There are three levels of Vitus Sommet 29 and all share the exact same frame with its carbon front end. Impressive, given that the entry-level CS retails for £2,399.99 with no obvious shortcomings in the build kit.
Vitus is a brand that built its reputation delivering high performance bikes at affordable prices but with the recent launch of the new Vitus Sommet 29, and shorter travel Escarpe, it’s added a polished, high-end frame quality to its best mountain bike offerings, while staying true to its core values.
Using a traditional four-bar suspension layout the Sommet boasts 162mm travel, where the one-piece rocker link and double complement of bearings in the chainstay pivots keep the alloy rear end stiff, even with the absence of a reinforcing seatstay bridge. Why eliminate the seatstay bridge? Put simply, it increases clearance at bottom out and allows for a relatively short 441mm chain stay length.
The chunky pivots and shorter stays do seem to increase the width of the rear end though, and we noticed a bit of heel rub on the very first ride before instinctively adjusting the position of our feet on the pedals. So if you’re running clips, ride in a duck-foot stance or have particularly big feet this could be an issue. Thankfully, the protective frame wrap means that even with a little heel rub you won’t wear the sparkly pony finish off the stays.
Still undecided about wheel size? Well, unlike most brands, Vitus doesn’t force your hand. Instead it mirrors the Sommet range in both 27.5in and 29in. In fact, all that’s missing is a mullet or mixed wheel size bike, and we suspect that at some point Vitus will simply split the difference and drop the pure 27.5in bikes all together. For now though, it’s hedging its bets.
Vitus hasn’t cut corners on sizing either, the Sommet 29 is available from size small through to XL. The geometry is modern without being extreme, where a flip-chip in the lower shock mount offers two settings. In the low position, we measured the reach on the size L at 471mm, so it’s roomy without feeling stretched. At 345mm, the BB height is not super-low and the head angle measured 63.8°, which is right on the money for a modern 29er. The frame has tube-in-tube cable routing and we like the fact that the lower shock mount is not enclosed, so it shouldn’t become a reservoir for mud and water.
Additional markings either side of the shock stroke indicator on the RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock are purely aesthetic, but they also indicated that we never managed to get the red O-ring to hit the 65mm mark, so we can safely assume that the shock stroke was 1mm shy of claimed. Which, we should add, is totally normal and within manufacturing tolerance. It also helps explain why we measured the travel at 157mm, not the 162mm advertised. Out on the trail you certainly don’t feel short changed as the rear suspension on the Sommet is super-supportive, and seems to have a proportional response to impacts both big and small.
It’s a similar story with the 170mm travel RockShox Lyrik Select fork. Granted, it doesn’t feel as sensitive or as buttery smooth as the Ultimate fork on the Privateer 161, but by removing all of the volume spacers and running a slightly higher air pressure we were able to get the support we needed and get close to full travel.
Probably the only component we’d change on the Sommet CRS are the Vitus grips. They are simply too thin for average-size hands, and as such, don’t offer enough cushioning for your palms. As a quick fix, we rotated the grips to put the waffle side up as this places more rubber between your hands and the bar.
With ample stiffness in the carbon front end, Vitus has stuck with a standard 31.8mm diameter handlebar. It’s alloy, has a good profile, and combined with the 45mm stem the cockpit matches the reach measurement of the Sommet 29 perfectly.
Tyres is one area where lots of brands scrimp and save – the idea being that they are easily changed. Not Vitus. The Sommet gets a confidence-inspiring Maxxis Assegai 3C EXO+ casing tyre in the MaxxGrip compound up front, with a faster-rolling MaxxTerra compound 2.4in Minion DHR II on the rear. The rear tyre also has the reinforced Double Down casing to reduce the risk of pinch flats and better protect those fancy DT Swiss E1900 hoops. With a full Shimano SLX drivetrain shifting was faultless, but even with the boxfresh derailleur we had to increase the clutch tension to reduce the amount of chain slap.
Vitus Sommet 29 CRS performance
In the same vein as the Trek Slash or Yeti SB150, the Vitus Sommet CRS is a 29er enduro bike that is designed for big days in the saddle, not just sitting on your ass on a ski lift. And by simply swapping the sticky MaxxGrip front tyre for a faster rolling MaxxTerra, it can easily serve double duty as a fast, efficient big-hitting trail bike. The fact that the complete bike costs less than the Yeti or Trek frame and weighs under 16kg, goes to show that you don’t need to sell your car to have a really nice bike. But hey, you don’t need us to tell you how best to spend your hard earned money, so let’s get back to performance.
In a straight line the suspension on the Sommet is unflappable. The bike is composed and fast even if not as playful or agile as some. Stand up to sprint and the bike reacts with gusto. And because the seat angle isn’t crazy steep, the nose of the saddle doesn’t poke you in the back of the thighs when doing so. It feels stiffer than the Privateer, but it’s hard to say with any certainty if that’s due to the rear suspension or the frame, as increased deflection can come from stiffer suspension or a stiffer frame. What we can say with certainty though, is that it can’t match the 161 for traction on off-camber roots. Roles are reversed on the climbs however, and even though the Vitus tends to squat slightly more than the Privateer, it’s no less efficient and has noticeably more traction.
For the price of most boutique frames, Vitus has delivered a race-ready 29er enduro bike that blows the doors off anything else at this price point. The build kit on the mid-range Sommet 29 CRS wants for nothing, bar a new set of grips. The geometry and sizing are both on point and with the sleek carbon front end, the bike offers a level of performance and finish not seen since the original YT Capra. Yes, it could be even better with more tuneable suspension, but that’s where the Fox Factory equipped CRX bike comes in. At £3,599, the Fox 38 fork alone is worth the extra cash.