Tested : Ben’s Vitus Sommet 29 VRS Review.

Big wheels, big travel, purple and sparkly, the Vitus Sommet 29 VRS is a bargain enduro machine. Ben has been riding it all year to see how it holds up.

Does direct sales pricing, a gawdy colour and the right geometry numbers add up to fun on the trail? Ben has been finding out if the Vitus Sommet 29 VRS has got the ingredients right.

Photos by Dave Price.

Key features:

  • Fox Float 36 Performance 170mm fork
  • Fox Float DPX2 Performance shock
  • Shimano XT/SLX 12-speed drive
  • Shimano SLX 4-piston brakes
  • DT SWISS E1700 30 wheels
  • Brand X Ascend dropper
  • £2899.99 RRP
  • VitusBikes.com

Buy online at Chain Reaction Cycles for £2,899.99.

Frame and Build

The lines and proportions of the Sommet just look right. The gently kinked top and down tubes and the continuity between top tube and seat stay all add up to give the Vitus a purposeful stance. The trunnion mounted Fox Float DPX2 Performance rear shock passes through a tunnel in the seat tube where it mounts to the chain stays in a floating shock configuration.

Cables are routed externally beneath the down tube where they are held securely by bolt on “X” clips before passing under the tough, plastic down tube protector. Whilst this is not as fancy and fashionable as internal routing it is an easy way to save some money for Vitus so they can squeeze max performance out of the sub £3k package. In use the cables were silent and secure as well as very easy to work on if you had to change out components or change a cable. The only downside was the tendency to collect loam and pine needles under the cables and protector plate.

The geometry is bang on for a modern enduro bike with the size large tested here featuring a 470mm reach, 450mm chain stays and 65.6 degree head angle. At a touch under 176cm (5’10”) I found the Sommet to be a perfect fit in size large, although I did have to slam the 170mm drop Brand-X Ascend dropper post in the frame to get the saddle height low enough. The 483mm seat tube length was a little high, despite the low standover of the bike. For reference, my inside leg is about 79cm (31”).

The final highlight of the solid and well made frame is the eye catching “Angry Unicorn” paint job which I loved. Whilst not to everybody’s tastes, I thought it was rad and in the sun it looked amazing. It made me smile on every ride and now I want all my bikes to be this colour.

The team at Vitus seem to have a good understanding of what UK riders want and the build kit reflects this with its attention to detail and insane value. Out of the box it is literally ready to race without a single upgrade or part swap. A real highlight on a bike of this price was the DT Swiss E1700 wheelset which was flawless throughout.

The wheels took some serious abuse, in particular ay Dyfi and Revolution bike parks where I cased a load of jumps and smashed them through a thousand rocks. They did not require a single turn of a spoke key and do not have the slightest dent or ding in the rim walls, bar some scratches. The pick up on the rear hub is good for the money and the 30mm internal rim width provided a solid foundation to mount the Maxxis rubber to.

At this point I normally whinge about crap tyres, but to my relief, the Sommet came fitted with a pair of 2.5” Maxxis Assegai in the excellent EXO+ casing. Check out the standalone review of these tyres here.

The Assegai is way more versatile than many people realise and has proven itself to me in hard pack bike parks and sloppy days in the Welsh valleys. The EXO+ casing is bang on for a bike like this and only the hardest riders or those riding really rocky tracks will want a Double Down. The only criticism you could have of the tyre choice is the slow rolling rear tyre. There is no doubt the double Assegai combo gives terrific grip and confidence but a rear Maxxis DHRII would roll a bit quicker and have nearly as much grip.

Gears were provided by a Shimano XT/SLX 12 speed groupset. Shifting was crisp and precise throughout the test, even after numerous crashes and knocks. I like the ergonomics of the SLX shifter and the way it mounts to the brake clamp for a tidy handlebar. The standout feature of this drivetrain is the ability to shift under load, keeping you on the power when sprinting or hitting tech climbs.

Other finishing kit included a Nukeproof 31.8mm clamp bar/stem combo with 800mm bars (cut down to 770mm) and 45mm stem length. The Vitus branded grips were as good as any from the big grip brands with a single clamp and slim, half waffle design. The Brand-X dropper post is not the most refined, but it is dependable and simple, working fairly smoothly until the cable became contaminated and needed swapping out.

Changing the dropper cable gave me one of my only gripes with the bike as when I changed it I noticed that the cable had rubbed a groove in the chain stay, just below the shock. This had also damaged the cable and likely contributed to it needing to be replaced. The cable routing in this area is quite twisty and fiddly and is something that I think needs improving.

