Vitus are another new direct-sell brand that aim to deliver impressive performance at an affordable price with the Blitz. Its far-from-generic character is immediately engaging – proof that good design doesn’t have to cost any more than bad design. If you combine a well-shaped, fully featured and cost-effective chassis with equally well-considered, mid-price components, the result can be really impressive.
Ride and handling: Responsive and low slung, the Vitus means maximum trail fun
The slightly devious tyres make the connection we immediately felt to the Blitz on the wet, woodsy singletrack near CRC’s Northern Ireland base all the more impressive. The low-slung weight, long, relatively slack front and neutral rear suspension meant even when we knew the tyres were likely to slide we just committed to it rather than cutting our entry speed.
The natural balance between front and rear means it’s almost guaranteed that the back end will step out faster and further anyway, automatically driving the nose deeper into the corner for a faster, more aggressive exit. That’s all going to happen anyway (just with even more grip and commitment) on better rubber, which makes upgrading a no brainer.
The Fulcrum wheels are promising and the Reba RL fork is one of our favourites – maximum riding time with minimum fuss. That really good tune for the Monarch rear shock means there’s enough resistance to initial movement to stop it feeling soggy, the way many four-bar bikes can. But it’s still enough for predictable traction and tracking over staccato roots and rocks. It gives impressively calm control over mid-size and occasional larger hits, despite only 100mm of wheel movement.
It can hang up against the face of large ﬂat blocks or the far side of ditches more than a longer-travel bike or one with a more rearward axle path. On the ﬂipside, though, it doesn’t nod in time with your pedalling or pull your feet back whenever the suspension moves. With total neutrality under pedalling and braking you’ve got a blank body-language canvas for hoicking the bike out of the way of the worst stuff. Fun.
Lower weight and less travel to get lost in also give the Blitz real snap when you show the trail some attitude. Even with the narrow bar the extra stability dialled into the geometry begs you to leave the brakes off and commit to the charge. While the short stem helps you whip it back into the traction and control sweet spot if you push it a bit too far, chances are it’s already sorting itself out anyway.
That 70-degree head angle keeps it on track and turning without tuck on steep, sketchy roll ins and fall line descents, letting you pin all your weight through the front wheel or hang back and let the bike help, depending what the run-out looks like.
If you’re prepared to buy direct rather than in your local shop to get a bargain, and want a bike that steps up rather than backs down, then the ﬂat-out fun Blitz has to be on your list. It’s not your average 100mm trail bike, and it’s far more fun than average as a result.
Frame and equipment: Good value spec and spot-on trail geometry
The Blitz frame mixes short but controlled rear travel with a longer fork and great geometry. The tapered head tube uses inset bearings for smooth lines, and the triple-butted, hydroformed main tubes join at a shared seam to create a strong, stiff double-chamberbox section up front.
The curved and expanded head of the down tube removes the need for reinforcing gussets, and ﬂattens at the bottom bracket for better pedalling stiffness. A hydroformed then welded two-piece brace supports the extended seat tube above the sloped top tube.
Seatstay and chainstay pivots are double sided for twist resistance, and the rocker link and lower shock mount use stress-spreading bridges. A band-on front mech and conventional BB keep things simple, and there’s decent mud room round the rear tyre. Even with a quick-release rear end and big, unbraced rocker links that look far from rigid, it’s a reasonably stiff back end.
The kit list is equally well thought-out and cost effective. RockShox’ Reba RL fork is excellent, and in the 15mm screw-thru Maxle/tapered steerer format here it’s an obedient turner and line taker. The latest version of Motion Control delivers impressively adjustable rebound control, plus low speed compression damping through to lockout. The RockShox Monarch damper has been mapped with a really good tune for the four-bar suspension setup.
SRAM provide the X9 gears driven by a non-group double chainset in a climb-friendly 39/26T format. Their Avid Elixir 3 brakes get a 180mm front rotor to boost power. Hose routing is neat despite the ﬁxed exit angle on the callipers. Truvativ supply the Stylo cockpit with a rapid, reaction-friendly short stem, although the 680mm bars are under-width to fully exploit rough-ground potential.
Fulcrum’s mid-priced Red Power wheels feel usefully tight when charging. If they’re as durable as their equivalent road wheels, they’ll be outstanding. Schwalbe’s Nobby Nic tyres are light and quick for their volume, although the cheaper compound used here suffers in wet conditions.
This Blitz 1 comes in at a penny under £1675, while the Blitz 2 rolls out similarly shy of £1200.
Blitz 1 (12)
Sizes:16, 18 (tested), 20in, Wheels: Fulcrum Red Power Disc 15mm (F), QR (R) * Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance, 2.25in