Ask Pinkbike: Arktos vs Enduro, 29er Wheels, 4X Frames

Sep 27, 2016
by Pinkbike Staff  
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Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul-searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand-picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.

Arktos VS Enduro

Question: Pinkbike user eltejas asked this question in the all-mountain, enduro and cross-country forum: Alchemy's Arktos and the Specialized Enduro; what's your take on these beauties?

bigquotesI've been spending a ton of time on the 150mm-travel, 27.5'' wheeled Arktos and have been impressed with how efficient and playful it seems. The Alchemy is one of the few all-mountain bikes that doesn't feel like a burden during long, hard days in the saddle, and its lively personality makes it a lot of fun to ride. What it's not, however, is a true enduro race rig. Sure, you can haul ass on it, and it's more capable than most of us will ever need, but it doesn't have that invincible attitude that a true enduro race bike has.

The Enduro, on the other hand, could be described using the old 'miniature downhill bike' cliche, and it's never been truer than when talking about Specialized's latest all-mountain monster. It eats up chunky, fast terrain, and feels more stable than the Arktos when doing so, but it's also much more bike when you're on run of the mill trails. It's going to be a lot of bike for some riders who aren't honest when it comes to their abilities and the kind of trails they ride, but to each their own. The Enduro is also available in two flavors - a 29'' wheeled model with 165mm of travel, and a 27.5'' version with 170mm - so you can choose what best suits you.

What would I choose? I rarely race, but I do like to haul ass on the downs and go on some big adventures that involve a ton of pedaling, so I'm likely to reach for the Arktos. If I did race, spend a lot of time in the bike park, or ride with buddies who spent more time sessioning jumps and drops than pedaling, I'd pick the new Enduro.
- Mike Levy

Alchemy Arktos
2016 Specialized Enduro Launch

Enduro-Ready 29er Wheelset?

Question: Pinkbike user @Abe-Roy wrote in the All Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: I ride a 2015 Salsa Horsethief with the SRAM Roam 40 wheels. I recently destroyed my rear rim. I wanted to know if anyone had any suggestions on an affordable 29er wheelsets under $700. I am an aggressive rider and I race mainly enduro. Can you help me?

bigquotesI've been thrashing around on a set of Stan's new Flow MK3 wheelset for the last few months with excellent results. They're nice and wide, with a 29mm internal width, weigh a very reasonable 1870 grams, and are extremely easy to set up tubeless. Plus, at $679 USD they fall within your budget. If it were me, I'd be tempted to go the custom route, and build up a pair of Flow MK3 rims around a set of DT Swiss hubs. Stan's Neo hubs haven't given me any trouble, but I'm an even bigger fan of DT Swiss' simple yet effective star ratchet design. If you were about to embark on an epic ride, whether that's an adventure of your own making or something along the lines of the Trans Provence or BC Bike Race, a spare star ratchet could easily be tossed into a pack, which means that in the unlikely event your hub stopped engaging it'd only take a matter of minutes to fix it and be back on the trail. - Mike Kazimer

Stan s Flow MK3
Stan's Flow MK3 wheelset is strong enough for enduro racing, and light enough that you won't be dreading the climbs.

Four Crossers

Question: Pinkbike user @TheLastSamurai asked this question in the Downhill Forum: I've been riding a GT Lopes 55 since 2009 when I was a teenager. Times have changed and now I accidentally found myself still riding that frame, although I added 5cm and now I'm 176 tall. The frame feels quite short for me, others say that my body resembles a little bit of a hook during riding (stem is 50mm). I tried my friend's Hornet 4x and found it very easy to surf and jump bumps. I feel that the change is needed. The problem is that I always was prone to think that the most important part is something between the handlebars and the frame and the rest stuff simply does not matter. So, I've never been updated on new 4x frames. Which one could you recommend for me? I googled and found Antidote Pacemaker carbon frame which seems on the edge of technology, but what about the others?

bigquotesFour-cross suitable frames have fallen from fashion in recent years after the UCI dropped the 4X World Cup Series, BMX made a big comeback, and dirt jump mountain bikes have become the norm for street/dirt/slalom/4X. The main differences between a 4X specific frame over a dirt frame will be a stiffer alloy frameset for quick response and gate starts (although less forgiving when you case that big landing and wish the lawyer was on speed dial). The head angle should also be a little slacker for high-speed stability, chainstays might be a little longer and it will have provisions for gearing. If you are looking for a slightly bigger size frame too, your options are limited; I would suggest a reach figure around 400mm to be small, and 430mm would be a generous large frame.

