Results time, can the VRX’s great riding position and price make up for its troubled fork?
Need to know
- 650b trail bike with slack geometry
- Asymmetric travel: 150mm front, 135mm rear
- Cutting-edge 1×11 SRAM drivetrain
- Short stem and RockShox Reverb dropper post
What attracted you to the Vitus Escarpe VRX?
Vitus bikes have always scored well in the mbr bike tests, so when I saw that the Escarpe VRX had been reduced to under £2k, with no obvious downgrades in the specification, it looked like an offer that was too good to refuse.
Did you change anything straightaway?
Nothing at all. Vitus specs this bike with a 50mm stem and 760mm bar, which meant none of the usual cockpit changes were necessary. Also I resisted the temptation to upgrade any of the components as I really wanted to see how this bike would cope with eight months of abuse straight out of the box.
Was the bike easy to set up?
I’ll be honest, I’m no expert in bike set-up. On its first ride the Vitus received a rudimentary knob twiddle, and for a few months it was pretty much kept at that. The good news
is that even with a shoddy set-up the Escarpe provided a decent ride.
However, when bike test editor Muldoon stepped in, and brought some more finesse to the ride, the bike really started to sing. The only real issue came from Marzocchi 350CR fork. It was sticky throughout its travel and it meant getting reliable performance, and therefore a consistent set-up, was very difficult to achieve.
How did it ride?
I absolutely loved the ride of the Escarpe. It was my first time moving up to a size large frame (in the past I’ve usually ridden a medium) and although the bike felt a little cumbersome in the car park, this translated into increased stability and confidence when things got rough or steep. As my set-up improved, the bike was able to tango down the trails and felt so stable over every drop or jump.
Did anything break or wear out?
Overall I was really impressed with the durability of the Vitus, especially the standout SRAM X1 drivetrain that worked faultlessly despite only seeing a hose and a (very) occasional squirt of lube.
I did have to replace the fork though. Eventually the stiction was so bad that it had to be sent back to Windwave. The diagnosis was either incorrect bushing tolerance or a problem with the coating
on the upper tubes.
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The fork that was returned to me was barely recognisable with new lowers and a new crown/steerer/upper-leg assembly. All the hassle was worth it though, as the replacement was a flyer. To Windwave’s credit, it said that it would happily do the same for anyone with a similar issue.
If you could change one thing about your longtermer what would it be?
I’d change the colour! It sounds silly, I know, but I really feel like the drab finish does nothing to emphasise the Escape’s excellent profile. It’s also worth saying that while the low-profile WTB Trail Boss rear tyre was great for summer romps, it struggled as winter drew in and when faced with the slick rocks of the Lake District.
Would you buy this bike?
Given that the Vitus Escarpe VRX has now been reduced to £1,750, I would definitely be tempted to pull the trigger. However, the 2016 Escarpe VRX is only £50 more and it features a Manitou Mattoc fork, which could prove to be a better option than the Marzocchi 350CR… the colour scheme’s still rubbish though…