Review: Vitus Escarpe 29 VR

Oct 7, 2019
by Richard Cunningham  



Add Vitus to your short list of performance trail bikes. The brand belongs to Chain Reaction, the British online retailer that has become a global champion for cycling skinflints. Today we review the Vitus Escarpe 29 VR, which sells for $2,399 USD and delivers both a component selection and a level of performance that is far above its pay grade.

Start with a well-crafted aluminum chassis with all the essential long-low and slack numbers and a Horst-Link rear suspension. Add 29-inch wheels shod with Maxxis Minion WT EXO tires and a 12-speed SRAM Eagle NX drivetrain to make it go, then toss in SRAM Guide R brakes to make it stop.
Escarpe 29 VR Details

• Wheel size: 29"
• Travel: 140mm rear / front
• Aluminum frame, 6061 alloy
• 66.5-degree head angle
• Reach: 432 to 492mm (450 size med)
• 450mm chainstay length
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Price: $2,399 USD
• Weight: 32 lb/14.54kg (size M, actual)
Chain Reaction

Suspension travel is 140 millimeters on both ends, powered by RockShox, while the cockpit is headlined by Nukeproof components. Add it all up and you get a contemporary trail bike that leaves little for an accomplished trail rider to desire, for about half of what you'd expect to pay for similar performance. More about that later.

bigquotesWhen I committed to reviewing trail bikes price under $3000 USD, I dreaded the prospect of giving up my membership to the super-bike-of-the-month club. Over three years ago, that meant clunking down technical trails behind dudes on dentist bikes. Today my story is much different.RC





A seat tube tunnel allows the lower shock pivot to mount directly to the swingarm. Threaded bosses above the tunnel could be used to craft a mud guard to protect those bits. (Was it in the original plans?)

Construction and Features

Escarpe frames are welded from 6061 alloy aluminum with two-piece forgings reinforcing key stress areas like the bottom bracket/swingarm pivot junction and upper rocker link. Horst Link type dropouts help isolate braking from the suspension action. By far, though, it's the seat tube tunnel that draws the eye. This feature allows the lower shock mount to pivot on the swingarm, where concentrated stress can be disseminated through the sturdiest part of the chassis.

Vertically mounted, the shock is tucked well out of the way, so there will be plenty of room for a full-sized water bottle in the front triangle. The Escarpe's top tube dips very low, offering up good stand-over height - 28 inches (71cm) which is especially low for a 29er. Frame tubes are bent and manipulated to eliminate unsightly gussets wherever possible, which gives the bike a clean, unified look.

Welded features near the base of the seat tube restrict dropper seatpost insertion depth.
Formed tubes add strength and create space below the head tube to clear the fork crown.
Down tube cable and hose routing are not going to win any awards.

One potential trouble spot exists on the otherwise well-executed chassis. Vitus advertises there is room for tires up to 2.6-inch tires. That may be true, but the clearance over the top of the stock 2.4-inch rear tire is minimal. Escarpe sports 29 inch wheels, which eat up a lot of room behind the frame, but the Escarpe's chainstays are not short and yet there's less than a finger's width of clearance over the top of the seat stay bridge and a little more than that in the bottom bracket region. I'm sure the Brits understand mud clearance, so I'm going to ding Vitus for this oversight.

Geometry & Sizing

Vitus drew up numbers for the Escarpe, geometry that fit the modern trail bike definition, but stop short of the DH-biased geometry shared by most enduro sleds. Its 74.5-degree seat tube and 66.5-degree head tube angles are both one degree shy of my preference, but work well with this chassis. Reach starts at 432mm for the size small, then progresses upwards: 450mm for medium, 467mm for large, and 492mm for the X-large sizes.

Vitus Escarpe 29 VR geometry


Escarpe rear suspension is based upon the time-proven Horst Link configuration.


Suspension Design

Beginning with the suspension components, the Escarpe has 140 millimeters of wheel travel fore and aft, powered by a RockShox Revelation Charger RC fork and a trunnion-type Deluxe RT shock. Both are proven performers in the mid-price categories, with the trunnion damper's more effective negative spring representing a performance upgrade from its longstanding predecessor.

Unseen, but important to the Escarpe's excellent suspension action in chunky terrain is its rearward axle path. As the suspension compresses into the first 60 millimeters of its travel, the rear wheel swings back, deflecting away from the impact (see the axle path chart). According to present science, that action allows the rear wheel to accelerate more quickly when it contacts a substantial trail obstacle.

Graphs of the system's kinematics reveal an initial falling rate that fades away near the 30-percent sag point, followed by a gentle rising rate to the end of
The Revelation fork's Charger damper is aptly named.
the travel. Anti-squat values top out at 136 percent, so it should pedal well.

Bottom line is that the shock tune will largely determine the suspension action, especially towards the end-stroke. Riding the Escarpe, I discovered that 25-percent sag, not the usual 30, was the better starting point - with good small bump action, ample wheel travel on hand, and minimal bottoming.

Escarpe 29 VR leverage rates
Leverage curve (exaggerated) shows a falling rate to the sag point, then a mild rising rate.
Vitus Escarpe 29 VR axle path
Rearward axle path during the initial 60mm of suspension compression.
Vitus images


Components

Suspension highlights this component selection. The trunnion type Deluxe RT shock is a cut above the dampers we usually ride in the sub $3,000 trail bike club. The Revelation's Charger damper is a close second. What truly makes the Escarpe VR a value, however, it that its spec' hits well in every corner. The one fail that I'd hope would be addressed by now, however, is its wimpy 120mm-stroke dropper post. They must have missed the steep seat angle memo. "150 is the new definition of a short dropper."

