Having had great success with its 160mm-travel E-Sommet, Vitus has now released an electric Escarpe, with 20mm less bounce but the same Shimano STEPS motor and battery.
As we’ve come to expect from the Irish direct-sales brand, there aren’t any duds on the spec list. On this top VRX model that includes a Fox 36 Factory fork with GRIP2 damper, an ultra-grippy Maxxis Assegai front tyre and 12-speed Shimano XTR gearing, among other sorted goodies.
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Vitus E-Escarpe VRX frame
Less integrated than many new-generation ebike frames, Vitus’s aluminium chassis has an external battery mounted on top of the down tube. This is at the expense of smooth lines, but presumably saves weight and doesn’t affect functionality.
The seat tube is split to wrap around a Factory-level Fox DPS shock, which delivers 140mm of rear travel via a four-bar linkage suspension layout.
In common with the brand’s ‘analogue’ bikes, the top tube is relatively tall, somewhat reducing standover clearance. This and the tubing profiles are the only things that aren’t uber-modern though, because the geometry is spot-on, with a reasonable reach (467mm on size large) and slacked-out angles.
With the Assegai, Maxxis appears to have created the ideal e-MTB tyre.
Vitus E-Escarpe VRX kit
You get top-tier Fox suspension, with the brilliant FIT GRIP2 four-way adjustable damper in the 140mm fork, and Kashima coating at both ends.
DT Swiss wheels with toughened rims and a perfect Maxxis tyre combo are everything you could wish for. The Nukeproof bar is nice and wide, although I’d prefer a shorter stem.
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While the Brand-X dropper post is generic, it has 150mm of travel and is crowned with a comfy WTB Volt saddle.
In sub-zero testing conditions, I had bite-point issues with the new Shimano XT brakes, where the rear lever pulled closer to the bar, and had to bleed them to cure it. The latest XTR gears work fantastically well, even if the massive 51-tooth sprocket on the cassette is overkill for an ebike and tricky to spin with control, even on the steepest pitches.
The GRIP2 damper in the Vitus’s Fox fork allows you to feel every subtle detail of the terrain.
Vitus E-Escarpe VRX ride impressions
The E-Escarpe rides light and feels chuckable, up and downhill. Seated climbing is good, although the suspension dips into its travel a little readily, which shifts your weight a bit behind the ideal position.
You soon forget about this when standing up though, and the suspension is supple and grippy so it’s easy to carve confidently along bendy trails and feel cocky while descending.
The frame doesn’t feel quite as stiff as the YT’s or Canyon’s (or Vitus’s own Sommet) on the roughest DH tracks, and it took a couple of rides to dial in the right bar height, which points to the handling not being as intuitive as that of the YT or Canyon either.
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In common with the other ‘mullets’ on test (650b out back, 29in up front), the Canyon and YT, the subtle difference in the way the smaller 650b rear wheel carves a tighter arc than the 29in front wheel can cause the latter to feel light in the apex of turns.
This necessitates careful attention to stem height, to best load the front tyre for balance. With the stem being longer and the bottom bracket higher than on the other bikes that were on test, this effect is slightly exaggerated on the Vitus, making you feel less stable than on the others.
The phenomenal Assegai front tyre is totally planted though, and easily the grippiest on test. Paired with the brilliant Fox 36 fork, it means you can lean the E-Escarpe right over and really press on the front for massive cornering and off-camber confidence.
The Vitus’s geometry and shape are good, and it uses the same smooth and seamless Shimano motor as the Canyon and YT, although this feels noticeably quicker and more pokey here – possibly aided by the light, fast-rolling DT Swiss wheels.
Suspension and rider weight is never quite as perfectly stable and balanced as on the YT Decoy though, whether charging up or hammering downhill.
Vitus E-Escarpe VRX geometry
- Sizes (* tested): S, M, L*, XL
- Seat angle: 75 degrees
- Head angle: 65 degrees
- Chainstay: 17.48in / 44.4cm
- Seat tube: 19.02in / 48.3cm
- Top tube: 24.94in / 63.35cm
- Head tube: 4.72in / 12cm
- Fork offset: 1.73in / 4.4cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 0.79in / 2cm
- Bottom bracket height: 13.74in / 34.9cm
- Wheelbase: 48.86in / 1,241mm
- Stack: 24.41in / 62cm
- Reach: 18.39in / 46.7cm