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Vitus Mach E Urban Electric Bike Review (and why I decided to buy one)
The Vitus brand is sold direct to consumer via Wiggle and Chain Reaction cycles and is synonymous with great value for money and good quality. I recently had the chance to test out their Vitus Mach E urban electric bike and I was so impressed with it, I’ve decided to buy one! Read my full review below to see why I think it’s one of the best all round e-bikes currently available.
The Vitus Mach E Urban e-bike brings a breath of fresh air to the £2000 price bracket. For starters it’s very light (for a crank drive e-bike) – weighing in at just 17.3kg, it comes in at a whopping 6kg lighter than the similarly priced Bosch-powered Cube Reaction Hybrid Performance . Another big plus point is the excellent Shimano Steps E6100 crank motor and powerful 504Wh battery pack.
Although styled and marketed as an ‘urban electric bike’ it comes across as an incredibly versatile machine that is equally happy on city streets or moorland gravel tracks. The frame geometry means it’s not only comfortable, but responsive and stable to ride. If you wanted to uses this as a gravel / adventure bike you could fit 650b rims with 47mm wide gravel-specific tyres or stick with the capable 700 x 40 Vee G-Sport tyres already fitted.
Riding the Mach E brought a big smile to my face. It remined me of the more expensive BMC Alpine Challenge AMP Cross Two electric bike. Riding without the assist on wasn’t a problem – which is one of the things that attracted me to it (along with the price).
The Shimano Steps E6100 motor (also found on the aforementioned BMC) epitomises everything a good e-bike motor should be – lightweight, quiet, smooth and very responsive to rider input. The claimed battery range is a massive 185km in Eco mode – this sounds promising, and I’m keen to put this to the test when I receive my Mach E.
I borrowed this bike from a friend, then I went onto Wiggle and found it had been reduced to a very reasonable £1649.99 – this is for the 2020 model. The latest 2021 model will be available in stock soon for the regular price of £2199.99. I just couldn’t resist it at that price (and they had my frame size in stock).
More on why I decided to buy the Vitus below.
So why have I decided to buy the Vitus Mach E?
I have to admit that I’ve been toying with the idea of getting another electric bike for some time now. Riding an E-bike helped get me back into cycling and lose nearly 4 stone in weight (25kg) – I progressed on to road cycling (in 2017) and have since covered over 12,000 unassisted miles.
Since I started this blog a couple of years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out many different makes and models of e-bike. They’re getter lighter, more efficient and a lot of the latest models provide a more natural cycling feel. Long gone are the days when electric bikes were ugly, cumbersome machines that were inefficient and quite frankly, unpleasant to ride.
I ride anywhere between 75-120 miles per week, purely from a recreational (and fitness) perspective. It’s fair to say that I have been well and truly bitten by the cycling bug, but I also realise I’m not getting any younger and staying fit is important not only for me, but to serve as an inspiration for my children.
Since I started riding a regular bike in 2017, I have completed many 100+ mile days in the saddle and lots of epic rides around the South West of England. I’ve seen my fitness increase to a level that I never thought possible and at 51 years of age I feel fitter than I did as a teenager.
So why have I decided to buy another electric bike? Well, for starters the Vitus Mach E is going to be complementing my current cycling regime not replacing it. I will still be putting in the miles on my regular road bike.
I want to use an e-bike so I can still cycle on recovery days, but I would also like to start factoring in more regular 100+ mile rides. But why not use your regular bike, I hear you say? The problem is Cornwall can be a very unforgiving place for an older cyclist. There are no flat roads in the area I live, you are either cycling up hill or down hill. On an average local ride I regularly climb 3500ft (1066m) over a typical 30 mile ride. If I do 60 miles then it is usually nearly 6000ft of climbing.
This isn’t too much of a problem if you’re a lightweight rider, but I’m 6’1″ (185cm) tall and weigh 17 stone (107kg), I’ve always been a big lad – it’s just the way I’m built! Consequently the constant hill climbing does take it out of me and if I do go on a long, hilly ride, when I get home I usually flake out. Which isn’t particularly helpful for my wife when she has to deal with five kids.
I always said to myself that at one stage I would buy another e-bike, but a certain criteria needed to be met. I wanted an electric bike that was fairly lightweight, so I could pedal it unassisted for at least 50% of the ride and it needed to have a decent battery to give me a potential range of around 100 miles. It also had to cost under £2000. I wanted an e-bike that would essentially ride like a regular bike, but would flatten out some of the more brutal climbs and enable me to ride longer distances at a better pace, but without me crumbling when I (eventually) got home.
Having tried the Vitus Mach E, I’m 100% sure it’s the e-bike for me!
The Vitus Mach E Urban uses one of the best electric assist systems currently available. In fact this exact system is found on more expensive brands like BMC. The battery is also top-notch offering a potential assisted range of up to 185km on a single charge.