Specifications
Release Date 2019
Price $2399
Travel 140/140mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe RT
Fork RockShox Revelation Charger RC 140mm
Headset Tapered
Cassette SRAM NX 12spd 11-50t
Crankarms SRAM NX 170mm 30t chainring
Chainguide MRP top guide
Bottom Bracket SRAM DUB threaded
Pedals NA
Rear Derailleur SRAM Eagle NX
Chain SRAM NX
Front Derailleur NA
Shifter Pods SRAM Eagle NX
Handlebar Nukeproof Horizon 31.8mm, 25mm rise
Stem Ascend 50mm
Grips Vitus lock-on
Brakes SRAM Guide R
Wheelset Custom
Hubs Novatec
Spokes 32 stainless
Rim WTB ST 129 aluminum
Tires Maxxis Minion (F): DHF 29x2.5 WT, EXO / (R) DHR II, 29x2.4 WT, EXO
Seat Nukeproof Neutron
Seatpost Descend dropper, 31.6mm x 120mm









Until you get to 140 millimeters of wheel travel, setting up your shock and fork is one dimensional - it's either firm with little bottoming, or smooth with acceptable bottoming. Any action you take on one extreme negates most benefits of the other. At and above 140, however, you can work the suspension's mid-stroke with some degree of success. Get the mid-stroke right and the bike sets into the turns evenly and keeps the suspension at the correct ride height to maximize its useful travel. That miracle, however usually involves shuffling air-volume spacers - or high-speed damping adjustments that the Deluxe RT shock lacks

I say this because the Vitus, by design or otherwise, naturally remains stable in the sweet spot of its suspension travel. Initially, with the shock sag point at 30 percent the Vitus felt like it was asleep at the wheel. A little more pressure in the shock, though, and the bike woke right up. With the shock sagged at 25-percent (maybe a smidgen less) and the fork at 20 percent, with one click in on its compression dial, the Escarpe melted into the landscape. It was so easy to ride that it became my go-to bike for the second half of the summer season.



Climbing and acceleration: Starting with its weight: 32 pounds is not shameful, but the Escarpe is a heavy trail bike. That said, the feel at the pedals is as efficient as 32-pound bikes get - to the extent that long climbs were much better than survivable. It gets out of corners pretty quickly too. With anti-squat numbers near 135 percent, I'd say it has enough of the good stuff built into the kinematics to keep most riders eager when the time comes to turn on the hurt. Will you need the shock's climb switch? I doubt it. The upright position is so close to lockout that it's only useful on smooth surfaces and the Escarpe pedals well enough wide open that I was inclined to leave it there full time.

What it does best: Hop aboard this bike and you're going to be searching for the perfect corner. That ride-height stability keeps its chassis composed, so I could brake late and tuck into surprise turns. That stability, along with the combination of wide Maxxis tires and 29-inch wheels, help maintain grip and composure over all kinds of terrain. I anticipated that some of the Escarpe's turning magic came from a short-offset fork, but the lowers were marked 51mm - standard 29er fare. No matter, the steering feels balanced and light, and the chassis seems like it sets up for the corners on its own. Push it too hard and the tail end drifts until your speed comes back in check. Quite fun.


bigquotes...The steering feels balanced and light, and the chassis seems like it sets up for the corners on its own.

Technical riding: My Escarpment 29 felt invincible at trail speeds, and I learned to trust it and drop down mystery lines that defied its not-so-slack head tube angle. But, the superman effect faded as speeds and features reach a defined magnitude. Landing to flat will exhaust the rear suspension travel in a hurry and, as burly as the rear suspension seems to the eye, I could sense it flexing while I caromed through rocks and root balls. Negatives? To some riders, yes, but the chassis still feels trustworthy when push comes to shove, so I treated those moments as yellow lights - reminders that my speedster trail bike (or its pilot) had reached the redline.



Suspension action: Some of the composed feel of this bike at speed could be attributed to its axle path. Technical climbing also seemed to be easier with the Vitus's rear suspension. Back to back rides proved that the rear wheel of the Escarpe got up and over janky rocks and roots better than most bikes. The Vitus carried more momentum when pedaling through chop or picking my way through rock gardens with no defined lines. I would have insisted that chain growth - the negative aspect of its the rearward axle path - would have erased the improved roll-over of the suspension kinematics, but that did not seem to be the case. I would speculate that the resistance at the pedals that chain growth creates develops more smoothly with this suspension and thus is less apparent under power.


How does it compare? Marin Alpine Trail 7 vs. Vitus Escarpe 29 VR

Friends on bike
Marin Alpine Trail 7

Vitus Escarpe 29 VR

PB reviewed Marin's Alpine Trail 7 earlier this year, and it represents one of the best trail bikes we've ridden in the $3,000 category. The Vitus and Marin both have 29-inch wheels, Both are priced and positioned for identical customers - accomplished riders with limited resources who need a capable bike with contemporary geometry. Marin wins the geometry test with a steeper, 76-degree seat tube angle, a slacker, 65-degree head tube and shorter, 430-millimeter chainstays. Its wheel travel is greater as well. Vitus, however, spanks the Marin with a better shock and fork, which in this category, can override less than optimal numbers. Vitus also wins for component spec, with a proven Maxxis Minion DHR and DHF rubber, and a SRAM NX Eagle 12-speed transmission.

On the dirt, the Marin Alpine Trail 7 is much more composed at speed. The Vitus Escarpe VR, on the other hand, feels far more lively everywhere else, and pedals more efficiently. The winner then, is the bike that suits your needs. The Vitus is the better all-purpose trail bike, while the Marin is the better machine for aggressive riders who live for the downs. There is only one choice for penny pinchers, however. The Vitus is priced significantly lower ($2,749 vs $2,399), and has a better component selection.


Technical Report

Subtleties: Trail bikes from most reputable brands are hard to beat these days, so the details often define better and best. I liked the water bottle placement of the Escarpe and the low stand-over design of the front triangle. The cockpit feel was "pro" - with more than adequate reach, a good handlebar bend and firm, but comfortable touch points.

Dropper Post: I never was happy with the 120mm short-stroke dropper post. A bike this capable should not feel as if the saddle is chasing your tail down steep chutes. The minimum drop for a modern trail bike should be 150mm.

Braking: Guide R brakes are not on my most wanted list, but they get the job done, they modulate well and are certainly welcome at the $3,000 trail bike party.

Decent wheels: Same goes for the wheels. WTB's mid-width i29 rims enhance the geometry of the Maxxis tires, and their Novatec hubs are the most popular spinners in this price range for good reason.

Good shock I have often criticised RockShox's lower level Deluxe shocks for their indistinct damping and cheap feeling adjustment levers, but the trunnion-type Deluxe shocks have been excellent performers so far. The missing link in the affordable trail bike chain is finally being addressed.




Who Rides the Vitus Escarpe 29 VR?