The Antidote you mentioned looks beautiful and the best option if you want to win a 4X race. Only one size with a 420mm reach, but at 1599 Euros for a frameset it isn't cheap. The Hornet 4X has a 415mm reach which I suggest is right in the middle of sizing and is a bargain, NS Bikes also make the specific Liar 4X with 405mm reach. The only bike of all these I have swung a leg over is the cro-moly Transition PBJ (Pumps, Bumps, n' Jumps) which is a good mix of more supple steel tubing, slacker head angle and has a large size with 430mm reach, but is singlespeed only.

Other bikes to consider are the Evil Faction which has three sizes with the large having a 424mm reach, the Bergamont Kiez also comes in a large size with 435mm reach, the biggest frame I can find. - Paul Aston

Antidote Pacemaker - carbon rigid frame hand crafted for podium
Antidote's handmade carbon Pacemaker is stunning, but the frame costs more than most complete bikes.

NS Bikes hardtail
The Liar from NS comes in at 339 Euros for the frame.
Unknown bike
The Dartmoor Hornet 4X is cheap and cheerful at 250 Euros.

Transition DJ bike
Transition's PBJ has a good mix of steel frame, slack head angle and a large size.

Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


  • 100 8
 Carry an extra DT Swiss star ratchet? Cheesus christ, don't foget to bring an extra stem and non driveside crank arm... I've never heard of someone bringing spare hub components on a ride in my life.
  • 21 2
 But now everyone will be running into their lbs to pick up some assorted hub parts. Just in case.
  • 43 15
 I'm obviously not recommending it for short rides, but if you were heading out for a mega-adventure deep in the backcountry those few extra grams aren't going to hurt. I've definitely had more hub issues than stem or crank issues over the years...
  • 52 17
 @mikekazimer: Stop running DT's and get some Hopes then!
  • 32 9
 @BoneDog: No, but I've been on more than one ride where a freehub body crapped out and I had to push / scoot my way back home. I've had the best luck with DT Swiss' hubs, and the fact that the internals are so easy to access / carry / replace is why I recommended them.
  • 19 1
 "If you were about to embark on an epic ride, whether that's an adventure of your own making or something along the lines of the Trans Provence or BC Bike Race, a spare star ratchet could easily be tossed into a pack"

They are talking about bringing it on a ride were your freehub going would land you in serious trouble. Similarly, I would never bring extra spokes or chainring bolts with me on a normal ride, but on bikepacking trips, they are a very very good idea if you don't like walking your bike 25 miles back to the trailhead. They weigh next to nothing, too, so the only thing they do is take up a little bit of space
  • 9 0
 Trick is not to over-grease them like many do
  • 7 3
 @BoneDog: my hopes are about 10 years old, clean freehub and change bearings when needed and never let me down..
  • 10 20
flag pinnityafairy (Sep 27, 2016 at 14:32) (Below Threshold)
 @mikekazimer: Chris King or I9 for me. I've never ever ever ever had a failure. Life is to short to ride cheep junk.
  • 3 7
flag pinnityafairy (Sep 27, 2016 at 14:34) (Below Threshold)
 With that said Iv rode King for over 20 years only 1.5 on I9.
  • 30 0
 @properp: Chris King and I9 both make great hubs, but they do come with a price that would put the wheelset well above $700.
  • 3 12
flag pinnityafairy (Sep 27, 2016 at 15:05) (Below Threshold)
 @mikekazimer: my I9 $650 new from Jenson online YA! I bought 2 sets. One for the wife one for me.
  • 30 1
 @properp: when did dt Swiss become cheap junk?
  • 11 1
 @mhoshal: read "cheap junk" as "less bling factor"
  • 8 0
 @browner: They need grease?
  • 4 0
 I've seen two people walking out with broken DT swiss ratchets. Bet they wish they had a spare in the pack next to the extra left crankarm.
  • 4 1
 @BoneDog: I have had DT 350s for over a year running fantastic whizzing around the shore and Squamish. I don't think that is the problem...
  • 4 3
 @mikekazimer: you need to get a King rear.
  • 59 1
 Rule #1 of MTB is never be caught ill-prepared. If you don't have an extra frame on hand at all times you're ill prepared. You never know when that sucker could crack. Always ride with a spare drivetrain and a backup fork as well. Specialized SWAT system makes it really easy to carry my fox 36 in my frame.
  • 3 25
flag pinnityafairy (Sep 27, 2016 at 18:56) (Below Threshold)
 @mhoshal: I don't know anything about them (dt swiss). I try to buy American made quality stuff. My swiss army knife sure is good though. If they are quality you should understand not riding cheep junk because life is to short. There tons of quality stuff in the world to ride. Make your own decisions on what cheep junk is. Try to NOT spend your whole life being a DICK. Just ride good stuff and enjoy it.
  • 3 0
 I got some WTB i29s for sale. Just sayin...
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: Chris king and i9 may be expensive but I recently built a wheel set with Hope pro 4 hubs and spank oozy rims (stans flow would be similar price) for under £400 so that would be within $700 and I've had hope hubs for a long time with zero issues (my DH bike has nearly 10 year old Pro 2 still going strong) I've got friends with DT hubs that have had bearings die in under 6 months.
  • 3 0
 I blew up a star ratchet in the middle of a race. Now I carry an extra set with me.
  • 13 0
 @properp: For the love of God its CHEAP
  • 3 1
 Just to add another data point: the only freehub I've ever been on a ride & seen someone have to walk out with, is star ratchet.