Shimano Steps E6100 Motor Review
Photo courtesy of Shimano
Motors nowadays are so much more refined than they were a few years ago, and even though the Shimano Steps E6100 motor was released in 2018, it has stood the test of time very well. Not only is the E6100 very light at 2.8kg, but the battery weighs in at 2.5kg making the whole system 5.3kg which is excellent for a mid-drive system like this. It’s true that the Fazua Evation system is lighter at 4.6kg, but the battery has half of the energy capacity.
I would say the Steps E6100 compares favourably with the Bosch Active Plus system. The E6100 produces a very respectable 60Nm of torque and feels very lively in high power mode. Having ridden both, I prefer the Shimano as it definitely has a little more oomph, and the transition from assist to unassisted (at the 25km/h cut-off) is almost imperceptible. The way the assist starts is also incredibly smooth.
What I really love about these high tech mid-drive systems is they take your pedalling effort and enhance it. The torque sensor fitted to the Shimano Steps is very sensitive to changes in pedalling force and what you get is a very intuitive level of assistance.
Having ridden this bike, for me the sweet spot was ‘Eco’ mode – this is the most efficient assist level and amplifies your pedalling effort by 70%. I found this really took the sting out of the 15% climbs near where I live. When using ‘Normal’ mode the motor gives 150% of assist – I personally found this too easy, as I still want to get a workout when riding. ‘High’ mode produces a massive 230% of assist and literally flattens out all but the steepest of hills. I can see maximum assist being very helpful for riders just getting back into cycling after either a long period without exercise or after an illness or injury – it really is a game changer!
When compared with the Fazua Evation and X35 drive systems, the Shimano Steps E6100 produces considerably more assistance. It’s not a million miles away from the high performance Bosch CX performance line or even the Shimano Steps E8000 e-MTB system.
Another great thing about the E6100 system is the wealth of functionality and information available from the display. When you compare it to the entry-level Bosch Purion display, there’s no comparison. There is the usual info like speed, trip computer, assist level and battery indicator plus other useful information like estimated battery range and pedalling cadence (rpm). You also have the option of removing the display altogether or downloading an app and using your Android or Apple smartphone as the display.
The display is clear and easy to read, and there is also Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity – you can even pair the display with a Garmin or Sigma cycle computer (see below). You can also connect a lighting system and operate it using the display – really useful for commuting in the winter.
Shimano also offer a companion app the Shimano E-Tube Project – this can be downloaded as an Android or Apple smartphone app, and there is a version for Windows for your laptop or PC. From here you can download firmware updates and even configure certain pedal assist characteristics. Through this app you can also turn your smartphone (or Garmin) into the display – there is a list of supported devices on the Garmin website.
The battery on the Vitus Mach E is the highest spec 504Wh version – even the more expensive BMC only has the 418Wh battery fitted. Shimano claim a range of up to 185km in ‘Eco’ mode which is based on a combined rider / bike weight of 100kg and riding on flat terrain – I’m curious to see how much I can squeeze out of a single charge riding around Cornwall – I suspect, given the efficiency of the motor it won’t be that far off the mark as I have achieved a similar range from a comparable battery fitted to a Tongsheng TSDZ2 e-bike conversion. The battery charger is shipped with an EU plug, so you will need to purchase a EU to UK plug adaptor.
The components fitted to the Vitus Mach E are about right for the price point. It’s nice that there are Shimano flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes and tough rims with thru-axles. The gearing is provided by the dependable Shimano Alivio, which works absolutely fine.
Alivio is at the lower end of Shimano’s MTB groupset range, but in my experience it is reliable and works well. The Alivio RD-M4000 rear derailleur has always been my ‘go to’ mech when I’ve wanted to use a wider range gear cassette on my touring bike and road bike. It will easily work with an 11-36 cassette and I have successfully used an Alivio derailleur with an 11-40 rear cassette with no noticeable reduction in shifting quality.
The Vitus gearing is probably more suitable for undulating terrain – it uses an 11-34 9-speed cassette in combination with a 44t chainring. I personally found this gearing a little too high for the steep hills in Cornwall. When my bike arrives I will be swapping out the rear cassette for a Sunrace 11-40 9-speed and I will change the front chainring for the optional 38t that’s available. Mid-drive e-bike motors are more efficient at higher pedalling cadences, so if you live in a hilly area you will need to consider this when purchasing the Mach E.
The brakes are excellent Shimano UR300 flat mount hydraulic brakes with 160mm rotors. I found they worked very well and provided the right amount of modulation and bite. They also look very neat and the levers are comfortable to operate.
Wheels and tyres
The wheels are Vitus own branded components and come across as being very tough. They have the obligatory thru-axles and are shod in 700 x 40 Vee Tire Co G-Sport E-Bike tyres which come in a very nice ‘gum wall’ finish. These tyres seem to be a good all-rounder for road and a bit of gravel riding, although I couldn’t find a lot of information about them on the internet. They do make for a very nice ride and the manufacturer claims a good level of puncture protection (B-Proof). I will see how they stand up to the Cornish back lanes, but if I get a puncture I’ll be inclined to fit a pair of nearly new Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres I have knocking about.
