PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Cross-Country & Down-Country Bikes VS The Efficiency Test
Gravel roads, power meters, a dose of bro-science, and no lock-outs allowed.
When you hear someone say "cross-country," what do you picture? No, I'm not talking about a bunch of really skinny people with an odd enthusiasm for suffering, although you're not far off. While it doesn't get spoken about with the same affection as descending, cross-country riding - and especially racing - puts much of the focus on climbing. That's where races are usually won or lost, and being as quick as possible up the hills requires a special type of training and dedication from competitors, as well as a particular emphasis from their machines. Not only must the bikes be as light as possible, but they also have to utilize a rear-suspension design that maximizes pedaling efficiency.
After all, wasted watts mean you're going slower and that just won't do. If you're thinking ''That's what lock-outs are for,
'' you're 100-percent correct; firming up a bike's suspension is a useful tool that makes sense to use when racing.
But if you've raced, you'll know there are often occasions when you're speeding across rolling terrain, suspension unlocked and you out of the saddle, stabbing at the pedals because all semblance of good form was forgotten after the first hour. And when the eyes cross and you lose control of your breathing, sometimes you can forgot that your bike even has a lock-out.
So yeah, of course they're efficient when locked out, but want to know how they perform when the suspension is allowed to do its job.
There are a bunch of different suspension designs out there, many of which claim to be able to smooth your path to victory while also raising your FTP by twenty points and fixing the razor burns on your legs. But how much really separates these efficiency-focused suspension layouts?
By using a set of power meter pedals from SRM, a Freelap timing system, a gravel road climb, and a healthy dose of bro-science, that's what we set out to answer.
Here's how we did it: First, we marked out a half-kilometer gravel road ascent that would be easily repeatable but included both mellow and steep sections, and then we dropped Freelap timing cones at the start and finish points. My bumpy line on the side of the road was identical on each lap, as were my cadence, gear ratio-ish, and the summer sun doing its best to fry me. Most importantly, those SRM X-Power pedals talked to a Garmin head unit that gave me current, average, and 10-second power readings live. That allowed me to hold a reasonably consistent effort of 305 to 308 watts for each and every trip up the climb. Yeah, it was about as fun as you think.
My one buddy swears that dual co-rotating links are the best, while another tells me he thinks dual counter-rotating links are ''Like, so much better, man.'' Meanwhile, Jon over in the UK says you're a fool for not buying the high-single-pivot bike that he loves. Whatever anyone tells you, it's not that simple and any layout can be made terrible or amazing.
All ten bikes were ridden with both their fork and rear-suspension left fully open, while the Specialized Epic had its inertia-valve Brain system switched to the most active setting. A note about that: The Brain system still has an affect, even when adjusted to its lowest mode. Of course, all were setup correctly for my weight as well. And while we didn't use the same wheelset, all ten bikes were still on identical Schwalbe tires set to matching pressures.
I bet I know what you're thinking...
Sure, it's certainly more bro-science than real science, and there are plenty of obvious holes in this "test" that I bet you've probably commented on below, but I'd argue that it does hold at least a bit of water. To be honest with you guys, I most definitely didn't want to include this obviously questionable experiment in the Field Test because, well, I don't think it'd get a passing mark if it were my grade 10 school project, as a few readers pointed out in the comments of an earlier Field Test Article. But I do agree - we're not taking enough factors into consideration, especially bike weight, let alone being anywhere near precise enough to be confident in the resulting times.
Many bikes use suspension layouts that appear to be drastically different yet actually fall under the same umbrella. On the other hand, layouts that look remarkably similar can perform drastically dissimilar on the trail due to small, hard to see differences like pivot locations and shock tunes.
But I did it anyway, mostly because I was told to, and a funny thing happened: The bikes pretty much finished in the order that, having spent a month riding them back-to-back, both Sarah and myself would have predicted. So yeah, maybe forget about the times and look at how the bikes finished.