At least if you carry a spare, you can replace it without tools?
  • 65 4
 "most riders who aren't honest when it comes to their abilities and the kind of trails they ride" ?---This
  • 6 0
 It says some, not most.
  • 21 1
 Dishonesty plagues all purchases from big macs to Ferraris.
  • 1 0
 In my opinion you're usually better over prepared than under prepared as is the case with a lot of things. It's too late to look back, and lament when you're in the process of breaking a crank, or a frame, or bending a handlebar.
  • 11 0
 If I was honest, I'd be riding an ebike. Just not ready for that kind of honesty yet.
  • 52 5
 I just want to take a moment to absorb the fact that there are 3 Polish frames recommended in the 4X section of world's latgest MTB site.. 10 years ago, people in PL would laugh at anyone saying it could happen. Looking forward to see that such arrangement in other disciliplines of MTB.

Big Grin
  • 9 29
flag Marcusthefarkus (Sep 27, 2016 at 15:02) (Below Threshold)
 Oh cool... poland. I guess.
  • 9 1
 I have to admit I couldn't predict that I'd be on a Polish brand a few years ago but the Snabb E is exceptional. It really does it all very well. It looks fantastic and a frame cost me $1600 CAD new. With the right spec it's my own Polish superbike. My reliable dark horse which carries me into the wild woods away from my worries. It's a brand I'll be watching closely in the future
  • 21 0
 hope pro 4's with stans flow rims are a good and affordable wheel option, which should last a long time.and they're around $500 for a wheelset.
  • 5 0
 I actually just had Fanatik build up a set of these exact specs. Absolutely love them. Couldn't agree more on the Hope hubs and the stiffness provided by the Stans Flow Mk3.
  • 18 0
 Kazmier@ you wearing out star ratchets? Your livin the dream!
  • 14 1
 Bull s$%t of the day! "The Alchemy is one of the few all-mountain bikes that doesn't feel like a burden during long, hard days in the saddle, and its lively personality makes it a lot of fun to ride. "
  • 6 0
 Can't up vote that one enough.... I'm SO BURDENED by my all mountain bike it's just not any FUN...
  • 3 0
 ...agreed. What does that even mean...this Donald Duck level exaggeration
  • 11 0
 If the Enduro is too much, there is the stumpjumper right next to it thats just great. Along with any number of other great bikes, bronson, SB5, remedy, scout, altitude, trance, mojo 3, process 134 DL? I'm sure there are many more other riders could name. I'm not saying the Arktos is bad, I've no idea personally. Just that the whole thing with making an impact in the market with " made in the USA" and then almost immediately switching over to outsourcing their bikes from Asia like everyone else just doesn't sit well with me....

