Review: Vitus Sommet 297 CRX is an affordable enduro performer

Vitus is a direct-to-consumer brand that sells a wide variety of bicycles, from Road to Downhill, at some extremely attractive price points. We found it refreshing to see a sub £4,000 carbon-alloy enduro mountain bike offered with some top-level componentry, especially at a time when 15% (and more) price rises are not uncommon across the bike industry. Thus, we requested a long-term test of the 2022 Vitus Sommet 297 CRX; a 170mm travel mixed-wheel mountain bike with a modern race-ready geometry. Can it perform?

Photos by Blair Kemp

Review: 2022 Vitus Sommet 297 CRX

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx review

The 2022 Vitus Sommet CRX is sold with a Maxxis Assegai and Maxxis Minion DHRII tire combo – not the Goodyear Newton tires pictured.

There’s no denying the Sommet 297 CRX presents an excellent value proposition. For £3,999.99, you get a carbon-alloy frameset with a modern enduro geometry complete with a Fox 38 Factory Fork, a FOX Float X2 Factory Shock, Shimano XT 12 Speed Drivetrain, Shimano XT 4-Piston Brakes, and a Nukeproof Horizon V2 Wheelset appropriately fitted with a Double Down casing Maxxis Minion DHRII on the rear, and a Maxx Grip EXO+ Assegai on the front.

Four grand is a lot of money to pay for anything, but you can shop around all you like; you’ll be hard pushed to find components of this caliber on most other brands’ enduro bikes at less than £5,000. Take Vitus’s sister brand, Nukeproof, for example. To get that level of componentry on the Nukeproof Mega 297, you need to spend £5,399.99. It should be noted however, that the Nukeproof does have a carbon swingarm to match its carbon front triangle, and it does offer tube-in-tube cable routing.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx 170mm enduro bike carbon

The CRX model gets a quality wheelset in the form of the Nukeproof Horizon V2, a thorough review of which you can read here

The Vitus Sommet 297 delivers its 170mm rear wheel travel via the common four-bar linkage design, and it is damped by the Fox Float X2 air shock. That is accompanied by the GRIP2 damper of the 170mm travel Fox 38 managing hits up front.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx fox 38 factory fork kashima grip2 damper

The Vitus Sommet comes with a 50mm stem and a 31.8mm Nukeproof Horizon V2 bar with a 9 degree backsweep. I played around a little with bar roll but found the neutral position to be best for handling.

Just like its 290 counterpart, the Sommet 297 has two geometry configurations; the low position in which it is shipped delivers a 64-degree head angle coupled with a 76.5-degree seat tube angle and a bottom bracket drop of 12mm (from the rear axle). The high-position, accessible via switching the orientation of the flip-chip at the lower shock mount, gives rise to increased ground clearance by raising the bottom bracket to a drop of just 6mm. Concomitantly, the head tube angle steepens to 64.5 degrees for more responsive handling, and the seat tube angle steepens a bit, too.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx green two tone color frame protection stock

All models of the 2022 Vitus Sommet are shipped with gloss frame protection pre-installed.

The Sommet 297 is designed to take a 27.5” rear wheel only, and its geometry or chainstay length cannot be adjusted to accommodate a 29” wheel. Across the S-XL frame sizes, the chainstay length is consistent at 435mm, offering up plenty of clearance for a 2.4” tire.

2022 vitus sommet 297 geometry

I’m 5ft 4” tall, so chose to test the small frame with a seat tube length of 380mm and a reach of 435mm. It comes with a 125mm travel dropper seat post, 170mm crank arms, an 780mm wide Nukeproof Horizon handlebar that I cut to 740mm, and a Nukeproof Horizon saddle that I switched out for the Ergon Women’s SMC saddle. The bike was shipped with a sufficiently long steerer tube to allow for some ride height fettling.

I did, briefly, switch out the Maxxis Assegai/DHRII pairing for the Newton MTF & MTR tires pictured (review here), but my comments on the bike’s ride quality written herein pertain to the bike’s stock configuration, i.e., with the Maxxis Assegai/DHRII combo.

Fit & Form of the 2022 Vitus Sommet 297 CRX

Having tested the 2021 Vitus Sommet 275 CRS last year (a bike that has been replaced by the 297) I was keen to find out how the mullet configuration would alter the bike’s character; I loved the playfulness of the 275, and its Rockshox Select+ suspension delivered a plush and supportive ride quality that I felt suited my relatively low rider weight of 60kg.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crz review mullet 29" front wheel 27.5" rear

The Sommet 297 CRX certainly has a sportier feel to it than its smaller wheeled predecessor; at least, that was the takeaway from my initial rides. The 29” wheel and the 38mm stanchion enduro fork, as expected, give the bike a burlier ride quality, requiring a little more muscle to turn into corners, but also more confidence to plough-on through fast, rough sections of trail littered with roots and holes. It certainly feels like the racier of the two.

