Field Test: 9 XC Bikes & the Grim Donut VS the Efficiency Test

Aug 25, 2020
by Mike Levy  


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.

Cross-country racing puts a big emphasis on climbing, and a bike with efficient-feeling suspension can be the rocketship you need on race day. Specialized's new Epic employs an adjustable inertia valve that's claimed to separate pedaling and bump forces to get the job done.

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


  • 954 11
 The Grim Donut, upset with having been forced to complete the course with enduro tires rather than the XC control tires, gave this statement:
“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?”
  • 213 47
 @DaneL Perfect. Only the MAGA cult would downvote this.
  • 386 3
 @johnski: Make America Grim Again
  • 380 1
 "grab em by the bottom bracket"
-the grim donut
  • 199 6
 I see what you're going for, but the coherent train of thought, contextually appropriate use of the word "surety", and proper punctuation in your post really work against the concept.
  • 24 3
 @Paddock22: Is that the 2020 election slogan? Quite appropriate
  • 61 324
flag konrad1972 (Aug 25, 2020 at 9:09) (Below Threshold)
 @johnski: Its funny how Pinkbike and all the "progressive" minded people are into virtue signaling, inclusivness and not being offensive to others on public forums. Yet offending Trump voters is OK
  • 36 233
flag konrad1972 (Aug 25, 2020 at 9:10) (Below Threshold)
 @Paddock22: Don't worry Joe Bidden will take care of that.
  • 62 1
 stable genius talk right there
  • 151 20
 @konrad1972: look up paradox of tolerance. It's ok to not tolerate someone's intolerance, in this case the Trump cult.
  • 70 8
 @konrad1972: shouldn’t you be hanging out in the comments section of some political news forum somewhere?
Is it possible to check your politics at the door? Is a light hearted jab so out of bounds these days? Why so sensitive?
  • 138 23
 @konrad1972: Trump is so full of sh*t that he has essentially become a caricature or parody of himself. Trump supporters offended by this are only offending themselves by living in such a delusional bubble.
  • 6 0
 Beautyfull , Can @alecbaldwininsta read it for Us
  • 13 0
 Grim Donut should really be running the XC control tyres to make things fair.
  • 6 0
 Control tires on the Grim Donut would have shaved at least 20+ seconds off that time. This is a great example of tire rolling resistance (and to lesser extent tire rotational weight penalty) on a gravel road--not a knock on the efficiency of the Grim Donut.
  • 3 0
 Made my day right there. Can't upvote enough.
  • 89 2
 Downvotes are obviously due to voter fraud. Rigged election
  • 129 22
 @konrad1972: let's not offend anyone who voted for a racist, misogynistic, hate mongering, criminally culpable, liar....and so on.
  • 12 5
 "The Grim Donut colluded with China to subvert the results of the efficiency test, thus delegitimatizing every consumer's right to chose the best bike for them. The Grim Donut subversively promotes division and hatred of other bikes with steep head tube angles. It has the carbon footprint of the Industrial Revolution. It's iconoclastic use of downhill tires is a dog whistle to "otherize" the hive-minded sheeple who only use Schwalbe XC tires. The Grim Donut is perverse, extreme, vulgar, crude, and not acceptable to anyone who wouldn't dare think differently. The Grim Donut is the cause of every problem and grievance across the globe and probably the solar system. It must go. NeverGrim! Never again!!"
  • 5 0
 Fantastic editing, humorous, and insightful. Rad video!
  • 2 0
 All the upvotes.
  • 11 45
flag nfontanella (Aug 25, 2020 at 10:19) (Below Threshold)
 @konrad1972: trump voters are literally the most oppressed minority
  • 17 13
 @konrad1972: maybe you'd be happier reading bike reviews at oneamericanews/breitbart/Qanon/infowars?!?!?!!!
  • 13 14
 @konrad1972: maybe Trumps boyfriend Bannon can start writing them. and that cuck jerry falwell jr too
  • 15 39
flag mountaincross (Aug 25, 2020 at 11:49) (Below Threshold)
 @thustlewhumber: Liar? Yes. Misogynistic. No. Racist. Not sure, but not seeing daily overt evidence of this. Hate mongering. Only if “basket full of deplorables” is considered hate speech but otherwise no. Criminally culpable? Doubtful but I wouldn’t rule it out. A Washington swamp thing? Well I always thought so but my standards have changed since the biggest swamp thing in America (going back decades) has moved the goalposts and is running for re election that he, predictably, will constantly cheat at and...GUARANTIED...will refuse to accept a losing result all the while actively seeking to sabotage the election process before it happens AND....constantly accusing and blaming others for his own wrongdoing and incompetence.

