PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP
VITUS MYTHIQUE 29 VRX
The Value Trail Bike Defined
Words by Mike Levy, Photography by Anthony Smith
The first bike in our Field Trip value bike review series
is the Vitus Mythique 29 VRX, a 140mm-travel 29er that'll cost you $2,000 USD to get your hands on. Vitus might not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think of direct-to-consumer sales, but the name has fifty years of cycling history behind it and belongs to Chain Reaction Cycles these days. Unrelated, but who remembers the Trek VRX?
At this pricepoint, it's especially impressive that nothing on the Mythique needs to be changed before it sees some serious miles. That includes the 140mm Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork, SRAM's 12-speed SX drivetrain, Shimano's sexy-sounding MT-501 stoppers, a dropper post, and proper Schwalbe tires.
Mythique 29 VRX Details
Fork travel: 140mm
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: Aluminum
Head angle: 66-degrees
Chainstay length: 445mm
Reach: 462mm (lrg)
Sizes: Sm, med, lrg (tested), xlrg
Price: $2,000 USD
More info: www.vitusbikes.com
I'm 5'10" when I stand up straight, which puts me on a large-sized Mythique with a 462mm reach. Interestingly, three of the four sub-$2,000 test bikes all hover around that number, whereas the four sub-$3,000 bikes all sport reaches between 470mm and 480mm. Mo' money, mo' reach? It appears so. The angles are 66 and 75-degrees, and its 445mm chainstays are the longest of the bunch, adding up to a 1,222mm wheelbase. Oh yeah, they also offer a Mythique 27 that gets, you guessed it, 27.5" wheels.
Vitus has employed a Horst Link rear-suspension layout on the Mythique, which is worth noting given that many others in this price bracket resort to simpler, and probably less expensive to manufacture, single-pivot designs. The 140mm of travel is controlled by RockShox's Monarch R shock that offers rebound adjustment but no pedal-assist lever. Climbing
Sedona's climbing is often technical, steep, and can look more like a rock staircase for two feet than singletrack intended for two wheels. It's also prime hunting grounds for the Mythique, with the bike's more classic trail bike handling, great suspension, and 29" wheels being a near-perfect match for the ledgy climbs.
The 140mm-travel rear-suspension is near-invisible when you're in the saddle, and it always felt like the grey Vitus could carry a smidge more momentum across undulating ground. In an area where momentum can be hard to come by, this was especially helpful. The bigger-feeling Commencal and YT couldn't wriggle through the tight stuff as easily, either, with more body English being required for both. There was one section in particular that saw me out of the saddle and bumbling through on the other bikes, whereas I could stay seated on the Mythique while simply pedalling through with ease like I knew what I was doing.
Alright, I'll admit that the mail-order Vitus didn't show well in the desert version of the Impossible Climb (video on the way), but it was my personal favourite of the bunch regardless. Descending
The Mythique 29 VRX isn't trying to be a part-time all-mountain bike, and it's better for it. With a contemporary but compact cockpit, and the best fork of the group in its Marzocchi Bomber Z2, the Vitus is a no-fuss trail bike that gobbles up the miles and rough ground, sometimes making its competition appear slow and over-gunned.
The fork's damper is similar to Fox's older Grip unit (they own Marzocchi) that I loved so much, and it's the same story with the slippery feeling Z2. With the spring rate dialled in (recommended pressures work just fine), the action is controlled and consistent enough to trick me into thinking this $500 fork costs twice as much. As you'd expect, it's a big reason why the Vitus was so impressive, but it's not the only reason. As we've seen with all of these value bikes, the Vitus' rear-suspension is a no-fuss, set-and-forget design that simply works, although it's possibly a bit more refined than some of the others. The back of the Mythique often felt more forgiving and more composed, further underlining its advantage in the suspension department.
If you'd rather go for a four-hour pedal than do four shuttle laps, or if you prefer a lively bike rather than a lazy one, you'll find a good friend in the Mythique. Even so, it feels decently sure-footed when you're riding the bronco through the rocks with your eyes closed (Me? No, never) or nosing into the steepest line that you have no business doing anyway, more so than both the Giant Stance and the Calibre Bossnut combined, if not quite matching the pricier Commencal.
Alright, let's get down to it and make some comparisons. The Mythique makes short work of the Giant Stance in every regard, from mellow trails to the kind that makes you forget to breathe, and it's the top of the class if we're talking pure trail bike use. It's a little foggier if that "trail bike use" includes fast, rocky singletrack, the odd hairy line, or a quest for ever-better Strava descent times, though, which is where the more expensive Commencal and YT pull ahead.
In my mind, the Vitus is best suited to a rider who measures the success of their trail ride by looking at it as a whole, whereas you might want a bit more bike if your idea of success is cleaning one particularly sketchy line or decent-sized move.
Great front and rear suspension +
Classic, lively trail bike handling
Not as solid feeling as the Meta or Jeffsy
Photos: Anthony Smith
Additional footage: Lear Miller