Field Trip: Vitus' $1,449 Sentier Hits That Middle Ground

Apr 22, 2021
by Sarah Moore  


PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP

VITUS SENTIER 29 VR

Hits that middle ground.



Words by Sarah Moore, Photography by Tom Richards



The next bike up in our Field Trip value bike review series is the Vitus Sentier 29 VR, a hardtail 29er with a 130mm fork that goes for $1,449 USD. Vitus says it’s ready for aggressive hardtail trail riding and that all the parts have been selected with that in mind. You likely haven't seen it at your local shop and that's because it's only available to buy online at Wiggle or Chain Reaction Cycles.

The aluminum frame has a threaded bottom bracket and Boost hub spacing. The dropper post is internally routed while the brakes and shifter cables are externally routed. Prices range from $1,099 USD to $2,199 USD at $1,449 USD for the Vitus Sentier 29 VR, you'll get a Marzocchi Bomber Z2
Vitus Sentier 29 VR

Fork travel: 130mm
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: aluminum
Head angle: 66.5-degrees
Chainstay length: 439mm
Reach: 428mm (medium)
Sizes: M, L, XL
Weight: 30.2 lb / 13.7 kg
Price: $1,449 USD
More info: www.vitusbikes.com
fork, Shimano’s Deore 1x11 Drivetrain, Shimano Deore brakes and Brand-X Ascend dropper post. As for tires, it comes with Schwalbe's Magic Mary on the front and a Nobby Nic on the rear.

The Vitus is an outlier with geometry in a couple of instances. With its 66.5° headtube angle, the Vitus fits right in the middle of the hardtails we rode on the Sunshine Coast, but its 73° effective seat-tube angle is the slackest on test and its 439mm chainstays are the longest of the bunch. It also has the shortest reach at 428mm for a size medium.






Climbing

To test these bikes at this time of the year, we headed to the Sunshine Coast, where there was a higher probability of sunshine and no snow than Squamish at the end of February. The first half of our test lap was a rooty, slick singletrack climb that then transitioned into a wider, smoother gravel section. The Vitus may be a hardtail, but with its short reach, upright position and knobby tires, it didn't feel like it had the most get-up-and-go of the hardtails on the climb.

That being said, while it's not a race bike, it's not it like it was holding you back a whole lot either, and for most people it's more than capable enough for any climb they're going to tackle. The handling is quick and responsive and it definitely had a more pedal-friendly position than a bike like the Rocky Mountain Growler with its slacker head tube angle. The long rear end might help it stay planted on faster descents, but on tight sections of trail, it made the bike a touch less easy to maneuver around corners quickly. Overall, it's just a solid little bike that will get you to the top of the climb with a minimal amount of huffing and puffing.






Descending

On the descents, it's a similar story to the climb, where it hits that middle ground - not as rowdy as the Rocky Mountain Growler with its aggressive geometry and parts kit to match, but definitely more composed than the BMC Two Stroke with its low front end and scary-fast tires. Of course, a huge part of that confidence also comes from the fact that this is our least expensive bike to come with a dropper post. Despite the ergonomics of the thumb lever not being as good as they could be, having a dropper post means you'll be much more comfortable on descents. Another spec choice that makes the Sentier a fun little descender is the choice of tires. There's nothing like good rubber that allows you to push into the bike more and feel like you can trust it.

Now, I'm not saying you're going to want to take a whole lot of chances on the Sentier or jump blindly into sections of trail where you aren't exactly sure what you'll encounter. As soon as the trail gets rough and speeds get quicker, the Sentier loses a bit of that composure, although compared to the Norco, which is similar on paper, it does feels more composed on the descents with its longer chainstays and smooth fork. Overall, it's still best suited to smoother trails.


Vitus Sentier. 2021 Field Trip. Photo by Tom Richards





Pros

+ All-rounder
+ Fork is a highlight of the build

Cons

- Less composed at speed
- Brakes lack power














The 2021 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with support from Toyota.




