In for review is Vitus Bike’s 2019 Escarpe 29 VRX. With a couple of rides already under our belt, here’s our first impressions of how it’s rolling…
Whether ridden by the likes of Red Bull Foxhunt winner Colin Ross or Glyn O’Brien or found at the trail centres of biking.ie and East Coast Adventures, Vitus Bikes are arguably one of the most popular choices of mountain bike on this island.
That’s mainly thanks to their direct sales operations through Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle, which allows them to offer a solid spec at an eye catching price point.
But also with race development input from Colin Ross, the Vitus First Tracks Race Division team and Team biking.ie, having the Vitus mountain bike range refined and honed on Irish soil is a comforting thought.
2019 Vitus Escarpe
The Vitus Escarpe is their shorter-travel ‘trail centre’ all-mountain specced full-suspension bike.
While only available in an alloy frame, the Escarpe does come in two wheel size options – 27.5” and 29” – and is the only full-suspension 29” MTB in the 2019 Vitus range.
At 140mm suspension travel versus 160mm for the ‘enduro’ Sommet, there is slightly less soakage on tap, but that is reflected in the price with the top spec Escarpe VRX £500 less than its Sommet equivalent.
Incidentally, incase you’re wondering if there’s enough travel, the Escarpe VRX was Glyn O’Brien’s weapon of choice during 2018, which saw him to the 2018 First Tracks Enduro Cup title. Click that link to see it in more detail.
Overview: 2019 Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX
The Escarpe VRX is top end and available in both the 27.5” and 29” options. For this review we’re putting in the miles on their wagon-wheeled 29 VRX.
The main reason for testing out the 29 VRX (over the 27.5) is to get a feel for the larger wheel, having never spent much time on one before.
Naturally, carrying the highest spec, the VRX holds the heaviest price tag of the Escarpe models at £2999.99. But value for money, that’s still a lot of bike for the sub-£3000 price bracket.
For that you’re getting the superior 150mm FOX 36 Fit Grip 2 Factory fork and FOX DPX2 Factory rear shock.
The fork with its golden Kashima coated legs features high speed and low speed compression adjustments, plus their Variable Valve Control rebound adjuster.
Braking is taken care of thanks to the 4-piston SRAM Guide RE brakes on 200/180 rotors, while gearing is a 1×11 Shimano XT groupset.
For the VRX, the WTB wheels are swapped out for stronger DT Swiss M1700 Spline 30, shod in MAXXIS Minion tyres and come tubeless ready.
- Frame: 6061-T6 Alloy
- Fork: FOX 36 FIT GRIP 2 FACTORY Boost 150mm
- Shock: FOX DPX2 FACTORY
- Groupset: 1×11 Shimano XT (11-46T)
- Chainset: Shimano XT 30T
- Wheels: DT Swiss M1700 Spline 30
- Brakes: SRAM Guide RE 200/180 Rotors
- Seatpost: BRAND X ASCEND
- Tyres: MAXXIS Minion DHF 29 x 2.5 F / MAXXIS DHR II 29 x 2.4 R
- Finishing Kit: Nukeproof/Vitus
Escarpe 29 VRX Suspension Bike
- Price: £2999.99
- Availability: Now
Initial Impressions: Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX
So far I’ve only swung a leg over the 29 VRX twice in anger. The first was for the GoPro commentary we did (talk about a baptism of fire), then more recently a run around Ravensdale Forestry covering 15-kilometres, four runs and about 500 metres of climbing.
Initial impressions are naturally limited, but straight off the bat there’s no denying that Vitus’ designers have come up trumps with this year’s colour scheme.
The two-tone silver and dark cyan, with orange logo is certainly a looker and the way the two colours split the top tube is a very nice touch indeed.
Although available in aluminium only, those with a carbon disposition need not fret, this bike is light, super light.
The gearing is 1×11, but with a monster of a granny gear out the back. Having ‘lazy climbed’ my way through February on an e-bike, I was certainly glad of cranking it up into the big gear where needed as I try to find my legs again. You won’t need it too much, but it’s nice to know it’s there when things get steep.
When it comes to those wagon wheels – and especially where mellow gradients are concerned – you instantly notice the bike holds its rolling speed a lot easier.
All told, I’m looking forward to getting a few more rides in on the Escarpe 29 VRX during the next month or so.
I’m keen to see how that impression changes over time and what sort of a playful-feel the wagon wheels have out on the trails.
Finally, we’re also planning to enlist the help and advice of a few experts who’ve already clocked up plenty of long-term miles on their Escarpe to get a real idea of that lived-in feel.
Stay tuned for more, plus keep a check on our Instagram for regular updates…