If your in the market for a budget brake upgrade then this has to be one of the best bargains of the year!
At only £58 for both front and rear brakes including 180mm rotors – this is a fantastic deal for anyone looking to upgrade from v brakes or mechanical disks.
The Clarks brakes offer good strong stopping power with simple 2 pot system – they take regular dot 4 fluid and come with sintered pads as standard. Post mount design with IS bracket – should fit to most bikes disk mounts without a further mount.
These brakes are quite an old but well refined system now – but they offer good reliability and power. Some argue that regardless of their budget price tag – these brakes offer an even better performance than some new OEM offerings that can be found on budget bikes in 2020.
The Vitus Dominer is a more than capable DH MTB with a great spec for £1999
Vitus is a brand we know a lot about (have a couple in the shed) and write a lot about.
Vitus bikes are generally well designed, look good and offer great value. This DH machine is no different! The question everyone will be asking is, is the Dominer worth the £2k and what are the alternatives at this price point.
First off lets look at the Dominer’s frame and spec. We have 200mm travel front and back with Rockshox Boxxer Team up front and a Rockshox Vivid R2C on the back. Absolutely no complaints on either of these, both complete performers and retail at around £1100for the pair alone!
The Dominer Frame is T6 6061 Aluminium and looks great. In Vitus’ own words the suspension platform ‘features a floating horizontal shock mount (FHSM) and actual main pivot location (AMPL) designed to provide the most efficient pedalling and suspension action’.
Drivetrain is Shimano Zee with nice little points like a KMC chain (wouldn’t ride anything else) and every dependable E.Thirteen device. Brakes are also Shimano Zee, in my experience no one but the most burley of racers will notice the difference between the more expensive Saints and the cheaper Shimano Zee’s, especially if you opt to upgrade the Zee’s to the vented pads. We have 203mm rotors front and back and the Zee model is BR-M640.
Wheels duties are provided by Novatech hubs (Vitus own brand) laced onto WTB rims which are tubeless ready. The tyres are Maxxis High Roller 2.4″, some people love them some hate them with a passion, give them a try and see if you get on with them, otherwise flog them off on Ebay and upgrade to Schwalbe or Continental.
Nukeproof 760mm bar with stem and FSA headset – No complaints, maybe worth an upgrade to a wider bar if you are a gorilla or like to pretend to be Greg Minnaar.
Stated weight is just under 17kg, not light but not too bad at all, certainly not in the realms of DH bikes a few years past which weighed in at a hefty 21kg +.
The Vitus is somewhat surprisingly pretty easy to ride considering it is a 200m travel DH machine. Its not toooooo slack but not at all outdated geo wise (63deg head angle). The Vitus has a pretty neutral riding position and you feel very stable even at lower speeds. Its easy to chuck the bike about and the frame offers a good degree of pop especially when you get the shock dialed in to your weight. It seems like the kind of bike you want to take out in your local woods and piss about on. Remember when you were 14 and would just twat about – this bike makes you want to do that again – but faster.
Its not the lightest bike, you are not going to want to do any enduro loops on it, but if you don’t mind pushing up the steep slopes then this could be the one!
The entire bike is very neutral and considered. Nothing requires an upgrade straight away, nothing will annoy you. The ride is neutral and the tyres are forgiving, the bars are average width and the groupset is dependable. That last coupkle of sentances make the Vitus seem a little boring, its not at all, its massive fun, its just not a thoroughbred race machine and you wouldn’t expect that at this price!
Norco Aurum offer options: between £1599 and £1885 the more expensive Aurum coming with a Carbon Frame and similar kit to the Dominer with RC Kage rear shock and Boxxer fork, Zee group and maxxis tyres. See the Norco Aurum c7.3 here….
Another option is the GT Fury Elite with its expensive Fox rear shock and cheaper RockShox Domain R Forks. It is a proven racing frame and offers an unrivaled racing poise and geometry.
You can find the GT Fury here for £1999…
The new Planet X Codeine 27.5 has not just been a case of shrinking everything down by a couple of inches We assessed every aspect of the Codeine design to extract the maximum benefit from the new 27.5 wheel size. Its lighter, faster, stiffer and better-looking than previous generations. Weve also increased suspension travel to make it more of an animal – now its a true Enduro monster!