Video: Jason Lucas, Max Barron
Editing: Devan Francis



126 Comments

  • 128 0
 A Bomber Z2, Shimano’s Deore 1x11 Drivetrain, Shimano Deore brakes and Brand-X Ascend dropper post. As for tires, it comes with Schwalbe's Magic Mary on the front and a Nobby Nic on the rear.

just wow factor 100
  • 23 6
 I'd think of selling the frame and throwing the parts onto something like a Dartmoor Primal or a Sonder Transmitter or even a Marino.
  • 66 1
 Vitus has taken over all the other direct mail companies as best value bikes in the industry.
  • 7 0
 @slimjimbikes: Deja Vu Jamis
  • 25 7
 @DoubleCrownAddict: But.....But..... it has that deathtrap of a shimano derailleur.
  • 2 2
 Yes, but it is sold out...(on CRC and Wiggle)
  • 2 0
 @slimjimbikes: my plan was (before i built my current bike) was to buy a sentier, then frame swap in a couple of years with a full sus, or maybe a more aggressive hardtail, since the components are that good
  • 9 0
 @slimjimbikes: how is going from vitus to sonder or a dartmoor an upgrade? I’d even pref vitus myself given how they got some actually good full sus bikes
  • 12 0
 Making a cheap hard tail frame that performs well is easy.

Spec'cing a cheap hard tail that performs well? Thats a whole nother story. Good job Vitus.

Also that Park City article got nuked.
  • 6 0
 @hamncheez: yea I saw the PC article disappeared. Wonder why. I was pretty glad they highlighted some of the worst trails to be frank hahaha.
  • 2 2
 @DoubleCrownAddict: seems like you forget Radon Wink
  • 1 0
 I paid the same price for my Commencal Meta and it has a budget coil fork and it didn't even come with a dropper...Still happy with it, but the Vitus value is immense.
  • 64 0
 The biggest issue I have with this review is that Levy doesn't separate his fingers when he does air quotes.
  • 6 1
 Neither did Prince Philip...just saying
  • 19 0
 Airpostrophes?
  • 2 0
 @Almostredbike: I’m curious why? I have tried resin, sintered and those in between things and have gone back to resin. I found the sintered pads squeal, don’t give as good modulation and don’t give any more power. I live in the UK with similar conditions to BC/PNW. Admittedly the resin pads wear a bit quicker when it’s really s£&@;y out, but for the sake of a few quid I am happy with the better performance. What are other people’s experiences?
  • 3 0
 Oops I responded to the wrong person, I meant to respond to @eblackwell
  • 1 0
 @alastairnorton: I’m sure it depends on the brake and manufacturer, but I’ve found resin pads wear out crazy fast (like 1 month in wet conditions) and have much less power.
  • 2 0
 @eblackwell: I guess maybe it’s conditions then. Even though we get our fair share of wet weather I’m lucky enough to have plenty of rocky trails to ride when the mud is axle deep elsewhere. True about pad manufacturers as well. PB brake pad review time? Not very sexy, but almost as important as tyre choice imho
  • 56 1
 If you don't have a lot of money, I'd spend every sentier got on this
  • 3 36
flag ShredDog101 (Apr 22, 2021 at 7:43) (Below Threshold)
 To early mate
  • 2 13
flag ShredDog101 (Apr 22, 2021 at 17:14) (Below Threshold)
 @Murvis: cos u care
  • 57 5
 @mikelevy if you start a movement to ban resin pads from the industry I will ride with you into battle.
  • 38 0
 I think there may be a niche for resin pads, but certainly not resin-only rotors!
  • 4 0
 but they are quieter in the parking lot! What else matters?
  • 14 0
 @CaMKii: resin only rotors are the real problem here.
  • 5 0
 It's just that Shimano and Sram resin sucks. TRP and Formula resins actually stop you.
  • 3 0
 @mtxbraking uses resin, and they actually work pretty good too.
  • 4 0
 @SkullsRoad: I have found nukeproof resin pads to be okay, plenty of power and good modulation
  • 2 1
 My experience is kinda the opposite (in line with alastairnorton).

Sintered pads squeal, don’t give as good modulation and don’t give any more power. We don't have a lot of continuous downs so they don't overheat/wear super fast (I get that a lot of people are lucky enough to need sintered for that reason).

