal usage_ suffered joint failure within three years of new purchase.

We imported hundreds. We replaced or repaired dozens and dozens within the first few years of introduction. Usually with no evidence of crash damage, much less that it was a contributing factor.

I'd recommend physically checking (ie. trying to pull apart and looking for movement) every joint, and especially seat tube to bb shell, dropouts to stays and brake bridge to stays. Double check the forks.

For all that I capitulated a few years back and bought a very clean 992 and after having the brake bridge expertly reglued rode it a few dozen times until I lost my nerve...

Good luck!
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Old 12-13-22, 08:48 PM
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For the number of 979s made (Which must easily be in the 5 digits), failure is actually a rare occurrence.Evident in the numbers of 979s that continue to be ridden to this day.

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Old 12-13-22, 09:30 PM
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400 CAD if the condition is great.
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Old 12-13-22, 09:46 PM
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I've got four friends regularly riding Vitus 979s in the past five years, and none of them have ever had a failure. Add that to the forum's experience, and we probably have a hundred Vituses out there being regularly ridden, and nobody has posted a failure pic/story. It's all third-hand, or else it's people mistaking a cracked Alan for a Vitus. I wonder if what you saw was some initial failure rate from factory, and all the ones that survive now are the good ones that will never come apart. Like I said, I have never seen any photographic evidence of an aluminum Vitus 979 that has come apart under normal riding. Crashes, yes, but often even a crash will just kink the tubing. Carbone vitus frames, yes, but carbon was a different animal.
@seagrade , could you provide us with more details? Maybe you can help us with our Vitus 979 serial number registry, if you can point us to any details about numbering cutoffs for dates, or what exact year they changed from pinch-bolt seatpost clamps to grub-screw type. We would really value this information!
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Old 12-13-22, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by scarlson
I've got four friends regularly riding Vitus 979s in the past five years, and none of them have ever had a failure. Add that to the forum's experience, and we probably have a hundred Vituses out there being regularly ridden, and nobody has posted a failure pic/story. It's all third-hand, or else it's people mistaking a cracked Alan for a Vitus. I wonder if what you saw was some initial failure rate from factory, and all the ones that survive now are the good ones that will never come apart. Like I said, I have never seen any photographic evidence of an aluminum Vitus 979 that has come apart under normal riding. Crashes, yes, but often even a crash will just kink the tubing. Carbone vitus frames, yes, but carbon was a different animal.
@seagrade , could you provide us with more details? Maybe you can help us with our Vitus 979 serial number registry, if you can point us to any details about numbering cutoffs for dates, or what exact year they changed from pinch-bolt seatpost clamps to grub-screw type. We would really value this information!
Unfortunately I can't provide much more than that of the previous post. I left the bicycle industry in 1998 and with it any records of serial numbers and documented failures. The company I worked for previously imported screwed and glued Italian Alans and switched to Vitus in the hope they would prove more reliable, probably two or three years before I started there in late 1985. When they didn't, which was within two or three years of then, we switched to importing Klein Quantums as our volume race and triathlon frame, with steel Merckx and titanium Merlin frames among others also in the mix late 80s to mid 90s.

I recall both the earlier frames with seat binder bolts and later versions with seat post grub screws but not when the changeover occurred. Strangely I've heard stories of the former cracking but can't recall seeing one first hand. Most probably we imported more of the latter given the timeline involved.

My recollection of the failure rate is pretty clear and we'd likely have kept importing Vitus much longer had they proved more reliable. They were relatively affordable, available in 1cm increments, and very popular due to the exploits of Sean Kelly and various grimpeurs winning on them under various different decal sets. I certainly thought several times about acquiring one, but chose experience over optimism and stuck with steel until I bought a Merlin Titanium around 1995. I went so far as importing a Carbone 3 in my size but sold it new rather than take my chances as the evidence against them steadily grew over time.

All that said they are still pretty cool frames and clearly some have stood the test of time. Kept as a race bicycle by a lighter/smoother rider they may well last almost indefinitely. Back in the 1980s typical Vitus customers in our market bought them to train and race on, and that meant 12000-plus kilometres per year, year in year out. Serious recreational riders and those for whom a Vitus would be one of a fleet/stable/quiver (surely a nonsense term in this context atmo) seemed few and far between, and even a race-only bicycle was relatively uncommon back then in our market weighed down by import duty, high freight costs and little economy of scale.
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Old 12-13-22, 11:48 PM
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hmm thx guys I think I will pass on this one, things coming unglued are perhaps concerns I would have about a shoe, but it never occurred to me that it can happen to a bike frameset!
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Old 12-14-22, 01:31 AM
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I have a couple of Vitus in the shed . One of each seat clamp type
And a carbone .

