Pinkbike Roadtrip: Sedona Stories Part II

Nov 19, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  
We're well into our multi-week bike review roundup down in Sedona, Arizona. An informal routine has developed amongst the crew, usually involving a big breakfast, a long morning ride, an afternoon lunch binge, and then more riding. Once the sun sets it's time to go over our notes, address any mechanical issues that may have cropped up, eat more food, and get ready to do it all over again the next morning. It's a routine that blurs one day into the next, everything turning into a haze of long rides, blue skies and tired muscles, and pretty much the perfect way to spend most of November.

  Choices, choices, choices. This is the fleet for this year's Pinkbike Bike Review Roundup. We've been putting some serious miles on these bikes, pushing them hard to find out which ones make the grade.

  There's a reason that all of the bikes have been set up tubeless, and this is one of them. The desert is an unforgiving place, full of plants that have developed spikes and spines for survival. Meander off trail and you're sure to run over some kind of pokey plant.

Mike Kazimer testing the BMC Trailfox in Sedona AZ
  Trails like Hangover, Hiline, and the Hogs provide incredible views of the red sandstone formations around Sedona. The weather's held off so far, with mostly sunny skies and one perfectly timed evening of rain that turned the trails into magic red carpets.

  Juxtaposition. For every smooth section of trail in Sedona there's one that's equally rocky and rough, usually close by. "Punchy" best describes the trails here, with most trails featuring tricky climbs followed by technical descents. The amount of variety packed into each trail makes this an excellent bike testing ground.

  After an evening photo shoot we returned to a van that refused to start. Luckily, Richard Cunningham is a man of many talents, so he gave us all a lesson on how to hot-wire a diesel engine with a multi-tool.

Jordan Carr testing the Devinci Dixon in Sedona AZ
  Please keeps your arms inside the ride at all times. Jordan Carr practices his advanced branch avoidance technique.

  More pointy things. By now, everyone's arms legs are covered with scrapes and scratches, souvenirs from coming into corners a little too hot or losing focus and drifting into a sharp desert dweller.

And the tradition of random roadtrip tattoos continues. What does ink done by a chain smoking cancer survivor who took last week off from work to kick an oxycodone habit look like? Now you know. Levy's on the left, Kazimer's on the right.


We still have another week or so left in the desert - watch for the results of our product testing throughout the winter.


159 Comments

  • + 103
 Looks like we get to hear "This bike is awesome, totally worth $9, 000!" at least 18 times this year...
  • + 16
 yeah but im still curious, even if its just fantasy. i want to know about that mondraker and the black market bike - looks like a scaled up killswitch.
  • + 24
 Most of the bikes shown above are either top tier models or close to it, but all of them have very different personalities on the trail. Do you think the Mondraker Dune and the Specialized Enduro will ride the same given that they have been built with similar intensions in mind? Not a chance. And the same goes for the Santa Cruz Solo and the wild Cannondale Trigger. Also, there are a few moderately priced options in there as well =)
  • + 4
 several things-
1) I LOVE the Cannondale Trigger. It has to be one of my favorite bikes I have ever ridden.
2) The Mondraker and the Canyon look really similar
3) It seems as though the air can on the Float X on the Pivot seems to be within milimeters of touching the down tube.
  • + 2
 This is a fabulous article / review.

I really enjoy seeing all the bikes side by side to compare shapes and geo of the different manufacturers. But I must agree that the price of this type of bike is incredible ( and I ride a fully tricked out Session 9.9 ).
  • + 2
 What's the one second from the top on the right?
  • + 7
 The best bike is missing from this trip, the SC Nomad.
  • + 0
 only 2 specialized .... so stoked to see the new pinkbike/specialized advertise......burp
  • + 5
 red second from top right is the new Canyon Spectral AL 9.0 EX,,,sick build for the price.

