Vitus Escarpe 275 VR  2014 Mountain Bike Review

Vitus Escarpe 275 VR 2014

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

Vitus 17,641

At A Glance

Vitus originally hailed from France in the 1970’s, they have a long pedigree in the cycling world and have more recently been added to the Chain Reaction Cycles family. Available exclusively through the CRC store Vitus aim to have a bike for everyone from the roadie to the commuter and from the casual rider to the serious mountain biker.

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The Escarpe 275 VR is their new full suss 27.5 all-mountain offering and it sits bang in the middle of three differently specced models. Vitus aren’t looking to mix it up with the big boys in terms of pricing, this bike is firmly aimed at the rider looking for good value. Yet with Shimano SLX and decent RockShox suspension it seems to far outweigh the £1499.99 asking price…

Tech Heads

The Escarpe features a new 6061-T6 Hydroformed frame, which offers 140mm of rear wheel travel through their Four-Bar V Link activated suspension platform. There are even ISCG tabs for adding a chain guide and there is routing for a RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost if you want to add one.

Suspension is taken care of with a RockShox Monarch RT shock at the rear, featuring a solo air spring, lockout and rebound adjust. A set of RockShox Sector Silver TK forks with 140mm of travel, rebound adjust and a solo air spring is up front.

The drivetrain features Shimano SLX shifters, a Deore front derailleur and an SLX clutch rear derailleur. The crankset is looked after by an FSA Comet 2x10 set-up.

Braking capabilities are looked after by the excellent Shimano SLX hydraulic system with 180mm rotors front and rear.

The 27.5 inch wheels feature Formula hubs 15mm front and 142x12mm rear laced onto Mavic XM 319 rims. These are shod with Continental X-King tyres and, with a nod to its enduro capabilities, there is an aggressive 2.4 up front and a speedy 2.2 on the rear.

A 740mm Vitus 6061 double butted alloy handlebar with 15mm rise is held in place by a sensible 60mm Vitus stem with Vitus lock-on grips. The Vitus saddle is held up with a 31.6mm Vitus Alloy seatpost.

Vitus Escarpe 27.5 VR Medium

Seat tube 445mm
Effective top tube 600mm
Head tube 110mm
Chain stay 435mm
Wheel base 1152mm
BB drop 13mm
Head angle 67°
Seat angle 73.5°
Reach 425.92mm
Stack 574.69mm

Weight w/o pedals 31.9lbs

On The Trail

We often get asked about bikes, and one of the most common questions we get quizzed about runs along the lines of “is this full-susser for £500 any good”. The answer is always no and generally we recommend spending at least £2000 GBP on a decent full-suss bike. Anything less than that and it will be heavy and poorly specced. Your money is better spent on a decent hardtail, which will be full of good components between the £500 to £1000 mark. However, this little number has foiled our general guidelines.

When the Vitus Escarpe 27.5 VR arrived in the office we were a little bemused, here was a sub £2000 bike that wasn’t heavy, it is actually sub £1500 GBP! At just shy of 32lbs the bike isn’t a weight weenie by any means, but you can’t call it heavy for that price either.

Swinging a leg over the Escarpe for the first time was another surprise. It’s a really, really fun bike to ride. It’s fast and responsive and right out of the gate I found myself attacking the trail at speed and throwing the bike into corners. The Vitus pushed back under foot, accelerated and lapped up pretty much everything I threw at it. I was left scratching my head, this was meant to be heavy, slow and uninspiring. Instead it was rewriting the rules on budget full-suspension bikes.

You’re getting incredible value for money with the Vitus too, a clutch SLX rear mech is a real bonus. We’ve tested bikes way above this price bracket that have neglected to add clutch rear mechs. The SLX brakes are also fantastic and dependable. The stem is a sensible length and the wide bars offer a great starting point for anyone getting into the sport.

We were really impressed with the Monarch RT rear shock, it lacks a lot of the bells and whistles found on more expensive models, but we filled it up, set the rebound and off we went. The Four-Bar V Link suspension does a good job of eliminating any pedal bob, so we never felt the need to touch or fiddle with the shock again. It just worked, and kept on working.

The Sector Forks up front are also simple, yet very effective; our one complaint about them was the amount of rebound adjustment. Just 5 notches is all you get to tune the fork and, while it is perfectly adequate and the forks were great, some riders might not consider they can get the most out of them in terms of feel and feedback.

Combine all this with the frame, which features some pretty sorted geometry, 67 degree head angle, short chainstays and a reasonably long wheel base, and you have a great recipe for a fantastic bike. Taking the Vitus uphill was good, although not overly impressive; this is a bike that prefers going down to up. At times the rear end lacked a little traction, but good technique easily overcame this. Once at the top though we got the pleasure of throwing the Vitus back down again and this is when it really comes alive.

Taking the bike over rougher ground surprised us even more, OK the frame isn’t as stiff as some of the more expensive bikes on the market, but it can handle the big stuff really well. Eating up rocks and drops at speed, and feeling perfectly comfortable at all times.

For

Amazingly good value, you are getting the benefits of CRC’s huge buying power and direct-to-market business model here. While it is a sub £1500 bike, really the spec is worth so much more than that.

The Vitus Escarpe 275 VR is great fun to ride, it inspires confidence and feels planted to the trail no matter how rough or how fast you go.

Against

It’s hard to pick fault with a bike this good at this price, we could mention the lack of adjustment on the fork, but feel that wouldn’t be fair considering the retail value of the bike. A more adjustable fork would put the price up.

Overall

This is a bike full of surprises; the first one being you can get an excellent full suspension mountain bike for under £1500 GBP! The next one being that it rides and handles exceedingly well, quick to accelerate and holds its speed and line. The spec on the Vitus is fantastic too, great suspension for the price and fantastic brakes and drivetrain. It’s the perfect entry-level trail bike for someone who wants their money to go that little bit further…

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This review was in Issue 29 of IMB.

For more information visit Vitus

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By Rou Chater
Rou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.

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