I reckon all the current riders of these frames out there are pretty safe .
All the dodgy ones from the factory will be long gone /dead by now !
Anything that is still around these days will be safe enough .

but what do I know ha !
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Old 12-14-22, 05:49 AM
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As a previous poster said, if it hasn't come unglued in 30 years, it probably won't. Same thing with tubes that still hold air, old chains that haven't stretched, old derailleurs that still shift. Just ride it. The skittishness around bonded frames is approaching folklore.
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Old 12-14-22, 10:28 AM
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Catnap's take on the Vitus 979
Randy's take on the Vitus 979

There is some empirical evidence of a few of the Vitus framesets coming apart, particularly at the junction between the bottom bracket shell and the seat tube. Harry Havnoonian's shop used to repair these in the early 2000s, but he's no longer here (RIP). Not sure who repairs the framesets anymore. I think you'd need to find a shop that can handle repairs on 5000-series aluminum.

Alan, Bridgestone, Miyata, Raleigh and Trek made bonded aluminum bikes as well. Most have held up over time.
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Old 12-14-22, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by seagrade
I recall both the earlier frames with seat binder bolts and later versions with seat post grub screws but not when the changeover occurred. Strangely I've heard stories of the former cracking but can't recall seeing one first hand. Most probably we imported more of the latter given the timeline involved.
That's well-documented, yes. The pinch-bolt seat lugs do crack. Here's a picture! I have seen several.


The grub screw design like the OP's doesn't have a history of cracking like the pinch bolt ones do.
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Old 12-15-22, 07:57 AM
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My only aluminum, a grub screw 979 is a lovely ride but admit I am no longer a threat to flex a BB. In my travels, typically two or three states a year I have for years now talked to any Vitus owners/shops I come across as to failures and as noted above the only thing I hear is a rare comment on the seat tube cap failures but little first hand knowledge. I suspect the 25% tube failures reference above where likey a production batch failure as a manufacturer of 100s of thousands of frames could not survive such a long term failure rate, nor could other companies that used those frames.
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Old 12-16-22, 02:20 AM
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Originally Posted by easyupbug
I suspect the 25% tube failures reference above where likey a production batch failure as a manufacturer of 100s of thousands of frames could not survive such a long term failure rate, nor could other companies that used those frames.
I really should know better than to return to a thread such as this, especially as it has strayed from the OP's questions (I plead guilty to contributing to that) but what the heck and for the historical record...

My recollection remains a failure rate approaching 25% of frames _in regular and normal usage_ in the market I was involved with. In that market normal and regular usage was by racing cyclists for training and racing, perhaps 1000-1500km per month. When I started in 1985 this would have been perhaps half of all Vitus 979 frames sold, with maybe a quarter being bought as race-only frames and used much less, and the last quarter or so sold to various non-competitive cyclists. These are generalisations, we never surveyed our customers in any detail, much less our customers' customers, and increasingly triathletes comprised a significant percentage of the market in our market.

Across 13 years in the wholesale bicycle industry, and as a casual observer for 24 years since, I have been continually surprised as to how manufacturers and marketers of imperfect and marginal products could remain in business and return year after year. Many seemed able to withstand significant variations in sales volume and high rates of return and keep coming back for more with more. New owners, new investors, downsizing etc. etc.

We'd stopped importing Vitus frames by the time the 992 was introduced, but I doubt annual sales elsewhere approached even half the volume of 979s a few years earlier.

While I have no records to confirm the above, and my experience was of hundreds of frames and dozens of repairs in a single market, it was across a number of years and many shipments. The failures started early and never let up, it was far from a single batch or production run issue.
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Old 12-16-22, 07:19 AM
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Old 12-16-22, 07:35 AM
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I think storage potentially has an impact on failure. If the frame is subjected to repeated changes in temperature it can't be good for it. I owned a Raleigh Technium and it suffered no issues. Sold it to a happy college student at a bargain price and honestly I wish I'd have kept it.

To me it is similar to golf clubs. Most people know that it isn't a good idea to store your golf clubs in the trunk of your car, especially if you live in a hot climate. I learned the hard way. I was playing at one of my favorite courses and I pulled out my driver, a nice Titleist, and I hit my tee shot and as I held the finish the clubhead slipped off of the shaft and landed behind me. My first reaction was WTF!!!!!? My second reaction was to thank God it didn't hurt anyone, which I suppose it could have. The point is the epoxy failed, probably due to repeated heating and cooling. It was a good drive, by the way!

So I suspect the same might happen to bonded frames. Temperature cycling with the resulting expansion and contraction just has to have an impact I think.
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Old 12-26-22, 01:15 AM
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The first basic rule for bonded bikes is, do not put them away wet after riding.......
Especially bad for bonded frame bikes with CF tubes and aluminum lugs.
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Old 12-26-22, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
The first basic rule for bonded bikes is, do not put them away wet after riding.......
Especially bad for bonded frame bikes with CF tubes and aluminum lugs.
Sorry but the first basic rule is quite obvious, never buy a bonded frame..
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Old 12-27-22, 04:08 AM
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I'm sure you speak from experience.

