VI­TUS SOM­MET CRX (2017)

£2,999.99 Top-fun steed that shames a lot of ‘su­per­bikes’

Mountain Biking UK - - FIRST RIDES - GUY KESTEVEN

The semi-car­bon Som­met frame isn’t new, but Vi­tus have got it sticky and rolled it through their se­lec­tion of shiny bits to pro­duce a killer-value all-rounder with parts to die for.

The frame

In com­mon with a lot of cost­ef­fec­tive com­pos­ite frames (see this month’s Biketest, page 96), the Som­met pairs a car­bon fi­bre front end with an alu­minium rear. Vi­tus have opted for a four-bar Horst Link sus­pen­sion lay­out, but placed the rear pivots fur­ther for­ward on the rel­a­tively skinny chain­stays than on most sim­i­lar de­signs. The shock drives down­wards through a hole in the base of the kinked and flared seat tube, and a 15mm col­let main pivot in­creases stiff­ness.

In­ter­nal main­frame ca­ble rout­ing keeps things look­ing neat, and the MRP chain guide and sump bumper sit on built-in ISCG mounts. Vi­tus bikes we’ve had on long-term test haven’t suf­fered un­duly from the use of a press-fit bot­tom bracket, though a screw-in unit would make main­te­nance eas­ier. The frame is slightly dated in terms of its 142mm rear axle and non-met­ric Rock­Shox Monarch Plus shock though, and while the 65.5-de­gree head an­gle is ap­pro­pri­ately slack, the 450mm reach of our large sam­ple was ad­e­quate rather than ag­gres­sively rangy. If you pre­fer longer bikes, the Som­met’s low stan­dover height and short seat tube do at least make it easy to size up.

The kit

Be­cause this is a 2017 bike, the SRAM X01 trans­mis­sion is 11-speed, not 12-speed Ea­gle, and the Pike fork is a pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion, non-Boost ver­sion. You do get a su­per-light Race Face Next SL car­bon crankset though, plus new Mavic Deemax Pro wheels (not the Cross­max XLs listed), shod with WTB tyres in a grippy front/re­in­forced rear mix. The Nuke­proof fin­ish­ing kit is all well-proven, well-shaped gear too, in­clud­ing a ti­ta­nium-railed sad­dle that saves enough grams to keep the com­plete bike just un­der 13kg.

The ride

Com­bine the rea­son­ably low weight with fast-rolling WTB rear rub­ber and a sus­pen­sion set-up that’s nat­u­rally ef­fi­cient in the up­per parts of its travel, and you get a bike that’s im­pres­sively ag­ile, quick to ac­cel­er­ate and day-ride friendly for a ma­chine with 155mm of travel. The com­pres­sion damp­ing switch on the Monarch Plus shock means you can firm it up eas­ily for long slogs too. Oth­er­wise, the ‘float­ing’ shock gives a broad set-up band­width that’s still sen­si­tive enough for trac­tion and com­fort but rea­son­ably sup­port­ive for push­ing harder through cor­ners. The RCT3 damper in the Pike fork is a great match up front too, and if ei­ther end dives too much when you’re on the at­tack, it’s easy to add bot­tom-out spac­ers.

It’s likely to be the slight lack of reach, no­tice­able soft­ness in the frame and light­weight front tyre (which is prone to crum­ple un­der high-G load­ings) that set the lim­its to just how silly you can get on the Som­met. But if you think of it as a re­ally ca­pa­ble, easy to ride all-round trail bike rather than a rad­i­cal en­duro rig, it’s a great pack­age that more than holds its own with endof-sea­son bar­gains from other brands now that £800 has been slashed off the orig­i­nal £3,799 re­tail price. www.vi­tus­bikes.com

The highly-ad­justable Monarch Plus shock makes it easy to get a good sus­pen­sion feel

More of a long-travel trail bike than a su­per-ag­gro en­duro shred­der, the Som­met is a great pack­age

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