Vitus redefines the basic mountain bike with the Escarpe 29. Its component selection reads like a wish list, and on the trail, its 29-inch wheels, 140 millimeters of suspension travel and composed, confidence-inspiring handling will encourage any level of rider to go faster and farther. If you need a burly enduro machine, this isn't your best choice. Escarpe 29 is the ready for anything bike that you'd grab to mix it up with your riding group on weekends and for anything that smells like an adventure.


Pros

+ Efficient and confidence inspiring chassis
+ Impressive component selection for the price

Cons

- 32 pounds is a bit much
- Rear triangle could be stiffer



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesDisclosure: When I committed to reviewing trail bikes price under $3,000 USD, I dreaded the prospect of giving up my membership to the super-bike-of-the-month club. Over three years ago, that meant clunking down technical trails behind dudes on dentist bikes. Today my story is much different. Vitus joins a handful of visionary bike makers who have nearly bridged the performance gap between elite-level trail bikes and the ones that enthusiast level riders can actually afford. The Escarpe 29 VR expresses that equation quite well. RC







144 Comments

  • 153 0
 32lbs weight is listed as a con. That seems like a perfectly reasonable weight for an low-cost all-aluminium trail bike to me.
  • 44 1
 My carbon Nomad 3 with fox factory suspension was pretty much the same. 200g lighter, perhaps. You choose components that get the job done week-in, week-out, and think about the weight later. Downhill performance and reliability trump weight every time.
  • 32 2
 For $2400 with Novatec hubs, whaaaaat. Dentists with 32lbs 10k bikes are having a heart attack.
  • 6 0
 @jaame: Right on i reckon.fukc weight over performance.
  • 3 1
 @jaame: for sure im still on a dh bike that weighs 22kg and im still hammering people on skitty full carbon sleds he says its Confidence inspiring and most likely from the extra weight making it more planted?
  • 2 0
 @markbe: Certainly more weight will make it more planted. Think about how planted a dirt bike feels. Of course, if you have to accelerate it yourself, you want lighter wheels. Once moving though, the weight does not impede performance. I was quite surprised to see road bikes have comparable wheel weights to mountain bikes at the affordable end of the spectrum.
If you're just running shuttles, or in fact just a normal guy riding trail or enduro with a focus on the downs, reliability is everything. Personally I don't ride a lot of rocks so I find the EXO casing tyres are fine for me in that sense. If I was fltting a lot I would go up a casing or two for sure. If you're not against the clock, who cares about the pace - especially on the way up? No me.
  • 7 0
 32lbs is spot on in my books. My Murmur hits the scales at 34lbs and is fine.
  • 39 0
 switch the NX cassette out and it goes from 32 to 25lbs!
  • 7 0
 2020 Trek Fuel EX 7 is listed at 33Lbs and change for an extra $500 (!). If one of the biggest brands in the world can't get their bike down to under 32Lbs I don't think it's fair to ding Vitus. What else is in the market that is sub 32 in this price point? And is that an outlier or the trend. Answer : not much, and no, it's not the trend.
  • 1 0
 @jorgeposada: I doubt it.. To them, their bikes don't say vitus, and the money thing is a non issue.
  • 2 13
flag sam264 (Oct 7, 2019 at 9:16) (Below Threshold)
 @bohns1: Hands up if you'd prefer a Trek to a Vitus? Oh yeah, everyone.
  • 4 0
 I've had horrible luck with Novatec hubs, and those WTB rims for that matter. Soft as cheese...But for $2400 it's hard to spec anything else higher end.
  • 3 2
 @Marky771: You were on friday fails last week right?
  • 6 0
 Alloy Transition Sentinel NX = 34.67 lbs
Vitus = 32 lbs
Vitus is heavy? Wot?
  • 3 0
 Timing must be everything. CRC is listing this bike on-sale for $1799.99.
  • 2 0
 @motard5: also in Korea there is no euro vat to pay
  • 1 0
 We just have a friend from whatever country ship it to us or go through our ace of bikes who gets factory direct manufacture deals.
  • 1 0
 @jorgeposada: I never could find the Friday Fails last Friday. Have they been cancelled, DT Jordi Lunn's death, or some ethics police?
  • 61 14
 To be honest. It amazes my why most riders spend more than this one a mounatin bike anyway. The fact is spending another 2k above this bike will make you no faster or the trail more enjoyable for most riders.
  • 6 0
 bang on, they will both put the same tyres on, same grips on, same bars on and same pedals on. So the contact points are the same. The geometry will be pretty much the same too, maybe that 2k extra gets you some better damping front and rear, but the majority of the important parts will be the same.
  • 15 14
 It all depends what you pay your 2k on: Carbon bling and wireless shifting? Yes, you're probably right it won't affect your ride much.

But spend that extra money on a frame with better kinematics and geometry and your ride experience will be radically improved. It's just a shame those things haven't trickled down to this price point yet...
  • 16 1
 @JCO: which bits of kinematics and geometry haven't trickled down?
  • 8 0
 Agree and Disagree: The $3k price point is good benchmark for a reason, as this is where the diminishing returns become prevalent on bikes like this. Personally, this bike with better brakes would be my ideal spec-to-price point. Although reports on the NX seem to indicate that they are in fact made of cheese. Good, but cheese.
  • 9 2
 @betsie: Suspension is obvious but what about good brakes that stop you when you want it? What about lighter components that makes the bike handle better, what about strong rims that don't explode on a big hit, what about better shifting performance that makes it more enjoyable to use, what about hubs with faster engagement, ....?

If it amazes you what anyone would want a better bike you are asking youself the wrong questions.
  • 6 5
 @scottishmark: The review mentions the slightly conservative head-/seat-tube angles. Generally it's much harder to find progressive geo at lower price points.