Oh, wait.....
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Old 12-27-22, 04:09 AM
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I speak from common sense! What problems does it solve? Nothing! What problems does it create? Well....
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Old 12-27-22, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by scarlson
. . . or what exact year they changed from pinch-bolt seatpost clamps to grub-screw type.
From this page:

"The original alloy steerer tube, prone to vibration in hard braking, was replaced by steel by the early 1980s. One weakness of the original design, the cracking of the alloy “ears” for the seat post binder bolt, led to redesign of the seat post lug in 1985 to incorporate an internal grub screw to hold a newly designed 25 mm seat post."
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Old 12-27-22, 09:06 AM
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A couple of Vitus bonding failure threads, from a cursory Bike Forums search:

Vitus 979 - frame...dead???

Vitus repair: JB weld or Gorilla glue? or other

Interesting post in the second thread (and possibly encouraging for present-day owners of the frames):

"I remember speaking to Jock Boyer at the new york bike show back in the day, shortly after I got my Motobecane Prolight. He was riding a Vitus, too, and said that when the frames came undone, the mechanics just heated the joint up with a heat gun and shoved them together again."

[Edit: Oops! Here's the post that directly followed the post above:]

That won't work with epoxy: it's not a thermo-plastic resin, heat will not melt it again...enough heat will actually burn it. I like JB Weld just fine as a hardware-store epoxy, but I would
NOT trust it for a structural repair like a bicycle frame (let alone an airframe!) If you want to experiment (and treat it as experimental, it might fail at any time) I'd get some really serious high-peel-and-shear-strength industrial epoxy (and clean the bejesus out of the joint before applying)...it might even be more like the stuff that Bador SHOULD have used to assemble the Vitus frames from get-go.
Since I'm in a ranting mode, I just can't resist saying that I have never found Gorilla glue to be good for ANY repair, and I do a LOT of wood gluing. YRMV.

[Another edit to insert a later post replying to the post above, and I'll just suggest reading the thread yourself:]

I beg to differ-- epoxy loses almost all its strength at about 150-160* C. I've taken misglued wood joints with a heat gun, re-aligned and clamped correctly, and had excellent results. So no, it's not a thermoplastic-- but heat will work.


I'd give it a try. You can pick up good 2-part epoxy at any West Marine store, and if you were willing to wrap the joint in a layer of carbon fiber, you'd probably ADD strength.

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Old 01-05-23, 12:32 PM
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Here's some input on Vitus 979 frames from a bike distributor in England Graham Weigh, who used to sell Vitus frames and bikes and sponsored teams that rode the Vitus 979s.:
He noted that what usually failed on the frame was the rear drive side dropouts cracking when riders get their chains tangled up on their RDs. The glue joint failures were not that common, according to him.
He also said that the pro team riders did not change their Vitus bikes after every event as many had rumored.
It is also interesting that he noted that when the frames do come apart at the joints, the repair was quite simple and only takes about 20 minutes to do, as he was trained at the Vitus factory on how to do it.
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Old 01-05-23, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1
Here's some input on Vitus 979 frames from a bike distributor in England Graham Weigh, who used to sell Vitus frames and bikes and sponsored teams that rode the Vitus 979s.:
https://youtu.be/HNsChYIdiTA
He noted that what usually failed on the frame was the rear drive side dropouts cracking when riders get their chains tangled up on their RDs. The glue joint failures were not that common, according to him.
He also said that the pro team riders did not change their Vitus bikes after every event as many had rumored.
It is also interesting that he noted that when the frames do come apart at the joints, the repair was quite simple and only takes about 20 minutes to do, as he was trained at the Vitus factory on how to do it.
I'm yet to watch the video but certainly recall having to import and stock rear dropouts in all sizes as replacement parts. Another consumable was the down tube shifter boss assembly, for which replacement was a simple repair but increasingly common after the advent of Shimano Index Shifting and Campagnolo Syncro...
I too heard claims that Vitus frames, especially Sean Kelly's, were replaced after each race. Never from anyone in a position to know, nor really know anyone who would know, and it wasn't worth getting into a discussion - the fact such frequent replacement especially in an era when racers rode 100+ racers a season was not economically viable was self-evident.
As for joint failures being less common, that's quite possible in the UK by comparison with the New Zealand market with which I was familiar. The UK market had a far greater proportion of time trialists ("testers") and I understand many if not most road racers had a winter/training bike. In New Zealand the high cost of imported frames and better weather meant many if not most racers had a single bike used for racing and training, increasing the total mileage, exposure to rougher training roads and fatigue cycles considerably. I _suspect_ most Kiwi roads were worse than those used in the UK, especially for testing.
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