Personally prefer resin over sintered.
  • 1 0
 @doggparadox: Resin feels better in the parking lot or if you're 155 pounds, but as soon as you get sustained, steep braking resin heat up and turn to mush. Also you lose like half your stopping power.
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez:

Fair. I'm 160 lbs and don't have trails with sustained steep braking so that might be why they work so well for me.
  • 1 0
 @doggparadox: They are quieter and gab more noticeably when they are cool. But I eat too many carbs, so mine heat up quick.
  • 42 6
 "Overall, it's still best suited to smoother trails." Well, it is a hardtail...
  • 13 2
 This highlights something for me. When I saw this series I interpreted it as comparing bikes with a similar purpose within a given price range to each other, but watching it seems more like what bikes can be bought with a given budget. It's a subtle difference. Naturally an XC bike will be less confidence inspiring than a trail bike on the downs and more climbing focussed on the ups so what are we learning here? This approach for me removes the brand specific element of these reviews which is what I find really interesting.

That being said, I'm going to watch every single one and really appreciate the work that goes into them. Thanks Pinkbike for yet more content. (:
  • 11 0
 I have a feeling you'd have two very different experiences riding this Vitus vs a Chromag Primer down steep chunky stuff.
  • 9 0
 Maybe they missed that video about a week ago where some dude thrashed 14 double black trails in a day on a hardtail. Now where did I see that? Wink
  • 16 0
 @swillett116: Yep. Honestly hardtails are fine on steep and chunky trails too, as long as they're slow speed. High speed chunk where there's many hard hits in quick succession is where a hardtail really beats me up. I think one of the main reasons why pinkbike seems to dislike hardtails so much is because they're putting in a lot of miles. I mean if I was riding a lot of miles everyday like they do for these tests, instead of my usual ~3 rides per week, I'd probably begin to strongly prefer a full suspension bike (that's a bit easier on the body) too.
  • 8 0
 @kcy4130: All personal preference! Not all big mile days warrant a full sus either. Very terrain dependent. You're right though, high speed chunk on a hardtail is not exactly pleasant.
  • 5 0
 @swillett116: Yeah, I just meant that they're doing big mile day after big mile day for weeks. That cumulative fatigue will get to most people, hence any increase in comfort of a bike will help in that situation more than it would for just one big day.
  • 11 16
flag justwaki (Apr 22, 2021 at 13:37) (Below Threshold)
 Hardtail can be ridden down almost any chunk on any steep. Nobody says in what style though... I could enter a challenge and ride VDS DH track on a DJ bike with 2 brakes - would it be any fast? No. I could then take some woke HT with ZEB, 59.5 degree head angle, 500 reach, 470 CS and 80 seat angle - would I be faster than on DJ? Yes. Faster and any more stylish than on a midrange, midtravel FS? Hell no... hammering double black diamonds on a HT when you can afford an FS is a bit like making a bet with your buddy that he will kick you in the balls 10 times and you will keep standing - with a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon as a prize...
  • 4 1
 @justwaki: Now you're just trolling. If you're riding a bike park get a park or dh bike! Hardtails can survive dh trails, but are terrible if you're only riding dh. My trails are long sections of rolling prairie (boring xc) with occasional, short, dips into steep badland canyons (enduro/dh steep and difficult). I like to describe my trails in the same way the life of a soldier was described: long periods of boredom followed by short periods of pure terror. So a hardtail makes the xc bits a little more fun while still being able to survive the short, but tricky descents. My hardtail is an esker japhy, trail, not hardcore. Hardcore hardtails seem silly, but I have not tried one, so can't judge.
  • 6 10
flag justwaki (Apr 22, 2021 at 14:54) (Below Threshold)
 @kcy4130: I didn’t want to attack HTs as a whole. I have two damn it. I just find very little achievement value in riding a HT down difficult trails. What one lad fears to ride down on a DH bike, another will ride on HT, but you can’t forget that if you saw an elite rider on an enduro or dh bike it would blow your mind and make some slow choking on Rocks look silly. It’s all about the point of reference. If just making it is all somebody wants, then yeah, I’m happy for them. But there’s much more to it than just making it.
  • 9 3
 @justwaki: Oh, shut up, man.
  • 1 0
 @justwaki: I think it's fun to be slightly underbiked, but only in small doses. Being underbiked for an entire trail or ride, no thanks. I mean when I ride my full suspension (transition sentinal v1) I'm overbiked for a decent portion of the trails around here. Plus there's not that many miles of trails close by, so getting the hardtail made the trails I do have an interesting challenge again. I was pleasantly surprised by just how much more capable my japhy is compared to my previous hardtail a ~10 year old transition transAM: short, steep, 26", 90mm stem, etc. I knew it'd be a lot better, but it is VASTLY better.
  • 18 1
 Every time with hardtails they say the same exact thing...
  • 10 1
 There's only 1 person in PB crew who understands HT. Let him take care of these tests.
  • 9 7
 maybe hardtails are largely the same.
  • 2 3
 Yeah I’m kinda surprised at such a positive reception of these hard tail reviews... That being said, i guess even hard tail field test content is better than no field test content
  • 1 1
 @spaceofades: "modern" Hardtails are largely the same. Try riding something from earlier than 2015 and you'll know what I mean.
  • 7 0
 @spaceofades: to some, all black coffee tastes the same. I think it's similar with hardtails
  • 11 0
 Really excited about the relatively priced and very capable hardtails coming out right now.

