Since like all of us I have a bit of time on my hands right now, and realising its coming up to two years and 4000 odd miles that I have the E-Sommet, doesn’t seem like that but time flies and all that, so I thought I would do a recap of my ownership experience, what I like, what I don’t, and the issues I have had.
First off a big thanks to @Rob Hancill for starting the forum, as without it and the feedback on here I would never have looked into getting the bike. I love this bike, in 30 years of riding MTB the only other bikes I have had that made be smile as much and want to go out and ride at any opportunity where my first MTB (an Emelle Santana!) and my first proper full suspension bike, but those where first loves which will always be remembered through rose tinted glasses and where the best thing since sliced bread at the time.
The bike is just right, when it comes to riding it out on the trails I cant fault it, from the geo to the suspension kinematics, to the way it handles and how much fun it is to ride. It really is a bike you can just get on and shred, straight out the box . . . of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t "tinkered" with it
I have put on, taken off again and adjusted a lot of parts on the bike, but honestly how it rides stock is so good that aside from personalising the contact points there is are only two changes (Meg Neg can upgrade to the super deluxe, and the 223mm front rotor) that I would do straight off the bat if starting again – however seeing as vitus have switched to Fox now the suspension is a moot point.
A fair few of the mods I have done, bearing in mind mine is a first generation bike, where subsequently implemented by Vitus on the later models, for example the e7000 controller and shorter cranks. Some changes are cosmetic, such as the bars and stem, and others are performance based. The bike has been through a fair few itineration’s, but the way its set up now is how I have run it for the last six months, and I cant see any major changes in the future aside from a respray which I keep toying with the idea of once its out of warranty, and of course if Shimano’s new motor is retrofittable when it eventually arrives I might go down that route, though I have to say I like the e8000 so it would have to be something with either a much tougher build quality, or performance to consider doing so.
So onto things I dont like.
First off the cable routing is a dogs dinner in terms of maintenance and replacing any of it – the internal cabling is neat enough, and sensibly routed in terms of avoiding cables getting fouled when riding, but the birds nest of cables above the motor is a mess, and add into that it s a bit of a lottery how CRC put together the bikes before shipping in terms of how bad the cabling is done in this area – its easy for a badly routed dropper cable for example to cause the post to not operate smoothly.
The area above the motor is a shelf for dirt, and the cable routing holes in the frame here allow for crap to get into and sit above the motor, potentially then getting into the motor covers – this is easily remedied by dropping the front of the motor and putting some Moto foam or similar in the gap between the frame and the motor, but its an example of the budget nature of the build itself.
Colurscheme – I have grown to like it and probably made it worse by going all technicolour with the mods, but I love a raw or matt black bike – Vitus’s always look better in the flesh, but they dont help themselves with some of the paint jobs they produce.
No bottle bosses, I got around this by fitting a Fidlock Unibase with heavy duty zipties to the top tube, but tbh I have only put a bottle on it once.
Dropper post insertion – the frame design means you cant get a big drop dropper in there, because the insertion is limited – the stock 150mm Brand X has been faultless though, and works perfectly in terms of sizing for me, but may not for others. I swapped out the lever for a One-Up dropper remote, which has been a great upgrade, rock solid and smooth action, as good an experience as I have had with any dropper post.
CRC Back up. My motor went bang last year, and CRC where useless at dealing with it (covered in other threads) – I eventually went direct with Shimano UK via my LBS who where brilliant and sorted it out quickly.
Finally I couldn’t fit a Super deluxe coil shock that I got for the bike – now this isn’t really a fault of the bike as its not designed for the shock in question, but the rs coil shocks have the largest diameter coils out of the major manufacturers, and the clearance through the shock window in the frame isn’t wide enough to fit the shock without taking a Dremel to the frame. However this was a cloud with a silver lining, as it lead to me doing the Meg Neg conversion to the shock, which mad a big improvement, basically keeping the supple nature of the shock, but with a lot more midstroke support. The main thing it improved was how much better the bike is now at "pumping" for want of a better phrase, I can now fire it into and out of turns/jumps etc with far more confidence.