The notes that Sarah made previously while testing the Canyon show it to be the least forgiving bike of the group with a focus more on speed than comfort and traction. And guess what: The Canyon was the quickest bike of the Efficiency Test by a wide margin, confirming her thoughts. You'd expect the Brain-equipped Specialized Epic to be among the leaders, too, and it was, a handful of seconds quicker than its Brain-less EVO brother. Makes sense so far. And the bike with the slowest time up the hill? I mean aside from the Grim Donut. It was the Yeti SB115, the one that I have in my ride notes as not being as inspired and efficient feeling as the rest, again confirming our earlier feedback.
As for the rest of the bikes, there wasn't much separating them on the clock - only a handful of seconds - which is kinda how they act on the trail as well.
Efficiency Test Results
1st Canyon Lux - 2:32
2nd Specialized Epic - 2:38
3rd Trek Supercaliber - 2:43
4th Transition Spur - 2:43
5th Specialized Epic EVO - 2:43
6th Trek Procaliber - 2:43
7th Cannondale Scalpel - 2:45
8th Cannondale Scalpel SE - 2:45
9th Revel Ranger - 2:50
10th Yeti SB115 - 2:51
11th Grim Donut - 3:38
Bottom line: While I wouldn't put much stock in the actual times, the order the bikes finished matches our on-trail impressions.
The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with clothing, protection, and support from Giro. Control tires provided by Schwalbe, and power meters provided by SRM. Filming took place at The Backyard pub in Squamish.
Video: Jason Lucas, Cole Nelson, Max Barron
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No bike in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.” “I’m efficient. Some people would say I’m very, very, very efficient.” “And then people say oh, is he a good climber? I’m a better climber than all of them put together, but they can’t admit it.” “My efficiency is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”
His focus then turned to Levy’s comment on the size of his cranks: “My cranks are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.” “All of the bikes on the field test flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.” “I’m so good looking.” “I feel like a superbike except, like, times 10, OK? It’s true. I’m a superbike.” “How handsome am I, right? How handsome?”
-the grim donut
Is it possible to check your politics at the door? Is a light hearted jab so out of bounds these days? Why so sensitive?
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“Any responsible adult” 2020
I don't care what someone's political beliefs are... all they need is a sense of humor to find the top comment funny.
Besides comedy is dead, real life is way funnier. One of the Republican senators said last night that democrats will turn the country into a "socialist utopia". I think he was implying that would be a bad thing but it's frankly hard to tell.
While not "jackbooted Hitler wannabe fascist", the Biden crime bill from the 90s is pretty authoritarian. Also throwing 1900 people in jail for smoking a plant that you admit to smoking yourself and laughing about is pretty messed up. Denying innocent men in jail a $14 DNA test to keep your record high is pretty bad too. Denying parole to thousands of men so you can use them as slave labor to fight forest fires is also authoritarian.
Biden and Trump are both the worst, but comparing one or the other to Hitler is ignorant and stupid.
Fascism is a political line of thinking which focuses on the superiority of the "strong" (phsically, politically or financially) and dismisses the rule of law. The use and abuse of power is inherently justified, as is the oppression of the weak (individuals, groups or nations).
Historically, fascist leaders have also created a cult of personality and based their propaganda on a total disregard of reality.
In this sense, the Trump administration and the GOP certainly display fascist tendencies.
Both these candidates are just awful, and the fact that they are the two main candidates perfectly fits in with the theme of 2020.
EDIT: hahah pinkbike censors f*ggot.
No, that's a deliberately misleading edit intended to drop the context of what Biden actually said in 1977.
"He was against court-ordered busing to desegregate public schools."
This was one of the main points Kamala Harris used against him, when she said that she was one of those children who benefited from the busing.
The entire quote is "Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions built so high that it is going to explode at some point. We have got to make some move on this." Using the word "Jungle" is very clearly a racist reference, especially in 1977.
“When Joe Biden says we are in a battle for the soul of our nation against vile forces of hate who have come crawling out from under rocks, you are the epitome of what he means,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said Sunday on Twitter, responding to a tweet by Spencer. “What you stand for is absolutely repugnant. Your support is 10,000% percent unwelcome here.”
False equivalences, in general exaggerate similarities and ignore important differences, just like what you keep doing in this thread.
The Grim Donut is no different from those other XC bikes. Its got Schwalbe tires.