www.canyon.com/_en/mountainbikes/bike.html?b=3250
  • + 1
 Thanks man
  • + 3
 Daddybear - what do you have against bikes that are bloody amazing? They are pricey, so are BMWs and somehow only few doubt that they give more pumped driving experience than a bloody Renault, or Dacia Canyon. Sure BMW drivers are often wankers but is' not the cars fault. I say show me a Specialized every day, in comparison to all bikes up there, I am sure they are in top three, they ride great, they look great, they are great, I might not ever be able to afford a S-Works spec but it doesn't keep me drooling! And even if it was any connection between PB and Spec (which I doubt) then hey! Why not? I prefer a person saying I like that, than a person who says I love everybody, because the other one is a lie. Bias is necessary
  • + 1
 Why you are not reviewing the Canyon Strive? Seems to be a sick bike for an incredible price.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns : Sure Specialized riders are often wankers but is' not the bike fault
  • - 2
 Hah! I know a dozen of people riding Specialized and they aren't wankers seeking status gadgets. Actually they are few of the most skilled riders I know personally. I can't tell that about owners of Canyon bikes I meet on trails...
  • + 4
 canyon spectral (i think), incredible spec rockshox pike and monarch plus, X01 drivetrain for a smidge over £2,500. So sick!!
  • + 1
 I only see 1 specialized...
  • + 1
 @M07, the Spectral has a Rev not a Pike, even so, it is a LOT of bike for £2700 when that barely gets you the frames on some of those other brands. Shame Canyon didn't send the Spectral 29 instead of the 650, the 140mm 29ex looks even more killer.
  • + 1
 No SC bikes???
  • + 2
 @ richierocket - There is a Solo in there...
  • + 1
 Ah, yes. Thanks Mike, me eyes is getting old.
  • + 1
 Looks like KHS wasn't invited to this party in their own backyard even after switching the entire lineup to 27"-29". Sorry next year guys, if your still in business.
  • + 15
 If you squeeze my lizard, I'll put my snake on you. I'm a romantic adventure, and I'm a reptile too.
  • + 9
 Oh hell yes.
  • + 9
 I would be interested in hearing the personal opinions of the pinkbike crew comparing two bikes and saying which one they would choose and why. I know you give insight on how two bikes have different personalities that cater to different people but i would just be curious.
  • - 1
 would be $pecialized all day everyday...
  • + 8
 Wow, I'd say major mistake not having a kona process (153).
1st year of major redesign(rocker)! Only 650 w/short chainstays, low stand over, long tt.
Ya I just demo'd one and omg,..kona is back!(came back w/operator)
Can u say pop , manual, wheelie, dh feel, respectable climber! (Its ready for a carbon mold)
Well at least yal have my bike I want to demo next...gt force.
  • + 7
 We ran a First Look piece a little while back (www.pinkbike.com/news/First-Look-Prototype-2014-Kona-Process-153.html), and there's one waiting for us when we get back to the Pacific Northwest for some winter time shredding. Plus, we recently reviewed the Process 111 (www.pinkbike.com/news/Kona-Process-111-DL-Review-2013.html).
  • - 1
 that process 153 looks awesome but the Mach 6 has short CS, low stand over and a long TT as well and is already carbon.
  • + 1
 You can also bet the Mach 6 costs twice as much as the Kona. Pivot make rad bikes but they may not be rad value.
  • + 3
 pivot has longer CS, higher standover, and shorter reach, please try again....
  • + 1
 Dully noted. The kona geometry looks dialed. But when did a 430mm CS become long or a 619mm TT short? The Kona may have the shortest this and the longest that but that doesn't mean the other 2014 bikes aren't in that same ballpark. Shame the Kona wasn't included though, it looks like a bang for the buck winner.
  • + 12
 Fox 34 or Pike? I have been curious to hear your guys' opinions . .
  • + 2
 Seconded.
  • + 8
 From all the reviews I've read elsewhere it got to be Pike.
