First Look Review: Pete’s 2022 Vitus Sommet 297 CRX.

Sporting a very similar silhouette to its Escarpe brethren, the Sommet is designed for bigger terrain and that’s reflected in the kit fitted.

At a glance, you might not notice much difference between the Sommet here and Pete’s other test bike, the Escarpe 29 CRX, but there’s enough change to make them two very different bikes indeed.

Pete gives his opening thoughts on the long travel mullet machine.

Photos by Pete Scullion.

Key features:

  • Fox 38 Float Factory 170mm fork
  • Fox X2 Float Factory shock
  • Shimano XT 12-speed drive
  • Shimano XT 4-piston brakes
  • Nukeproof Horizon V2 wheels
  • Brand-X Ascend dropper
  • £3,999.99 RRP
  • VitusBikes.com

A cursory glance over the new Vitus Sommet 297 CRX will, like it’s little brother, leave you wondering how Vitus have managed to wedge so much spec into a rather reasonable price point. While four grand isn’t an insignificant amount of money, you’ll be paying easily double that for the same spec on one of the mainstream brands.

The bike you see here replaces the 27.5″ model of 2021, with either Mullet or 29″ options available for the long travel bruiser. This one from the top spec CRX model is ready to take whatever you have to throw at it out of the box.

Beyond the frame, the spec difference between this and the Escarpe I have on test is minimal. Fork and shock grow to 38 and X2 units, with all the adjustment I could want to dial them in, the rear XT brake grows to a 4-pot and the rear tyre is a Double Down High Roller II. Details are key too. You get a MaxxGrip Assegai on the front and a MaxxTerra Double Down on the rear. Rotors are 200mm front and back… No headline weight worries here.

It’s certainly worth pointing out just how solid the spec on this bike is for a penny shy of four grand. A carbon front triangle mated to an alloy rear is damped by Fox Factory suspension, rolling on Nukeproof Horizon V2 wheels and well-thought out Maxxis tyres. Drive train and brakes are all Shimano XT, controls are Nukeproof’s own, the medium 297 comes with a healthy 170mm dropper. You’d have to be very picky to want much more than this.

Geometry

On the Medium Sommet 297 you get a 443mm reach and a 410mm seat tube, the latter has more insertion hence the growth in dropper length. Head angle is 64 degrees with a size-specific 76.5 degree seat tube angle. Chainstays are suitably short at 435mm on a wheelbase of 1225mm.

Opening moves

Unusually for my first outing on a new test bike, I didn’t go for a shakedown on my local trails. The weather was just too good, so I opted to do the car park setup and fine tune the dampers on the trail. So my first ride on the Sommet was a new (to me) Munro, the 945m Stob a’Choire Odhair.

It’s third ride would be the 1090m peak of Bynack More.

While I can’t expect them on every bike we get for test, having full high and low speed adjustment on both dampers is always a good thing, as it allows me to get the bike feeling exactly how I want it. Since Jules at Fox got me understanding what the dials do, and more importantly, how that equates to what the bike does on the trail, full damper adjustment is always something I relish having.

On the way up, the lower back end meant that the front did feel quite tall when the trail kicked steeper, and that Double Down rear tyre, combined with the alloy rear does feel a bit weighty, but then my legs weren’t firing that day, for sure. I’d learn to lean my weight forward to stop the front from wandering.

Off the top, I’d soon forget the weight as the Double Down casing came into its own. I’d definitely make the most of that skill compensator, as the tyre would be pretty soft by the time I was back at the estate track. I’d found the rear feeling a little dead and harsh, but knew there was more on offer.

With the trails behind the house running drier than they had since last summer, I headed out again to try and commit a bit more than I felt I should on a large solo mountain ride. I was soon riding my home trails faster than I ever had. Again, the bike was flying but the shock felt firm and lifeless.

Before its second Munro in as many days, I opted to take four clicks of low speed rebound and two clicks of high speed rebound off the shock and boom. The bike sprung to life. The upper reaches of Bynack More, awash with granite was grip-central, and the chatter lower down the mountain were just smoothed out. It was like riding a magic carpet.

There’s definitely more fine tuning to do but there’s so much speed and control on offer from the Sommet, I am very much looking forward to ringing more speed out of it.

You can check out the full details on the Vitus Sommet 297 CRX on their website here.

Read the First Look Review of the Vitus Escarpe 29 CRX on our Bike Reviews page here.