One water bottle mount in that big ole' truss though? shaame
  • 7 1
 They limit seat post entry, so to fit a larger portion of consumers they'll leave them out. Its actually a problem I've run in to several times, especially when trying to up-fit a kid onto a bike they'll grow with for a few years. I've had bikes with posts you'd have to trim 25-50mm off of just to get it down to a useable height. It's not a bad idea on a bike that won't see a fit at a shop since it'll keep a customer from sending a bike back due to a lack of insertion depth. there are several clamp on bottle boss options that'll allow for a second cage.
  • 2 0
 It's that or not running a long dropper post. You can't have both.
  • 2 0
 Two of these solve the problem: kingcage.com/collections/all-products/products/universal-support-bolt I fit two full size bottles on a L Nucleus frame (very similar geometry to the Sentier).
  • 2 0
 @jeffgicklhorn: wow, that's some ghetto shit.
  • 1 0
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps: this was covered on the last ht review. There are braze ons that are just little threaded bolts.
  • 1 0
 @BikesBoatsNJeeps: The TwoFish Quick Cage adapters for instance are great choice for adding bottle cages: www.twofish.biz
  • 1 0
 @dirtyburger: And a couple orders of magnitude more expensive then a rivnut in the frame. You could use a flush PEM stud as well, literally 100 different things are available, but this is a reasonably priced bike.
  • 14 1
 Geometry may or may not work for someone, but this spec is super solid.
  • 4 0
 Probably good it isn't super long and slack, there needs to be all rounders. My hardtail is far from steep a 65 degrees but it's relatively short, which is exactly what I want when I'm popping around on xc trails.
  • 2 0
 I normally ride a large frame, sized down to a medium for this bike and love it
  • 10 0
 Vitus killing it recently
  • 7 0
 I have the 27" version with the same build. SOOO much fun that I regularly ride it instead of my super high end carbon 29" wonderbike. Don't let the budget price and slightly dated geometry fool you, the bike is great.
  • 6 0
 At first I thought maybe Pinkbike had gotten the geometry numbers wrong; but then I realized that's just because I bought the smaller 27.5" wheeled version for my kids, which as a substantially shorter 425mm chainstay, slightly longer 432mm reach (in the Medium), slightly steeper 66-degree head tube angle, and of course a shorter stack. Now I'm wishing Pinkbike had tested the Sentier 27 VR (or VRS), since I'm curious how my kids' bikes stack up.
  • 2 1
 Username checks out... jokes aside, as long as the little ripper is having fun, you got them the right bike!
  • 1 0
 @diegosk: Yeah, part of my point might have been unclear; but I think the Sentier 27 is the better Sentier, so I wish it --or maybe the full sus Escarpe-- was representing Vitus here. For a budget 29er in the same family, I would definitely choose the Nukeproof Scout 290 Scout (or Ragley Big Al) over the Sentier 29. But admittedly that's partly because personally I find 2.35"W tires (like those on the Sentier 29) too narrow for my taste.
  • 5 0
 I had to replace the lever on my Brand-x dropper because it had to be rebuilt over and over again just to work. I was annoyed that I had to spend another $40 for a KS Lev dropper lever, but it has been worth every penny, Great dropper, but plan to upgrade that lever.