  • + 5
 Fourth. Why do you guys avoid this comparison? For example, second the new Corvette came out, the car magazines were comparing it to everything they could get their hands on. Give us an F'n opinion on Fox vs. Pike already, this is alot more relevant than one 10k bike to another.
  • + 2
 I hear the 2014 Fox 34 is vastly improved. Now better than the Pike?
  • + 1
 Having ridden both, pike is now the benchmark...imho, fox forks will be 3rd/4th choice 2014.
  • + 3
 The Pike is better. Fox is garbage. Next question.
  • + 1
 I've tried all 3 and the 55 RC3 Ti is by far the most supple and big hit capable. The pike was reasonably smooth but lacked the small bump sensitivity of the 55. The fox just felt rough.
  • + 0
 Im joking around, in seriousness everybody has stepped up, Fox needs too, I see a lot of reliability issues with Fox lately and Rock Shox, Marzo, is just awesome.
  • + 3
 Fox's new 2014 34 is much improved over 2013 but the Pike is just on another lever, you can tell the pikes quality just by pushing on it.
  • + 7
 guys from pinkbike really know how to spent time during the winter.. good for them Smile
  • + 4
 To be honest, unless you're putting control tires, stem, and bars on the bikes it's all a bit pointless. That said I'd be interested to know what you think of the suspension performance on the BMC.
  • + 2
 Agree with control tyres, stem and bars.
  • - 1
 jclnv - Good point. It is good to test bikes with cockpit and tyres you are used to. Just pure curioustiy - did you also read that article from Gene Hamilton? At the same time... most of people riding those bikes come from "wet places", like Vancouver where PB comes from. Isn't Sedona the exact opposite?
  • + 2
 @waki care to link the hamilton article you're talking about? I'm interested
  • + 3
 interesting that if you looked at a silhouette of all the bikes it would be hard to tell the difference. THey definitely are all different and excel in different areas and the smallest changes in geometry, pivot location etcetera that isnt noticeable to the eye can make a big difference but its interesting how similar the basic shapes are in all them.
  • + 4
 Please post the reviews sooner than waiting for spring…like DecemberWink Surprised no Konas? Hope to make it to Sedona over Christmas to test some bikes but need to order something soon.
  • + 2
 Rob - you'll see reviews roll out prior to spring, but in the mean time here is the 2014 Kona Process 111DL that we just reviewed - www.pinkbike.com/news/Kona-Process-111-DL-Review-2013.html
  • + 6
 No ccm Canadian tire special testing
  • + 3
 Would be nice to see smaller company's bikes between the big boys, e.g. Merida One Sixty, Kross Moon, Da Bomb Chery Bomb, Ram Am Two and so on, those for us, lower budget guys.
  • + 2
 Ram AM.TWO is a great bike for the money! I bought it as a frame and built it myself. Climbs and descents really well, the rear end feels stiff without flex and it is generally very enjoyable to ride. Keep in mind though that it has a short top tube so if you don't like your bikes compact it might no be for you. Also there are not many sizes to choose from. The medium is 18" and the Large 20" so if you fall in between tough luck...
  • + 1
 Right now I'm willing to choose one of these, it would be easier if there were a review of them. What i don't like about the Am Two is the 150mm travel instead of 160, and the chainstay seems to weak.
  • + 1
 I've never had a problem with the rear travel. I find that the bike works great with a 160mm fork and 150mm rear travel. The rear triangle feels very solid without any flex as well. A friend of mine who also races downhill (not with the AM.TWO, he has a DH bike for that) has the same bike with similar suspension setup and hasn't complained abut any flex. Considering he rides bloody fast on the local enduro traols I guess the bike is OK.
  • + 2
 funny, was just thinking of a roadtrip down south while I had time . . .