27.5 inch wheels carry less rotating mass than 29ers. This means they turn faster, giving more nimble handling. The Codeine 27.5 is quicker through technical single-track, with a light feel at the bar. The back end is more compact and supremely flickable; a shorter rear triangle tucks the rear wheel up beneath the rider. With more weight over the tyre contact patch theres more traction to power you up the trail, whilst the rear suspension soaks up the lumps without a hint of pedal-induced bob. But its with the nose of the new Codeine pointed downwards that youll notice the biggest change.
Suspension: accepting and ideally suited to 160mm travel forks.
Price now INCLUDES Marzocchi 53 S3C2R rear air shock.
The new Codeine 27.5 is ready help you realise your potential on your local trails. Its a true all-mountain monster that can tackle anything, from steep drags up winding fire roads, to bombing your local Northshore features. One bike to rule them all – youre going to ride this until it hurts, and then ride some more.
Ohhh that speed. My god, can you see that speeeeed!
Danny Hart absolutely supersonic down past the speed trap. On to win his second world cup in a row. Pushing 80kph on a MTB down a rocky, rucked and f***ked track!
Mens DH MTB Results (Top Ten):
1) HART Danny
2) GWIN Aaron
3) BRUNI Loic
4) BROSNAN Troy
5) SHAW Luca
6) MINNAAR Greg
7) BRANNIGAN George
8) MACDONALD Brook
9) BLENKINSOP Samuel
10) PAYET Florent
A couple of points from the race.
Its insane to think Danny Hart is only 24!!! 24 i tell you! Seems like he has been around for ever, in fact it is 5 years since his amazing World Championship winning run in Champery!
Great thing is we should enjoy at least another 10 years of bat shit crazy DH runs from the redcar racer.
Trek’s Rachel Atherton was faster than all but 6 of the Pro Men through the speed trap. She was even faster than her brother Gee at just under 74kph!!!! She would have placed top 80 Pro Men with her winning time, on arguable the hardest and most brutal of all the MTB tracks. Massive props to her!!
UK shredders Adam Brayton and Phil Atwill are consistently placing higher than a lot of big name factory riders. Surely a big big factory team will snap them up for next season? Hope Techs Adam Brayton has piloted the Scott Gambler to it highest ever finish in its history (beating the official Scott riders) this year, whilst essentially being a privateer and running out of a well stocked van. RESPECT
Selling a bike or frame on ebay? Having a ‘pick up only’ option on your listing really puts off a lot of buyers and means you possibly wont be getting top dollar for your bike!
As any ebayer knows there are always loads of buyers looking for deals on the UK site, many of you will have received mails asking if you will ship to far flung UK destinations – a Pick-Up only option really puts a lot of buyers off.
Absolute deal of the century is with Fastlane International who are offering to ship a 20kg bike-box with the dimensions 130cm x 80cm x 21cm to any UK destination for only £9.97 plus vat.
The service is next day and includes pick-up and tracked delivery.
Get yourself down to your Local bike shop and kindly ask if they have any old bike boxes available. Most bike shops will happily oblige as these normally get chucked out in the trade waste bin.
So if your selling your bike or frame definitely have a further look at this service!
Here is the guide from Fastlane!
Fastlane International: How to Send a Bike
Your bike may be a smooth ride but that doesn’t make it the easiest thing to package up and send. With the fetish for new bikes, more and more bikes are being sold second-hand on eBay.
As well as selling your bike, you could be moving house or going on holiday. Now that airlines are so draconian with luggage charges, many cycle enthusiast send their bikes on ahead to their hotel or holiday accommodation.
If you are sending a bike, here are some tips to reduce the cost of your delivery and ensure your bike arrives in the condition you sent it. We have deliberately not recommended a wholesale deconstruction of the bike.
It may not be a bike engineer who is putting it all back together
1. Remove the bike’s handlebar, pedals, seat post and front wheel. Most of these parts can be removed by hand, although you may need to employ a small wrench in order to remove the pedals. If you aren’t able to remove the handlebar, turn the handles 90degrees when you pack it in the box.
2. Rotate the fork and stem so they are facing backwards.
3. Shift the bicycle chain onto the small chain ring, and the largest rear cog, before attempting to remove the pedals.
4. Secure the wrapped handlebar and other loose parts to the frame using tape and/or plastic ties. Foam tubing is even better to protect your frame.
5. Turn the right pedal counter-clockwise, and the left pedal clockwise, to unthread.
6. Loosen and remove the seat post and seat as a unit. Once removed, retighten the seat post bolt so the seat does not fall out.