Kinematics is a big topic, but there are genuine differences between expensive DW-link/Switch-Infinity/VPP bikes which make them pedal better than cheaper, non-patented suspension designs (things like non-linear anti-squat curves, etc.).
  • 5 0
 I would personally get a year old used bike that had enjoyed light use at the hands of an older man. Perform a total strip down and rebuild, new chain, cables and anything else it needed, plus a minor suspension service at home. It would be a practically new bike at a much higher spec. I can live with a few scratches and slightly out of true rear wheel. That's going to happen to any new bike after the first muddy ride anyway.
  • 11 1
 In the same way that a BMW can get you from A-B that a Skoda can. Variety is the spice of life my friend.
  • 5 1
 @priest55: That is true to a certain degree. An BMW M4 will drive incredible in comparision to a Skoda Fabia. However, I recently rode a £6000+ carbon super bike that only rode about 5% better than my £3000 one. My point is only really expert/elite level riders will get the extra benefits of a bike costing a lot more than this one.
  • 11 0
 @Matt76: yeah but until very recently a bike at this price had so many compromises. No dropper, weird geometry, a rear hub that would grenade, narrow handlebars, harsh suspension, a front derailleur, crap tires, and junk brakes.
  • 5 0
 @JCO: did you see the Ripmo AF?
  • 2 0
 @lubb1: Props to Ibis for making an alloy frame. But it still costs $600 dollars more than the Vitus.
  • 4 0
 totally agree but people will always spend what they can afford and asprirational brands are just that .. same reason why everyone doesn't drive round in a Hyundai
  • 4 0
 @JCO: but it does come with shop support, something a lot of people at this price point can use. Not to overgeneralize, but people looking at $3k and under bikes often could use a bit of help on setup and some of the initial tunes especially as the cables stretch. I feel like the sweet spot for direct order is on the next tier of bikes where people already have a good working bike repair and setup knowledge and just want a deal on a nicer bike.

The DW link is also worth at least a few hundred, in my opinion.
  • 2 0
 @Matt76: I understand what you're saying. I think there will always be those that drop £6k+ on a bike just for the prestige in an 'all the gear no idea' fashion. The bike industry loves those people. They're absolutely the ones who could spend half that amount for a sufficient bike.

I also think there are also those that will be willing to spend the extra for dependability as well as the prestige. They have a bike that whilst potentially being beyond their capabilities, will serve them well as they progress and get coaching and develop their riding.
  • 3 0
 @scottishmark: Seat tubes are too long for longer drop seat posts and the leverage rate looks worse than a 2010 Santa Cruz.
  • 2 1
 I can attest this is untrue
  • 6 0
 @acali: This bike has a Novatec hub, so it still has a rear hub that will blow up like a grenade.
  • 3 1
 @PeaFunk: I didnt say it amazes me, that is what Matt76 said.
That being said...rims, I can take out a rear rim in a race weekend without trying too hard.
Lighter components, you could just go on a diet or take a good poo. Smile
Remember when bikes were 50+lb, we are not in that realm are we!!!
Better shifting, just learn to change smoothly.

I remember riding my old Nomad with old kit on it in Santacruz, all the bling bikes on the hill, Enve wheels were pretty much the standard.
Those wheel meant nothing once the trail pointed down the hill, they wouldnt even ride the gnarly trail, which was just a nice flow trails with a couple of rocks and a jump on it.

Hubs with faster engagement... lol, having Hadley and Kings, other 150 point hubs too when I thought it mattered, my DT240 wipes the floor with them, it just works and keeps working. Sometimes less is more Smile
  • 4 0
 They didn't have good $2500 mountain bikes just 2 years ago, imo.

If you wanted good geo and decent components, you had to spend a lot of money.

I'm glad the 'dentists' as so many like to say, spent money on better bikes so that trickle down could work for the general population and everyone could end up with better bikes.

Bikes are like cars, some people spend 3x as much just because it's not a financial strain and it gives them joy and they get to have something special. Most understand that the functional differences are pretty minimal.
  • 2 0
 @JCO: Ibis has just done this with the Ripmo AF. NX build kit for USD 2999
  • 1 0
 @jaame: who you calling older!?!
  • 3 0
 @betsie: it’s the suspension, drivetrain, and brakes. I own a 2017 Fuel EX 9 and rented a 2017 Fuel EX 7 for my brother. Same size. Price difference was $1800 between the 2.
Any person with more than 2 seasons riding could easily tell the difference. The 7 was $2300 new. Very different feel, but especially the suspension, brakes, wheels, tires, and drivetrain. Night and day difference. So, a $4000 bike is way better than a $2300 bike.
  • 4 1
 @Matt76: sorry can't agree with that at all. First off was the carbon super bike setup for you? How long did you ride it?

And only elites will get a difference out of a more expensive bike then this one?

Lol.

Ya right. Some people like to go fast not only on downs. This whole nonsense that as long as it goes down fine then that's all that matters is bullshit.
To say that a bike that is heavy is more planted can be true.
But you don't want a bike that is planted all the time. Let your suspension and skills keep it planted.
Because you still have to get the bike up. Still have to lift the front still have to lift the back. Still will need to switch lines from time to time.

All of which is harder on a heavier bike end of story.

If you aren't into going fast all the time and don't race or challenge yourself then yes these 30+lb bikes are fine.
  • 2 1
 @SunsPSD: Totally disagree with that sorry. My Whyte G150s was probably the best bike i have own and one of the best bikes i have ridden. That was £2600 4 years ago.
  • 2 1
 @reverend27: Been riding and racing for 25 years. I can ride through a bike that isnt set up perfect for me. The point you are missing is that once you get to this price range then unless you are an expert rider then the differences in performance is minute and really isnt worth the extra outlay. Even if i was loaded i wouldnt waste my money on an £8000 bike when a £3000 one would do the job spot on.
  • 2 0
 @Matt76: I rode a rental Fuel EX 9.7 over the weekend, with low to midrange parts, and while some of it like the Deore 4 pot brakes, saddle, bars, etc were all fine, the whole package was not fine. Like I said, the ultra cheap deore brakes worked great (although I missed any sort of reach adjustment), the NX/GX drivetrain worked great, etc, the Fox Rhythm fork and Re:active shock were utter garbage. I ran them at way too high PSI to keep from harsh bottom outs on a relatively tame trail, had to run way too much compression, and on both ends I ran the rebound all the way open. It still wasn't enough. I couldn't get the bike to manual, pop off stuff, etc. It was planted, but not in a good way. I still had way too much feedback and not as much grip as I'd like, and even when sag was set at 20% in the rear and less than 10% up front I still sat in the bottom 1/3 of the travel when actually riding.