moab, 1800 km
sedona 2400km.

Moab on the way to Sedona.

Been to Sedona many moons ago. Isn't it cold now? 5000 ft elevation, was cold in April . . . .
  • + 1
 Depends on what you call "cold". We drop down from Flagstaff throughout the winter most years for hikes/riding. It's hitting mid 50s and 60s still. Good old mountain desert with giant temp swings.
  • + 2
 Are any of the new Giants being tested here? It would be rad to hear how all the suspension platforms of each bike work over the components for a change.... Please PB satisfy all us geeks out here.... Components don't make the bike, the engineering does....
  • + 5
 Cool Tattoo!
If anyone is interested, That's William Carlos Williams "Red Wheelbarrow".
  • - 1
 Seems like Levy has odd taste in tattoos. He picks stuff that doesn't seem like a good choice long term, which is bad when you are talking tattoos. Making a quip permenant can be ironic in a painful way down the road. "Lone Wolf" comes to mind. Assuming the guy has a family someday he's going to feel kind of silly.
The Red Wheelbarrow was beautiful, and is in line with what I would choose if I was the tattoo getting sort.
  • + 1
 I miss Sedona. Amazing riding there and the scenery isn't too bad either. I remember one of my first rides there as a recent transplant from the NW and didn't know about the bull heads (thorns) until I had a few hundred of the damn things and 2 flatter than flat tires! Long walk out, but I learned my lesson.
  • + 1
 Damn, what a great Bunch of awesome Bikes! And wow, some possibly great Bikes are still missing, like Banshee Spitfire or Rune, the new Konas Processes, Giants and the List goes on and on ... Would be very interesting because of Comparsion. Looking forward to the Reviews anyway.
  • + 5
 Where's the commencal é_è
  • + 5
 Would have loved to see the Giant Trance 650b in between those...
  • + 3
 Let me re phrase sfrucian's question. "no carbon coverts" they are very different than the alu version you guys tested.
  • + 4
 i was all like holy F##K nice bike sick article ive been waitin for this
  • + 4
 Those tattoos just made my nose bleed.
  • + 0
 But they're all Enduro bikes. What about the DH. What about the DJ. What about the 4X. People like me, who don't have thousands to drop on another bike, would love to see other genres of bikes (as mentioned) because we're not all enduro people....
  • + 1
 For that they would need to do some bike part road trips, which would be awesome. I volunteer if PB will cover costs.
  • + 1
 I'd just like to see some variety in the reviews, it's mostly trail bikes that are like 9 grand and up.
  • + 2
 We review all types of bikes, these just happen to be the bikes we have for review on this particular trip. Here are some reviews from the last few months that satisfy your requests: GT Fury review: www.pinkbike.com/news/GT-Fury-Tested.html. Banshee Legend Review: www.pinkbike.com/news/Banshee-Legend-MKII-Tested-2013.html. Pivot M4X review: www.pinkbike.com/news/Pivot-M4X-Tested-2013.html
  • + 1
 I already read all of those, and liked them very much. But it's still only the top-tier ones, lots of people only have a couple grand to spend and I'm sure they would love to see cheaper bikes being reviewed too. But as always,great job guys.
  • + 4
 NORCO looks works very good, and probably has a good time for business.
  • + 1
 Thanks Pinkbike for making this test. I am anxiously awaiting for the results. If i win the lottery I will buy all these bikes and let everybody do their personal testing, promised.
  • + 2
 Kinda disappointed to be honest, I'll be lucky to ride one of these frames in about five years after they have depreciated enough!! Where are the Kona's? And the hardtails?
  • - 3
 What's a Kona?
  • + 15
 I've been on this boat a few times but we really need to stop trashing PB's review staff. They do have an amazing job that anyone on this site would murder for and we do indeed have a right to be envious and sometimes bitch about them testing $10k bikes, but they do try to find niche rigs and some lower-priced stuff for everyone. I'm pretty sure the hardtail review yesterday and a Felt review a few weeks ago were in response to the repeated reviews of $7-11k enduro bikes.
  • - 1
 yea because 1500 for a hardtail frame is really cheap..

