Bargain priced, high performance enduro e-bike
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’s 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.
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.