This rental bike was also in pretty much new condition. Who knows if after a season of riding how many bleeds the shimano deore brakes would need, how crisp the NX/GX combo would shift, and how true the budget rims would be. I agree, at some point the marginal gains are too small to justify the expense, but that point isn't in the low $2000 price range.
  • 1 0
 @jamesbrant: what I mean by that is, a man who knows how to pick lines, isn't sending the school stairs sixteen times a week, has the knowledge and finances to properly maintain the bike, has appropriate tools for home repairs, etc. I'm 40 and I keep my bikes in much better shape now than I did when I was 15. I would not hesitate to buy a second hand bike from my current self.
  • 1 0
 @SunsPSD: not so. My spectral is 2 years old and I paid $2,600 for it. Australian. So like US$1,800. And it's good enough for me. Maybe I'll get new bars for it one day....
  • 29 0
 "Down tube cable and hose routing are not going to win any awards" but they make our life much easier.
  • 4 0
 Came here to post the same thing. My Ragly has a similar set up and it's awesome to work with!
  • 1 3
 They scuff holes under bb when suspension moves. Stupid solution...
  • 5 0
 @stumpe90: No they don't.
  • 19 0
 Honest question, why do you guys keep reviewing ONLY 29er bikes when some of the chosen models have also 27.5 versions?
  • 29 25
 Because 29ers are better, FACT !
  • 10 5
 @Brdjanin: Seems like some users didn't catch your sarcasm.
  • 13 1
 Seconded. Especially when the few 27er reviews mention over and over again how "unexpectedly fun" they are.

Are you a pro (or actual like Cat2 or Cat 1 almost/semi-pro) racer where all-out-speed trumps fun and potentially means a bigger paycheck?
Yes? Ok, 29er for you, sure.
No? Then get a 27er, all the reviews say they're funner!

The shop I recently got my new Stumpy 27.5 from literally only stocks 29ers (except for a few models' size S and XS that only come in 27, as they should) (and only in silver or black, but that's another story). Luckily I knew what I wanted so I could just go in and order it, but anyone else visiting that store is going to end up with a 29er. I asked why they were all 29ers, and must have said something about "the industry push towards big wheels" and the shop owner said "bullshit, there's no push, 29ers are what people want", to which I replied "and how can your customers compare, since there are _zero_ 27.5 bikes in anything above size Med?", which got no answer. But I know the answer: they test ride a 29er, ask what the difference is, get told the pros of "big wheels more easily roll over bumps and rocks and carry momentum to save you energy", and nothing about the cons of "heavier wheels take more energy to accelerate and longer wheelbases take more energy to snake around the tight corners we have here in New England".
  • 6 2
 27.5 will be washed out just like 26ers and then we will have a 30.5" wheel that will wash out the 29 and so on. Then our 'mullet bikes' will soon turn into penny-farthings.
  • 5 0
 @stumphumper92: It's the circle of bikes
  • 5 0
 @just6979: I don't know where people get the impression 29ers aren't fun, or harder to turn, or any of the other nonsense. I had a chance last spring to ride a 29er on a trail in Moab that I've ridden multiple times on a 26. The 29er was way more fun. Inspired confidence to roll over and through things that made you pause on the 26 -- that's more fun. Pedaled up things that would give me a hard time on the 26 -- more fun. Just smoothly surfed over terrain -- more fun. I can understand if you have a preference, but ain't nothin' wrong with a 29er -- certainly not for the reasons people have come to believe.
  • 5 0
 @TheR: All of your more fun scenarios involve rolling over sh*t. 29ers roll over sh*t easier. Duly noted. What about pump & pop? What about trialsy stuffs?? Or a tight series of chicanes(not sure if moab has much of this)??? Next level fun. 29er isn't the best weapon for this style of riding, generally speaking.
  • 5 0
 @TheR: Not that they're "not fun", but smaller wheels are easier to toss around, that's just physics, and most riders, riding normal speeds and not race pace all the time, agree that tossing bikes and enjoying the whole trail, not just the racing line, around is generally "more fun" than just going Mach Maximum all the time. In fact, it's the overarching theme of all the recent articles about new 27.5 models: SB170 (or whatever it measures), Mojo HD5, Remedy, etc: "this bike is so fun to ride!" If you truly only enjoy going maximum speed at all costs, which is racing, 29ers (or really the largest wheel you can fit with modern geo that matches your riding style) are obvi the way, but 95% of us are not racers nor racing. We're just having fun, and arguably _more fun_ on 27ers

(also obvi that very tall/large riders will be able to move around large wheels and have more room for good geo even with big wheels. but for average size males, and especially average size woman, 29ers come with too many maneuverability compromises in the name of raw speed.
  • 4 0
 @AllMountin: It popped over stuff and dropped off rock ledges just fine, and pumping terrain was next level. You're right, not a lot of chicanes -- don't have much of that anywhere I ride, either. But there are some spots there where you're twisting through some trees, and I'm telling you, it was smoother than on my 26. Choose the best weapon for what you do, for sure -- it's all a matter of preference -- but this bike didn't seem to be lacking for anything I would do normally.

@just6979: Believe me, I'm not a racer, and I'm not worried about going maximum speeds -- I think I came in faster the year before on a 26. So it's not a matter of it being fast. It was just a lot more fun. Felt like I was just gliding.

Just a question for you guys -- and I'm not asking to be a wiseguy, so don't take it that way. Just an honest question -- have you ever tried a 29er? Something made in the last year or two? If you haven't, you should give it a try. I think you'll like it a lot more than you think.
  • 2 1
 @just6979: have to kind of disagree. Not completely but kind of.. just came from a Intense Recluse. 27.5 419mm chainstays. Should be alot of fun right?

Not really. For me the bike wasn't stable enough to trust it. I was scared of drops I was doing on my old 100mm travel xc bike. So sold it.

Enter my new build a Lightcarbon 958. 29er 470 reach low bb 444m chainstays. I had to ride it 27.5 for a month waiting on cash to build 9er wheels.
Was alot of fun was afraid the bigger wheels would take some of that away. I was wrong.

Put the 29er wheels on it and it came to life. Pops plays. Balls swelled quick confidence came on the first day. Doing drops I was scared of on my recluse for 2 years. Jumping and taking risks is alot more fun because I know the bike isn't going to get squirrelly on me if I make a small mistake.

