If you’ve heard of Vitus at all, you’re probably thinking of road bikes. But for 2004 the French manufacturer has unleashed a complete range of mountain bikes. We’ve had a sneaky peek thanks to importers Blue Ridge – prices are yet to be finalised, hence the slightly vague figures herein…
Vitus’s MTB range is divided into three categories. The entry-level bikes are the Ludd range, kicking off with the intriguingly named Hell. Scott used to have a bike called the Purgatory, which was silly enough, but Vitus have gone one better (or perhaps worse) here. If any enterprising manufacturers would like to continue the trend, Seventh Circle is as yet unused. Anyway, enough about the name. It looks like a decent enough bike, particularly for its sub-£400 price tag. The frame is 7005 aluminium with a low-slung and relatively short top tube for a beginner-friendly slightly (but not too) upright riding position. Components are a mixture of Shimano and SRAM, with a Suntour fork and decent Michelin tyres. Overall claimed weight is an entirely respectable 13kg (28.6lb).
Moving up the range, the Optium gets an upgraded frame with an integrated headset and disc mounts, a smidge more fork travel, 24 speed transmission and Shimano Acera trigger shifters. The price’ll be about fifty quid more than the Hell, while another fifty or so will get you the Zigg. Frame is the same as the Optium, with your extra cash going into a 27 speed transmission (a mix of SRAM 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0), FSA cranks and higher thread count Michelin tyres that help to push the weight down to a claimed 12.5kg (27.5lb).
The higher-end hardtail Ventage range includes four bikes sharing a rakish dropped top tube frame with aggressively square-headed top and down tubes, integrated headset and rear disc mounts. The top tube is pushed about a bit compared to the Ludd bikes for a more stretched-out riding position, tempered a little by relatively short stems and moderately risey bars. First up is the Puss (in the low-to-mid six hundreds price wise) featuring Avid rim brakes, FSA cranks, Deore shifters and mech and SRAM chain and cassette. Disc brakes make an appearance on the Juice, priced in the mid-seven hundreds bracket. Your extra cash gets you Hayes MX2 discs and an upgraded Suntour fork with remote lockout.
Moving up to the £900-ish Yio, Hayes HFX9 hydraulic discs make it into the mix along with a Judy SL fork with U-Turn adjustable travel (75-115mm). It’s also red, which is always a winner. Push up to the grand mark and you can get the range-topping S-Scape with SRAM X.7 mech and trigger shifters and splined FSA cranks. Vitus’s product managers have gone for balanced spec across the bikes, preferring to fit decent hubs, bottom brackets and headsets in preference to downspeccing those hard-to-see parts to get a better fork or rear derailleur.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, take a look at the Deltec 3 full suspension bikes. At first glance they look a little like offerings from Gary Fisher, with a dropped, kinked top tube and pivotless rear end. Look a bit closer, though, and you’ll notice all sorts of interesting stuff, like the almost invisible chainstays. They’re soft-tail style flat-plate stays, but uniquely constructed from titanium plate wrapped in carbon fibre. They key in to forged pieces at the bottom bracket and dropout and are secured by bolts. Side loads are taken away from the Rock Shox rear shock by a vertical titanium flex plate. It’s very much an XC-oriented system, offering just a couple of inches of travel.
Entry level Deltec bike is the grand-and-a-bit Torp, with an aluminium front end and seat stays, Suntour fork, Avid rim brakes and SRAM X.7 transmission. Then there’s a fair price leap up to just over £2,000 for the Sane, kitted out with a RockShox Pilot SL fork, Mavic Crossland UST wheels shod with Michelin tubeless tyres, Shimano XT Dual Control levers and rear mech and FSA finishing kit. If you want to get really serious, £3.5k gets you a Run, complete with carbon fibre seat stays and down tube, carbon FSA cranks, SID forks, Mavic Crossmax XL UST wheels and SRAM X.9 transmission. Still not pimpy enough? The Rocco gives you complete carbon overload, with the carbon/aluminium/titanium frame combined with SID World Cups (carbon crown), FSA carbon cranks, bars and seatpost, SRAM X.0 derailleur and Hayes magnesium disc brakes with carbon levers. You’ll have to securely brace your wallet against the five thousand pound impact, though…