One great thing about the Mach E is you can fit a 650b wheelset and run up to 47mm wide tyres – especially useful if you’re going to be doing a lot of gravel riding. This is an upgrade I may well consider in the future.
Frame and finishing kit
The frame and finishing kit on the Vitus is very nice indeed. The frame is made of 6061 T-6 alloy and there is a full carbon fork (including steerer) and an ACROS Aix-Low R3 tapered headset. The geometry is definitely aimed at comfort / endurance with a nice and slack head angle and dropped seat stays.
I was also pleasantly surprised with the Vitus saddle. Usually when I get a new bike I fit a Charge Spoon saddle, but I will see how I get on with the supplied saddle as my first impressions were favourable.
The handlebars weren’t too wide at 620mm and the seat post and stem also looked to be well made and finished off.
Who is the Vitus Mach E electric bike aimed at?
The Vitus Mach E Urban really does have a broad appeal. I can see this bike being popular with a wide range of cyclists. It’s perfect for commuting through busy city streets or leisurely country rides. I can even see potential for credit card touring – with a potential range of over a hundred miles on a single charge you could cover some serious daily mileage on a bike like this.
I already have a pannier rack and set of SKS mudguards to fit when I get my bike, so it will be ready for winter rides and errands to the local shops. If you’re after a day to day runabout the Mach E would be an excellent choice.
It will also make a great training e-bike, and would be perfect for a rider who is looking to get back into the saddle after an injury. My friend who lent me this one to test also rides a road bike and he uses his specifically for a 15 mile daily commute – no more turning up for work sweating buckets!
My Vitus Mach E Urban
My Vitus Mach E arrived quicker than expected and the delivery company had obviously taken good care of it as the box was completely unscathed. The whole bike took less than 20 minutes to assemble. Unfortunately I forgot to order an EU to UK plug adaptor for the battery charger so had to wait a couple of days before I could take it for a good spin.
I decided to fit the nearly new Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres I had spare, as I’ve used this brand on my touring bike and never had a puncture, despite covering over 10’000 miles. I also fitted a pair of LifeLine Ergonomic grips, a set of SKS commuter hybrid mudguards and a lightweight Tortec Ultralite Pannier rack.
With all the extras fitted and taking into account the extra weight of heavy-duty tyres, the top tube bag, tyre pump and saddle bag (with toolkit and spare inner tube) I weighed the bike and was surprised to find the total weight came in at a whisker under 19.2kg – which is impressive, when the similarly equipped Cube Touring Hybrid One 400 weighs 24.9kg and has a less powerful battery.
I’ve yet to take her for a long ride, but early indications as to the battery range look promising. At the time of writing, I have ridden about 25 miles (with 2200ft of elevation gain) in ‘Eco’ mode and only used one bar from a total of five on the battery indicator. Incidentally I kept the assist on for the whole ride, which is something I wouldn’t usually do, so I’m quite confident of being able to do 100 mile rides on a single charge. I also fitted a Sunrace 11-40 9-speed cassette, which has lowered the gearing enough that I can comfortably climb a 8-10% gradient without the assist on – Very useful if I were to run out of battery power after a long ride. I’m still toying with the idea of fitting the optional 38t front chainring to lower the gearing even further, but I will see how I get on. The Shimano Alivio rear derailleur indexes perfectly with the larger cassette, all I needed to do was adjust the ‘B’ screw a couple of turns in.
All in all I’m really pleased and definitely don’t regret my purchase. I’m looking forward to many, many miles. The only problem is I’m already getting crazy ideas, about fitting drop handlebars with Shimano GRX 1 x 11 groupset – I generally prefer drop handlebars on a bike, but the cheapest gravel e-bike I could find was about a grand dearer and had half the battery capacity. The GRX groupset with Shifters, hydraulic brakes, derailleur and cassette would set me back around £500, so it would still work out substantially cheaper than the cheapest electric gravel bike – maybe something for next year!
I wasn’t really thinking about getting another electric bike until next Spring, but after I had a go on this and saw the discounted price for the 2020 model, I couldn’t resist it. For me it ticks all the right boxes – smooth mid-drive, long range battery, great handling and comfort, and not too expensive. I’ve yet to test another e-bike that comes close to the Vitus Mach E Urban at this price. Even the £2199 price tag for the 2021 model is very reasonable, especially when you consider the BMC Alpine Challenge AMP Cross Two costs nearly £500 more, uses the same E6100 motor, but only has the 418Wh battery fitted.
I’m absolutely over the moon with my purchase. I was able to do a fairly tough 25 mile ride with sore legs from the previous two days riding. I still worked up a sweat, but the lowest power setting just made the steep climbs more palatable. I didn’t feel the need to go beyond ‘Eco’ even on a short 15% climb, the power was enough for my liking.
All in all the Mach E is a great e-bike. It looks great, but most importantly it’s really versatile and will appeal to a variety of riders. A big thumbs up all the way!
Thanks for reading this article. If you own a Vitus Mach E Urban, please share your thoughts in the comments section below. If you have any questions relating to this bike leave a comment and I will reply within 24hrs.