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  1. #1
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    2018 Vitus Escarpe 29 VRX initial impressions

    I ordered one of these about a month ago through CRC. The process of purchasing and shipping from CRC kinda sucked, but it eventually got to my door a little over 3 weeks later. DHL themselves were quick, they had it for something like 3 days before it was on my doorstep. It showed up undamaged and in perfect shape.

    Why this bike? Features and value. It had basically everything I was after for $3200 to my door. There were other contenders along the way, the most notable being the 2018 Fuel EX 8. It cost more when accounting for taxes, the local huge dealer wouldnít negotiate, and parts of the spec were a downgrade, so Vitus won.

    The rear suspension design is a shameless melding of Trekís Full Floater lower shock mount, a rocker link, and Spesh FSR chainstay pivot, with the shock bisecting the seat tube near the BB. The ball bearing trunnion mount metric shock gets that top tube very low. Frame build quality is excellent and beefy. DT Swiss wheels set up tubeless with a floor pump in all of 5 minutes, super painless. Only thing changed were narrower bars (760 from the stock 800) and a shorter stem (35 from 45).

    On the trailÖ.this thing covers ground fast and with high confidence. The geo seems dialed for general trail riding up to fairly hairy descents. Suspension is active but supportive. The bike is super stable, probably because itís super longÖwheelbase barely fits my rooftop rack. It isnít particularly fond of getting airborne but will do it with some body English and muscle. Climbs arenít blistering but I donít dread them either, with Eagle you can winch it up anything and the traction is there. You can also stand and mash, something I couldnít do on my RIP 9. Itís very confident and capable when things point downward. I wouldnít call it playful but itís not a dud either. The Guide RE brakes are crazy good with gobs of power and great modulation. Overall itís just a really good and versatile trail/AM bike.

    DownsidesÖ.weird parts spec at times. The 150mm Lyrik is awesome but over-specíd for a trail bike, same with the DT E-series wheels. The MRP chain guide is unnecessary and the chain rubs substantially when on the two largest cogs and that chain isnít going to drop anyway with the clutch and tooth design of Eagle. As a result itís a bit heavy, my build feels right at 32 lbs. A Pike, DT M-series wheels, and losing the chain guide would help trim this fatty. The 200mm front rotor, while nice, could easily be dropped to a 180mm.

    Overall though an excellent bike so far which I recommend thoroughlyÖ.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the quick review. Sounds like a solid bike. Got any pictures of it? What size did you buy?

    I know you had a lot of issues with CRC. If you were to do it all over again, do you think you would still pick this bike?

    The only reason it has a Lyrik is because Rockshox doesn't make a 150 mm 29" Pike for 2018. Only up to 140 mm. And there is only an 89g difference between the M1700 30 wheelset and the E1700 30 wheelset on the bike, so I'm not sure it would make much of a difference. Then again, I am the furthest thing from a weight weenie, so there's that too.

    Where do you live? Just curious about the terrain you usually ride.

  3. #3
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    I bought the large 19". No pictures yet but I'll see if I can snap some in the next day or two. If CRC is to be believed, the long processing and delivery can be chalked up to 1) My first CRC order and for a large amount, so they needed to take anti-fraud confirmation measures 2) a large bike backlog at the setup/processing facility 3) the in-process move from Ireland to England. I'd try 'em one more time in hopes things would go better.

    I live on the Colorado Front Range and so we have pretty much any condition and trail types you can imagine, outside of soggy or loamy stuff. For the first rides on this bike, I rode a local trail I call 'Fauxab' due to the limestone/sandstone topography and technical bits, a mixed trail with embedded rock and steep sections with some loose-over-hard and hardpack, and a flowy smooth tackier trail. Fauxab really puts the suspension to the test and has numerous steps and drops of various sizes, as well as a very loose and steep climb. The Escarpe really shined here. It did well on the mixed trail too. On the flowy trail the Escarpe felt good but a bit lumbering and weighty, definitely a place where I prefer my Ti 29er hardtail.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BadgerOne View Post
    I bought the large 19". No pictures yet but I'll see if I can snap some in the next day or two. If CRC is to be believed, the long processing and delivery can be chalked up to 1) My first CRC order and for a large amount, so they needed to take anti-fraud confirmation measures 2) a large bike backlog at the setup/processing facility 3) the in-process move from Ireland to England. I'd try 'em one more time in hopes things would go better.

    I live on the Colorado Front Range and so we have pretty much any condition and trail types you can imagine, outside of soggy or loamy stuff. For the first rides on this bike, I rode a local trail I call 'Fauxab' due to the limestone/sandstone topography and technical bits, a mixed trail with embedded rock and steep sections with some loose-over-hard and hardpack, and a flowy smooth tackier trail. Fauxab really puts the suspension to the test and has numerous steps and drops of various sizes, as well as a very loose and steep climb. The Escarpe really shined here. It did well on the mixed trail too. On the flowy trail the Escarpe felt good but a bit lumbering and weighty, definitely a place where I prefer my Ti 29er hardtail.
    Sounds like a standard trail bike. Could the lack of "playfulness" in the respect of getting off the ground be due to lack of proper setup? Also, what was the reason from going away from your RIP9 and getting this?

  5. #5
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    Could be - setup is still very much in progress. I like the overall personality best at about 25% sag front and rear, but Iím still playing around with tire pressure. Iím used to running supple lightweight fast-rolling tires like Ikon maxx speed compound without EXO or TRÖso in comparison these big-lugged EXO/TR/Maxx Terra alphabet soup tires feel like stiff tractor tires. Itís obvious that I have quite a bit of room to play with pressure but havenít done so yet (currently running about 27 psi which feels too high).

    I really liked my RIP 9, but it was an older model that was fairly short, steep, and tall with a high BB. It was in need of a fork, and would have benefitted from a 1x and wheelset. When I factored in the cost, I decided to move it along in favor of something more modern. What I do miss about that bike is that it loved airtime and popping off of everything, even though it weighed about the same.

  6. #6
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    Sounds like you still need some saddle time to get the pressures dialed in. You will find that while those tires do have stiffer sidewalls for the tubeless and EXO factors that they will be more likely to come alive once you start hitting the low 20s for psi. I have a set of Vittoria TNT tires (tubeless specific plus harder sidewalls to run tubeless low pressure) and I normally run them at about 18/f, 22/r if not lower. Really depends on the time of year. Like right now when most days dont get above the 50s I run a little stiffer as when you are adding pressure cold they will expand some and "stiffen" once you get the tires warmed up. That that may be something to take into account too.

    Sounds like the bike is going to be a pretty fun setup and for that price it is definitely a good purchase. If I was to build/get another bike now I would be hard pressed not to look at the Escarpe or the 27.5 Sommet with the mid-plus tires.

  7. #7
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    You are a few months on with the bike. How you liking it? Any new observations? How's the weight?

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