Bargain priced, high performance enduro e-bike
MBR Editor’s Choice 2019: Vitus E-Sommet, £3,199.99
E-bike development and uptake is increasing exponentially. In fact, the doubling effect of riders on e-bikes is analogous to lily growth on a pond. One becomes two, two become four, four doubles to eight, then before you know it half of the pond is occupied by lilies and you are only one step away from blanket coverage.
Granted, there is still a long way to go before everyone is razzing around the woods on e-bikes, but you’ve probably witnessed the rapid growth of e-bikes on the trails first hand.
One brand that’s really helped amplify the rate at which riders convert from acoustic bikes to pedal assist is Vitus. And it’s doing it with a bottom-up approach.
Splicing enduro bike geometry first developed for the regular Sommet with a Shimano Steps E-7000 motor, external 504Wh battery and monochrome display, for a little over £3k, Vitus has produced the entry-level e-bike to which all others are measured.
And its numbers are impressive. With a 170mm fork paired to 160mm of travel out back, the E-Sommet has the suspension muscle and geometry to tackle all terrain.
Short 165mm cranks, and a relatively steep seat angle make light work the steepest climbs, especially in Boost mode, but the E-Sommet was really was designed to hammer the descents.
Which is why we loved the 2.5in Double Down casing Maxxsi tyres, that help prevent your hot laps being constantly interrupted by punctures. With 27.5in wheels you also have assess to the full gamut of DH tyres so you can match the rubber perfectly to your riding style and local terrain.
What’s new for 2020?
Developing a new e-bike is an expensive process, but given that the geometry and power-source on the E-Sommet are both still current, only the colour of the frame changes for 2020. The price also stays the same, but updates to specification ensure that it is every bit as competitive – double down Maxxis Assegai tyres replace the Minion/High Roller combo and are now fitted to a WTB Serra wheelset. Vitus has doubled its range too, so there are now four E-Sommets to choose from.
Vitus E-Sommet VR review
While most other bike brands seem to be falling over themselves to produce increasingly expensive e-bikes, it’s refreshing to see that Vitus isn’t just making the best performing e-bike, it’s also the most competitively priced. In fact, when you look at the specification on the eSommet VR it’s hardly surprising that this bike sold out almost instantly. And with the improvements to the bike for 2019, Vitus looks set to dominate the enduro e-bike segment for the foreseeable future.
You’ve probably heard that mountain biking is the new golf. And while most brands are falling over themselves to build increasingly expensive e-bikes to cater for the plus four brigade, Vitus is moving in the opposite direction.
Vitus E-Sommet VR review
At £3,599.99 the E-Sommet VR is the flagship bike in a two strong range. That’s relatively cheap for a full suspension e-bike, but the E-Sommet VR certainly isn’t lacking. Built around the same compact Shimano Steps E8000 motor as the Focus Jam2 and Canyon Spectral:ON, the Vitus shares the smooth power delivery and customisation options via Shimano’s E-Tube app.
The 504Wh battery sits neatly on top of the downtube and gives the E-Sommet enough juice for big days out or hot-laps in Boost mode after work. Sleek graphics allow the battery pack to blend seamlessly into the frame, but the real bonus here is that it can easily be removed if you need to bring the battery indoors to access a power point.
It’s the frame geometry on the Vitus that really sets it apart though. With the joint slackest head angle in test, combined with the steepest seat angle, longest reach measurement and mid-size chainstays, we’ve yet to ride an e-bike with better vital stats. In fact, the riding position and handling feels akin to the best modern enduro bikes… well, at least until you speed off up the climbs with the motor assistance.
Due to the extra weight of the battery and motor, e-bikes inherently have better suspension than regular bikes. That doesn’t mean it can’t be optimised though and the pairing of the 170mm travel RockShox Lyrik RC and Super Deluxe RCT shock on the Vitus give it a superbly balanced ride. Vitus claims that rear wheel travel on the E-Sommet is 160mm but we measured it closer to 150mm, it’s so good though, you’d never notice it’s a few millimetres shy out on the trail.
E-bikes require exaggerated rider inputs to get them to respond like regular bikes so we welcomed the additional leverage of the 800mm handlebar. The stem length on the Vitus perfectly matches the frame proportions too and even the Nukeproof saddle has enough padding for extended seated climbs.
Vitus bucks the trend for mixing and matching a SRAM drivertrain with the Shimano motor. And while the Shimano XT gearing doesn’t offer as wide a range as the dedicated SRAM EX1 cassette, the closer ratios mean you can always find the perfect gear for spinning and optimising the level of assistance. Vitus missed a trick though by fitting an SLX Shifter instead of XT. It lacks the multi-release feature that lets you dump two gears at a time, which would be handy given how quickly the E-Sommet builds speed on the descents. It also should have fitted basic E6000 push button switch for toggling between power modes, as it would fit better with under-bar dropper remote and it’s half the price of the Di2 option fitted.