also, there are a lot of freeriders and dirtjumpers on this site, why not more Dirtjump or freeride bikes (oh wait you guys proclaimed freeride to be dead, wich it clearly isn't it's more alive than ever). i do enjoy reading about trail and all mountain/enduro bikes, but a bit more diversity would be nice from time to time
  • + 1
 yorntjefreerider - Dirt jumpers have already had their time. It is time for them to live their lives in sanctuary without coverage, finally be at peace. Enduro is in the spotlight right now, people believe that there is still so much to be discovered in tech of that segment. Dirt bike? what's to develop here? Just ride it like you stole it, enjoy the fact that the demoralizing eye of the hype has turned away from the jumps! No stupid talk - just skills, just fun
  • + 1
 i agree, but still, would be nice to read about ride characteristics of the latest and greatest of the dirt frames from time to time
  • + 2
 Not saying I'm dissatisfied with the job the reviewers are doing, but I agree with bikermaniac101 -- I'd love to see more hardtail reviews, especially on some budget/accessible frames.
  • + 4
 @bkm303 - Noted. We'll look into getting a few more of those in the roster.
  • + 4
 What about the new Trek Slash 27.5?
  • + 1
 It's good....just sayin.
  • + 1
 I've heard . .
  • + 1
 Trek is awesome by default, not necessary to put it there
  • + 3
 HA HA WHO'S GONA RUN OUT AND DUMP $9000.00 ON A BIKE.
  • + 1
 Kazimer, what's your take on the meaning of the Williams poem? Commentary on the connection between man and bicycle? Fan of Homeland? Last episode referenced this piece.
  • + 3
 I've always been a fan of how strong the imagery of the poem is, especially considering that it's only sixteen words long. It's not related to TV or bikes, just a poem that I appreciate.
  • + 2
 So you're saying that not everything is related to bikes? Wink
  • + 3
 Can't wait for a review on the Yeti 575!!
  • + 1
 Great spread of trail/AM bikes you got there. Very much looking forward to hearing the reviews, hopefully open and candid reviews that is.
  • + 3
 Good thing you hired mike to shoot just cactus Wink they look very prickly
  • + 2
 The Cannondale is pictured twice... I wonder what the unpictured mystery bike will be.
  • + 1
 Good eye - it's fixed now.
  • + 1
 A high res of that enduro awesomeness photo montage would be nice. But i allready picked the bike no matter what PB says at the end... Spectral all the way baby!
  • + 1
 I'm contemplating buying a narrow wide chain and pairing it with my Zee. Im curious how many times, if any, the chain fell off from the bikes without a chain guide.
  • + 2
 You'll be hearing about any issues that we have with guide-less setups.
  • + 2
 Good. Keep it real.
  • + 3
 2000 miles on XX1 with no guide and not a single chain drop or even misshift so far.
  • + 1
 i ride one without a clutch derailuer and its fine
  • + 1
 hundreds, possibly over a thousand miles on a zee derailleur and an absolute black chainring (same as narrow wide) and no chain guide, haven't dropped a chain once, not even on alpine bike park braking bumps.
  • + 3
 XT rear der with clutch, on a raceface 32t narrow/wide. Nothing but stellar performance from both. Not a single dropped chain all season.
  • + 1
 @mackanator I switched to the exact same setup (Raceface N-W and zee) a few weeks ago. Ridden it 7 or 8 times since then and my drivetrain is whisper quiet, no dropped chains, and the only times I've heard any chain slap is when I'm rolling long sets of stairs. Fantastic upgrade for not a ton of dough, IMO. Go for it!!! (props to user s0ul-chicken for giving me the idea)
  • + 1
 Short cage Zee and a narrow/wide won't keep the chain on my 165mm travel bike. I now run a lg1 top guide. And can usually pedal the chain back on when it comes off the lower part of the chainring.
  • + 1
 looks like a 6/7 chance of it working... good enough for me.
just bought one!

