Vitus E-Escarpe VRX review

140mm travel e-MTB with a sorted kit list

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Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £5,000.00 RRP
Vitus E-Escarpe VRX

Our review

The E-Escarpe has a kit list to die for, but it’s not as balanced as Vitus’s longer-travel E-Sommet
Pros: Feels fast, light and lively almost everywhere; parts choice and value is exceptional throughout the E-Escarpe range
Cons: Not quite as gung-ho as YT’s Decoy on the most DH-focused trails; rider weight isn’t quite as perfectly poised and balanced as on some bikes also on test
Skip to view product specifications

Having had great success with its 160mm-travel E-Sommet, Vitus has now released an electric Escarpe, with 20mm less bounce but the same Shimano STEPS motor and battery.

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As we’ve come to expect from the Irish direct-sales brand, there aren’t any duds on the spec list. On this top VRX model that includes a Fox 36 Factory fork with GRIP2 damper, an ultra-grippy Maxxis Assegai front tyre and 12-speed Shimano XTR gearing, among other sorted goodies.

Vitus E-Escarpe VRX frame

Less integrated than many new-generation ebike frames, Vitus’s aluminium chassis has an external battery mounted on top of the down tube. This is at the expense of smooth lines, but presumably saves weight and doesn’t affect functionality.

The seat tube is split to wrap around a Factory-level Fox DPS shock, which delivers 140mm of rear travel via a four-bar linkage suspension layout.

Vitus has equipped the E-Escarpe with the same Shimano motor as the Canyon Spectral:ON 8.0 and YT Decoy CF Pro, also on test.

In common with the brand’s ‘analogue’ bikes, the top tube is relatively tall, somewhat reducing standover clearance. This and the tubing profiles are the only things that aren’t uber-modern though, because the geometry is spot-on, with a reasonable reach (467mm on size large) and slacked-out angles.

Vitus E-Escarpe VRX
With the Assegai, Maxxis appears to have created the ideal e-MTB tyre.
Mick Kirkman

Vitus E-Escarpe VRX kit

You get top-tier Fox suspension, with the brilliant FIT GRIP2 four-way adjustable damper in the 140mm fork, and Kashima coating at both ends.

DT Swiss wheels with toughened rims and a perfect Maxxis tyre combo are everything you could wish for. The Nukeproof bar is nice and wide, although I’d prefer a shorter stem.

While the Brand-X dropper post is generic, it has 150mm of travel and is crowned with a comfy WTB Volt saddle.

In sub-zero testing conditions, I had bite-point issues with the new Shimano XT brakes, where the rear lever pulled closer to the bar, and had to bleed them to cure it. The latest XTR gears work fantastically well, even if the massive 51-tooth sprocket on the cassette is overkill for an ebike and tricky to spin with control, even on the steepest pitches.

Vitus E-Escarpe VRX
The GRIP2 damper in the Vitus’s Fox fork allows you to feel every subtle detail of the terrain.
Mick Kirkman

Vitus E-Escarpe VRX ride impressions

The E-Escarpe rides light and feels chuckable, up and downhill. Seated climbing is good, although the suspension dips into its travel a little readily, which shifts your weight a bit behind the ideal position.

You soon forget about this when standing up though, and the suspension is supple and grippy so it’s easy to carve confidently along bendy trails and feel cocky while descending.

The frame doesn’t feel quite as stiff as the YT’s or Canyon’s (or Vitus’s own Sommet) on the roughest DH tracks, and it took a couple of rides to dial in the right bar height, which points to the handling not being as intuitive as that of the YT or Canyon either.

In common with the other ‘mullets’ on test (650b out back, 29in up front), the Canyon and YT, the subtle difference in the way the smaller 650b rear wheel carves a tighter arc than the 29in front wheel can cause the latter to feel light in the apex of turns.

This necessitates careful attention to stem height, to best load the front tyre for balance. With the stem being longer and the bottom bracket higher than on the other bikes that were on test, this effect is slightly exaggerated on the Vitus, making you feel less stable than on the others.

The phenomenal Assegai front tyre is totally planted though, and easily the grippiest on test. Paired with the brilliant Fox 36 fork, it means you can lean the E-Escarpe right over and really press on the front for massive cornering and off-camber confidence.

The Vitus’s geometry and shape are good, and it uses the same smooth and seamless Shimano motor as the Canyon and YT, although this feels noticeably quicker and more pokey here – possibly aided by the light, fast-rolling DT Swiss wheels.

Suspension and rider weight is never quite as perfectly stable and balanced as on the YT Decoy though, whether charging up or hammering downhill.

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Vitus E-Escarpe VRX geometry

  • Sizes (* tested): S, M, L*, XL
  • Seat angle: 75 degrees
  • Head angle: 65 degrees
  • Chainstay: 17.48in / 44.4cm
  • Seat tube: 19.02in / 48.3cm
  • Top tube: 24.94in / 63.35cm
  • Head tube: 4.72in / 12cm
  • Fork offset: 1.73in / 4.4cm
  • Bottom bracket drop: 0.79in / 2cm
  • Bottom bracket height: 13.74in / 34.9cm
  • Wheelbase: 48.86in / 1,241mm
  • Stack: 24.41in / 62cm
  • Reach: 18.39in / 46.7cm

How we tested

This bike was tested as part of a four-bike grouptest of power-assisted e-MTBs for £5,000 or less.

They’re all quality machines with the latest in battery/motor tech and geometry but which is worth your hard-earned cash? We put them to the test.

Bikes also tested:

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £5000.00
Weight 22.2kg (L) – without pedals
Brand Vitus

Features

Available sizes S, M, L, XL
Rear derailleur Shimano XTR M9100
Tyres Maxxis Assegai EXO+ 3C MaxxTerra 29x2.5in (f) and Minion DHR II EXO+ 3C MaxxTerra 27.5x2.8in (r)
Stem Nukeproof Horizon, 50mm
Shifter Shimano Deore XT M8100 (1x12)
Seatpost Brand-X Ascend, 150mm
Saddle WTB Volt 142 Race
Rear shock Fox Float Factory DPS
Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 motor and battery (504Wh)
Brakes Shimano Deore XT, M8120 four-piston (f)/M8100 two-piston (r), 203mm rotors
Handlebar Nukeproof Horizon, 780mm
Grips/Tape Vitus
Frame 6061 aluminium alloy, 140mm (5.5in) travel
Fork Fox 36 Float Factory FIT GRIP2 E-Bike, 140mm (5.5in) travel
Cranks Shimano STEPS E8000, 34t
Chain Shimano Deore XT
Cassette Shimano Deore XT M8100, 10-51t
Wheels DT Swiss HX 1501 (30/35mm) rims with DT Swiss Hybrid 2 spokes