This message brought to you by the super PAC
“Any responsible adult” 2020
  • 32 3
 We are gonna win, win, win. We're going to win at enduro, we're going to win at the downhill, we're going to win with downcountry, we're going to win at everything. And some of you are friends and you're going to call, and you're going to say, 'Mr. Grim Donut, please, we can't take it anymore, we can't win anymore like this, Mr. Grim Donut, you're driving us crazy, you're winning too much, please Mr. Grim Donut, not so much, and I'm going to say I'm sorry, we're going to keep winning because we are going to make America great again
  • 12 4
 @mountaincross: This is a mountain bike website. You're doing the internet wrong.
  • 21 3
 @konrad1972: it's funny that nothing was said that could even be slightly offensive to a certain political group, yet you got offended.

I don't care what someone's political beliefs are... all they need is a sense of humor to find the top comment funny.
  • 7 7
 @mountaincross: Wait are you talking about Biden or Trump? So hard to tell these days
  • 21 4
 @konrad1972: it's always been ok to mock arseholes.
  • 5 0
 @slickwilly1: Grim Donut rides a trail, then sets it ablaze.... " it was Rocky Mountains fault ".
  • 4 0
 @Paddock22: @mikelevy This is a guaranteed best-selling PB hat idea.
  • 4 0
 @konrad1972: Don't ride a Dim Gronup around here, pardner.
  • 3 0
 @CircusMaximus: people get touchy with too much winning
  • 3 0
 I've heard the Grim Donut is the new contestant on 'The Bachelor'.
  • 1 1
 @TwoNGlenn: Oh, of course, my mistake. I was doing the democracy piece about an informed electorate so some authoritarian strong man....oh, but there I go again...
  • 4 2
 @bikeybikeybikebike: I love that it requires a high IQ in order to accurately impersonate Trump and intentionally be so congatively dysfunctional.
  • 12 3
 @johnski: Nah we're 4 years in. IMO this joke is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

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.
  • 3 0
 Pinkbike comment of the year right here. Bloody brilliant!
  • 18 6
 @konrad1972: yes. Offending actual Nazis is ok. Trump is a fascist, and like not a 'coffee shop hipster calling all capitalists fascists' facist, but a 'send in the jackbooted unidentified troops to beat down dissent, Hitler wannabe facist'. If you haven't noticed I'd don't know what to tell you.
  • 2 1
 "Despite the constant negative press covfefe." - TGD
  • 4 10
flag TwoNGlenn (Aug 26, 2020 at 5:14) (Below Threshold)
 @mgrantorser: Actually, Trump sent in people to defend the Federal building, as is the law. That was the extent of the intervention. Obama did the same thing in Oregon during the Bundy Standofff. Other than defending the Federal building, Trump has let the cities burn, as is the wont of the local Democrat leaders, apparently. Pretty weak fascist.
  • 12 4
 @TwoNGlenn: Yes, this talk of fascism is pretty weak. Trump has so many weak points, so many legitimate reasons not to vote for him, and they call him a "Hitler wannabe" because local law enforcement in Democrat controlled cities in Democrat states beat protestors.

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.
  • 3 1
 @hamncheez: Thanks for that rare glimpse of balanced perspective.
  • 8 2
 @hamncheez: The fascist tendencies attributed to Trump have nothing to do with the strictness of law enforcement.