The fit was good, but not perfect. First, let’s concern ourselves with the pedaling position.

The reach of 418mm feels great for my 5ft 4” frame. I did choose to push the saddle forward on its rails to make the effective seat tube angle a little steeper than its 76.5°. It delivers a more commanding, direct-feeling seated pedaling position, though I did then discover that the saddle’s more forward-biased position makes for more interference with my knees while descending. Important to note here, however, is that the Ergon Womens SMC saddle is 6mm wider than the Nukeproof Horizon saddle the bike is shipped with.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx technical climbing

Only on the very steepest, punchiest sections of technical climbs did I feel the need to get out of the saddle to stop the front wandering.

On steep technical climbs, the bike’s front wheel does have a slight tendency to wander, just as you might expect from the 64° head angle, but it was nothing a good body position couldn’t correct for. Sliding forward onto the nose of the saddle and getting low over the front end improved front wheel precision. Again, with the saddle positioned forward on the rails, biasing weight toward the front wheel was made easier.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx mtb review

I found that, as I was pedaling along, the inside of my knees would regularly catch the outside of the rocker. It is wider than most, measured at 127mm at its widest point. I found this was the case no matter where I positioned the saddle along its rails. A wider stance pedal was the only solution to this fit issue; I found the Crankbrothers Stamp 7 pedals produced too narrow a Q-Factor, while the PINND CS2 Pedals made for a wider stance, allowing the inside of my knees to clear the rocker as my legs came down through each pedal stroke.

2022 vitus sommet crx review seated pedaling steep climb

Like most brands within this price bracket, Vitus do not take a proportional approach to the suspension kinematic; we are told the Sommet 297 is optimized around an assumed rider height of 5.7” and a weight of around 78kg, riding a medium frame. For bikes that do offer that premium size-specific approach to suspension, look to more expensive brands such as Cannondale or Merida.

The Vitus Sommet 297 isn’t one of the better climbing enduro bikes I’ve tested. It does exhibit a tangible amount of squat under acceleration, making the bike feel a bit sluggish on long fire road climbs. Its Fox Float X2 Shock does, however, have a lock-out, or at least a threshold lever that massively increases the compression damping to give the bike a much-improved pedaling platform. Thus, the pedal bob was a bit of a non-issue, so long as I remembered to move the lever to the open position before dropping into a trail.

2022 vitus sommet 297 review shock lockout remote cable routing port available

The Sommet 297 does have a cable port on the underside of the top tube that could be used to run a remote lockout lever for the rear shock

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx flip chip geometry adjustment

The rebound adjustment on the Fox Float X2 Shock was a little difficult to reach.

I did try out the high flip-chip position for a couple of rides. I felt no tangible improvement for technical climbing, and missed the lower bottom bracket height for railing corners.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx mullet enduro bike dh trails innerleithen

How does the Vitus Sommet 297 descend?

Very well, with the right setup. A lot of the riding I did on the Sommet 297 was on the local enduro tracks of the Tweed Valley. They’re not exactly famous for high speeds and marble-like dust, but having had the driest summer in 40 years, that’s exactly what we got. The tracks were faster and rougher than ever, thanks especially to the ever-increasing volume of traffic encouraged by the fact that it has hosted the EWS two years on the trot.

Initially, I ran the Sommet 297 at 30% sag, as recommended by Vitus. This setup felt appropriate during the earlier stages of testing, when trails were running slower in their damp, greasy state. However, as they dried out and higher speeds were encouraged by the increased grip everywhere, a change was needed.

2022 vitus sommet review 297 melluet mtb enduro race bike pitfichie ses

The rougher trails of the Scottish Enduro Series race in Pitfichie drew attention to an over-damped shock. Credit: Digital Downhill.

At 30% sag, I found the X2 shock was packing down, not able to recover fast enough from consecutive hits – even with the rebound damping set to fully open. To get faster rebound speeds, I added more air to the shock, bringing sag to around 27%. Here, the bike performed much better. Where my feet were getting blown off (not slipping off) the pedals previously, they were now remaining happily in position, even when hauling down the faster, rubble-like sections of track.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx review pumping enduro trail innerleithen

The bike felt more alive, altogether. More responsive to weight changes, giving plenty back as I pumped through subtle undulations, allowing me to carry more momentum (and confidence) into features.

At least for this rider, Vitus has done the bike a bit of a disservice by spec’ing the small with a 125mm dropper seat post. I can’t really slam them for that, though, given the attractive price point they’ve hit. I will point out, however, that the seat tube does offer up sufficient insertion length (177mm maximum) for a OneUp V2 150mm dropper post whilst leaving sufficient clearance between the back of the saddle and the rear tire (at full compression of the suspension).

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx review 170mm enduro mtb bombhole feature innerleithen dh track matador

The stack height of 621mm did take a bit of getting used to, but I soon grew to appreciate the in-the-bike feeling it offered.

