The Vitus Sommet enduro bike gets an on-trend mullet setup for a more agile ride
The Vitus Sommet has been around for long enough to be refined multiple times already. It also happens to be one of the best enduro mountain bikes you can buy. But the Belfast-designed enduro bike has had more than just a facelift. The carbon backbone is now significantly beefier and with the addition of the new 297 mullet configuration, Vitus aims to ramp up the nimbleness and add extra clearance for hanging off the back of the bike down the steepest sections of trail.
Vitus Sommet 297 AMP need to know:
- Four frame sizes, where Large and XL sizes get progressively steeper seat angles
- RockShox Ultimate level suspension delivers 170mm travel front and rear
- Full SRAM XO1 drivetrain with no corners cut, even includes an XO1 chain
- Perfect Maxxis Assegai/ Minion DHR II tyre combination
Using T-700 carbon fibre, the front triangle’s extra girth should bring extra stiffness for better tracking, but don’t get any ideas of some solid lifeless lump. The carbon/alloy chassis and supple suspension serves up by far the smoothest and most comfortable ride in the rough stuff when compared directly to the two full carbon rigs – the YT Capra Core 3 MX and the Canyon Torque CF 8 mullet – that this bike was directly tested against.
Given that the same engineers design Nukeproof bikes, it should come as no surprise that the Vitus has a whiff of the same superlative trace-the-terrain ride as the Nukeproof Mega. That’s not to say the bikes are identical however, and geometry on the Vitus gets a slightly slacker head angle and lower BB, without veering towards anything too extreme like on Canyon’s ultra-low Torque.
Rider’s preferring the old Sommet angles needn’t worry either; a flip chip lifts the BB by 6mm and steepens the head angle to around 64.5º. Another cool feature is having steeper seat angles on the two larger frame sizes to help prevent taller riders tipping off the back while climbing.
Vitus Sommet 297 AMP suspension
With a vertical shock position the suspension layout on the Sommet looks very different to the Canyon and YT, but it’s still a genuine 4-bar design, Horst link and all. It delivers a claimed 170mm travel where the bridge-less seatstay assembly offers stacks of tyre clearance – big double complement bearings making up for any reduction in stiffness.
The MX versions get 10mm more rear travel than the 29er Sommet, where the suspension on the top-end AMP model is controlled by a RockShox Super Deluxe trunnion mounted air shock, where sealed bearings at both end reduce stiction for increased sensitivity. Fluid is probably the best way to describe the shock’s action as it’s silky smooth.
It wasn’t without fault though, as it slowly but continually leaked air so we had to keep topping it up to retain the desired shock pressure. This seems like a one off though, as it’s never happened before and we’ve tested dozens of these shocks.
Up front, the 170mm travel RockShox Zeb is the equivalent to the Fox 38 fork. With the same beefy 38mm upper tubes, it’s also super stiff. It only boasts 3-way adjustable damping though as there’s no high-speed rebound dial, but in every other regard, it’s the 38’s equal.
Yes, both forks have a slightly different feel, the 38 offering more support, the Zeb increased sensitivity, but both perform really well whether cruising or hammering the hell out of them.
Vitus Sommet 297 AMP components
The big picture kit quality is obvious here, but finer details include a one-piece machined X-Dome SRAM 12- speed cassette that’s more durable and lighter, so should even translate to better rear suspension action due to the reduced unsprung mass. With 52-teeth for the steepest climbs, it’s turned over by a lightweight and stiff carbon SRAM Descendant chainset, an XO1 mech and shifter and even a genuine, much longer-lasting, SRAM XO1 chain.
Just like Canyon’s Torque, the Maxxis combination here is the best around with a super-grippy Assegai front and tougher Double Down Minion DHR II rear tyre – both plugged into Nukeproof’s tough and reliable Horizon V2 wheels. And for such a fast bike it’s fitting that the Sommet relies on the same SRAM Code RSC brakes that are trusted by the world’s fastest downhillers.
The top-tier RSC version here offers all of the adjustment needed for a perfect set up, where smooth lever pivot bearings, rather than bushings, make squeezing the lever less tiring on the longest runs.
RockShox’s Reverb has been around so long it kind of sinks into the background, but it’s a perfectly refined post and easily our top test pick. Getting picky, just for the sake of balance; there’s an argument that the soft and sticky Sam Hill grips would be better without an outer clamp that sits proud, but that’s our only gripe really.
Vitus Sommet 297 AMP performance
Even with a smaller rear wheel that normally ramps up trail feedback the Vitus 297 AMP is every bit as smooth an operator as plenty of top-level 29in enduro bikes. On the roughest trails, calm hands, feet and eyeballs reflect the best tracking in this test. An ultra-absorbent, pitter-patter feel that you imagine traces every minute undulation in the terrain, even at the warp speeds reached out in the open at Dyfi bike park.
With such superb sensitivity and minimal hang ups, comes exceptional speed, so the AMP really trucks on everything from chopped up braking bumps, to lumpy rocks or root laden straights. The back end is active without being overly wild and the supple frame delivers more cornering grip and hold when leant over than it rivals, especially on off-camber roots or dusty blown-out flat corners.
The yin to this suppleness and plush-feeling yang, is occasionally feeling like the rear end lacks a bit of support. We tried higher shock pressures and different sag settings to eliminate the slight wallow when pumping the trail, before settling on 30% sag as the extra pressure impacted the Sommet’s trump card, and still didn’t deliver a distinct platform to push against with your feet in the mid-stroke.
Focussing far ahead and letting the deeper-than-170mm feeling suspension take care of business delivers better results than hopping into massive pocket berms hoping to bounce out. The same goes for jumps, so speed is really your friend here. The overall feel is slinky rather than the taut, hyper-reactive mullet sensation of Canyon’s Torque. But that definitely makes the Vitus a superior, non-fatiguing and super-fast ride, which is ideal for enduro racing or getting even more laps in at the bike park.
One minor downer is extra shock movement when pedalling hard or climbing, so we found it useful to flip the Super Deluxe’s compression lever to the firm setting on steeper inclines. It’s not terminal, or totally inefficient though, as the Vitus still feels light and sprightly over the ground with tons of traction, especially when pedalling over choppy terrain.
With more rear travel in this mullet guise, the new Sommet 297 AMP might be its best enduro bike from Vitus yet. The spectacular price doesn’t hurt either for a top quality frame with kit, handling and suspension that doesn’t skip a beat.
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Even with the claims of extra agility, the Sommet isn’t quite as chuckable as its MX rivals. The suspension is more active when climbing too, which might be a concern for riders that love to mash uphill fast. But the Vitus excels at pace with enough smoothness to devour downhills quickly while holding your hand down the steeps. Exactly what you want from a 170mm bike.