panaphonic- does your bike have excessive chain growth ? are you sure chain tension is set up properly?
  • + 1
 XTR shadow plus with Wolf 32T narrow wide ring. Dropped chain twice so ended up putting on chain guide. It does run quieter, but can't trust it 100%. Next bike will have X01, so hoping no dropped chain without a guide.
  • + 1
 I don't think it has a lot of chain growth. My local terrain is rough and I like to back-pedal to swap the dropped foot, sometimes the 2 coincide. But in saying that, it has dropped without my cranks spinning at all.
  • + 1
 Fuck Guantanamo Bay, those pictures in a group like that are bad enough torture. It would take me like 3 years to save up for just one of those!
  • + 3
 Its interesting that almost all the bikes are setup as 1x11..
  • + 4
 Good eye. A sign of the times? There are only four bikes with a two-ring setup and one bike with a triple.
  • + 1
 were triples ever popular? not really my thing
  • + 1
 Back then 1999 doubles were road bike gearing 48/58 something like that. Tripples had a better gearing range as in a granny gear. Now a triple on an xc bike gives you a very fast top gear say 52/11 If I raced xc on a 20 pound bike on flat I could spin a 52 by 11 no problem.
  • + 3
 any chance of a local getting to ride with you guys this weekend?
  • + 1
 Could anyone give me a rundown on all the makes/models there. Don't recognise a few.
  • + 1
 Man I've got to get up there. Being in Phoenix this is like a 3 hour drive from me!
  • + 1
 Those bikes look awesome! I am excited to see what you guys have to say. I would love to ride every one of those.
  • + 2
 The Norco looks .........................good . Way to go Norco.
  • + 1
 I might have to accidentally rob your car/truck/bike-carrier on your way back to Canadia
  • + 2
 And we might have to accidentally tie you up and leave you by the side of the road. Wink
  • + 1
 But I'll still have your bikes, and then I can sell the ones I don't like, buy a car, and take the rest of them home!
  • + 2
 I'm gunning for the Specialized Enduro 29er
  • + 2
 Seriously... I hate you guys
  • + 2
 gotta love shredding some red rock
  • + 2
 Those trails look like gold
  • + 0
 Awesome... pictures of plants and tattoos. These "artistic" nature and/or lifestyle shots are pretty over played. Just take pictures of Bikes, bike parts and riding bikes.
  • + 1
 Curious to see the results as well!! Shame I've already ordered my Range Carbon LE! IT's the best bang for the buck IMO.
  • + 1
 I thought that guys arm was broken. Must be double jointed.
  • + 1
 Every one of these bikes need some changes
  • + 1
 Hmmm what could that be? OH WAIT?!?! What is..... they all need to be able to fit sealed drives? get outta here
  • + 1
 Your said it not me, but I have now got a prototype that works well enough to race on and quite too
www.pinkbike.com/photo/10335424
  • + 1
 Leaning slightly towards the mid travel "enduro" bike eh?
  • + 2
 True - we don't have any full-on DH rigs down here - we're lucky enough to have Whistler and the North Shore pretty much in our backyard, which is where we do the long-travel bike testing.
  • + 1
 Notin wrong with that. especially having that in that in your back yard. I think the hardest part of all those bikes being so similar is choosing which one they are all so sick. Smile
  • + 2
 I think rummblefish referred to the 130 vs 150-160 bikes.(I'm in the why buy less than 150 as they climb so good now, camp)
  • + 1
 "GT Force, I choose you!!!" throwing my Pokeball
  • + 2
 How id the yeti ride?
  • + 2
 Very interested in the new 575. It would compliment my ASR-7 nicely.
  • - 1
 saw all of the bikes where full suspensions and thought this was pinkbikes preferences, what would be pinkbike's debate between hardtails or fulls?
  • + 1
 Look at all these bikes I can't afford!
  • + 1
 Chop chop on the norco review please!
  • + 1
 killed by Death... Motorhead song
  • + 1
 Evil Uprising? Seems to be getting good reviews elsewhere.
  • - 2
 what dumb article. "hey, look at all these awesome bikes we rode" and then choose not to do some sort of real review or something...
  • + 1
 There will be a review on every single bike shown...
  • + 1
 What's the red one ?
  • + 2
 Canyon Spectral AL 9.0 EX
It looks really nice IMO, and it's pretty "cheap" among these other bad boys.
  • + 1
 No Process 153?
  • + 1
 Yes, M6!
  • + 0
 no scott testing?
  • - 1
 Latest Scott Genius looks like as if Stumpjumper screwed Lapierre Spicy- read reviews of both and take the average...

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