Also, agree with the above poster about the BULL$#!+ comment of the arktos being one of the few all mountain bikes that's not a burden.... WTH? I'd say it's the other way round these days. If your considering an "all mountain" bike purchase from an established mountain bike brand it's pretty hard to find one that "IS" a burden these days...
  • 9 0
 Thank you everyone for the help! It is awesome to get such great advise from fellow mountain bikers. I just asked my local bike shop to build me a new rear wheel using the Stan's Arch MK3 rim and Sram's MTH 746 hub. I hope the hub works well. I only got it because it was the cheapest hub that has an XD driver that I could find. If it has problems I will be buying a Pro 4. I chose the Arch rim's because of stan's wide right philosophy. I usually run 2.3 tires and the Arch fits that range. Thank you again. Please comment if you have anymore advise.
  • 12 0
 rims die, but good hubs are a worthy investment.
  • 2 0
 @scottzg: You are right. I was just not sure if I wanted to spend a lot on a hub because my current Salsa Horsethief is 12x142. I am not sure how much longer I will keep it. The bikes I am thinking about getting next are 12x148 or even 12x157 (pivot switchbalde). So the hub would not work.
  • 5 0
 @Abe-Roy: I've had a Chris King hub since '09, and they have now been on their 4th set of wheels and 3rd bike. Just switch the end caps, and they are good to go (probably not boost though).
Date your rims, marry your hubs!!
  • 2 0
 Wtb i29. The offset makes them the perfect rim for a 29er. It will create a stiffer wheel than boost ever will.
  • 2 0
 I will run the sram hubs for now, but in the future I take everyone advice and go with a quality hub.
  • 7 1
 I've upgraded my DT Swiss hub to a 36T star ratchet which left me with the stock 18T as a spare. Since then I've carried it with me every ride just because I have it as a spare. Better to have it and not need it than be screwed without it.
  • 6 3
 the 54t is where it is at
  • 5 1
 @adrennan: too quiet
  • 5 2
 @sweet-bike: if you're looking for loud hubs stay away from DT then lol
  • 4 1
 @sweet-bike: say what? it is the same volume as the other ones. quick engagement is amazing.
  • 3 0
 @NotDannyHart: the 54t ratchet is actually loud-ish.
  • 1 0
 Volume is from the spring and amount / weight of the grease in the assembly. Mostly the spring(s)
  • 5 1
 @sweet-bike: I'd sooner a 54t to 42t any day, regardless of noise. And the star ratched has fewer moving parts and are easier to maintain than Hope, if you can believe that. Mind you, Hope hubs are nicer looking units amd beautifully made, and also simple when it comes to cracking them open to maintain.

That said, I'd prefer a silent hub myself.
  • 1 0
 @FLATLlNE: for ride quality I totally agree get as many teeth as possible, but you can get a start ratchet suprisingly loud with stiffer springs and less teeth on the ratchets
  • 1 0
 @sweet-bike: even louder with more teeth. I rode the 18t's a ling time ago in FR440's. Have a set of 54t's now and a spare 36t sr in the tool box. With no change in spring, each step up in teeth becomes louder alone.
  • 1 0
 @FLATLlNE: my dt swiss 1450 rear hub makes a rithm noise louder lower louder lower in the freewheel like something's bent. what could it be?
  • 1 0
 @donpinpon29: as in the pitch/tone of the engagement rises and falls? Both sets of 350's I've owned in the past year, in both 36T and 54T have done the same. Nothing to worry about. If I were to guess, I'd tell you the two springs in the ratchet system don't apply perfectly uniform pressure on the two ratchets, and the low pitch is when they ate at their lowest pressure, and high at highest pressure. Regardless, it won't affect performance, and there really is nothig to bend inside the freehub.

I'd encourage you to open it up, no tools needed. Look inside. It's a very very simple system. You should clean and relube from time to time Smile
  • 6 0
 The Arktos is beautiful in terms of its lines and overall fit and finish, but it does not seem battle tested enough to invest in over a bike like a Yeti SB5.5 say. It's also missing some basic features like bottle cage mounts and frame armor. Enduro versus Arktos is too narrow a selection. There are so many great bikes in the same class and price range. On the other hand, I can appreciate being in love with that "one" bike. If the Arktos gets you excited and causes you to day dream, then get it!
  • 2 0
 Exactly! Ride whatever bike puts a little extra bounce in your step!
  • 3 0
 I'd also recommend researching customer service for a brand when you're dropping that much in a bike. Don't get me wrong - the Internet being the Internet you will always find complaints, but there are companies out there who will go above and beyond to sort you out in the case of an issue and there are a few 'success' stories out there too. A newer brand is more of a risk, so talk to them to see what they are like, even if it is just a quick email question - if they get back to you quickly if be more inclined to purchase from them...
  • 3 0
 @slimboyjim: That is great advice. While you're at it, find out about availability and turnaround on spare parts or warranty items. Do they have build a new swing arm from scratch or do they have inventory to cover a crash replacement? Stuff like that. If you can't get a human in the phone or through email in 24 hours forget it.
  • 1 0
 @eurojuice: It was a big factor in my purchase. Like most I drop a big wedge on bikes but would struggle to replace an entire frame in a worst case scenario, so CS played a big part in my purchase decision. In the end I went with Ibis for 2 reasons :
1) They have an excellent reputation for CS, and the times I have used it they have been outstanding (one creak question and one technical query, both resolved quickly and efficiently).
2) They produce parts that can update your frame to newer standards. The old HD had a 650b conversion kit for example, whilst the Hd3 swingarm can be replaced with a boost one. Don't get me wrong, it costs a fair whack of money, but it is nice to have the option as I tend to keep my bikes a long time...

