Best Hardtail of the Year under £1,000!
The 2018 Vitus Sentier VR+ a full refresh of the bike that won this test back in 2015, getting updated geometry and a carefully considered build kit.
Vitus traditionally dominates the £500 category of the Hardtail of the Year test, but now it’s the Sentier VR+ that’s showing everyone who the real boss it.
Vitus Sentier VR+ review
The new frame goes longer, lower and slacker, and gets industry standard Boost 148mm rear dropouts for added wheel security, and clearance for up to 2.8in wide tyres.
Up front, the RockShox Recon Gold RL is the only suspension fork on test to feature alloy 32mm upper tubes. These offer a significant weight saving over the competition, all of which run the cheaper and heaver chromed steel upper tubes. It’s also the only bike to feature a 140mm fork, giving you even more suspension travel to take on the biggest hits.
In their softer 3C MaxTerra compound and 2.6in width, the Maxxis Minion DHF, Rekon tyre combo is head and shoulders above anything else in terms of grip and comfort. The confidence boost they give in every situation can’t be underestimated.
The softer compound not only boasts more grip, but also dampens the ride to the same degree as a larger 2.8in tyre. Paired to the tubeless ready WTB i29 rims, means you can ditch the inner tubes for even more grip, less weight and fewer punctures.
The rest of the components are spot on too. The ultra-wide 800mm handlebar gives you plenty of control on the trail. And the great thing about this extra width is that if you don’t like it, you can simply cut the bar down to your own preference. We also love the use of a quick-release collar for the seat post, making it easy to slam the saddle when it comes to descending.
The combination of spec, frame shape and being the lightest bike in class creates a belter of a ride from Vitus. It’s an all-out mountain bike with one purpose in mind, crushing every trail. Your body is positioned perfectly to make every turn and descent a breeze, and it’s got all the gear you need to do so.
What’s new for 2019?
“For our 2019 Sentier VR, we’ve specced new high-end Schwalbe 2.6 tyres, with super-grippy ADDIX rubber compounds, and reinforced APEX casings. It also gets a wider range 11-46t cassette and an all-black RockShox Sector RL fork, with Debonair air upgrade for better sensitivity and support. The final touch is the new WTB ST i29 rims, which are tubeless ready out of the box, with tubeless rim strips and valves included.” John Thompson, MTB product manager, Vitus Bikes.
If you couple the Sentier's impressive sizing and weight to its aggressive geometry, then add in the perfect selection of components, you've got a cocktail that delivers a mind-blowing hardtail for £1,000. Yes, it lacks a dropper post and isn't the slackest bike on test, but the ride is still standout and the 2.6in Maxxis tyres proved the most versatile so the Vitus can smash any trail in any season. In every respect the Sentier VR + is a true performance hardtail and Vitus has raised the bar once again.