Vitus Escarpe 1 – First ride review

Well balanced and versatile trail bike

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £1,750.00 RRP | USD $2,975.00

Our review

An impressively well balanced and versatile trail bike, with no weak links at a remarkable price
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The 140mm-travel (5.5in) Escarpe bikes are the longer-travel half of two new full-suspension platforms Vitus are adding to their established high-value hardtail range for 2012.

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Ride & handling: Well balanced and easily ridable

The Escarpe 1’s 700mm-wide handlebar and 90mm stem are a fair reflection on the overall feel of the bike. It comes across as well balanced and easily ridable, rather than something radical. The steering is slack enough not to shrink your nuts as soon as things get steep or the fork starts getting a real workout, but not so laidback that it flops and flounders on steep climbs or feels like you’re chasing a wheelbarrow around on flat singletrack. 

Through-axles at either end underline the calmly obedient character with useful accuracy. There’s enough meat in the wheels and tyres to keep speed and survival expectations high on technical rocky trails. The bar fits between trees and it’s far enough away to let you breathe on longer climbs.

The suspension is similarly easy and effective. Vitus have picked a shock tune that really flatters the RockShox Monarch RT shock and lets the rear wheel track and grip smoothly without demanding any particular pedal action to compensate. The Revelation fork benefits from accurate setup. Once that’s fettled it’s controlled enough to handle anything that doesn’t require body armour. 

Frame & equipment: Plenty of bang for your buck

The hydroformed frame starts at the tapered head and ends with a screw-through 12mm axle with replaceable bolt-in dropouts. The dropped top tube has a seat tube reinforcing strut, while the curved down tube gives room for the vertically mounted shock. The four-bar suspension system gets a middle-ring level main pivot and dropped chainstay pivots. The bottom bracket is conventional while the front mech is direct mount.

Getting a bike in a box – however well it’s set up before it reaches you – means you’re missing out on setup and servicing support from your local bike shop. But direct sell from Chain Reaction Cycles does mean you’re getting a lot for your loot, for example, a 15mm-axled tapered-top Revelation fork up front rather than the more common Sektor. Most hardtails would be proud to have SRAM X9 shift kit wound up with a SRAM double and stopped with Avid Elixir brakes at this price too. 

Full-length cables help keep it running okay through bad weather, although it’s still not as smooth as Shimano in the long term. Fulcrum’s Red Power XL wheels are a quality wheel-plumping choice and the Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres are decent all-round rubber for most situations. The 700mm bar is slightly narrow for really letting rip, but okay for less lairy riding. If you’re on a more limited budget, the £1,299.99 Escarpe 2 with RockShox Sektor fork but otherwise similar componentry looks outstanding value.

Vitus escarpe 1: vitus escarpe 1
Russell Burton
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This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Product Specifications


Name Name, 0, 10, Name, Escarpe 1 (12)
Brand Brand, 0, 20, Brand, Vitus

Brakes Brakes, 2, 0, Brakes, Avid Elixir 3 180/160mm rotors
Cranks Cranks, 2, 0, Cranks, SRAM S1400 double 39, 26t
Fork Fork, 2, 0, Fork, RockShox Revelation RL Dual Air, 140mm (5.5in) travel
Frame Material Frame Material, 2, 0, Frame Material, 6061 hydroformed alloy
Front Derailleur Front Derailleur, 2, 0, Front Derailleur, SRAM X9
Handlebar Handlebar, 2, 0, Handlebar, Truvativ Stylo T30 700mm
Rear Derailleur Rear Derailleur, 2, 0, Rear Derailleur, SRAM X9
Rear Shock Rear Shock, 2, 0, Rear Shock, RockShox Monarch RT, 140mm (5.5in) travel
Saddle Saddle, 2, 0, Saddle, X-lite
Seatpost Seatpost, 2, 0, Seatpost, Truvativ Stylo T30
Shifters Shifters, 2, 0, Shifters, SRAM X9
Stem Stem, 2, 0, Stem, Truvativ Stylo T30 90mm
Weight (kg) Weight (kg), 2, 0, Weight (kg), 12.74
Weight (lb) Weight (lb), 2, 0, Weight (lb), 28.1
Tyres Tyres, 2, 0, Tyres, Schwalbe Nobby Nic 26x2.25in
Front Wheel Front Wheel, 2, 0, Front Wheel, Fulcrum Red Power XL
Rear Wheel Rear Wheel, 2, 0, Rear Wheel, Fulcrum Red Power XL