Beyond that, Kamala Harris is even worse. Biden made the defacto racist laws, but Harris enforced them. She literally locked up and prosecuted people for committing an act that she herself has admitted to doing. Culturally, black americans have used cannabis at higher rates, and so are disproportionately affected by Bidens law and Harris's prosecution.
Trump runs his mouth, is probably a rapist, uses his position to financially benefit his family, and probably breaks federal law on Emoluments, but a racist? I don't think so, if you draw a distinction between racism and xenophobia. Biden's actions however, in his past Senate record and in his selection of Harris has demonstrable negative outcomes for the black community.
The Biden campaign has pointed to provisions like the Violence Against Women Act, the 10-year assault weapons ban, firearm background check funding, money for police, support for addiction treatment, and a “safety valve” that let a limited number of low-level first-time drug offenders avoid mandatory minimum sentences. They also pointed out that a Republican-controlled Congress later cut funding drastically for drug courts.
By calling it "Biden's Crime Bill" you, again, abandoned all context.
But the point is this, is their a difference between the candidates and there advisors, cabinet members, party, etc...? Or is there basically no difference. I believe the differences are stark.
There are minimal differences in their potential administrations. What was different under Obama than before or after? Biden voted for every war, every tax increase, and during that administration nothing was done to curb police violence. That was the administration he was part of for 8 years. Has life for a young black man in any major city improved after 8 years? No. The man even called Obama an articulate, clean black man. When he was interviewed a week or two ago by Errol Barnett, a black TV host, he made racist comments to him!
I don't know whats driving this blindness to how horrible Biden + Harris is. Its just as bad as my evangelical friends calling Trump "a man of God". Apparently God is a fan of pornstars that look like Ivanka.
then you are actually measuring the efficiency of the suspension not just how close the open suspension acts relative to being locked out
But what angles would the Grim DH bike use?
soon we will be flying down the trails
This is the only fail in the test, that $11.5K bike was only a faster race bike than the $5.5K Spur because of the weight and size difference imo.
Gain 5" of testicular clearance in the equation too.
I would never have anticipated a link between rotating mass and the force to rotate that rotating mass up a hill...
Try them all with the same wheels for a fairer test if you want to test suspension efficiency in isolation rather than just the bike as available off the shelf (except the tyres!!!)
"Why Rotating Weight Doesn't Matter On Your Road Bike | GCN Tech Debunk A Common Cycling Myth"
I found it quite interesting.
So... you dont lose it but you need more energy to get it moving, now add in gravity (going up hill specifically) and you need to put more energy in still. Its that whole potential energy of the climbing part that is the issue.
Tubeless, normal tube, dh tube all in the same wheel and tyre.
You are tubeless because its lighter, the 400g dh tube instead of 50g of sealant makes a massive difference especially if the tyre is only 500g and the rim 350g. Thats a large amount of extra flywheel to get uphill. Not the flat or downhill,point it downhill and you want a certain amount of weight to have that stored energy over the rough stuff. Why are Dh wheels not super heavy then... well they would take too much energy to accelerate and decelerate and have too much gyroscopic effect in the corners etc.
*I realize now this is probably about the grim donut.
To go the same speed as a rider pushing 75% MAP (Say, 300 watts) on a Canyon Lux the Yeti SB115 rider needs to push 12.5% harder at 84% MAP. Using a 5 zone HR model this kicks you up into the middle of the next zone which is, um, not optimal.
Over a 60 minute course this is the difference between finishing in 1:00 hr and 1:07:30.
Also, since the test was performed with power pedals we don't know what percentage of the power produced was actually applied to the wheel (or even the crank to be tetchy).
Were all the bikes climbed in the same gear? Did they all use SRAM eagle with broken in chains? New chains? One potentially under-appreciated point here is that the Lux CF SLX 9.0 Team is XTR vs the rest running Eagle.
There are a ton of variables that aren't obvious and you're right, headwind matters as well.
If *I* were sending a bike to a test like this I'd do the following:
Put each cartridge bearing into a chuck and spin it to break it in.
Re-grease the bottom bracket with the lightest oil that'll stay in it.
Put ceramic speed bearings in wherever possible in the OE parts.
