Vitus’ Sommet 29 CRS is their mid-level spec, long travel enduro machine that offers outstanding performance in a sub-£3000 price package.
The Vitus Sommet 29 was one of Ben’s top bikes of 2020 with a high performing package at an insane price point. For 2021, the bike gets a carbon front end and updated geometry. Ben has been riding hard to figure out if the new bike continues to impress.
The updated Vitus Sommet 29 has made the move to a carbon front triangle, shedding some weight and adding a certain, smooth aesthetic to the bike, where the previous model was a bit more angular. Along with the addition of carbon, the bike has changed shape a bit since the 2020 model, with this size large bike having a reach of 471mm, compared to 470mm last year, and the chain stays have shrunk from 450mm to 440mm. Another notable change is the slacker head angle, which now sits at 64 degrees in the slack setting, and can be adjusted by 0.5 degrees using a flip chip.
The seat tube is now a stout 77 degrees which contributes to a very comfortable riding position that has you centred over the bottom bracket. The new seat tube is also about 40mm shorter which, along with the ability for increased insertion allows you to use a longer travel post. On that note, the size large tested has a 170mm Brand X ascend dropper post fitted, giving me plenty of clearance and freedom to move around. It is a basic, but very reliable piece of kit that I have used many times on test bikes over the years with minimal problems.
Shimano provide the brakes and drive train components on the Sommet 29 CRS, including a surprisingly powerful set of SLX 4-pot brakes with 203mm rotors. It was a nice touch to see the higher spec finned rotors on the rear to better dissipate heat, although they do rattle a bit on some sections of trail. As part of the test, this bike went to Morzine for a week of non-stop riding and over 35,000 metres of descending over 6 days,. Despite the amount of abuse, these budget friendly brakes performed really well, with a consistent lever feel throughout the trip.
Shifting was handled by a 12 speed SLX drive train, including a wide range 10-51 tooth cassette and 30 tooth chain ring. It does seem to be a trend these days to keep moving towards easier and easier gears with the ever increasing size of our cassettes, so I was surprised to see a 30 tooth ring, instead of a 32. This had me spinning out quite quickly on fast sections or road liaisons, and I would prefer a 32 tooth for a more useable range. Shifting was crisp and consistent throughout the test period.
DT Swiss provide a solid and reliable wheel set in the form of the E1900 with 30mm internal rim width. It is DT’s entry level enduro wheel set and is made to their usual high standards, standing up to plenty of abuse and only requiring a small tune up after a week in Morzine where I cased the shit out of about a hundred jumps and smashed several thousand rocks. The only slight annoyance is trying to true straight pull spokes as the whole spoke can spin, when all you want to do it spin the nipple.
Despite the low price point, Vitus have not skimped on tyres, and it comes with a great pairing of an EXO+ casing Maxxis Assegai up front along with a Double Down casing Maxxis Minion DHRII out back. If I was speccing a bike like this, it is what I would choose too. This combo is confidence inspiring in a wide range of trail conditions, and you could happily use them all year round in most parts of the UK. The bike is pictured here with a Michelin DH22 up front after I put a rip in the Assegai on a particularly rocky trail.
Other finishing kit is all solid, reliable stuff from Nukeproof, including the welcome addition of a minimalist chain guide, with a WTB Volt saddle to round things off.
We all know that a long travel enduro sled is not going to whip up the hills, having said that, the climbing position and supportive shock tune mean that it feels pretty efficient despite its 15.5kg (34lb) weight. To me, the weight is not a bit deal as an extra kg or two is only a very small percentage of the overall package and I would rather have durable tyres and components that can take a beating on the downs.
I generally prefer not to use a climb switch as I always forget to turn them off at the top. On smooth fire roads and tarmac, it whizzed along nicely, even at 30% sag in the shock.
Whilst I have not ridden any bike over 480mm reach, I do find that bikes with a reach of about 470mm seem to fit me really well and I can just get on them and ride pretty hard straight away. The Sommet 29 was no exception and I felt right at home on the ‘midnight blue’ ripper from the very first ride.
I am always open about the fact that I prefer a longer chain stay and that I am generally not keen on bikes that boast about how short they are. For me, a longer rear centre on a bike helps me to stay centred between the wheels and aids me in weighting the front tyre. The 440mm stays on the Vitus felt great, letting me manoeuvre it round tight stuff, hit some manuals and still giving me enough stability and control when things hit warp speed in Chatel Bike Park. In that sense, the Vitus feels like an easy bike to ride in a lot of situations, without any strange quirks or characteristics.
Despite the sub £3k price tag, the rear suspension performed really well. The RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock only has external rebound adjustment, and no compression adjusters, so it is totally reliant on the stock tune and then tweaking sag and rebound to get the right feel. At 81kg plus riding kit, I got on really well with the stock tune, running the bike at 30% sag and a few clicks from fully open on the rebound. It held me up well, giving plenty of pump out of berms and through jumps whilst doing a good job of taming trail chatter and giving a decent level of grip.
The Rock Shox fork is good for the money, but can’t quite keep up with the rear of the bike when things get really rough. The Lyrik Select features the more basic, Charger RC damper compared to the Charger 2.1 version that is seen on the Select+ and Ultimate forks. I found that on slower speed, muddy, rooty trails I could get a good setup in its stock configuration with 1 volume spacer fitted. It was not the most supple fork going, but it did give me a great blend of mid stroke support and grip in most situations.
When things got faster and rougher out in the Alps I did find that I had to choose between support when braking or hitting big berms, and having a bit more of a forgiving ride on the many braking bumps. I ended up taking out the volume spacer for a more linear feel which helped things a lot and made the alpine riding a lot more enjoyable. It is worth noting though, that this is a £2899 complete bike, £1000 less than a top end Santa Cruz Megatower frame, so it is still insane value for money and a very capable bike. If it were my bike, I would spend about £250 and have the upgraded Charger 2.1 damper fitted, bringing the total spend to only just over £3k and massively improving the bike’s performance, making it a very well priced rocket-ship in the process.
As mentioned earlier, I found the Vitus to be well balanced and easy to ride, and this was very apparent in the turns where I quickly found my confidence. It tips in nicely, and despite the slack head angle it never feels like it is going to flop over into the turn. In steeper sections you can let the bike run in the confidence that you can whip it round as you hit the catch berm.
I ripped the front tyre on a very rocky trail that has claimed a lot of tyres over the years. I also had a huge crash that somehow resulted in a bent Maxle on the forks which is a new one on me. I replaced it with an aftermarket Burgtec one.
What do we think?
Despite supply chain shortages as well as soaring material and component prices, the team at Vitus have managed to squeeze a whole load of performance into this sleek package that looks and rides like a bike twice the price.
Sub £3000 performance
Dialled geometry and sizing
Could Do Better
Fork damper would benefit from an upgrade
You can check out the Vitus Sommet 29 CRS on their website here.