Best Hardtail of the Year under £500!

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 10

Vitus Nucleus 27 VR


  • Ride quality and build kit belie its price tag


  • Still no clutch mech to help keep the chain on


Vitus Nucleus 27 VR: sub £500 hardtail of the year


Price as reviewed:


What can we say about the Vitus Nucleus 27 VR that’s not been said? As winner of this test four years in a row, its accolades say everything.

>>> Best Hardtail Mountain Bike 2019: best reviewed mountain bikes under £350, £500, £750 and £1000

Vitus Nucleus 275 VR

Vitus Nucleus VR review

With modern geometry and the best build kit for the money, no other bike in the sub £500 category even comes close to rivalling it’s supremacy, the attitude and ride quality of the Vitus having more in common with the £1K bikes.

And just as other bands start to creep up, Vitus always seems to be one step ahead. Last year the Nucleus frame saw major revisions; like lightweight butted tubing, which, combined with updated geometry made this little ripper slacker, longer and even more capable than before. Vitus also added a much-needed size XL, so taller rides don’t need to settle for second best.

This year Vitus hasn’t messed with its winning formula, but it’s still inching ahead with wider profile WTB rims, offering improved tubeless performance, and better compatibility with the latest crop of wider tyres.

Vitus Nucleus 275 VR


It’s the air-sprung, hydraulic damped Suntour XCR fork that really gives the Vitus an advantage over the other bikes here though. Not only is it a breeze to adjust for different rider weights, as you only need a shock pump, the fork also eats up chunder better while keeping the front wheel firmly clued to the ground for traction.

The ability to fine tune the rebound damping and air pressure mean you can transform the attitude of the Vitus in seconds: run the fork firmer for XC rides or slow it down for sending jumps.


Single-ring drivetrains like those on the £750 bikes haven’t trickled down to the £500 bikes, yet, but that hasn’t stopped Vitus chipping away at some of the clutter, opting for a lighter, more reliable twin-ring chainset.

And when a bike rides this good you need reliable stoppers to reel in your speed, and the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes are just the ticket. Factor in the meaty WTB tyres and the Vitus Sentier ticks all the boxes and creates a few of its own.

Vitus Nucleus 275 VR


As four-time winner of our sub £500 Hardtail of the Year award, the Nucleus 275 VR has singlehandedly changed our expectations of what’s possible at this price point. Nothing needs changing or upgrading straight out of the box, which is exactly how it arrives. But make no mistake, this isn’t just the best value bike here, it’s also by far the best performer. So much so, that in all of our back-to-back testing the Vitus always felt like it was in a class of its own. So to say that it’s simply standout, is something of an understatement.


Frame:6061-T6 aluminium
Fork:Suntour XCR LO-R Air 120mm travel
Wheels:KT QR hubs, WTB ST i29 rims, WTB Vigilante/Trail Boss 27.5 x 2.3/2.25in tyres
Drivetrain:Suntour XCM 36/22t chainset, Shimano Altus mechs and shifters
Brakes:Tektro HD-M290 160mm
Weight:14.03kg (30.93lb)
Sizes:S, M, L, XL
Size tested:Large