Thoroughly wax the chain - and then mechanically strip every trace of wax from the outside.
Sure, it doesn't seem like much but the differences on this test will surely impact sales, so why not right? An extra 1% performance will show up in google results for years.
All trail bikes are generally heavier than the XC bikes (which are by extension heavier than CX bikes) , and from a pure human performance, you will never have the same climbing performance on them for a single human. And when you consider the range of suspension settings that each bike can run, and the range of fitness that riders have, its pointless to compare this number.
A good climbing bike is one that you can power up a technical climb faster than it would take for you to walk it, which means good traction at the rear, front that stays down and allows you to pick the line, and handling that doesn't make you have to make huge corrections just to balance the bike.
The hardtail is the odd exception to that. Suspension smoothing out the fire road to improve rolling resistance? Would have been interesting to see if the bike were faster or slower locked out as a comparison.
Assuming the same crankset was used, I dont believe the potential crankset error is the significant variable in this equation.
Pinkbike said this test was just for fun and don’t take it to serious. Power doesn’t really matter in a test like this because putting out 300 watt is a lot harder when the pedals and suspension is bobbing. A better test would be to go as hard as you can on all bikes, or go with the same HR/fatigue/physical exhaustion.
Being able to hold the same wattage for multiple intervals - kudos! Wish I had that talent.
Final comment -Static stretching immediately before or during exercise went away 20 years ago.......
PB did early tests, and they turned out better than they/we expected. They gave the bike to a couple of pro riders in the vicinity, and these tests too turned out better than they/we expected. They then considered taking things a step further (on the path to bigger scale production), by sponsoring an enduro rider for this year. Perhaps not EWS, perhaps Canadian cup (lower cost, still high level providing strong validation if results are supportive). And if that had turned out well, we perhaps would have seen Grim Donut Babies next year.
Think about it: PB knows everything needed to get production, distribution, marketing, services done either by themselves or by partners. Think about it: what's another plausible reason not to have seen more of that donut that we know did not implode and ride just fine?
Then covid got in the way, and they don't want to spoil all the potential so they just give us enough to not have a civil web war on hands.
If I disappear in the next 24h, you will all know I am right and PB is trying to shuffle the story under the carpet until better times come!
I actually really appreciate the bro science. Bro science is better than no science, right? I have some comments for how to make it slightly less bro-y (imo, anyone's differing opinions are welcome):
Biggest thing you can do to add legitimacy: Pick one bike and test it three times (or more). Have everything set up the same. Now you can do a 95% confidence interval of the mean time up the hill. This would give you better context about just how much a 5 second difference up that hill means. Is it a big difference in suspension design or well within the margin of error?
As for controlling the weight- I understand differing opinions, but I think you shouldn't control bike weight. This is a test of the bike's (as a complete system) climbing efficiency, and that includes both weight and suspension design. I think you should, however, control your weight. Yup, weigh in before each ride and make sure its the same. Controlling this by drinking water seems iffy so I'd add small weights to a hip pack or something. Start with a few weights so you can drop some if you need water.
Also- There's two interesting ways I could see you measuring efficiency here. First, you could measure Transport Efficiency. This is weight*speed /power. You need to work out the units so it's non-dimensional. This is widely used metric from ships to trains to planes and cars. Second, you could measure energy output versus work performed. Watts*time divided by potential energy (mass*gravity*height) plus kinetic energy (1/2*mass*velocity^2). The second one is a metric I made up but basically its the percentage of energy used to move up the hill and accelerate so I think it would be interesting. One caveat is it controls for bike weight, somewhat contradicting my previous idea. I think a pseudo-efficiency of the same thing with ONLY rider weight would be useful as well as it tells you how how much of your energy is moving you.
Anyone who read this far thanks for putting up with my inner nerd
So Mike, we have to ask you to do those fire roads again, With all bikes. Twice. When you do so you will serve mankind, because bike effiëncy is a big thing in XC.
Adding ballast to get the weights identical would eliminate that variable, but I'd rather see locked out times instead as it should essentially do the same thing (times should line up by weight when locked out) while adding data to confirm assumptions made in the test.
While the impossible climb felt more like entertainment (in a good way) this generated some solid results.