I felt I would have benefited from the extra 25mm clearance, as it would have allowed me to have a greater range of motion around the bike, without having the backs of my thighs collide with the saddle occasionally.

It has often been said that a mixed-wheel setup is a bit of a compromise; while the 29” wheel can roll through chunk fairly easily, the smaller rear wheel that has no choice but to follow on does end up taking quite the beating. That is certainly the case here, and I found the bike and its rear wheel suspension weren’t always able to deal with the consequences in a drama-free fashion. With square-edged hits, it did sometimes feel as though the rear wheel was getting held back, grabbed almost, quashing some of my hard-earned momentum.

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx enduro bike cornering

The Sommet 297 does suffer from a little bit of pedal kickback, not helped by the rapid engagement of the Nukeproof Horizon V2 freehub. The flip-side of that? It was always nice to feel the hub engage early when having to pedal out of corners I’d stalled in. Credit: Blair Kemp.

The Sommet 297 managed its use of rear wheel travel well; though I didn’t feel any definitive metal-to-metal bottom out events, the o-ring showed I was getting full travel out of the rear shock on some of the bigger hits.

I ran the shock with the compression damping set to fully open. It always gave a supportive platform off of which to push through turns. On the whole it felt like a well-balanced descender but did lack the suppleness of the 2021 Vitus Sommet 275 CRS (a bike that runs RockShox suspension). The Fox Float X2 Factory shock on this bike has the CM RM tune (Compression Medium Rebound Medium), and is possibly over-damped for my 60 kg rider weight. Fox does offer a lighter tune version of this shock, however, and I feel it could have been the better option for the small frame.

Technical Report

Over the review period, I did have a few mechanical issues with the bike that fell under the remit of the components-in-question warranty policies. The original Fox Float X2 shock the bike was shipped with developed an air can leak. Meanwhile, much later on into the test period, the Fox 38 Factory fork developed a creaking noise under braking that I believe may have been a CSU fault (diagnosing creaks is never a straightforward task).

The above-mentioned component issues are not a reflection on Vitus, but are worth mentioning in the context of the Vitus Sommet 297 CRX model reviewed herein.

The Vitus Sommet 297 CRX in Summary

2022 vitus sommet 297 crx review 170mm mullet enduro mtb

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Very supportive suspension platform
  • Race-ready geometry
  • No internal cable routing through headset
  • It is gorgeous

Cons:

  • Over-damped for light riders
  • Rocker to knee clearance is insufficient
vitus sommet 297 crx actual weight 15.54kg

Our small Vitus Sommet 297 CRX weighed in at 15.42 kg without pedals

Pricing & Availability

The 2022 Vitus Sommet 297 CRX tested here retails at £3,999.99, as does the 290 version that runs a complete 29″ wheelset. It can also be purchased as a frame and shock only for £1,899.99.

The CRX is not the top-of-the range model, however. That is the Vitus Sommet 297 AMP which comes in at £4,599.99. It boasts a Rockshox ZEB Ultimate fork, a RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate shock, a SRAM X01 12 speed drivetrain, and SRAM Code RSC 4-piston brakes.

2022 vitus sommet 297 amp

The 2022 Vitus Sommet AMP model is available in 297 only

More affordable models of the Sommet 297 and Sommet 290 are available. The Sommet CRS retails at £3,199.99; it is built up with a RockShox ZEB Select fork, a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock, a 12 speed Shimano SLX drivetrain, 4-piston Shimano SLX brakes and the Nukeproof Neutron V2 wheelset.

2022 Vitus Sommet CRS

The 2022 Vitus Sommet 290 CRS

The budget option is the Vitus Sommet CR model, priced at £2,699.99. It features a RockShox Domain RC fork, a RockShox Super Deluxe Select R fork, a Shimano Deore 12 speed Drivetrain, Shimano MT520 brakes and WTB KOM Trail i30 rims on a Vitus hubset.

2022 Vitus Sommet 297 CR

The 2022 Vitus Sommet 297 CR

VitusBikes.com

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nooner
nooner
1 month ago

Good looking bike and nice detailed review Jess! Bang for the buck it’s hard to beat Vitus. They ship to USA too. Sidenote: This is a legit 4 bar linkage suspension design, a “faux bar” would have the pivot on the seatstay.

Dylan
Dylan
1 month ago
Reply to  nooner

Ditto on the ‘faux-bar’. If you don’t understand suspension designs, it’s probably best not to talk about them at all, but if you must, at least avoid using pejorative terms.

Brian
1 month ago

It’s probably worth noting that at least one other publication measured the real head tube angle and wheelbase and found them to be substantially different to the figures quoted by Vitus. The HTA is apparently 1.5-2° slacker than claimed(!) and the wheelbase is consequently quite a bit longer.

So if anything the bike certainly can’t be accused of being conservative…