Owned by retail giants Chain Reaction Cycles, it should come as little surprise to learn that the Vitus has a good spec for its price-tag. The brand has some serious firepower when it comes to getting good prices for the kit on its bikes.
The Sentier is built from double-butted 6061-T6 aluminium tubes with smooth lines and a sophisticated paint job. It has a mix of internally- and externally-routed cables, and a single set of bottle bosses.
The 29in-wheeled version is available in three sizes, medium to XL, while the 650b option comes in small to XL. I tested the large 29er, which has a 66.5-degree head angle and 73-degree seat angle, a relatively short 446mm reach and 439mm chainstays.
The wheelbase is 1,182mm, while the top tube is 640mm long and the seat tube a lofty 483mm. Vitus claims the Sentier has modern geometry, but there are clearly remnants of an XC bike here.
Vitus Sentier 29 VRX geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||73||73||73|
|Head angle (degrees)||66.5||66.5||66.5|
|Seat tube (cm)||43.2||48.3||53|
|Top tube (cm)||62||64||66.5|
|Head tube (cm)||11||12||13|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||6.15||6.15||6.15|
|Bottom bracket height (cm)||31.6||31.6||31.6|
Vitus Sentier 29 VRX kit
Headlining the spec is a 12-speed Shimano XT mech, paired with an SLX shifter and cassette, and XT brakes. While the shifting remained smooth, I found the brakes’ bite point wavered, requiring a ‘priming pump’ of the lever each time before they worked as expected.
Up front is a Fox 34 Rhythm fork with 130mm of travel and GRIP damper. WTB’s ST Light i30 rims are built onto Vitus hubs and fitted with Schwalbe tyres, which were set up tubeless on my test bike.
The Magic Mary ADDIX Soft up front was grippy, while the rear Nobby Nic’s Double Defence sidewalls resisted punctures well. Finishing off the spec are a Nukeproof bar and stem, a 150mm-travel Brand-X Ascend dropper and a WTB Volt saddle.
Vitus Sentier 29 VRX ride impressions
Thanks to a relatively short top tube, stubby 45mm stem and steep seat angle, the Sentier has a comfortable climbing position. Over rougher terrain, it impressed as it smoothed out bumps with composure and confidence, both seated or standing.
There were fewer scenarios where the rear wheel got kicked up by sharp edges than on the other bikes I also had on test. The source of this compliance was hard to pinpoint, but the shallow rim profile and tube-free tyre setup will have contributed.
Tubeless weight savings also make it easy to pick up the rear end and accelerate quickly.
Despite the overall compliance, I didn’t perceive any power loss when pedalling hard, and the supple chassis means traction is abundant, helped by the tyre combo.
The Shimano XT mech and SLX drivetrain combo were faultless, and the 12-speed, 10-51t cassette provides ample gears for the climbs.
On the descents, the Vitus’s geometry and tubing give it a forgiving but fun ride, and it only begins to feel out of its depth when the trail gets especially technical or steep.
The frame compliance doesn’t equate to vagueness, and the Sentier feels snappy in the turns and through sections where pumping is needed.
It would, however, benefit from a longer reach and slacker head angle for more stability on the decents. I also found the Fox 34’s chassis and damper to be a bit lacklustre considering the frame’s appetite for gravity.
To overcome dive on steeper trails I increased air-spring pressure, but this sacrificed front-end comfort a little. A burlier fork would suit the bike well.
The seat tube is too long for me, so I couldn’t get the seat as low as I’d have liked for steeper tracks. Again, the tube is straight, so shortening it would be a simple way to improve the bike’s capabilities. Riders with long legs or those who aren’t looking to push the Vitus to its limits won’t find this such an issue, though.
The Sentier has compromises, but its spec, overall feel and cost make it stand out. It may not be suited to riders with shorter legs (keep an eye on that seat tube length when buying because it jumps significantly between sizes) or very tall folk, but it’s hard to argue with how well it rides and how little it costs.
How we tested
We put four of the latest sub-£2,000 aggro hardtail mountain bikes to the test to see if front suspension is really all you need to tackle hardcore trails. Terrain ranged from trail centre loops to hairy enduro descents.
- Ragley Piglet
- Saracen Mantra Elite LSL
- Radon Cragger 8.0
|Price||AUD $3000.00EUR €1800.00GBP £1600.00USD $2000.00|
|Weight||12.67kg (L) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||M, L, XL|
|Tyres||Schwalbe Magic Mary Evo SnakeSkin ADDIX Soft 29x2.35in (f), Schwalbe Nobby Nic Double Defence Race Guard ADDIX 29x2.35in (r)|
|Stem||Nukeproof Neutron, 45mm|
|Seatpost||Brand-X Ascend 150mm dropper|
|Saddle||WTB Volt 142 Race|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Deore XT (1x12)|
|Handlebar||Nukeproof Horizon, 800mm|
|Bottom bracket||Shimano BB52 73mm BSA|
|Frame||6061 aluminium alloy|
|Fork||Fox Float 34 Rhythm, 130mm (5.1in) travel|
|Cranks||Shimano MT610, 30t|
|Chain||KMC Z9 EPT|
|Cassette||Shimano SLX, 10-51t|
|Brakes||Shimano Deore XT, 180mm rotors|
|Wheels||WTB ST Light i30 on Vitus DHF112 (f), Vitus M5ER (r) hubs; Double-butted stainless steel spokes|