And onto things I like
The price, pretty obvious that one, but I paid 3.5k for the bike, which looking at current pricing is the deal of the decade imo.
The stock parts – whilst I have swapped out the suspension, the stock part are on point – the wheels have survived well, one set of new bearings a piece, but still running well and strong. They are basic DT Swiss wheels, still decent but distinctly average in terms of bling factor, but at no point have I thought of changing them. Same goes for the Brand X dropper, dirt cheap but bullet proof and when combined with a decent remote as good as any other post out there. Shimano drivetrain has been faultless, with only minor maintenance needed, and two cassettes replaced over 4000 miles.
This bike is all about the riding, how it looks is secondary, and they haven’t compromised the riding experience to try and make it look better.
The weight, or more importantly the weight placement. The bike is relatively light (mine is hovering around 22kg) compared to other long travel emtbs’s, but more importantly the low BB combined with great geo and how the weight is placed in the frame, is what makes this bike ride so well. I have ridden so many EMTB’s but this is still the easiest one to pick the front end up on that I have tried outside of the "lightweight" emtbs’s like the Levo SL. This has two benefits, it makes the bike fun to ride, and also gives you more line options when riding – what do I mean by that? Well we all know that the added weight of EMTB’s mean they can bulldoze through stuff that would buck a normal bike, and that’s all good and fun for a while, but the easy to manoeuvre front end also means you are not restricted to just ploughing through stuff, you can also get funky to your heart desire, or in my case till I bin it! .
The Shimano motor – the system remains my favourite, for me I just stick it in trail and ride, it has the most natural feeling in terms of response and mimicking how pedal inputs etc effect a normal bike, the power ramps up nicely, it never kicks in unexpectedly or feels awkward on the trail. I love the fact the you can mix and match parts from the Shimano E-Mtb ecosystem, have no display if you want, have no mode switch if you want etc etc. Also the fact you can update the software via the app is great – the app itself is pretty limited, but it does all I need. My motor did develop a fault, but that was after 3000 miles in all weathers, and having seen friends with other motors have no end of problems the relative reliability of the system is a big plus.
Also aside from the messy cable routing, which can easily be sorted by a competent home mechanic, this bike is a doddle to work on, the simplicity of the design means its easy to work on, and the plug and play nature of the Shimano system means that is also easy to swap out part on.
Putting 180mm forks on it – I put a set of 180mm Lyric RC2’s on it, and rode it that way for about 6 months before shortening them back to 170mm and upgrading the damper to Ultimate spec. 10mm may not sound like much, but it made the front end vaguer, and want to lift up too much when climbing – there weren’t any real benefits to the extra travel, I wasn’t using it, so only downsides from my experience of doing this – now its back to 170mm its much better. Vitus new what they where going here and I was foolish to think I knew better . Of course for some people it might work, but not for me or my riding.
Meg Neg Can which I have discussed above
223mm Galfer Front rotor – this has been an awesome mod, I liked the stock Guide RE’s, despite being a lifelong Shimano fan, and had fully expected to swap out the brakes to Siants at some point, however the Sram’s worked well from the off so I never bothered – however I was interested to try a larger front rotor and went with the Galfer as it was the easiest to get hold of at the time. The braking now verges on brutal, I would do this mod to any EMTB. The front brake not only stops faster, but also modulates way better, and has better feel. Simple and cheap mod to do that is far more effective than swapping out the whole brake system.
160mm Cranks. Now I know @Gary will call me a southern pussy for this mod (and he is right when he says that getting used to the bike and good technique eliminates the need for this mod to a certain extent), but genuinely I haven’t had a pedal strike since doing this, and the peace of mind in knowing its unlikely I will get one is good to have – I didn’t get strikes going downhill before the mod, just on technical climbs. The newer version of he bike come with shorter cranks as standard now, so I wouldn’t need to do this Mod on a newer bike.
EW-EN100 wireless unit that replaces the display – this is a little connector that allows you to ditch the display, it currently on my E-Sentier as I smashed the display on that, but I love tis thing as it cleans up the cockpit, I dont like cycle computers or anything distracting me.