First Look: Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX

by Wil Barrett 0

As we saw during the 2017 London Bike Show, direct-to-consumer brand Vitus Bikes has built up an impressive range of bikes over the past six years since relaunching back in 2011. What started out in the 1970’s as a French road brand has since been purchased by Chain Reaction Cycles, and is now a purely online bike brand, with a comprehensive line up of bikes that include road, cyclocross and mountain.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Imagine the loungeroom fortress you could build with this cardboard box!

After checking out the uber-bright Escarpe 29 VRX at the London Bike Show, we were quite keen to see what it would ride like out on the trails. It’s certainly an impressive bike for the money, with a RockShox suspension package, Mavic XA Elite wheels and Shimano Deore XT 1×11 drivetrain hanging off a burly-looking hydroformed alloy frame, and all for less than £3k.

To see whether those specs stack up in the real world, we put the order in with Vitus Bikes, and had a test bike sent straight up to Peebles for our Scottish correspondent, Tom Nash, to get see how this trail 29er would handle some rough ‘n’ tumble action in the Tweed Valley.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Dig bright orange and yellow? There’s lots of that on the Escarpe 29 VRX from Vitus Bikes.

Racing Enduro; taking on an epic all day adventure or just shredding your local trails; do it all and do it faster on the Escarpe 29 VRX. Now equipped with stronger, wider Boost wheels the new Escarpe 29 VRX will take the rough with the smooth in equal measure” – Vitus Bikes.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
New for 2017, the Escarpe 29 VRX features 29in wheels and 135mm of rear wheel travel.

Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX Features

  • Full suspension trail 29er
  • 6061-T6 hydroformed alloy frameset
  • 135mm rear travel via four-bar suspension design
  • Designed for 140-150mm travel forks
  • 67º head angle
  • 74.5º seat tube angle
  • 73mm threaded bottom bracket
  • ISCG05 chainguide tabs
  • 142x12mm Shimano E-Thru rear axle
  • 450mm chainstay length
  • 2x compatible
  • External cable routing for derailleurs and rear brake
  • Internal dropper post routing
  • Bolt-on downtube protector
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • RRP: £2699
vitus escarpe vrx 29
Hydroformed 6061-T6 alloy frame.

Vitus already produce several Escarpe models, which are built with 27.5in hoops and 135mm of rear wheel travel. The Escarpe 29 VRX uses a similar suspension layout and the same rear travel, but subs in larger 29in wheels for more roll-over capability and increased stability on rougher descending trails. Despite having 29in wheels, the Escarpe 29 VRX is available down to a Small frame size, and up to an XL.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Four-bar suspension design with a RockShox Monarch RT3 DebonAir rear shock.

Rear suspension uses the same four-bar arrangement as other Vitus models such as the 27.5in Escarpe, and the longer-travel Sommet. The suspension design is nothing groundbreaking, but in a good way. It’s controlled via a RockShox Monarch RT3 rear shock, which is equipped with the bigger DebonAir can for a smoother feel to the travel. Adjustable compression and rebound damping dials for finger-tweakin.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Floating lower shock mount.

Compared to some other four-bar designs out there, the Vitus platform employs a floating shock mount, with the lower eyelet of the rear shock bolting onto an extension of the chainstay. The idea is to control the shock rate from both the top and bottom, and with the lower eyelet moving ever-so-slightly away from the upper rocker link as the Escarpe goes through its travel, the end of the travel purportedly delivers a bottomless feel. The idea being that it feels as if the bike has more travel than it actually does.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Some extra armouring would be useful for the drive-side chainstay.

Pivot placement on the Escarpe has been oriented to provide neutral pedalling with a 32t chainring, with a chainstay mounted rear pivot also reducing braking inputs on the rear suspension feel.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
MRP upper chainguide on the Deore XT crankset.

The Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX comes stock with a full Shimano Deore XT 1×11 drivetrain, with a 32t chainring up front rigged out to a 11-42t cassette. Nice to see an MRP upper chain device spec’d on the bike too.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Shimano Deore XT all-round, including the hydraulic disc brakes.
vitus escarpe vrx 29
The Escarpe 29 VRX has been designed around a short stem and 760mm wide bars.

With Vitus falling under the mighty Chain Reaction Cycles umbrella, it’s finished off with loads of goodies from sister-brand Nukeproof. Nice and chunky machined 50mm long stem that’s paired up to 760mm wide riser bars.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
More travel up front – 150mm to be exact.

Ensuring the money has gone to where it counts, Vitus has spec’d the Escarpe 29 VRX with a RockShox Pike fork on the front to match the Monarch rear shock. The Pike gets more travel than the rear – 150mm vs 135mm – and it also features the excellent RCT3 Charger damper inside.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Trick Mavic XA Elite wheels.

Unusual to see on a bike at this price point that already has top-level suspension and a Shimano Deore XT groupset, the Escarpe 29 VRX also gets a name-brand wheelset, in the form of the new Mavic XA Elite wheels. If you want to know more about these lovingly sculpted alloy trail wheels, checkout the first look here.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
Good chunky WTB rubber on the Escarpe 29 VRX.
vitus escarpe vrx 29
Vitus-branded saddle sits atop a 125mm travel RockShox Reverb dropper post.
vitus escarpe vrx 29
Under-the-downtube cable routing, which is protected by a bolt-on armour plate.
screen-shot-2017-05-23-at-16-45-39
Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX Geometry.

We’ve currently got a Large Escarpe 29 VRX on test, which features a 448mm reach measurement coupled to a 67° head angle and a 74.5° seat tube angle. One thing of note on the Escarpe 29er is the huge 1209mm wheelbase length, which is partially due to the long 450mm chainstays, which is on the long side for a 29er trail bike. As to how that feels out on the trail? We’ll have a full review coming at you in the near future, so hang tight.

In the meantime, get those eyeballs onto the Vitus website for all other details big and small.

vitus escarpe vrx 29
#BAAR

2017 Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX Specifications

  • Frame // Hydroformed 6061-T6 Alloy, 135mm Travel
  • Fork // RockShox Pike RCT3, 150mm Travel
  • Shock // RockShox Monarch RT3 Debonair
  • Hubs // Mavic XA Elite, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
  • Rims // Mavic XA Elite, UST Tubeless
  • Tyres // WTB Vigilante TCS Dual DNA 2.3in Front & Trail Boss TCS Dual DNA 2.3in Rear
  • Chainset // Shimano Deore XT, 32t X-Sync Chainring
  • Front Mech // N/A
  • Rear Mech // Shimano Deore XT, 11-Speed
  • Shifters // Shimano Deore XT, 11-Speed
  • Cassette // Shimano Deore XT, 11-42t, 11-Speed
  • Brakes // Shimano Deore XT, 180mm Front & Rear
  • Stem // Nukeproof Zero, 50mm Long
  • Bars // Nukeproof Warhead, 780mm Wide, 10mm Rise
  • Grips // Vitus Lock-On
  • Seatpost // RockShox Reverb Stealth, 31.6mm, 125mm Travel (Small), 150mm Travel (Medium, Large, X-Large)
  • Saddle // Vitus
  • Size Tested // Large
  • Sizes available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
  • Weight: 13.4kg (29.48lbs)

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