You don’t need to spend a packet to get a proper trail-shredding mountain bike. Vitus’s Nucleus 27 VRX hardtail is ready to nail corners, but will treat your wallet much more gently.
Vitus Nucleus 27 VRX frame
The alloy frame has a relatively long, low-slung shape for a ‘budget’ bike, with the large size I tested benefitting from a reasonable 455mm reach, slack 66.5-degree head angle and snappy 425mm chainstays.
The welding around the head tube and along the top tube/down tube may look a bit industrial, but it’s good to see strength being prioritised over weight-saving or aesthetics.
There’s a strengthening gusset at the rear end of the top tube too. The seat tube can take a ‘stealth’-routed (internal) dropper post – although none is provided – and I appreciate the external cable routing and threaded bottom bracket shell, which are both maintenance-friendly touches.
Vitus Nucleus 27 VRX kit
The 120mm-travel Suntour Raidon fork has an air spring for easy tuning, and while the chassis isn’t the stoutest, it’s a solid-performing unit for the money.
Likewise, the Shimano MT400 brakes are effective, if not especially showy. Shimano also provides the Deore 10-speed groupset, with an 11-42t cassette, although Suntour supplies the crankset.
Vitus’s name is all over the finishing kit, with the exception of the Nukeproof bar.
Spec highlights include the wide (29mm internal) WTB rims and the Schwalbe tyre combo — a Magic Mary up front in the grippy ADDIX Soft compound and a Nobby Nic out back with standard ADDIX rubber but a toughened Double Defense casing.
My only issue was with the teeth profile of the chainring (wave-like, rather than narrow/wide), which didn’t provide much in the way of chain security.
Vitus Nucleus 27 VRX first ride impressions
With the saddle slammed, the 650b-wheeled Nucleus’s true DNA is released. The low-slung shape feels immediately aggressive, allowing you to drop your heels and push into the bar, maximising the control and grip provided by the sticky front tyre, on virtually any surface.
Out back, the Nobby Nic provides good levels of traction, both on climbs and when going hard on the brakes.
The Double Defense casing may be heavy, but it’s a great choice here, helping to prevent flats and providing a well-planted, damped feel to the back end.
The handling isn’t relaxed enough to feel dull, but neither is it so steep to be twitchy – it’s perfectly balanced for twisting and turning between the trees, while still enabling you to open up the brakes and pick up some decent speed.
Stick to tamer trails, and the Raidon is a decent fork. The 32mm chassis isn’t super-stiff, so it twists and binds when pushed hard into rock gardens. But on relatively smooth or groomed woodland and trail centre trails, it’s smooth enough, and it’s easy to set up too, thanks to the air spring.
Overall, the Nucleus is the perfect wallet-friendly companion for anyone looking to develop their riding skills while having a ton of fun along the way.
The frame isn’t the subtlest, in terms of ride quality, but at this price that’s easily forgivable, given just how rowdy you can get on this bike.
Vitus Nucleus 27 VRX early verdict
Top-value, hard-riding hardtail for woodland shred sessions.
Vitus Nucleus 27 VRX specifications
- Sizes (*tested): S, M, L*
- Weight: 13.1kg
- Frame: 6061-T6 aluminium alloy
- Fork: SR Suntour Raidon 32, 120mm / 4.7in travel
- Chainset: Suntour Zeron
- Bottom bracket: Suntour
- Cassette: Shimano CS-HG500-10 11-42t
- Chain: KMC X10EL
- Derailleurs: Shimano Deore M6000
- Shifters: Shimano Deore M6000
- Hubs: KT Hubs
- Rims: WTB i29
- Tyres: Schwalbe Magic Mary ADDIX Soft SnakeSkin (f) and Schwalbe Nobby Nic ADDIX Double Defense (r) 27.5 x 2.35in tyres
- Stem: Vitus, 50mm
- Bar: Nukeproof Neutron, 780mm
- Headset: FSA
- Saddle: Vitus
- Seatpost: Vitus rigid
- Brakes: Shimano MT400, 180mm /160mm rotors
Vitus Nucleus 27 VRX geometry
- Seat angle: 73 degrees
- Head angle: 66.5 degrees
- Chainstay: 16.73in / 42.5cm
- Seat tube: 19.02in / 48.3cm
- Top tube: 25.2in / 64cm
- Head tube: 4.72in / 12cm
- Fork offset: 1.65in / 4.2cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 1.77in / 4.5cm
- Wheelbase: 45.94in / 1,167mm
- Stack: 23.86in / 60.6cm
- Reach: 17.91in / 45.5cm
- Price: £700 / $830 / AU$1,160