7. Remove racks, drinks bottle holders, bike lights and mudguards. Wrap separately. If you are including any accessories that have batteries eg: bike lights, remove the batteries. Usually it is only ok to send batteries in their original sealed packaging. If you are sending batteries, wrap the packet separately in bubble wrap.
8. Collect all the bolts, screws etc and package together. A small cardboard box is a good idea.
9. You will need a rigid box with flaps intact. If you are lucky, your local bike shop or stores like Halfords should have bike-specific boxes they can give you. If you are using a non-bike specific box, see For further info on box strength guidelines check out our website. Fastlane International
10. Use the maximum amount of packaging or cushioning materials possible. We recommend packing chips and bubble wrap. If the bike is an expensive one and you don’t want any possibility of scratches, wrap as much of the frame as possible. For more info on packaging: Fastlane International
11. Make sure none of the bike parts are touching the box walls. This will help avoid any damage.
12. Seal your box with strong tape designed for shipping. Especially if you are sending the bike abroad as it will pass through a greater number of handling stages. Make sure the joins have enough tape to hold them securely closed, and run tape in both directions across the box and joints.
13. Make sure you label your package correctly. After all that hard work, you want to make sure it arrives where you send it. ParcelHero recommends:
Remove all existing labels and cover any old barcodes ( you may be using a second hand box)
Use a single address label with delivery and return information.
Place a duplicate address label inside the package.
14. Send your bike with Fastlane International. After all that packing you want to be sure you have a quality courier, especially if you are selling the bike.
Wiggle have a good guide on packing your bike up and also offer some great bike boxes/bags. Check it out here…
Charge Spoon Saddle, Grips and Free Bag ONLY £9.99
Great deal over at wiggle – Charge Spoon Saddle, a pair of grips and a draw string bag all for only £9.99.
Ok the bag is worthless, but the saddle alone normally sells for over £20, so to get this excellent saddle and grips for under a tenner is fantastic value. The Spoon saddle has great reviews and seems a comfy and lightweight mtb seat.
Available for a limited time only over at wiggle.
In the past Kona have tended to have a reputation for overpriced and ugly bikes.
In light of Konas 2012 and 13 offerings, this slightly unfair reputation should be banished along with the quirky fraggle-rock kona decals.
The Kona Entourage along with its big brother the Operator are the real deal, great value, hard hitting and versatile bike park machines.
With slightly reduced travel, lower bb hight and shorter stays than its big brother, the Entourage is designed to find the right balance between low speed tight handling and high speed flat out riding.
The Entourage makes use of the dependable Fox Van R rear shock to deliver 170mm of travel – perfect for a Freeride/DH/Bike park mix.
Up front the Kona runs Rock Shox Domain coils also offering 170mm of travel and pairs up with the rear shock well.
Finishing kit is good mid-range fare with e13 chain guide, Sram x-5 and x-7, Avid codes, Formular hubs and Sun rims and to keep the final price down Kona own brand post, bar, stem etc… The Maxxis Minion tires are a nice touch especially when alot of bikes at this price come with sub-standard rubber.
At its original price of £2350 the Entourage has massive competition in the LT DH/freeride arena, including the Specialized Status, Giant Glory and Norco Atrium to name 3.
At its reduced price of £1349 with CRC the Kona Entourage is fantastic value with not a lot of competition at this low price. The Entourage should certainly be considered when looking for a new long travel machine.
Commencal Premier S Review
The Premier S is Commencals budget full suspension machine and in the own words of Commencal a simple, fun and affordable bike. The Premier S comes with 120mm of travel up from and 100mm at the back which makes it on paper a good XC/All Mountain do everything type of bike.
With a RRP of £1199 (Edit* NOW ONLY £799 £749) the Commencal is competitively priced at the very bottom end of what you would expect to pay for a usable full suspension mountain bike. Rest assured – this is a proper and very usable mtb, no gimics here – the Commencal is ready to be riden hard.
Riding The Commencal.
The Commencal Premier S shares the same basic suspension ideas as the more expensive Commencal Meta series. The rear linkage ensures very good rear wheel traction and good active and responsive suspension. In the saddle the Commencal S feels a whole lot of fun, its not the lightest bike or the most nimble, but like the hardtail Premier HD it feels very chuck-able and you find your self wanting to attack trail sections and pop the bike over roots and rocks.
The Commencal is undoubtedly aimed at the XC and Beginner market and the bike handles cross country duties absolutely fine. It was a pleasure to spend most of the day in the saddle and at this pricve couldn’t really fault the ride when it comes to long XC rides.
