When the Dominer was launched in 2013, it straddled the line between full-on downhill rig and bike park slayer. In 2016 Vitus settled on a more race-focused frame design and suspension layout that resembles the bike I’ve got here. With an exceptional spec and modern geometry, this latest Dominer looks like a steal for £2,499 / $3,000 / $4,150, but how does it ride?
Vitus Dominer frame
Like most DH bikes in this price bracket, the frame is made from 6061 aluminium alloy. It relies on a proven four-bar Horst link suspension design to deliver its 200mm of travel, updated (over the previous Dominer) to use metric shock spacing.
The lower shock mount is on the chainstays rather than the mainframe, creating a ‘floating shock’ system.
The full RockShox suspension set up is a welcome one — its Boxxer and Super Deluxe shock work well together. Steve Behr
Cables are routed externally, on the top of the down tube and underside of the chainstays, to both the mech and rear brake. The bottom bracket (BB) is threaded for easy maintenance, the frame uses 12 x 150mm rear axle spacing and there are ISCG-05 tabs for a chain guide.
Standout geometry figures on the large size include a 460mm reach, 63-degree head angle and 446mm chainstays, which contribute to a 1,263mm wheelbase.
No internally-routed cables here. This makes maintenance much easier. Steve Behr
Vitus Dominer kit
This is where the Dominer really shines. You get Shimano’s ever-reliable, 10-speed Zee downhill drivetrain, with only a SunRace cassette standing in the way of a Shimano full-house.
RockShox supplies its BoXXer fork with Charger RC damper and a Super Deluxe RC coil shock with a 350lb spring.
The bike’s got a Horst-link suspension system with a floating rear shock. Steve Behr
Stopping is handled by SRAM’s Guide RE brakes, which combine a Guide lever with a Code caliper.
The Guide RE brakes only have lever reach adjustment but this doesn’t stop them working well. Steve Behr
The reasonably wide (29mm) WTB rims are laced to Novatec hubs and wrapped in Maxxis Minion DHF tyres with downhill casings, which come set up tubeless.
Nukeproof Neutron kit takes care of the bike’s contact points. Steve Behr
Finishing kit is from Vitus’s sibling brand Nukeproof, with a full complement of Neutron parts including bar, stem, seatpost and saddle.
Vitus Dominer ride impressions
The Dominer’s geometry gives it a composed demeanour, whether you’re pedalling your heart out on flatter tracks or hanging on for dear life down the steepest terrain you dare to ride.
Its spacious 460mm reach makes it easy to move around without your weight shifts changing the trajectory of the bike beyond correction. The rear suspension does behave strangely over mid-sized bumps though.
The Vitus is easy to ride confidently. Steve Behr
If the bike’s already deeper into its travel than its sag point and you encounter a bump, the back wheel can get kicked up, when you expect the suspension to absorb the impact. Going up a spring rate from the stock 350lb coil to a 400lb replacement helped reduce the kick. This was likely because the bike was sitting higher in its travel.
A different shock tune could help to rectify the problem, but despite this quirk, the suspension was good at ironing out smaller hits, especially when ridden unsympathetically.
The rear shock is mounted to the swing arm rather than the front triangle, making it float — it isn’t fixed at either end Steve Behr
Riding the Dominer doesn’t feel like walking on soft carpet, but it does hold lines through rough sections of track surprisingly well and doesn’t get deflected sideways easily by rocks, roots and bumps.
The bike is pretty compliant-feeling, which I put down to a combination of the frame construction, alloy wheels, Neutron bar and stem, and the plush BoXXer fork, although the suspension becomes noticeably less active under braking, particularly when you’re hauling hard on the levers over rough terrain. In the turns, it’s quite the beast.
Although you can ride gnarly trails on enduro bikes, nothing quite beats the speed of a DH rig. Steve Behr
The DebonAir spring is easy to tune and the compression adjuster on the top of the right-hand fork leg makes a discernible change to how the fork rides. It’s particularly smooth over small bumps and there’s ample ramp and adjustment on the bigger hits. The Charger damper takes care of mid-stroke support without batting an eyelid.
The Shimano Zee groupset is also impressive and the grips were very comfortable and certainly help to reduce shocks into the hands.
Although the WTB rim and Maxxis tyre combo did leak a bit of air, they didn’t puncture or get ripped off the rim. Steve Behr
The factory tubeless tyres are a great addition, saving weight and eliminating the hassle of setting them up yourself. I did find that it was possible to burp the tyres, but this hints at the bike’s ability to get rowdy rather than an unfit-for-purpose tyre choice.
I had to re-bleed the brakes to get them performing properly, and chain slap makes the Dominer quite noisy, but it’s fantastic value for money, massively outperforms its price, and has very few parts you’ll want to upgrade immediately.
Vitus Dominer geometry
Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
Head angle: 63 degrees
Chainstay: 44.6cm / 17.56in
Seat tube: 40.64cm / 16in
Top tube: 63.35cm / 24.94in
Bottom bracket height: 35.7cm / 14.06in
Wheelbase: 1,263.7mm / 49.75in
Reach: 46cm / 18.11in