2015 Vitus Escarpe Pro Tested - Dirt

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ESCARPE - 135MM SLASHER FROM BELFAST

Vitus Escarpe Pro

The 135mm Vitus Escarpe proves difficult to fault but will riders go for the longer travel bike from the brand from Belfast?

Shape and Purpose
It’s a difficult one, do you go for the 135mm Escarpe or the Sommet, longer travel at 155mm from the same company? It’s a question I get asked time and time again. Both the Pro versions of each bike from Vitus come with almost the exact component specification and frame design so many riders will opt for the longer travel. Just because.

Suspension
There’s a new design on the Escarpe for 2015, not there was anything wrong with the old model but the new version features a horizontal shock mount, rearward axle path and an interesting in-line chainstay pivot location. This is said to eliminate forces to the shock linkage which can sometimes lead the damper to compress unnecessarily whilst pedalling. We also found the lock out (sorry compression adjust) on the Monarch Plus sufficient to eliminate such movement.

It’s a falling leverage rate to sag point on the Escarpe after which it goes mildly progressive. Up front the 150mm Pike RCT3 takes care of matters very well and the Monarch Plus damper has a solid tune to it working its 135mm travel efficiently. Overall a reliable, lively set up.

Components
What a dish. The Escarpe Pro has pretty much all the goodies. From Sram X01 to Reverb Stealth, Shimano XT brakes and the brilliant Mavic Crossmax Enduro LTD 650b wheelset you cannot fail to be impressed with what you are getting for your money here. More importantly the performance that these pieces of kit deliver is both impressive and reliable. Nukeproof’s own Warhead bar, a Funn stem, and E Thirteen add to this great package.

Limitations
Here’s where it gets tricky. Why would you choose 135mm travel when you can get 155mm with the same component specification and price? Well you wouldn’t, or at least most people wouldn’t and the reason often behind this is that riders truly believe they are hammering harder terrain than they actually are or maybe, just maybe they will spend more than ten days in some ridiculously hard environment. Or it could simply be you might want the extra cushion, extra protection that that 150-160 offers.

Crucially if the Escarpe and the Sommet Pro weigh in similarly, which they do at around the 30lb mark depending on size, then this will be what tips the balance in favour of the bigger travel bike for many people.

Feeling
135mm of travel is a great size for a trail bike, and 29lbs is about average weight for such bikes – usually ones that are a few more pounds in cash. What’s not average about the Escarpe are its angles which really offers up some charging riding, which we have done with it in many parts of the globe. Not only is it a great trail bike but it can be jumped, it can be pumped and it can be shredded around the woods carelessly. Yes it will come up short when you start moving through bigger rocks, larger roots at greater speeds but the bike is a lively one and its possible to move out of the way of trouble pretty sharpish due to the nature of the suspension.

Verdict
The componentry on offer is the big seller here there’s no doubt. But what makes it special? Why did we choose it over the Sommet in the recent Dirt 100 list? Very simply when I first rode the Escarpe in Ireland I knew instantly that I need not have to rely on the longer travel Sommet for the terrain we were riding. Back in Wales for much of the riding the Escarpe deals with the dirt on offer well. The nature of the 135/150 set up requires a cleverer ride rather than a brutish one, and this can be the fun side of the bike. Its crisp, its stable, its well built and for £3599 you are getting one hell of a bike.

£3599
www.vitusbikes.com

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