Although not its target specialty, with care the Commencal also handles some DH and dirt abuse mixed in with all that xc trail riding.
With the Premier S you wouldnt be afraid to drop in to some root sections or attack that rock garden. The frame feels stable at speed without being too long and cumbersome – meaning you can also handle those switchback corners no problem.
Budget bikes can sometimes be a bit let down by component choices but the Commencal is shipped with a very capable group and finishing kit. Shimano Deore and Alivio take care of the shifting duties while the Premier S comes with a Truvativ and Commencal own brand finishing kit. All good and competent stuff, no corners cut here!
The front Rock Shox Reba forks are responsive, adjustable and a great addition at this price. The rear X-Fusion air shock is pretty standard at this price point and offers uncomplicated damping.
The Kenda Tires are fast rolling with minimal tread – maybe something you would want to upgrade if you venture out into the wet muddy wild more often.
The Jalco and commencal wheel set is also competent and light enough to not need to upgrade anytime soon.
Brakes come in the form of Tektro Draco hydraulic disks – they are a real surprise! Great stopping power comparable with some big name manufactures. Fantastic kit!
All in all a very good component set for a sub £1200 full suspension bike!
Solid, uncomplicated and competent components.
Great looking bike.
Rock Shox front forks with 120mm of travel.
Commencal ‘contact system’ linkage suspension.
Prestige of Commencal brand name.
Brakes are a real surprise!
Tires not suitable for proper off road duties.
Bars might be quite thin for some riders.
No shock pump included.
No pedals included.
Cheap headset will need replacing eventually.
A great budget bike at a fantastic price. The Commencal looks double its worth in the flesh and will gain a lot of admiring glances (especially in black). The component list and frame offer great value and being a Commencal it should hold its resale value in the coming years.
The bike will handle some abuse and would be fine for agressive XC and trail duties as well as the occasional commute.
The Commencal Premier S is definitely worth considering and gains our recommendation!
Vitus Escarpe 1 Review
With its fantastic value for money Chain Reactions bargain of the year Vitus Escarpe 2 sold out within 2 weeks of being at its reduced price of £879. That ship has sailed – but CRC still have 16″, 18″ and 20″ sizes available of the better specced Escarpe 1 available.
Ok, its over £300 more expensive but looking at its component list it still seems fantastic value for money. At that price it doesn’t have very many competetors, certainly not any with the spec of the Vitus Escarpe 1.
I have ridden the Escarpe for over 4 weeks now as it has accompanied me on a summer trip. Around 18 days of varied riding and terrain including XC loops both ‘back country’ and trail centers, two all day road / cycle path outings and 5 days in Germanys Winterberg and Willingen bike parks for some reasonably serious DH and freeride action.
The bike has handled everything fantastically. I will break down the types of riding and how the Escarpe handled it.
Road, Commuting, Smooth Trail, Bike Paths and busting a lung: Not really the best way to judge a MTB but nearly everyone of us will have to put in some road miles occasionally. Its never going to be a full suspension mountain bikes defining moment, but the Escarpe wasn’t as much of a drag on road as i initially thought. Both the forks and rear shock seemed to have quite a nice platform whilst pedaling and I didnt experience too much bob whilst seated. Out of the saddle and sprinting through the traffic lights is was a different matter and the forks were clearly too plush and long travel for serious on road use (get your shock pump out and max the pressure out) . The Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres are mid compound wide off road tyres. If you are serious at putting in road and smooth trail miles then maybe look for something faster rolling with less tread.
XC & Long Trail Rides:
As an alpine style enduro bike the Escarpe is fantastic, the grip provided by the rear wheel whilst climbing is great. The SRAM x9 groupset is smooth and having the 10 block on the back comes in handy. The escarpe seems a very light bike – lighter than the figures would suggest – the front end is especially light which makes climbing out of the saddle a pleasure. For XC use i ran the air shocks quite high pressure at around 20% sag.
The Fulcrum wheelset is pretty light and good for both XC and Gravity duties. The SRAM shifters felt great and the ability to shift upto 4 gears in one click is nice. The Geometry of the Escarpe isn’t proper XC fair, but it doesn’t feel out of place scrambling up hill and with the seat post elevated to a scaffolding position the Escarpe has the ability to feel like a short travel XC demon.
The Ecarpe isnt a lycra clad XC speed demon, if you want that buy a hard tail – the escarpe is a long travel alpine gravity bike. That being said, It was a pleasure to ride the escarpe 70km+ on XC loops.
