The Vitus Sommet impressed us hugely over the past year, and now with the introduction of the Vitus Sommet CRX carbon trail smasher, they look to turn things up once again!

Vitus is now well and truly renowned for being one of the flagship bike brands of Chain Reaction, we tested their 2015 Vitus Sommet (alloy model) and it wasn’t far off top marks from the team; even receiving the accolade of one of the Chief UK Editor’s top 10 bikes of 2015. The Vitus Sommet is amazing value for money, robust, fast, good looking and far bigger hitting than its look would suggest. There was one downside to such a weapon, that being its weight, it wasn’t overly heavy, but we had hoped they would produce a carbon version. A year later and UK Editor Jim was invited over to race its lightweight carbon cousin for a weekend in Northern Ireland for its first exclusive outing, giving it a serious testing from the word go!

Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Shot 1
Vitus Sommet CRX | Weight: 12.91 kg | Travel: 160/155 mm (front/rear) | Price: € 4995

Details of the Vitus Sommet CRX

There is no doubting that the Vitus brand has a serious following over in Ireland, the home of Chain Reaction. And with riders seeming to be true loyal fans of the brand, with every other rider at the Vitus First Cup Enduro being upon a Vitus stead, it immediately felt a little bit like Jim had to perform at this race to keep Vitus fans happy! When the three different coloured models of the new carbon Sommet (sporting exactly the same geometry as the alloy versions) were unloaded out of the Vitus van, the attention the ‘in your face’ bright fluoro colours of the green and red ones received was instant. Jim quickly got to work on setting the CRX model up for racing in the wet weather.

Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Shot 2 Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Shot 3

Before changing anything we put it on the scales, there was some serious weight loss instantly noticeable from the alloy version, the bike coming in at 12.91 kg (28.46 lbs) that was with tubes fitted, the official weight of a medium being 12.67 kg (27.93 lbs), so the weight issues of the previous alloy model had certainly been addressed. This top spec CRX model is to be retailed at € 4994.99 (£ 3799.00) and for that it has a very impressive amount of top shelf kit fitted. RockShox Guide RS brakes, Vitus’s nice slim grips, and an XO1 shifter sit proudly upon the Nukeproof’s new Warhead 780 mm carbon bar and short 35 mm stem. Seat dropping is taken care of by a 125 mm Reverb stealth, here we would definitely like to have seen the use of a 150mm for better seat clearance on the descents. Suspension comes in the form of RockShox flagship 160 mm Pike RCT3 Solo air fork and a Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair shock; This bike, however, is also suitable for a 170 mm fork which would roughly take the head angle down to 65° from the 65.5° as standard. Down in the drivetrain area, we have the use of some very flash Race Face Next SL Cinch 170 mm carbon cranks with Race Face’s 32 tooth chainring running through an E*thirteen guide.

Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Shot 4 Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Shot 5

The bike comes with a built in downtube protector and a very small chainstay protector, but as Vitus had added a padded protector for the chainstays, we are guessing theirs doesn’t quite offer enough protection. The frame comes fully internal for cables, great for looks, not so great for those quick cable and components changes. On the back end, shifting is taken care of by SRAM’s X1 mech and the rear hub is 142×12 mm. Carbon is used for the main front triangle, with alloy used on the rocker and rear chainstays, offering 155 mm of rear travel; definitely a good design choice in our opinion. We did notice a few bits of white primer showing through the paint on the odd bolt area of the frame but were assured that this was because this is a prototype paint job, with production models being more meticulous in their finish. Our only other critique of the build would be where the cables come out of the front triangle under the bike, before entering back into the rear end, they seem quite vulnerable to rock strikes, so we would add some type of extra guard here.

Geometry of the Vitus Sommet CRX

Frame Size Small Medium Large Extra Large
Seat Tube 382 mm 433 mm 483 mm 523 mm
Seat Tube Angle 74.5° 74.5° 74.5° 74.5°
Head Tube Angle 65.5° 65.5° 65.5° 65.5°
Head Tube Length 110 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm
Reach 409 mm 434 mm 451 mm 468 mm
Top Tube Length 575 mm 600 mm 620 mm 640 mm
Chainstay Length 435 mmm 435 mmm 435 mmm 435 mmm
Stack 591 mm 591 mm 601 mm 613 mm
BB Drop 20 mm 20 mm 20 mm 20 mm
Wheelbase 1135 mm 1160 mm 1181 mm 1220 mm

Changes made for the weekend’s racing were, Mavic’s Charge (front) and Guest (rear) trail tyres and tubes were replaced with MAXXIS Shorty upfront and a Minion DHR added to the rear, both were easily made tubeless, as no tape needs to be applied to the rims of the high-end Mavic Crossmax XL Pro wheelset. A mudguard was fitted and with our test rider coming in at 85kg, three air tokens were added to the Pikes with 90psi (forks) and 185psi (shock) Sizing felt ok using a large model for our 178cm tall rider, although he stated, being a longer bike fan, he would maybe like to try an XL, as he was informed the extra standover height of the bigger model is pretty minimal. Water bottle with tools was added and all contact points adjusted to suit, pedals fitted, rebounds set, then it was ready to go.