An kudos to KS Lev for making an easy and compatible lever.
  • 2 0
 I own 3 Brand-X droppers not the internal model they are a few years old and I used different levers. All 3 have never had any issues. My pet peeve is they only came left handed and my left thumb has issues and I do my dropper moves on the right side but like you said once I changed levers the post worked better.
  • 3 0
 My BrandX dropper paired with a CrankBros remote has performed flawlessly for over three years.
  • 3 0
 I used a 10 dollar ztto lever and its better than brand x.
  • 2 0
 Agreed. Have 3 years on a Brand X dropper. Flawless. Remote sucks but I have an aftermarket one in anyway.
  • 3 0
 I've got this bike (in a large) and have upgraded the rotors/pads. Brakes are excellent now. And the drivetrain does come with a clutch. I do agree with the cons on seat tube angle though - not the best climber. Otherwise it's a great trail bike for the money, nothing really competes in the UK for less than £1200. Something like the Ragley Big AL has a better frame, with the similar components, but also costs £200 more. There's also the Canyon Stoic 3, which is £100 more, which also has a slightly better frame.
  • 1 0
 Just curious but how tall are you? I’m 180 cm and deciding between downsizing M or going for an L. Thanks!
  • 5 0
 Great review. I really like hearing the 'why' behind the ride impressions. Not just saying it felt more composed but trying to highlight WHY it feels more composed.
  • 3 0
 I seriously considered this bike in size large. then I saw the seat tube length for size L. 480mm !. Why??

480mm seat tube is completely unnecessary and way too long for a bike with a 450mm reach. Worse still the XL has a 470mm reach (Same as Norco size L) but has a 520mm seat tube !?!? I would be lucky to fit a 100mm dropper on that bike.

The seat tube is so long that Vitus has been forced to weld a gusset in place to stop it bending

Why does this bike have such crazy long seat tubes in size L and XL? there is absolutely no need for it.
  • 3 1
 Had a 2017 Sentier, really an awesome bike to ride, especially for the price, such a great spec, too bad the headtube bent from a slight hit and it's now at a ~75 deg. head angle (and yeah, CRC said crashes are a warranty no-no). Would still buy tho (if it was in stock).
  • 8 2
 Interesting that happened. My wife had the nukeproof scout 290 (looks to be the same frame). She tipped over while learning to ride clipless and the rear triangle bent, mainly at the seat stay. Nukeproof denied our warranty claim saying there must’ve been some massive side load from a big crash, basically saying we were lying that she had just tipped over. Needless to say we won’t be buying nukeproof again Smile
  • 2 1
 @Wildeman21: i slid off a wet kicker-kind-of-thing on a trail and crashed into a tree, wasn't going fast or anything. Minor dent on a wheel, everything else completely fine and the frame... well, check out my photos of it in profile. I just don't understand how both top/down tubes could bend so easily. In my opinion CRC were wrong and it's a defect, i don't think this is common for these frames. (P.S. they offered me a 15% discount on a frame, but of course nothing was in stock and still it would be a bit too expensive to justify over a new complete bike)
  • 16 0
 @Wildeman21: Nukeproof, but not tipover-proof...makes sense
  • 3 1
 @Wildeman21: it's practically impossible to bend a rear triangle on any bike by 'tipping over', especially on a frame like the Scout... just sayin'.
  • 2 1
 @SoddenDeath: which is why I submitted a warranty claim, thinking there may have been a defect. It did bend, and truly was just a tip over
  • 2 0
 @Wildeman21: I completely shattered the brake side rear triangle on a Trek Procaliber last year in a 2mph “wreck” that just happened to hit the wrong spot on the bike against a very large and heavy rock on a climb. Freak things happen, mine was a frame bought used so I knew I was hosed.
  • 3 0
 @TSheydaev: Crumple zone. A feature, not a bug.
  • 1 0
 @Wildeman21: i crashed my sentier a lot, and a little on my mega. No damage so far.
  • 2 0
 I have the 27.5 inch version. Amazingly frame and spec for the cash in UK/Euro. £1000 for a Marzocchi Z2 (simpler fox 34), Schwable tyres and a balanced geometry. Does everything, flow trails, XC, Enduro stuff, Dirt Jumps. Don't know how they make a profit off it!