On my trails which are natural it carries speed which is fun because that means less pedaling. 27.5 isn't as much fun when there are roots and rocks everywhere.
  • 1 0
 @just6979: I work at a shop that stocks a very large number of bikes from many top mountain bike brands. Rocky, Santa Cruz, ibis, bmc, giant. We stock almost all bikes from all these brands but we definitely sell more 29" bikes.
  • 2 0
 @stumphumper92: Until we reach the ultimate mullet bike form!! HA might need some work but lack of drivetrain really reduces the unsprung weight, this thing should rip AF.
  • 3 0
 @just6979:
"longer wheelbases take more energy to snake around the tight corners we have here in New England"

Stumpjumper 29 (L) - wheelbase 1201
Stumpjumper 27.5 (L) - wheelbase 1212

man, plz try good 29er Wink
  • 2 0
 @severniy: Stumpy is bad example, because the geometry is different, steeper head angle on the 29er. Oh, and why is that? So it'll steer as quick as the 27er! Specialized obviously wanted them to feel similar when pedaling around the shop parking lot. However, the 29er will also tuck under easier and thus be less forgiving of getting too far over the front (27er front center: 780mm, 29er: 766mm).

Yes there are 9ers with geo comparable to Stumpy 27 (reach, front-center, trail), and they'll all have longer wheelbases. Not to mention the longer overall length because even with the same wheelbase, the big wheels stick out further.

Besdies, I wasn't comparing Stumpy 27 to Stumpy 29 in particular, I was generally comparing the sizes. It's just physics that a larger rotating mass, whether that's more mass at the same radius (trail tires to DH tires on a 27) or same mass on a larger radius (trail tires on a 27 to same tires on a 29), takes more energy to change direction. Yes they roll over shit more smoothly, so they need less energy input to keep going forward, but the trade-off is needing more energy to make direction changes.

And direction changes are what I, and I think most, riders truly find the most fun. Yes, screaming along a downhill trail at Mach Stupid is amazing, but what real gets the hootin' and hollerin' going is jumps and berms and all the other various direction changing features.

Not to mention that I can already go more than fast enough in a straight line to get seriously messed up if shit were to go south. I'd rather have the bike that's easier to toss into all corners at a medium speed and a still wring out all the funs, instead of just gliding over everything ever faster. Death-gripping (5 fingers on the bar, don't even touch the brakes) at 12 mph and 2 wheel drifting through pine needles over hero dirt on a tightening radius corner and the motoing out is the best thing ever! Much preferred to straight-lining at 30 mph, especially since there are much fewer locations where that 30 can even be hit.
  • 1 0
 @TheR: Re: newer 9ers, yes I've ridden some, and they all left my shoulders and arms tired. Maybe my legs were slightly less tired, but I could definitely feel the effort needed to flick around tight stuff. Overall average and max speeds were pretty much the same, because I can already go faster than I should even on a 26, and while the 29er maybe had higher average on the straights it had a lower average in the turny-turns
  • 1 0
 @TheR: I spent 3 years on a DB Mason, and the last couple on an On One Deedar, with 26" wheels. Similar geo, spec, and intentions. Clown wheels vs kids wheels. Both are/were fun. I didn't notice a significant change in speed or ability to clean things. I take my bike to the jumps and pump track, and even on occasion the skate park. Bigger wheels don't really make sense there. And I judge myself and others based on mastery of machine and creative line choice, over outright speed. Lines are my artwork, and the details are crisper with a smaller brush. The differences in 29 & 27 aren't really huge; they all work for whatever. But I don't want to sacrifice handling nuances for a couple ticks on the clock.
  • 11 1
 You can get this bike in the top VRX spec for under £3000/€3000 from chain reaction at the moment and with the parity to the dollar it makes a much better value proposition at that spec level. The team CRC lads ride them in the domestic Irish series and win on them - good bikes great value!
  • 1 0
 Ya the components on that bike are awesome. high end suspension, wheels, etc. If only it were eagle... BUT you cannot get a better value for your dollar anywhere!
  • 3 0
 I just bought that bike and am loving it!
  • 10 1
 I don't care what this looks like. $2400 that rides like 90% of a $9,999 bike. Bring on the revolution! Hoist the dentists on their own petards!!!
  • 7 0
 I've had the Vitus Sommet (Escarpe's bigger sister - extra 20mm travel but other than that, just about the same bike) in 27.5 for the last 4 years. It is a stupidly competent bike for the money, so I can well believe the hype on this one. I honestly think my next bike will be the same - if I can get a frame only version - just to get a few more modern tweaks on the same platform.

The cost savings are made not in components choice but in details - the downtube routing is a bit cheaply done, dropper routing is a PITA to set up, some of the finish is less than perfect, the bearings aren't brilliantly sealed away, but these are all minor points. They don't affect the ride at all, just the cost at which Vitus can offer it.
  • 1 0
 The finish on some high end bikes are garbage as well. The Trek slash chips way too easily.
  • 1 0
 Where do you ride with the Sommet? There are killer deals on them but they seem like way to much bike for me (considering I can ride 90% of the trails around here on a single speed rigid with XC tires). Been toying with the idea of a Bird Aeris 120LT (but the 145 is a better deal). Then there is the new Vitus Mythique.

My gut says 130mm is about right. Or should I go with the On-One Tik Tik hardtail with 160mm fork. Or that new titanium Titus Zestar. Or the budget friendly On-One Scandal with the same geometry.
  • 1 0
 @vapidoscar: Usually in the Surrey Hills in the UK. My very localest trails are wooded, twisty, rooty and steep, with plenty of man-made berms and jumps in between the natural surfaces. The bedrock is chalk so it goes from dry and loose to wet and extremely slippy.

I have 2 tokens in my 160mm fork and 2 reducers in the shock most of the time when I'm at home, so I woulg guess it actually rides more like a 140-150 travel bike. I would guess with the right forks, you could support the midstroke and make the Escarpe run like a shorter-travel bike when you wanted. Even with my shock in the full-open position, it pedals and picks up speed like an all-day trail bike.