The Ride of the Vitus Sommet CRX

Immediately during the first few minutes of riding the CRX thing feel positive and lively, it’s one of those bikes that just feel right from the off. The cockpit felt comfortable with the top tube and reach seeming definitely in the realms of a fun lively bike. The pedalling efficiency of this thing was noticed straight away on the first trail, as it just seemed so easy to power it forward. Whilst riding along the transitions up to the stages this is one of those bikes which make you want to pop off every lip and hump with it’s lively feel also making pumping of the trail-centre type terrain a joy, with a mere leg press down on the rear end powering the bike forward, fun definitely comes to mind.

Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Action Shot 1

When it comes to the climbs we were really quite surprised how the latest generation Debonair climb switch really did make so much difference on the compression, making a very noticeable change to the stiffness and anti-bob of the shock and rear end whilst putting down the uphill power. With the stages being especially pedally and flat with a few climbs incorporated, our rider decided to opt for trail mode in four of the six stages, fully open in one and full climb mode for the most pedally bike-park type stage. Once climbs got steeper and more technical the light weight and not ‘extremely long’ bike was great on the technical uphill turns, never seeming to veer off-course with a lifting or wandering front wheel.

Comfort was never an issue, even with the short 35 mm stem, as with a good reach of nearly 452 mm mixed with 780 mm bars, very comfy Vitus grips and the WTB saddle this is definitely an all-day machine. Out on the flatter of trails, with the shock switched to trail-mode our test rider found the grip to be very good and trustworthy, even the nasty off camber rooty sections would only ever cause the grip to break away once taken over the tyres traction point or occasional lack of plushness offered by the RockShox suspension. When sprinting along the flats and short uphills (of which there was plenty!) the bike picks up speed like a 90’s raver, only every hampered by our testers lack of Elite leg power!

Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Action Shot 2

On the more gravity-fed sections where things start to get fast and rough, this is where the bike becomes a lively beast. With the bike’s light weight mixed with the natural poppy characteristics of the RockShox suspension the Vitus Sommet CRX just pleads to be sent off every lip and drop, pinging off into the air like a rabbit on acid. With the ground becoming very slick and full of sniper roots and rocks in places our test rider decided to risk puncturing and go for a soft 19psi front and 22 rear for grip, to counter the grounds constant sideways attack on the poppy suspension. Get this bike up to speed and it rewards the rider with utmost exit speed, as corners are attacked, never really feeling like it is getting out of its depths in the gnarlier of terrain.

When it comes to the type of rider we think this bike would suit, it’s aimed at the full-on enduro racer, but realistically we think it’s a definite all-rounder, much more than its weightier alloy cousin. It’s very responsive and fun for pure days of trail riding with buddies messing about out on the hills. It climbs like a demon and descends like a Jack Russell on the scent or a lively rat. We think you could easily do long hauls offered up by massive endurance events on this bike, as well as thrashing it through the rougher stages of a local enduro event, especially with the option to fit a 170 mm fork. As for the ‘you get what you pay for’ people, they should seriously consider saving some dosh they were going to spit on their boutique American bespoke beauty, they could have money left over to race all year or a trip abroad after forking out considerably less on a fully kitted bike like this.

Vitus Sommet CRX Bike Action Shot 3

Bottom Line on the Vitus Sommet CRX

This is one hell of a lot of bike for the money, it does all you would want for an out and out enduro bike and we think Vitus really have hit the nail on the head with the fluoro colours. We think Vitus really will be putting themselves on the map a lot more with these carbon weapons. All we would change is a better guard for the chainstay, a guard for those cables under the cranks and a longer dropper post. Our tester also stated how he would love to try one of these frames with the plusher feel of the more bespoke suspension out there and maybe a 1° angleset for racing.

For more information visit the Vitus Bikes Website.

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Words: Photos: Dermott Sweeney, Jim Buchanan