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.
  • 9 3
 @TwoNGlenn: There's nothing "balanced" about a comparison between the two. That's just another false equivalence. And by the way, only one of these men has a speech writer who embraces white supremacist rhetoric and propaganda. Caging children just to make a point? I call that sick and diabolical.
  • 3 5
 @mountaincross: See, you're doing it. Ignoring one side and vilifying the other. Obama locked up immigrant children in cages too. He had less children in cages, but thats partially because there was less immigration because the economy was weaker. Saying Trumps speech writer "embraces white supremacy" is a stretch too. Don't forget that Richard Spencer has officially endorsed Joe Biden. Biden also has said "he doesn't want his children growing up in a racial jungle" when he opposed school integration.

Both these candidates are just awful, and the fact that they are the two main candidates perfectly fits in with the theme of 2020.
  • 1 4
 @Ttimer: Fascia is the root word for fascism. It means f*ggot, or bundle of sticks. It was coined by socialists to mean "stronger together". Each individual stick is weak, but together they are strong, etc. It was used to basically say, "put your country/nation/race first, and together we will be strong". It does not dismiss the rule of law, but seeks to use to increase the power of central government. To say that Trump has fascist tendencies destroys all meaning of the word.

EDIT: hahah pinkbike censors f*ggot.
  • 4 2
 @hamncheez: I see what your doing here. Defending a false equivalence with more of them. But if you want to downplay the guy that puts children in cages....even his own family won't do that. In any case this is a mountain bike website. We're "doing the internet wrong."
  • 3 1
 @hamncheez: "Biden also has said "he doesn't want his children growing up in a racial jungle" when he opposed school integration."

No, that's a deliberately misleading edit intended to drop the context of what Biden actually said in 1977.
  • 2 4
 @mountaincross: Politifact is a joke. From their own article, which goes against what their conclusion is :

"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.
  • 2 2
 @hamncheez: Are you saying an endorsement is the same level of influence as hiring someone as your speech writer? Are you forgetting Biden's formal response to Richard Spencer's "endorsement'? Do you know that anybody can endorse anybody for president? People deserve to be better informed during an important election year and your comments are misleading.

“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.”
  • 3 1
 @hamncheez: PolitiFact (a joke because you said so?) rated the misleading quote as "half true". Seems fairly accurate.
False equivalences, in general exaggerate similarities and ignore important differences, just like what you keep doing in this thread.
  • 2 1
 Biden has made relatively small mistakes compared to Trumps constant barrage of lies, personal insults, conspiracies, science denial, manipulation, race baiting, consistent corruption, and completely ignorant statements.
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Yes, this. Thank you.

The Grim Donut is no different from those other XC bikes. Its got Schwalbe tires.
  • 2 2
 @mountaincross: Just remember, you ain't black if you don't vote Democrat.
  • 3 3
 @mountaincross: You're missing the point. Bidens crime bill is significantly responsible for why young black men specifically experience disproportionately high incarceration rates. The effects of Bidens actions actively hurt the black community. He also has a long history of making racist statements. Just ask google.

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.
  • 2 3
 @hamncheez: I agree with you. That crime bill contained ample evidence of systemic racism. Much of the "tough on crime" politics of the era was driven in the political discourse by Republicans. Republicans fought for a three strikes provision that put people away. Biden, in 1994, called a three-strikes provision — that escalated prison sentences up to life for some repeat offenses — “wacko” and illustrative of Congress’ “tough on crime” attitude. And Republicans were successful. Public opinion was moved largely in favor of tougher on crime policies. Democrats were on the defensive, accused of being soft on crime (a gambit Republicans continue to this day, of course). The bill was vast and complex with many provisions that democrats supported, like the Violence Against Women's Act. But most Republicans at that time felt the bill didn't go nearly far enough to punish "offenders."

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.
  • 2 3
 @mountaincross: Biden authored the bill. He has defended it as recently as 2016. The rest of your "context" is speculation, essentially saying that Republicans "forced" Biden to write it.

