More often than not, when you want a bike that is light, high spec and a decent price, you’re inevitably left with two of the three. Vitus’ new Escarpe 29 CRX may well be the exception to that rule, and adds a serious dollop of speed off-road into the mix too.
When I gave my opening thoughts on this iteration of the Escarpe, things were broadly positive, with the forks feeling a little firm and dead while the back tyre lacked the braking traction to really push on.
Since then I realised that I had returned to a winter brain fart position of riding slightly too upright, and riding in my usual attack position allowed the forks to actually operate with the weight they were set up for. As a result, I realise it was me, not the forks that were misfiring, and since, we’ve been getting along just fine. I have sped up both high and low speed rebound on the fork, in the same way I did with the shock and they have very much woken up.
While the Dissector has got no better at slowing the Escarpe down, I have come to terms with that and enjoyed the fact that it does help get me back to the top for another lap very quickly indeed. With the slightly racier tyre on the rear, whereas most might opt for a High Roller or similar, the Escarpe can munch the miles as happily as a smaller travel bike might.
In fact, on my birthday outing, it helped me rack up 40 miles and 4000ft of up and down. This is the same lap that I took the Stumpy EVO Alloy Comp on and boy was the difference in speed across the ground noticeable. I fear a beefier tyre would clip the Escarpe’s wings for bigger outings a bit too much.
This model of Escarpe feels like a much smaller, lighter bike on the climbs, allowing you to really get the most out of your own engine, and I have never felt the need to lock or even firm up the shock on the climbs as a result. The balanced geometry means you’re in a good position on the way up, whether it’s a winch or a steady climb, turn it down the hill and it’ll do a solid turn on pretty much anything but the steepest of trails.
With the frames staying the same, and me sticking with a size Medium, it’s no real surprise that the geometry hasn’t changed either. Reach on the Medium is 451mm mated to a 410mm seat tube. Head angle is 65 degrees with a seat tube angle of 77. Chainstays 440mm long with a wheelbase of 1218mm.
While it you might be able to get more from the platform with a shock that offers high and low speed adjustment, and maybe even a beefier back tyre, that’s pretty much blurring the lines between the Escarpe and the Sommet. Having ridden both, I wouldn’t say you gain much by blurring that line, especially when the Sommet comes with a bigger shock, crucially an X2 air unit, and a Double Down High Roller II. Keep an eye on the full review of that bike coming soon.
A Float X or DPX2 shock might give the Escarpe more descending capability but again, lines are being blurred here. What you may get is clearance issues on the smaller sizes between the bottle cage and the reservoir of the shock. The DPS doesn’t feel overwhelmed at all on the Escarpe, even on longer descents, so I’m not entirely convinced it’s an upgrade worthy of making.
It feels quite hard to overstate just how good this bike is without resorting to lazy hyperbole. At a penny shy of four grand you get a spec at nigh on everyone is going to be able to ride hard out of the box. Since I got the bike in early March, it hasn’t missed a beat. Everything on this bike still functions as well as it did the day I got it.
If you’re considering an Escarpe but want to beef it up, don’t be daft, just go buy the same spec Sommet…
What do we think?
Vitus may well have found the golden ratio when it comes to the Escarpe 29 CRX. It really is a do-it-all bike in every sense of the word(s). Few bikes at this price offer this performance, and few with the performance are anywhere near the price.
A true all-mountain bike
Could do better:
We’d struggle to think of anything…
You can check out the Vitus Escarpe 29 CRX on Vitus Bikes’ website here.