I have taken it to the French Alps and to a few UK DH centres too. It's obviously not a DH bike, but it keeps its momentum up brilliantly. It might just be my technique, but on jumps it seems to really soak up the takeoffs and suck itself back onto the trail.
  • 1 0
 @16stonepig: Thanks for the answer. Very tempting.
  • 2 0
 I've had a Sommet for the last year and I agree it's a great bike for the money - when it's working! I've had 3 warranty issues in less than 12 months. CRC warranty has been crazy slow so it's meant an awful lot of bike-less time this year! I reckon there's some cost savings made in the component choice too. One issue was that the Novatec rear hub lasted 3 weeks. This was a fairly well known issue apparently so I'd try get a model with better wheels if possible.
  • 2 0
 @rogr4: That's fair enough. Mine was a frame only which I built up with my own parts. That meant a Pike up front, Shimano brakes, and RF wheels. Notably, the 30mm rims and 2.6" tyres (woo mixed units!) fit absolutely fine, although don't leave a lot of room for mud.
  • 7 0
 "This feature allows the lower shock mount to pivot on the swingarm, where concentrated stress can be disseminated through the sturdiest part of the chassis."

When are you guys going to stop parroting this marketing wank from the brands? The only reason for a moving pivot is to manipulate the leverage curve.

All the forces still need to go into the "chassis", and in this case more of the force is going through the main pivot bearing into the frame, and pretty close to where a shock mount would be anyway. Wouldn't it be better to have a big chunk of solid material doing that work instead of a precision moving part like a bearing?
  • 2 0
 preach
  • 10 3
 I don't know if just me or what, but I never really like the bulging curve design on the top tube of bikes.
  • 4 4
 Agreed, the Marin wins in the looks department
  • 1 0
 Looks like many of those Astro bikes. Like a mix of Mondraker with R'Raymon.
  • 1 0
 @cxfahrer: You beat me too it. Whoever designed the mold for that top tube ten years ago is getting far more milage than they ever dreamed. I'm 95% sure its the same one.
  • 3 0
 I would like to see a comparison of this bike and the new Vitus Mythique. Looks like the Mythique maybe wins in the geo department.

I would be happy with the base model Mythique and upgrade some of the components to my preferences. Personally I would prefer the cheap shimano 10 speed.

My my worry is the Mythique frame looks flexible with its thin linkages. One good thing is chain reaction has all the parts for Vitus bikes for cheap. New bearings, hangers, bolts and such are cheap to replace.

A Vitus bike be my next purchase. I’m a mountain biker with a Walmart budget.
  • 3 0
 I have the VRX 29 version of this bike which has full Fox factory Sus, Fox 36 Fit Grip2 fork & DPX fit grip 2 shock, DT Swiss M1700 Spline 30 wheelset and XT drivetrain. All that I have done to it is add a 35mm stem, my choice of bars & dumped those heinous Sram guide brakes & rotors and replaced them with my Saints & Ice techs that I had.
For the weight conscious I also dumped 600g by making it tubeless! Big Grin
It was insanely cheap! Currently £2499 on CRC
Most importantly, the ride is superb! It had something to live up too! It replaced my Transition Patrol!
  • 3 0
 "I anticipated that some of the Escarpe's turning magic came from a short-offset fork, but the lowers were marked 51mm - standard 29er fare. No matter, the steering feels balanced and light, and the chassis seems like it sets up for the corners on its own."

So a normal-offset fork can create a ride just like a short-offset fork? At least enough you can't tell the difference if you don't know what offset is?

So short-offset is pointless?
  • 1 0
 Depends on the bike frame. I've ridden 51 vs 42 back-to-back on a couple of bikes and there wasn't much noticeable difference while descending, but the shorter offset was a much better climber in both cases. The front wheel wandered less and look less effort to keep it in a straight line on steep and technical climbs.
  • 2 0
 Shame you did a review once they are all sold out apart from small. Next year's bikes are significantly more ££, but admittedly still with a high spec for the money. Geometry appears to be the same for 2020 too, I'm surprised they haven't changed angles by a degree.
  • 3 1
 might as well add $400 to the price tag for the inevitable new rear wheel you're going to have to buy. Between my friends and I, I think we've gone through 5 or 6 Novatec rear hubs on our Santa Cruz's. Complete trash. Running Hope Pros on DTs now with zero issue.
  • 1 0
 Same experience with my Novatec rear hub on my 2016 Vitus Sommet. It decided to eat up the pawls and tooth ring after about 3 months of use. Utter garbage. Also replaced with a Hope Pro4 which has had 0 issues in 3+yrs.
  • 2 0
 By the way, if you're curious why the halo bikes get all the love, look at how many comments this article got. If we want more articles on budget bikes, we'd best start clicking on them more, and engaging more, here and with our wallets. Just sayin.
  • 2 0
 I have 2018 model vitus sommet and it looks pretty same with Escarpe besides its travel.. and I would say its the most fun bike I ever owned.. it can climb, descend and soaks up everything whatever you throw it.. its a perfect bike for bike parks.. it works 160-160 but you may change to 170-160 as the factory sheet says. I am just thinking about to upgrade mine with fork (default manitou mattoc to rock shox lyrik or yari) and drivetrain and maybe wheelset in the future..

I was having some issues with rear shock in winter session so I fix it with making my custom shock fender. I use e mount front derailleur's mounts and now its free from dirt... the other weird thing about bike is the way they route internal dropper cable.. I simply change it and mount it to chain guide screw hole which is located near bt the bb..this way it works better than before.. and its so hard to find suitable rear fender.. so I did it myself.. Big Grin