I have two friends who have had excellent experiences with Santa Cruz too to be fair... There will be other good companies out there too, and/or your bike shop can help out massively but that is a different topic!
  • 5 0
 I may be one of those guys who was not honest when it came to my abilities and the trails I ride, but I bought an Enduro six years ago, and never looked back. It opened a whole new world of terrain for me. I've demo'ed a couple bikes here in the last season, and a certain 29er came close to the Enduro, but nothing that made me want to replace it.
  • 5 1
 The enduro is very linear. So it won't ramp up when you go through the travel. I don't know about the arktos, but I want my suspension to ramp up. Especially when hitting nasty terrain. I just got the 2017 trek remedy 9, that ramps up well. I have it set so it takes all of the chatter up but won't quite bottom out when hitting 5ft+ drips to flat.
  • 16 0
 you can always toss a volume spacer in the shock if you want more ramp up
  • 17 2
 and then you have this crazy shrinking wheelbase that is dangerous ya know? all hail protour
  • 6 0
 Check out CURTIS BIKES, they make incredible hand made steel 4X Frames! (As well as many other types of frames)
  • 2 0
 I'd second that. They're gorgeous.
  • 2 0
 My Stanton 4X is THE nicest 4Xer I've ever ridden, shame they don't make them anymore. You might be able to get hold of an old slackline in the small size that is still a good 4Xer
Dialled bikes
Identity Krisis, they very long though
Old nuke proof snap

An don't listen to anybody that says 650 will 4X, unless you wanna be last oot the gate Wink
  • 5 0
 You definitely didn't see Duncan Ferris's gate starts at Worlds then Wink
  • 3 0
 @jackhud: funny thing Smile
it was Duncan that told me tweeners don't gate well. Same day at chicky this year when he was 4th an pulled that T,bone on ya in the B,final
  • 2 0
 Arktos is probably a better bike than an Enduro for all-around trail riding if not headed downhill all of the time. It climbs better and is more responsive when not descending. My ride impressions of the Arktos are at:
  • 2 0
 Finally some sort of opinion on the mk3 stans rims. All else I can find is the marketing about how they're wider and lighter, not one thing about how the new rims ride. Anyone found any other reviews/opinion on them?!
  • 4 0
 Doesn't the Arktos have the same Geometry as a Yeti SB6c? But that isn't race worthy?
  • 4 0
 Get a Nomad, do a little alchemy...and you get Arktos. That's just weird.
  • 2 0
 If you can swing a couple extra hundred I'd highly recommend the enduro 30.5 i9 wheelset, or get the cheaper enduro s they just announced.
  • 3 0
 Look into spank oozy wheels as well for the 29 enduro wheels question. $600 and lighter but not as wide as mentioned
  • 2 1
 Get a fully built "Antidote Pacemaker" by selling your house. Put all your hopes, and dreams in, and dedicate so sucking hard. "Well that didn't go as planned"
  • 1 2
 Enduro 29 wheels, DT EX471's would be my #1 choice for durability. I'm fortunate to have access to plenty of demo events and these are the demo bike wheel of choice. All rounders I'd go with Stan's. I've abused a set of Arch ZTRs for the past few years. Tires measure wider on the Arch ZTR than they do on specialized Fatty 29 mm rims which are a full 10mm wider!
  • 1 0
 @TheLastSamurai there is the Propain 4bidden too Smile Two sizes, the choice between singlespeed and geared, and not expensive at all.
  • 3 0
 I don't have any questions to ask here since I'm still on my 26in bike.
  • 1 0
 we can ask how much it has depreciated on the last 3 years.
  • 1 0
 If you're after a 4x frame, you might want to consider Corsair. Seems like proper stuff for general blasting about as well.
  • 3 1
 Nukeproof snap 2011 works well for me for 4x and dirt jumping
  • 11 0
 what a terrible name!
  • 1 0
 @Abe-Roy try the Toro by Corsair Bikes, thats an excellent frame for 4x
  • 9 10
 Only an idiot would buy an arktos over an enduro

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