Downhill, Freeride, Jumps and Drops:
With 140mm of travel the frame handles gnarl with ease. The Escarpe feels as if it has more travel than the quoted 140mm and at 30% sag the shock and forks feel plush, smooth and stable. Doing chair lift assisted runs on the Winterberg DH track gave a good impression of what the Escarpe can handle. She is a fast bike – but not a DH bike. Suspension wise as you would expect with 140mm of air sprung travel the bike tends to pop over rocks and levitate over roots rather than roll and absorb trail features like a long travel spring shock DH bike. The Escarpe frame is quite light weight, the tubes not too thick and not overly gusseted. Its safe to say the Vitus isnt going to be too happy doing any Bender style 10 foot drops. Trail drops and jumps though are a different matter – the frame felt quite happy tackling bike park DH trail features and I can seriously say held her own against long travel DH bikes. A different style of riding is needed than that of a LT machine, but the Vitus is very capable of going DH fast.
I have to admit the 140mm of travel came up a little short on the Willingen World Cup DH track and it is quite difficult to dial up the suspension to handle larger jumps and drops to flat whilst feeling smooth and plush on the trail. But on the Willingen freeride track and Winterberg DH track the Escarpe felt right at home. The Schwalbe tires coped pretty well in the German dust but I would probably look to upgrade them to some more specialist rubber as they are an all round tyre and did loose grip in places that a good DH tire wouldn’t. The bike felt very stable at speed and very flickable a nimble in slow sections.
The ideal riding tag for the Escarpe has to be “All Mountain”and is best suited to all day alpine riding.
The Vitus machine is certainly a durable full suspension mountain bike that can lend a hand to any type of riding.
Whilst the Avid Exilir 1 brakes on the Escarpe 2 had a tendancy to fade and overheat on heavy braking and long decents – the Exilir 3 brakes on the Escapre 1 felt absolutley fine and a drastic improvement on the cheaper model.
At this price the Rock Shox Revelation forks are a real treat with great adjustability.
The Monarch rear shock is pretty standard at this price level and does the job well.
The Truvativ finishing kit is a nice bonus, the bars feel great especially.
The Sram X9 mechs and shifters are a very nice addition at this price.
Con’s (there has to be some… right?)
– Paintwork – Vitus have cut some corners here – the paintwork is thin and not very durable. I experienced quite severe cable rub after only a few rides. You will need quite a few frame protection stickers or helicopter tape to keep the Escarpe looking nice.
– The Cable Routing is a mess – make sure you have some spare zip ties handy.
– X-Lite Saddle is complete crap – (if anyone remembers it) even worse than the infamous striped Tioga from back in 1998 – deff not suited to all day in the saddle.
– The holes in the chainstays are not suited to UK weather. Would need filling or covering in the winter. Get some fuel tank foam in there if you can source it – otherwise some heli tape or any old stickers over the holes
– Rock Shox manuals?, what manuals?. Rock Shox and Vitus seem to think that its ok to send out expensive products without any explanation how to tune or set them up. Bit of a joke really – and pretty standard in the cycling industry. Spend £1200 on a full suspension mountain bike and dont get any explanation of how to correctly set up the bicycles suspension. The monarch rear shock has something called a Gate Valve, its gold, looks cool and has 10 clicks. Unfortunately there is no explanation what the hell it does. Good work Rock Shox!!
– No Shock pump is supplied with this bike. So unless by some miracle you are the exact weight suited to whatever pressure the CRC techs ship the bikes shocks with – you will need a shock pump. No your normal pump wont work very well – get a proper shock pump.
The Topeak DXG mini shock pump is good value at £32, works great with the Monarch and Revelations and fits into a camelback fine for on the trail adjustment.
– No Pedals come with the bike – remember to pick some up on your way to the checkout.
If your looking for a budget platform pedal then look no further than the great value Welgo v8 copy – at only £12 it cant be bettered for price.
Do the positives outweigh the cons – YES definitely.
This is an absolutely fantastic bike – the escarpe rides like a much more expensive model, rides a lot better than some big name 140mm bikes, is amazing value for money and looks great!
If your not too fussy about the little things like paintwork and cable routing – buying this bike is really a no brainer.
All in all a highly recommended, proper all mountain bike. Selling out fast, as mentioned before, the Escarpe 2 sold out in all sizes within a few weeks – CRC also have limited stock of the Escarpe 1 so be quick if your interested.
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