Vitus E-Sommet VRX is an enduro ready e-bike with progresive sizing and geometry. New frame design with Shimano EP8 motor and integrated 630Wh battery.
Vitus is no stranger to e-bikes, the original Vitus E-Sommet VRX capturing the essence of enduro style shuttle runs without an uplift long before anyone had figured out a format for e-racing. By sticking to fundamentals like good geometry, balanced suspension and fit-for-purpose components, rather than focusing its efforts on hiding an oversized battery inside the downtube, Vitus produced a capable e-enduro bike that didn’t cost the earth and stood the test of time.
Vitus E-Sommet VRX need to know
- Revised suspension layout boasts 167mm travel and mirrors the latest acoustic bikes from Vitus
- A new 1.8in tapered steerer standard on the 170mm RockShox Zeb fork increases stiffness and strength
- A double complement of bearings in the Horst link pivots increase durability
- The flared seat tube design allows for longer dropper posts on all four frame sizes
- Mullet wheels mix 29in with 27.5in, both running 2.5in Maxxis DoubleDown casing tyres
- Prices start at £3,599.99 for E-Sommet VR with the E7000 motor and 504Wh battery
E-bike technology has moved on a lot from that original design and so has the latest E-Sommet VRX. It’s still a supercharged enduro bike but the 2021 version comes with a mullet wheel configuration and gets the new Shimano EP8 motor with a 630Wh internal battery so you can squeeze even more runs in.
Fork travel remains unchanged at 170mm, but frame travel has crept up to 167mm (we measured it at 163mm). More interestingly, the RockShox Zeb Ultimate uses the latest oversized 1.8in tapered steerer, rather than the traditional 1.5in steerer, to increase stiffness and strength where it’s needed most.
The suspension layout has been revised too. Gone is the floating shock design of old, replaced instead by a more traditional 4-bar rocker link configuration. A move that has allowed Vitus to ditch the interrupted seat tube design, which really limited dropper post insertion in the past. In fact, the new flared seat tube design, shared with the latest acoustic Vitus suspension bikes, leaves plenty of room to maneuver even with the 170mm dropper on the size L bike.
Comparing the geometry of the new E-Sommet with the original design, the 333mm BB height and 442mm chain stays remain unchanged, the growth spurt all taking place in the front end. And it’s a big change, the front centre measurement increasing by 43mm to 828mm, to give a generous 1,270mm wheelbase on the size L. Given the increase in size and the option to slam the post all the way into the frame, it’s easier than ever to upsize for extra length. Just be cognizant of the fact that the new E-Sommet is much longer than the old design, so there’s really no need to go up a frame size.
How it rides
The extra support of the RC2 Charger 2.1 damper in the Zeb Ultimate fork really comes into its own on steeper terrain, and combined with the longer front end and slack 63.5º head angle, it gives you the support you need for hard charging and really offsets the extra weight of the bigger battery hidden inside the downtube.
E-bikes aren’t simply about supercharging your ride though, and once the novelty of feeling superhuman becomes your new normal, you start to notice the little things, like how easy the bike is to live with. Removing the battery on the E-Sommet isn’t as straightforward as, say, the Specialized Turbo Kenevo, as you first need to remove the battery cover which is held in place with three Allen bolts. You then insert the Allen key into the housing and the battery pops straight out. It’s worth noting that the Shimano E8036 battery does not have a charging port, so if you want to charge the battery off the bike you’ll need an additional adapter to do so.
One of the big selling points of the Shimano EP8 motor is that it’s 10% lighter than the E8000 unit it replaces. That percentage translates to roughly a 300g weight saving, which, while welcome on a lightweight e-bike like the new Orbea Rise, it’s nothing to write home about on the 24.7kg Vitus.
Shimano’s new EP8 motor is also more compact, most noticeably at the front and this actually makes a big difference, especially on a bike with low BB like the E-Sommet. I’ve already mentioned that the BB height on the new version of the E-Sommet is identical to the old one, and riding some of the same trails I noticed fewer motor strikes. Maybe I’m just better at clearing fallen trees and stumps now, or the extra ground clearance afforded by the smaller motor actually makes a big difference. Yes, you also notice that the EP8 motor rattles more than the old E8000 when not engaged, which Shimano says is a direct result of the decreased drag that makes the new motor more efficient.
More importantly, you can still drag your heels through every turn, but the revised suspension layout on the new Vitus E-Sommet VRX gives more support when pedalling and climbing, while still tracking every wrinkle in the terrain with laser-like precision on the descents. With such supple suspension, grip is always available, and because Vitus has opted to run a 2.5in rear tyre on its mullet configuration, it can spec the stiffer Double Down casing tyre. Yes, the weight increases, but so does the pinch flat protection and resistance to sidewall cuts.
Vitus also fits Maxx Grip compound tyres front and rear. It’s the softest rubber Maxxis makes so finding grip when it is short supply certainly isn’t an issue on the E-Sommet. You don’t really notice the increased drag of the tyres either, thanks to the smooth power delivery of the 85Nm Shimano EP8 motor providing a constant tailwind. So what’s the rub? Increased drain on the 630Wh battery. Not only do the softer compound tyres get you to that single red chunk of dread more rapidly, if you run out of juice, good luck riding the E-Sommet home under your own steam. Thankfully Shimano’s latest firmware update means the battery display is now more linear and doesn’t simply go red then cut out seconds later, leaving you to take the long walk of shame back to the van.
And if it’s increased range that you seek, simply switching the rear tyre to a mid-compound Maxx Terra version would be enough to eke an extra 10% out of the battery. The frame also has clearance for 2.8in tyres, which gives you the option to fit a fatter rear tyre to tweak the geometry too.
It’s big, bold and burly, so if steep downhills are your thing, you won’t need to mess with the geometry on the Vitus E-Sommet VRX. This bike is designed for bombing, and while it’s not light, once up to speed it’s remarkably agile thanks to the active suspension and balanced weight distribution. Just one ride in and I’ve only started to explore its limits, but I get the feeling I’ll reach mine well before I approach the limits of the E-Sommet VRX. I can also tell I’m going to have an absolute blast trying.