PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
5 Enduro Bikes (and 1 eMTB) Face the Efficiency Test
Gravel roads, power meters, a dose of bro-science, and no lock-outs allowed.
I know you're here for the Huck to Flat, but we're making you wait for yet another day or so before all the bottoming returns. And not only that, your penance for watching @jasonlucas
sacrifice himself (again) at a painfully slow 1000 frames-per-second? It's the above video of me pedaling our five enduro bikes (and one eMTB) up a gravel road while breathing and groaning into the microphone. Life's about balance or something.
The summer Field Test includes five enduro bikes that span the category, from the relatively lightweight We Are One with 150mm of travel to the 170mm Norco Range that's a bit of a chonker at over 37lb. That's an acceptable number if you're looking for a heavy-hitting bike, because horses for courses and all that, but it's also fair to say that none of them were designed to excel on our Efficiency Test course. However, for our purposes, we don't care; all we want to do is apply a bit of bro science to figure out how they compare to each other when you've got to put the power down.
Drives sweet shuttle truck to the mountain. Pedals up and down the same gravel road all day.
Sure, pedaling efficiency counts for less with these than it does for a cross-country or trail bike, but let's not forget that 'enduro' used to refer to a type of racing, not just a category of bike that focuses on descending. And if we're talking racing, an efficient bike could be worth a few seconds here or there, which is especially valuable if the bike gives you those seconds without taking away from its descending abilities.
I guess I should also explain the eMTB. It won and was promptly disqualified for motor-doping, but you can extrapolate the gap to see how they compare to a traditional mountain bike over a longer climb. We were just e-curious.
The same rules apply as ever, which means a roughly half-kilometer gravel road climb with Freelap cones at the start and finish lines. I clipped into a set of Garmin Rally XC power meter pedals so I could hold 300-watts for each bike's uphill run, and stared at a 1030 head unit that displayed my normalized, 10-second, and 3-second power numbers. And no lock-outs allowed, of course.
What'd we learn after way too many trips up the gravel road?
Much like previous episodes, our on-trail impressions largely match the Efficiency Test results. Both Matt and Henry came back from riding the 150mm-travel dual-link Arrival talking about how speedy it felt when on the gas, and it ended up besting the purple Spire by just three seconds over the short climb. It's also no coincidence to see the Transition come oh so close and have the Capra just a second behind, as both seem to put more emphasis on pedaling and all-around abilities than our two stragglers.
Efficiency Test Results
1st We Are One Arrival - 2:00
2nd Transition Spire - 2:03
3rd YT Capra - 2:04
4th GT Force - 2:10
5th Norco Range - 2:13
DSQ Norco Range VLT - 1:07
And if pedaling and "all-around abilities" take a back seat to huck-ability and speed on rough, steep descents, you probably don't care that the Force and Range came in at 2:10 and 2:13. You also probably don't care about Seb Stott's idler pulley experiment
that proves the extra complication will cost you around 2-percent of your total watts. Or that the gap is more like 11-percent in our bro-science test in the real world.
Is this a lab test? Nein, but we are out here in the real world, which is a lot like the Impossible Climb, so maybe we can learn a thing or three about how these bikes get on while listening to me breathing loudly. Hey, no one said your penance would be interesting.
The 2021 Summer Field Test was made possible with support from Dainese apparel and protection, and Sun Peaks Resort. Shout out also to Maxxis, Garmin, Freelap, and Toyota Pacific.