Up for review is the Vitus Bike 2019 Escarpe 29 VRX. Their flagship trail and all-mountain specced full-suspension mountain bike, the 150mm travel 29er is primed and ready for Irish trails…
In collaboration with MTB Tribe podcast, we’ve put together this show dedicated to the Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX. So stick on the kettle, pour a brew, kick back and listen in…
MTB Tribe Podcast
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 150mm suspension travel versus 170mm 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.
For 2019 Escarpe range is available in five options. The entry level Escarpe 27 will get you on the trails for £1599.99. At that price point it’s comfortably specced with 150mm Rockshox Sektor RL fork and Rockshox Delux R shock, SRAM NX 1×11 groupset, WTB ST i29 tubeless ready wheels, Shimano MT-400 brakes and a Brand X Ascend dropper post.
2019 Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX
The Escarpe VRX is top end for both the 27.5” and 29” and for this test we’ve clocked 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
Impressions – Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX
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. Add in the those gold fork stanchions and you’ve got a bike that turns heads out on the trails.
The Escarpe is available in aluminium only, but those with a carbon disposition need not fret – this bike is light, super light. Granted, for those wanting a sleeker look carbon avoids the frame welds and often features internal cable routing were alloy can’t. The Escarpe does well to hide routing as best it can, with only 50 per cent showing on the down tube and the rest hidden behind a welcomed bash guard.
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. In general I felt that the gearing was on the money for my riding and climbing ability. Incidentally, on the photoshoot, Ryan (who’s got a bit more punch in his legs) mentioned he’d have liked a smaller front ring to avoid using all the rear cassette on the climbs.
Initially you do notice a lot more front wheel in your field of vision when pointing it south, but that quickly disperses when the forestry comes hurtling at you. Personally, it doesn’t feel necessarily faster than a 27.5” set-up. But when it comes to those wagon wheels – and especially where mellow gradients are concerned – you do notice the bike holding its rolling speed a lot easier. If you’ve got a more conservative and smooth riding style then I think you will find the 29” wheels to your liking for it’s more predictable feel on the trail. The ability to quickly change direction, hug a tight inside line or square off a corner is not an issue.
What undoubtedly stands to the Escarpe VRX is its suspenders. The FOX 36 FIT GRIP 2 FACTORY Boost 150mm fork and FOX DPX2 FACTORY are massively impressive. With only a few weeks to call the Escarpe my own, I didn’t spend time fettling the suspension clickers, but out of the crate it’s good. Damn good.
And without getting all cliche about it, they inspire confidence. They soak up everything the forest floor has to offer to the point that I found myself just going for hard, techy lines I’d not normally have trusted myself to do without trouble.
All told, the Escarpe 29 VRX delivered more than I expected from a sub-£3000 bike. Granted the suspension and braking made it for me, but all combined it’s one impressive package that won’t steer you wrong.
For the full review, listen into the podcast above with MTB Tribe.
Book A Demo Ride
Fancy finding out for yourself what it’s like, then book a demo ride with Chain Reaction Cycles Belfast. This bike is in-store (along with all their other brands/models) and available to take on a test ride. Speak to Dave and tell him we sent you!
Product Shown: Leatt DBX 5.0
Many thanks to Ryan Callaghan for giving up his Tuesday evening for an impromptu photoshoot!