Up Hills

Bearing in mind that this is a 170/160mm enduro bike weighing in at 15.8kg (34lb) without pedals it winches along quite happily and I never reached for the 3 position lever on the rear shock to firm things up. On paper, the 75 degree effective seat tube angle is not that steep for a modern bike, but as I had the saddle low and forwards on the rails it felt pretty good.

The long 450mm chainstays add to this feeling and let the rear wheel dig in to find traction without the front end feeling like it wants to lift the whole time. Obviously if you stand up and mash the pedals, it wallows around a bit, but there is enough mid-stroke support that it is pretty good for a bike of this travel and intentions.

TLD A3 Helmet

Down Hills

I picked up the Vitus Sommet 29 VRS just before lock down started and only got a couple of rides in before packing it away. I didn’t want to ride it as my local trails are only 40 seconds long and better suited to a short travel trail bike. I thought the purple beast would suck the fun out of the trails with all of its travel. However, after a couple of months I pulled her out the shed and hit my local where I was pleasantly surprised by the energetic ride and supportive feel of the big enduro sled.

It was clearly never going to hop and pop like a 120mm travel ripper, but it was more agile than the numbers and build kit suggested. The low standover height and grippy Maxxis tyres help you to lean it in to carve loamy turns and flick through tight trees.

As lock down eased I started to tackle more serious terrain including the steeps of South Wales and the rooty tech DH tracks at Triscombe where the Vitus really began to shine. On proper terrain the geometry and tough build really made sense and I found it to be a really fast and fun bike to ride.

The Fox 36 Performance fork with Grip damper was so supple from day one and the only change I made was to add a single volume spacer as the trails dried out and the speeds increased. I ran the fork at Fox’s recommended settings for my 80kg weight which gave me just under 30% sag and then I didn’t touch it.

It just worked, damping out the trail chatter, supporting you in turns and always keeping enough in reserve for big hits and poor line choices. Big 170mm travel forks really do get you out of trouble when things are getting wild and I was glad of them on a number of occasions as I learnt the lines on Dyfi Bike Park’s many black graded tracks.

The rear suspension was a similar story with the Fox Float DPX2 Performance shock doing a great job of controlling the 160mm of rear wheel travel. It is not a bottomless, plush feeling ride but balances outright grip with a decent amount of support in turns and when pumping through sections.

The bike feels balanced as a whole and I really appreciated the long, 450mm chain stays. Compared to shorter stays, they add stability at speed and help you to weight the front wheel in turns, particularly flat and off camber ones. The decent reach means I felt like I was in the bike rather than on it and it lets you hold a proper riding position over rough and tech terrain.

It was my first time riding the new SLX 4-pot brakes and they were way better than I expected. Good brakes really give you the confidence to let off and go hard and these brakes did just that. They are a bit on-off and lack some modulation which won’t be to everybody’s tastes, but I liked the immediate power and dependable lever feel. They never pulled to the bar or pumped up even when doing hot laps in 30 degree heat, probably aided by Vitus speccing finned pads for cooling.

I found the Sommet to be super capable in all down hill situations although it definitely rewards the fastest, most direct lines where you can plough over or through stuff. In that sense, it does feel like a pure race bike and I honestly think that it is Enduro World Series ready out of the box. For less that £3000 that is insane value and about £1,500 to £2,000 less than an equivalent bike from a big name brand.

The Angry Unicorn really inspired confidence in me as a rider and I feel like this summer I am riding better than ever. I have hit the biggest jumps of my life on it and am only disappointed that I won’t get to race it as I want to really pout it to the test. I keep wanting to ride it and have been bolting loads of test components to it all summer and using it as my product test work horse.

Reliability

I had some cable rub issues with the dropper post. Other than that the only issue was that the bike did not come with a protector for the rear shock so it was directly in line with all the crap flying off the rear tyre.

Compare

This is the biggest travel 29” enduro bike that I have ridden so I don’t have a direct comparison. It is also worth noting that for a grand more you can get the top of the range VRX model, dripping in Fox Factory kit and an XT/XTR drive train.

What do we think?

So much bike for so little money, the Angry Unicorn is a race ready enduro machine that is guaranteed to make you smile every time you ride it.

We love:

  • Solid wheelset
  • Insane value
  • Purple and sparkly

Could do better:

  • Collects a lot of loam and mud under cables

You can check out the Vitus Sommet 29 VRS and the rest of the Sommet range on Vitus’ website here.

Read all our other bike tests over on our Bike Reviews page here.

Buy online at Chain Reaction Cycles for £2,899.99.