Vitus has sweated the details on its new, high-value Bafang-powered e-bike.
With e-bike prices fast approaching £15k, it really seems like the sky’s the limit in terms of pricing. And while those super-bikes are super-cool, Vitus has taken a very different approach with the new E-Mythique LT.
Instead of head in the clouds thinking, the design team at Vitus has set its sights on a more down to earth and infinitely more difficult task: produce the best performing e-bike at a sensible price. And by sensible, we’re talking £3,299 for the entry-level E-Mythique LT VR or £4,399.99 for the range topping VRX featured here.
Need to know
- Affordable full power e-bike with 170/160mm travel
- Alloy frame designed around custom Bafang M510 motor
- Removable 630Wh Bafang battery and colour display
- MX wheels, so 29in front, 27.5in rear, both with 2.5in tyres
- Five power modes: Eco, Eco Plus, Trail, Boost and Race
- Prices start at £3,299.99 for the E-Mythique LT VR.
But before we dive into how Vitus achieved such competitive pricing, let’s step back and take a look at the bike itself. First up, the E-Mythique LT is an MX design, with a 29in wheel up front and 27.5in on the rear, both rolling on 2.5in tyres.
As the name suggests, it’s also long travel, boasting a 170mm RockShox Yari fork and 160mm rear travel, where the actual rear wheel travel is 156mm. The alloy frame comes in four sizes, S to XL, and with reach numbers spanning 434mm to 504mm, Vitus has all but the genetic outliers covered.
Now, I know what you are thinking, the E-Mythique LT looks a lot like its sibling, the E-Sommet. Look closely however and there are subtle differences in the frame construction. The E-Mythique LT uses a very different down tube and motor cradle, and the rocker link is a three-piece welded design, which helps save on construction costs without sacrificing performance.
The biggest difference then is that the E-Mythique LT gets a custom Bafang M510 motor instead of Shimano’s EP8. The Bafang unit boasts 95Nm torque, and with a peak power output of 550W, on paper it’s right up there with its rivals. The colour display is very similar to Shimano’s and it even has an assistance level bar to show you how hard the motor is working.
What makes it custom is that Vitus has five power modes: Eco, Eco Plus, Trail, Boost and Race. You toggle between modes with the neat handlebar control unit, which also houses the power switch. Turn the bike on and it goes straight to Eco mode, so you don’t need to scroll through the modes just to get going. There’s also a walk mode that is pretty hard to keep with, so it helps push the bike while simultaneously pulling you up the hill.
The motor is paired with a 630Wh removable Bafang battery, and all three models in the range get the same battery and motor. The only compromise is that you use a key to release the battery, but that’s something the Vitus is working on with Bafang to eliminate.
How it rides
To see how the Bafang battery stacks up against a Shimano unit of the same capacity, I range tested the E-Mythique LT VRX against the E-Sommet from our e-Bike of the Year test. With the same tyres on both bikes, in the same conditions, and with both bikes in Boost mode the range was marginally better on the Shimano bike, a 50m increase in elevation. That’s not the whole story though as my heart rated monitor indicated that it was less effort on the Bafang bike. So clearly there are differences between the modes.
While riding the exact same loops back to back, I also noticed that the Bafang motor benefits from a lower rpm at the cranks, but to get the most out of the Shimano EP8, it prefers a higher cadence. Also when the climbs get really steep the Shimano motor delivers more power and is faster to summit.
And those aren’t the only differences. The Bafang motor has way more overrun than Shimano EP8. So much so that it feels a bit like the Bosch CX Race motor. This is great for getting the bike up and over steps on awkward climbs, or for putting in half cranks to boost your speed with minimal effort. Which could explain why the range wasn’t as good as EP8 and my overall effort was lower, because every time you stop pedalling on the E-Mythique LT it injects a sizable squirt of power into the drivetrain, and that’s gotta add up over the course of a ride.
But e-bikes aren’t just about power, torque and range, they also need to deliver on ride quality. And that’s where the E-Mythique LT VRX really stacks up. This bike absolutely rips. I had the opportunity to ride the bike on the trails in Northern Ireland where it was developed and it has clearly been designed for demanding terrain. On the steep, rocky trails of the Mourne Mountains the E-Mythique LT was in its element, even if I felt out of mine on more than one occasion. The RockShox Super Deluxe Select R shock absorbs hits big and small with impressive ease, while the 35mm chassis on the Yari fork isn’t so stiff as to generate too much deflection in the steering. Sure, bigger, heavier riders may want a beefier fork, but it’s no coincidence that the the two best bikes in our E-bike for the Year test both came with smaller diameter fork legs.
On the unfamiliar trails of the Mourne Mountains, I was on the brakes more than I would have liked to have been. And while the SRAM DB8s have a very light, smooth lever action, after a day of smashing out runs in big terrain I could feel the fatigue starting to build in my hands. So even though the brakes were 100% consistent, my hands were anything but. And it wasn’t arm pump. I just craved more powerful brakes so I didn’t have to pull them as hard. And for some perspective here, these are the exact same brakes that were on the £8k Mondraker Crafty Carbon R that was in our E-bike of the Year test.
Back in Surrey I never gave the brakes a second though. Instead I was impressed by how agile the E-Mythique LT was, given its 25.22kg (55.6lb) weight. And while I’d have preferred slightly taller shoulder knobs on the Vee Tires, just to dig in better on loamy trails, the rubber compound is soft and forgiving, and Vitus has sensibly fitted tough casings, even if they do the bike no favours on the scales.
It should be clear that designing an e-bike to hit such a competitive price point was always going to mean that compromises needed to be struck. But Vitus has done an amazing job with the E-Mythique LT VRX. With dialled geometry, killer suspension and a build kit that has no obvious shortcomings, the E-Mythique LT VRX raises the e-bike bar while decoupling elevated performance from elevated prices. Sure, the Bafang M510 motor is relatively unknown, but with Vitus stocking and supplying all of the spare parts, if anything does go wrong you shouldn’t be left high and dry.