We get the run down on how Glyn O’Brien has got his Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX set up for the 2018 MTB season.
For 2018 Glyn has crossed over to the dark side and for the first time is riding and racing a Vitus Escarpe 29er in his own First Tracks Enduro Cup series, the Gravity Enduro Ireland Series and even the Irish Downhill Mountain Bike Series — plus anything else that goes in between.
Racking up a third overall at Castlewellan and a Veteran Men win at Ballinastoe, it was time to take a closer look at his wagon-wheeler…
Switching to wagon wheels
“This year I’m riding the Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX for enduro and the majority of the riding I do. The Escarpe would be Vitus’ trail centre/enduro specced bike. This one is a size Medium to suit my height of 5’10”. The Escarpe is actually an aluminium-only frame model compared to the Vitus Sommet, which is carbon, so I’m really enjoying the switch back to aluminium this year.
“I went for the 29er this year simply to see what all the fuss is about and so far it’s a lot of fun. The Escarpe is the only full-suspension 29er Vitus have. And considering the aluminium frame, it tips the scales in standard trim at 14.6kg, which is pretty damn good.
“In general I haven’t heavily modified this bike over standard, which I suppose is a good sign. I’ve set the suspension up to suit my riding style, switched to WTB tyres and swapped up components like the saddle, pedals and mudguard.”
All the gears you need
“The cassette is the SRAM Eagle GX with a 12-speed on the back and a 34 tooth sprocket on the front to give a 50:11 ratio. It’s a gearing that really seems to suit Irish riding. For the steepest climbs I’m using the first or second gear and it spins along easily, while still offering plenty of top end when hammering the trails.
“I think if I was riding the world circuit stuff, like EWS, I’d consider switching to the 32 up front to deal with the longer, steeper transitions — but definitely for riding at home the 34 is fine.”
Set her up soft
“The Escarpe comes with a Rockshox Lyrik RT3 150mm travel fork and a Rockshox Deluxe RT3 on the rear four-bar V-link with 140mm travel. For my setup I tend to run things on the soft side. I find it helps give extra grip and sit better in the travel. The suspension tends to ramp up quite good, so there’s plenty of room to avoid bottoming out.
“Normally I run the sag at about 30%. I know that’s quite soft, but I’m trying to find that balance where it won’t bottom out on some of the bigger hits on the stages.”
Keeping the rubber side down
“The DT Swiss rims and valves come as standard but I changed to WTB tyres and tubeless setup. I’ve got the Vigilante 2.3 High Grip Tough fitted front and rear. The tyre is a dual compound with thicker side casing to avoid side roll and pinch flats but then has softer contact rubber for better grip.
“For muddy conditions I can run 18psi on the front and 20psi on the rear. In drier, summer weather I’ll up it to 22/24psi depending on the terrain.”
No more muddy eyes
“My RRP ProGuard front mudguard I can honestly say is the best addition to a bike since the dropper post. There’s a lot of dodgy mudguards out there, but this one is really functional and good looking too. You can basically not bother with goggles, especially when you’re not racing and simply out for a spin – it saves you needing to manage goggles on a wet and rainy ride. Put it on and forget about it, job done.”
The finishing touches
“I’ve kept the stock Nukeproof carbon bars with a 780mm width and fitted them with WTB Padloc grips. For pedals I’m using SPDs all the time for enduro riding. I’m running the Shimano Deore XT mated with Shimano shoes.
“The SRAM Guide brakes come as standard on the Escarpe and they will stop you, no questions asked.
“I’ve got the Rockshox Reverb dropper post fitted with 150mm drop and it’s absolutely brilliant. I can run it at normal height for climbing and then with such a long drop it clears neatly out of the way for the descents.”