Rear triangle and floating brake system works pretty good with the bike but wish it was more stiffer and that small triangle alu piece which they welded on seat tube for bigger frame sizes looks horrible on XL frame..
  • 2 0
 Pros: Amazing value for money especially when they get sold off for 30% on clearance
Cons: terrible internal dropper routing; I would recommend using either a internally routed reverb or externally routed cable actuated post
Really low BB height; the escarpe sits pretty well into d.s. bike bb heights so expect a few few pedal strikes
Interrupted seat tube: finding a dropper that works with the routing and short seat tube may be challenging
Tariffs; make the price a bit higher but CRC frequently does duty paid sales
Having had an Escarpe as my first proper rig I would certainly recommend it
  • 2 0
 I have this bike, though I switched out 90% of the components. A size large weighs 33.5 lbs with carbon bars and lighter wheels. Other than that, the bike rips. I put a 160mm lyrik on the front. Awesome value for what you get!
  • 2 0
 Pinkbike, you forgot one of the biggest cons; The Canadian gov't is gonna slap you with a 13% duty on this bad boy of a bike, even though Devinci, the only medium to large manufacturer of bikes made in Canada (many of their aluminum MTB frames are still made here), is on the record as saying they don't support the 13% duty and would be happy if it didn't exist.
  • 1 0
 I ride the older model with 5 mm less travel but also with 150 mm Pike up front and the bike is a blast pointed down. However, on the way up, if you don't like to use that blue lever, you won't be enjoying yourself much.
Of course, this bike can't be compared to let's say Hightower, but it also shouldn't be compared to the bikes like that. You can get it cheap over Crc (nobody ever pay full price) and it just works. Hightower is better bike in every aspect, no doubt about it, but not at least 3 times better.
  • 1 0
 I'm 5'10 tall, should I get a M or a L? Geometry chart says L but I'm afraid that the 640 top tube will be too long. Reach and seat tube seems fine though. I'm coming from a 2011 Specialized Enduro, sharing almost the same geo, and enjoy playful bikes.
  • 2 0
 _Effective_ top tube is 640... If you get the medium, you're going run the seatpost a lot further out of the seattube, thus making the ETT a little longer because the actual seattube angle is slacker than the one listed on the chart. Vice versa, on a large you're going to slam the seatpost, making the ETT a bit shorter. You also have to compare stem lengths: 2011 Enduro probably has a 60-70mm stem, where this might have a 40-50mm stem, thus taking possibly 20mm off the ETT.
  • 1 0
 At the time of this review and release, the 2019 VR is on sale.(only in small) for $1799, and the 2020 is $100 more, but comes with a Lyrik Select, Deluxe Select+, and i30 wheels. The only bummer is the Guide T brakes, but still an amazing value ????
  • 1 0
 So I rode a bike with the Fox Rhythm 34 on it over the weekend, and it was bad. Really bad. far worse than the old cheap stuff I rode when I was in school. Does anyone have experience between the cheap fox stuff and this lower end Rockshox fork?
  • 3 0
 Cheap RS is far better than cheap Fox
  • 1 0
 "The Escarpe's top tube dips very low, offering up good stand-over height - 28 inches (71cm) which is especially low for a 29er."

Measured at what point on the top tube? Because no human is going to be contacting the top tube at the low, flat portion, they're going to be hitting somewhere along the upward rising portion, especially with the dropper down. The dip needs to start much further forward to have a real effect on stand-over at usable places.
  • 1 0
 "Welded features near the base of the seat tube restrict dropper seatpost insertion depth."

What is the max insertion? I figured the silly tunnel would be the limiting factor, making it look pretty good on depth, but the pivot welds are blocking it, that that's a pretty shitty depth, like at 5'10" i'd be looking at 125mm drop max, which would kinda suck since when I did need to get way back, I'd have to get behind the seat and right in the way of that huge wheel waiting to buzz my ass. Not good.
  • 1 0
 Oh, you hit that in the tech report. Good.
  • 1 0
 People criticized the comparison section of RCs last review as mostly focusing on on paper differences. This one is much better and I could decide between these two similar segment bikes based on it. Nice work, RC!
  • 2 1
 By the way I have noticed that vitus, khs and gravis bikes are using almost the same front triangle..

www.gravis-cycles.com/rodeo-4-al

khsbicycles.com/bikes/2019-khs-models/sixfifty-7500-19
  • 1 0
 Separated at birth.
  • 2 0
 "Deluxe shocks have been excellent performers so far. The missing link in the affordable trail bike chain is finally being addressed."

It's called a McLeod.
  • 1 1
 Nice review, spent quite some time hesitating between this and the Occam TR 19. Glad to see it was probably a bit too much for my riding there (or not :-).Keep up the reviews of "affordable" bike.
  • 2 0
 I don't see how a bike weighing 67 big macs is considered a con giving the build and price point of this bike.
  • 1 0
 Bought an Escarpe VRX last year- $1900 new, which included taxes and shipping. It's an awesome bike, I can't imagine spending triple that when such a great value exists.
  • 1 0
 "Guide R brakes are certainly welcome at the $3,000 trail bike party. " said no one ever; these are sub 200e brakes, they don't belong here unless you like ABS.
  • 2 0
 Vitus bikes are excellent!
  • 2 0
 That shock tunnel sure looks sexy as hell.
  • 1 2
 That shock tunnel looks like an over-engineered piece of wankery that was designed 5-10 years ago when shocks needed gross leverage curve manipulation to overcome their own inherent design issues. Modern shocks have such low break-away force and much more linear spring rate curves that silliness like moving shock mounts is pointless now.
  • 1 0
 I still think Commencal is the brand to beat when it comes to money and performance
  • 1 0
 Am I the only one that saw the name of this bike and had a flashback to Finding Nemo?
  • 1 0
 How does it compare? You can the Bird Aeris AM9 at the 3000€, from UK too. Maybe in a future review?
  • 1 0
 Another good review for working class enthusiasts, RC. And I like the Horst link!
  • 1 0
 I thought Horst link was notorious for suspension bob climbing?
  • 1 0
 @capmtn: It's never been a problem for me, and I like it's active braking capability.
  • 1 0
 Great bike for the price, no doubt, but some of the welds are still gruesome on the frame...QC isnt big at Vitus :/
  • 1 0
 Looks like Vitus Prehistorik 2 old dos games.
  • 4 4
 This bike is not long nor low nor slack nor even modern. Price point is decent though.
  • 1 0
 Who else thinks of the movie Nemo when Dori says "Escap'e"
  • 1 1
 This bike looks like it was made 3 years ago and they just let it sit around in the back of the warehouse.
  • 1 0
 What trails / location are the images from?
  • 1 0
 Fork offset. 51 still works really well. and corners better.
  • 1 0
 Oddly similar to the Trek Fuel Ex coincidence I think not
  • 1 0
 Bummed. I assumed this was a review for the just announced mythique.
  • 1 0
 PB will do a "first look" article after a day or two with a bike, but I appreciate that they release official reviews after they've had a lot more time on a bike
  • 1 0
 @showmethemountains: I'm just being impatient. I don't think there will be a ton of rider reviews for this bike. Fezzari has a bike in this price range, but that model is getting mediocre reviews, and not many of them at that.
  • 1 1
 Replace brakes. New wheels. Maybe some new grips pedals and a seat. Done. Unless you wanted fancier suspension.
  • 1 0
 Cool nukeproof.
  • 1 0
 Standover height?
  • 1 0
 YAY VIRTUAL REALITY
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