Vitus has been making waves over the past few years with its well thought-out bikes, which combine great specs and geometry with competitive prices.
With this 2021 update to its trail bike, the Escarpe – including a carbon/alloy frame – I put the mid-range Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS model to the test to find out whether the brand has continued to go from strength to strength.
Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS frame
This latest frame pairs a T700 carbon front triangle with a 6061 alloy rear end, and pumps out 140mm of travel from a four-bar linkage design.
Cable routing is fully internal, and there’s a healthy dose of frame protection. Gone are the curved tubes of last year’s Escarpe, in favour of straight lines.
The overhauled geometry, including a 65-degree head angle, wouldn’t be out of place on an enduro bike from a couple of years ago, albeit with a more modern 77-degree seat tube angle.
Seat tube lengths are short and reach numbers progressive (410mm and 451mm, respectively, on the medium), highlighting the bike’s descending focus.
It comes with a flip-chip that can raise the bottom bracket by 6mm and steepen the head angle by 0.5 degrees to make it feel less gravity-biased, depending on the terrain you’re riding.
Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS geometry
|Seat angle (degrees) - effevtive||77||77||77.5||78|
|Seat angle (degrees) - actual||72||72||72||72|
|Head angle (degrees)||65||65||65||65|
|Seat tube (cm)||38||41||44||48|
|Top tube (cm)||56.6||59.5||61.9||64.3|
|Head tube (cm)||10||11||12||13|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||3.5||3.5||3.5||3.5|
Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS kit
Here, a 150mm-travel RockShox Pike Select fork with Charger RC damper is paired with a RockShox Deluxe Select+ shock. A 12-speed Shimano drivetrain with 10-51t cassette offers both smooth shifting and reliability, and it’s a full SLX setup, not just a fancy mech paired with some lower-spec parts.
The brakes are Shimano SLX too, with a 200mm rotor and four-pot caliper up front and a 180mm rotor and two-pot caliper out back.
You get highly-rated DT Swiss E 1900 wheels, which can take a thrashing and come wrapped in Maxxis Assegai and Dissector tyres, in EXO 3C MaxxTerra guise.
The dimensions of the Nukeproof cockpit kit vary with frame size – a nice detail – so my medium bike came fitted with a 760mm bar and 150mm-travel Brand-X dropper post.
Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS ride impressions
The changes to the Escarpe have certainly altered its ride feel. While the previous model was a plush machine that excelled on the descents, it was lacking in all-round ability. This new model is far more versatile, while still keeping its trail-shredding capability.
The steeper seat-tube angle and new suspension kinematics mean the Vitus now ticks off the miles quite happily. Although it’s not the fastest-climbing trail bike, there’s little in the way of energy-sapping pedal bob and I never felt the need to firm up the shock on the climbs.
What the Escarpe might lack in climbing speed it makes up for with bucketloads of fun on the trail. Its short 45mm stem and reasonable-width bar, paired with enduro-esque geometry, show it’s a bike intended to get loose on, and I had a ton of fun ripping around the local woods.
The updated suspension gives the bike a decent amount of support, so you can pop and play on the trail, which is useful when the terrain becomes mellower and carrying speed is essential.
Fortunately, the Escarpe’s 140mm of rear wheel travel is never harsh when dealing with bigger hits either.
Thanks to its geometry, you can point the Vitus down a hill and have plenty of faith in it. It never held me back or made me think twice about hitting a technical section of trail.
I did have some reservations about the two-pot rear brake, fearing it might be overwhelmed on long, steep descents, but its power surprised me.
Of course, the Escarpe won’t match an enduro bike for outright bump-flattening on the steepest trails, but that isn’t its role. If you’re after a bike for playing in the woods, sessioning jumps, hitting the bike park occasionally and riding here, there and everywhere, it’s an excellent choice.
|Price||AUD $4800.00GBP £2700.00USD $3200.00|
|Weight||14.3kg (M) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano SLX|
|Tyres||Maxxis Assegai EXO TR 3C MaxxTerra 29x2.5in (f) and Maxxis Dissector EXO TR 3C MaxxTerra 29x2.4in (r)|
|Stem||Nukeproof Neutron, 45mm|
|Shifter||Shimano SLX, 12spd|
|Seatpost||Brand-X Ascend, 150mm|
|Rear Shocks||RockShox Deluxe Select+|
|Handlebar||Nukeproof Horizon, 760mm|
|Bottom bracket||Shimano SM-BB52|
|Frame||Carbon fibre front triangle, aluminium 6061 alloy rear end, 140mm (5.5in) travel|
|Fork||RockShox Pike Select, 150mm (5.9in) travel|
|Cassette||Shimano SLX, 10-51t|
|Brakes||Shimano SLX, 200mm/180mm rotors|
|Wheels||DT Swiss E 1900 wheels|