Only thing I dislike is the excessively long seat post and I think they could have made it 1 degree slacker.

I actually think they would have had more good things to say about the 27.5 inch version. It's more playful and more huck-able with a bit more fork travel.
  • 2 0
 I have to ask, is the issue with the brakes just the pads/rotors? would you have been happy if someone had stuck some decent rotors and pads on with those brake, or would you still want more feel and power?
  • 2 0
 I am thinking there is a supply and demand issue for metallic sintered pads I am seeing a plethora of bikes with rosin and I have a set of the Deore brakes with metal and they are fine on my trail bikes.
  • 2 0
 This is awesome! Sell the 29s and the gears and the fork and the cockpit and put some 27.5s with a 150mm fork, 9 gears and a real handlebar and you'll be cookin'!
  • 3 0
 can't argue with that bike for that cash can you.
  • 2 0
 Killer job Vitus. This is the bike I'd buy for my wife if she ever shows an interest in riding again.
  • 3 0
 yes, but is it dual crown fork compatible?
  • 2 0
 Looks good and yay for external brake and derailleur routing!

What is the clearance on the rear tire? How fat can it go?
  • 2 1
 Honestly what more do you want out of a hardtail at this price point. Awesome stuff. Just a shame you will struggle to get one!
  • 1 0
 With these quality and value-minded hardtails appearing more frequently, I see the new PNW suspension-dropper being a real game changer for this market segment.
  • 1 1
 Glad they didn’t make their entry level beginner hardtail absurdly long, low, and slack. Race geometry is good on race bikes but people riding lower end and lower spec bikes would benefit from a bit of pop and playfulness.
  • 4 1
 Rob warner approved
  • 21 1
 no motor so not approved.lol
  • 2 0
 Gold dust, a bike no one will ever find or buy new.....
  • 1 0
 I appreciate these reviews. Now I can tell my non-riding friend where to start when looking to get into mtb.
  • 1 0
 I bought the 27.5” version for my wife. It seems like a good build, exactly how I would spec a budget hardtail.
  • 2 0
 Take my money
  • 1 1
 I like how your few year old hardtail isn't as capable as these lmao nice sales pitch levy but its absolutely false.
  • 1 0
 No Sarah that's definitely not how you pronounce it
  • 1 0
 at first glance thought it looked a lot like last years a Kona Honzo St
  • 3 2
 WhEreS LEvY
  • 1 0
 Wow, that's a sick buy
  • 1 0
 Who did the zap straps?
  • 2 1
 #WereIsMikeLevy
  • 1 1
 errybody needs a hardtail
  • 1 0
 Vee-toos
  • 1 1
 Gross, a hard tail.
  • 1 2
 needs a clutch
  • 4 0
 It has one, all shimano deore and above have clutches
  • 4 1
 It has one, for whatever reason its turned off in the huck to flat shot in the video...
  • 1 2
 @Notbn: 8:45 on the video - I can't see a clutch lever on the RD?
  • 3 0
 @dave119: I have this exact bike and there is a cluch on all shimano Deore deraillurs
  • 1 1
 @dave119:

I at 8:45 it’s in the “on” position which is flipped up behind the parallelogram of the RD. In the huck to flat part of the video you can see the clutch lever more clearly and that it is turned off in that part, for whatever reason.
  • 1 1
 @davids1: need a better one then.
  • 1 0
 @SK250: the clutch is turned off lmao, it has the same strength as my other sram xo1 mech when on
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