Once we got the tyres pressures low enough to take full advantage of the reinforced Double Down casing on the 2.5in Maxxis Minions, the Vitus E-Sommet VR was simply unstoppable. The modern geometry and generous sizing puts you in very commanding riding position, while none of the components handicap your progress in any way. In fact, SRAM’s dedicated e-bike Guide RE brakes instantly reminded us why we love these stoppers so much. Limited lever travel, stacks of power in reserve and great modulation make them a test winner. They are probably too cheap for the golf set though, which is why all of the other bikes get Code brakes. Given how good the handling is on the Vitus E-Sommet VR you want the best brakes going. If you’re planning on doing longer rides, though, we suggest swapping the ultra soft Maxx Grip rear tyre for a faster rolling Maxx Terra version as it will extend your battery life and make it a lot easier to ride home if you run out of juice.
What was new for 2019?
“We’ve been tweaking the eSommet VR to reflect the performance improvements we have made to our personal bikes, like the new low-profile Shimano STEPS controller and a Maxxis High Roller rear tyre for improved climbing and braking traction. Other upgrades include the new RockShox Lyrik RC2 fork and Super Deluxe RC3 shock, increased seatpost insertion, shorter 165mm cranks, a wider range 11-46t cassette, and an upgraded Nukeproof cockpit.” John Thompson, MTB product manager, Vitus Bikes.
2019 Vitus E-Sommet VR need to know
- Top spec RockShox shocks front and rear
- Wide Trail Maxxis tyres with reinforced Double Down casing
- E-bike specific brakes and strengthened chain to handle the extra torque and speed
- Fast charging battery, 80% in 2 hours.
- Battery 504Wh
- Motor Shimano STEPS E8000 Power 250W Torque 70Nm
- SRP: £3,799
When Vitus set about developing its eMTB range, it wanted to ensure that the vital ingredients that make up a great trail bike were front and present. And this shows in the latest E-Sommet VR, the top bike in Vitus’ two model, full suspension capsule collection. Vitus has given the E-Sommet VR the sort of sizing and geometry numbers that should make enduro riders drool, endowing it with the riding position and handling akin to the best modern enduro bikes. Just with the added grin-inducing appeal of the motor assist, adding your own personal uplift service.
Running the proven Shimano STEPS E8000 motor system, Vitus has tuned it so it runs a more simplistic three-mode approach. With just Eco, Trail and Boost to choose from, it takes the guess work out of riding and gives you one less thing to worry about when you’re nailing the trail. The E-Sommet VR also harnesses battery technology that enables super fast charging. Just two hours charge will top up a flat battery to 80% capacity, getting you back on the trails as quickly as possible.
Due to the extra weight of the battery and motor, e-bikes inherently have better suspension than regular bikes. That doesn’t mean it can’t be optimised though and the pairing of the 170mm travel RockShox Lyrik RC and Super Deluxe RCT shock on the Vitus give it a superbly balanced ride. In this respect this motor packed monster remains true to the capabilities and performance of the regular Sommet enduro machine.
2.5in Wide Trail Maxxis rubber combine with the power of the STEPS motor to give the E-Sommet VR the sort of grip that will see it tackle climbs that you would normally think were well out of the remit of a long travel enduro killer.
As befitting a bike that will have no trouble hitting warp speed Vitus has decked out the E-Sommet VR with SRAM’s eMTB specific Guide RE brakes complete with 203mm rotors. And given how good the handling is on the E-Sommet VR you want the best brakes going.
But probably the best thing about the E-Sommet VR is that all of this performance and the wish list level spec sheet come wrapped up in a price that puts it firmly in the cross hairs of many riders.
2019 Vitus E-Sommet VR specification
- Frame: 6061-T6 aluminium, 160mm travel
- Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe RC3
- Fork: RockShox Lyric Charger 2 RC2, 170mm travel
- Battery: Shimano BT-E8010
- Motor: Shimano STEPS E8000
- Display: Shimano STEPS E7000
- Wheels: WTB ST Light i29/Novatec hubs, Maxxis Minion DHF WT DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip/High Roller II WT DoubleDown 3C MaxxGrip, 27.5×2.5”
- Drivetrain: Shimano E8000 chainset 34t, Shimano SLX M7000 11 speed shifter and Shimano XT M8000 rear derailleur
- Brakes: Sram Guide RE, 203/203mm
- Components: Nukeproof Neutron riser handlebar 760/780/800mm (frame size dependent), Vitus stem 50mm, Brand X Ascender dropper post, Nukeproof Neutron saddle
- Sizes S, M, L
E-enduro bikes aren’t as different to regular bikes as one might imagine. All of the fundamentals are the same and by nailing the geometry and sizing Vitus has produced an amazing e-bike with the E-Sommet VR.Sure there are a couple of little things we’d probably change, like the STEPS Di2 mode shifter and rear tyre, but that’s about it. And given how much cheaper the Vitus is compared to the competition, you can easily afford to make these changes and even buy a spare battery. The E-Sommet VR is no golf buggy, but Vitus has it’s certainly hit a hole in one with this bike.