At a Glance
This year saw Vitus announce they were ramping things up with their Sommet range, and adding a carbon frame to the mix. The Sommet had been well received, so the addition of a carbon option seems to be another good step forward. Available in two specs the all singing and dancing CRX, and what we have here, the slightly more budget conscious CR model. Both feature the same full carbon front end and aluminium rear, the carbon being an ABS construction, a 3K weave with a UD (uni-directional) finish.Buy Enduro Bikes on
The Sommet gets 155mm of travel and other than their downhill bike, is the biggest hitter in the range. Suspension layout is a Horst link with a floating shock mount and has plenty of rearward axle path, which is featured in all the other Vitus bikes. It's also based around a 32t chainring with the pivot location aiming to reduce pedal bob and feedback while the leverage rate should keep things stable and supportive in the middle of its travel. All this adds up to a machine that has plenty of travel on tap, yet should pedal well, and get very little feedback.
The spec on the CR is a mixture in order to make a price point, with Pike Solo Airs handling the front end, and a Monarch RC3 at the rear; things are off to a good start. A mix of Race Face and SRAM handle the pedalling and stopping duties, with a chain guide suggesting the racing intentions of the Sommet. The new Brand X dropper is an unknown but shares its DNA with more than a few other droppers out there at the moment. A few pieces of Nukeproof kit finish things off, and the whole package rolls on WTB/Novatec wheels, which are potentially a weak point in the chain, with a less than fashionable 23mm rim. It's great to see WTB's tyres, which are always a pleasure to work with, and to see a tough casing on the back is reassuring.
On The Trail
It's worth noting that the bike rolls out of the box almost ready to ride, a quick turn of the bars and some pedals added and you're ready to roll. Not only that, it comes set up tubeless straight out the box too! There is a lot to like about this bike from the off.
The Sommet is quite a big bike and needs some serious terrain to make it shine and push that 155mm back end into some roughness. It immediately feels like a bike that needs some big descents and big days out to get the most from it. Hitting the trails, the stiffness of the back end gave for good power transmission, and combined with the firm pedaling platform the Sommet goes up the way well for a 'big' bike. The Monarch shock can easily firm things up, but I found I left it open for the technical climbing which features heavily on my local trails and never found much bob.
Get the power down on more flowing trails and the Sommet responds, never feeling too sluggish or wallowy in its 155mm of travel. It does, however, behave more like a playful trail bike, rather than an all-mountain brute, which is great on less technical trails, but lacks a bit of stability when things get rough and ready. Get the Sommet airborne, and it's a very happy bike, that playful nature coming through in spades. I always felt like it wanted to float or be launched over obstacles, rather than ridden through them. That said, it can take the hits if required, and maybe it's the rearward axle path, but I do enjoy a Vitus rear end. Riding rocky and 'square edge' terrain the bike never feels 'hooked up' and keeps pushing forward.
In a world of ever-increasing niches for mountain bikes, it's hard to know if the Sommet is a long travel trail bike or an Enduro bike. It seems to inhabit both camps, but I found I would reach for it as a trail machine rather than a flat out race bike. This is no bad thing, but as the big hitter in the Vitus range, I think a little more length and a few beefed up components may shift it into the latter category. With the Escarpe being such a capable trail bike, there is potential for the Sommet to grow into its travel.
Sizing wise, being a tall guy I opted for the XL, which in old money comes in at 22inch, and with a 120mm drop seatpost it's possible to get the seat way higher than I need at 6ft 4. I would be tempted to add on some reach rather than seat tube on the extra large size and then add a longer dropper post in the bigger sizes. This tall seat tube becomes an issue if riders wish to 'size-up' for more reach but don't need extra seatpost height.
The overall feel is one of playful maneuverability rather than straight line hero, and it feels like it gives back plenty of pop from the rear end, never sluggish. The Pikes are as good as always, but the new offerings in the form of a Lyrik or Yari would perhaps now make more sense, maybe even in 170mm. Slowing down could also be improved with a bigger front rotor, especially given it's a larger size frame with very likely a heavier rider on board.
The Brand X dropper has been consistently good, with 120mm of drop, but as mentioned is a bit on the short side and also has developed some wear on the rear of the shaft. Despite my best efforts to insert the dropper lever into my thigh during a crash, it has kept on working, even if my leg didn't. The WTB wheels have had a hard time, and the rear rim has some battle scars despite a tough cased tyre and some safe tyre pressures. For a bike this capable, a wider, stiffer and stronger wheelset would be a good upgrade.
Although this is a 2016 model, 2017 is virtually unchanged but comes instead with a Reverb post and RaceFace Aeffect SL cranks.
Fun, playful and fast, the Sommet's character is at odds with the wealth of travel on tap. The stable platform allows for plenty of pedal power and airborne lines to be picked, knowing that if needed it can steam roller through sections with all that long travel insurance. A few upgrades could release more potential, especially in the wheel department but at £2499.99 it hits a very impressive price point for a carbon bike.Buy Enduro Bikes on
This review was in Issue 45 of IMB.For more information visit Vitus
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.