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.
  • 2 3
 Later on, Cannondale, Trek and Revel issued a joint statement saying that they plan on protesting the remainder of the test. In spite of them receiving equal treatment and tires, the Grim Donut has managed to make the test biased against them. The test will not matter until only black bikes matter.
  • 2 4
 @hamncheez: I know, right? I can see how people hate Trump. His aesthetic is poor, he's loose with the truth and his personal record is spotty. But Biden can easily match Trump, point for point, on those detractors. Plus, Biden's been in government for five decades. Five decades of horribleness on the taxpayer dime. He's every bit the train wreck Trump is, if not more. Oh, and his dementia is getting worse...
  • 2 3
 @TwoNGlenn: shhhh we don't talk about his early onset dementia
  • 1 0
 You should do the efficiency test on railway ties (can you find a rail bridge or rail spur without much ballast anywhere?)
then you are actually measuring the efficiency of the suspension not just how close the open suspension acts relative to being locked out
  • 1 6
flag freestater (Jan 16, 2021 at 5:51) (Below Threshold)
 @MAGA for life
  • 158 2
 Levy has realized that if he simply mentions the grim donut he gets 10 times as many views, and will now use it on a weekly basis.
  • 17 0
 NGL... I immediately clicked when I saw the GD in the title. Got me!
  • 10 2
 Too true... the only videos I've watched of this useless XC field test have been the ones that featured the Grim D... Levy's got me by the Donuts!
  • 1 0
 GD = Commenter crack.
  • 133 0
 You know Mike, with those shorts on you need to rename the bike to the Grim ShowNuts.
  • 38 2
 Excellent - maybe that's what the downhill bike will be called?!
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: Are-you also building a one-off DH? What kind of crazy angles will that bike get?
  • 21 1
 @jfcarrier: God no, just trolling tbh Smile

But what angles would the Grim DH bike use?
  • 10 0
 @mikelevy: head tube angle 48 degrees
  • 19 0
 @mikelevy: Grim DH = Grim Donut Hole? It works! Now you have to.
  • 32 0
 @mikelevy: 42 HA, 115 STA, 650 reach, 20" rear wheel, and 36" front wheel for the ultimate in mullet performance.
  • 22 0
 @mikelevy: I feel like you'd have to see how high of a pivot you could do.
  • 2 2
 @Angu58: with those numbers the only thing that came to my mind was this

soon we will be flying down the trails
  • 4 0
 No one told me that grim donut was code for grundel, Cause there were way more grundel shots than grim donut shots
  • 5 0
 @Ooofff: It's gotta be 49 degrees to get the gold. #californiagoldrushjoke.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Just chuck some twin crown forks on it and give it rip as it is. A DH rig that can climb ;-)
  • 77 1
 Teasing the Grim Donut is the only way to get DH/Enduro riders to watch the XC field test...
  • 56 0
 Ich bin ein grim berliner
  • 7 0
 Political, historical, and hilarious. Win!
  • 2 0
 @slayersxc17: someone is going to find a way to shoot that commenter down
  • 36 0
 Always laugh when I see the Grim Donut being ridden...looks like a rider on their way to the car park after a massive case.
  • 5 0
 It's not broken... it's a feature.
  • 32 0
 I almost spit my drink up at the sight of that side profile of the Grim Donut climbing. Its so ugly, yet I can't look away.
  • 1 0
 Haha, ya, didn't realize they gave it the Mullet treatment!
  • 26 2
 That Transition Spur though. Buy 1 size smaller if you want to XC race somewhat seriously in a HS league or something and still hit general trails, buy the correct size for a killer trail bike. Spend the $5K saved over the Epic on some lightweight parts and dust the Evo.
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.
  • 6 0
 Agreed. Performance of the Spur is definitely the surprise here for me. It's $6k though which is I think quite well priced for the spec and apparent frame quality.
  • 2 0
 Spent that $5k on a pre-release, limited colour-way, Levy signed Grim Donut you mean.
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: Sign me up! It'd be worth it just for all the laughs seeing that thing being pedaled around.
  • 1 0
 Not surprisingly, it's backordered into 2021.
  • 27 1
 300 watts for 2.5-3 minutes at a time is solid. And to do it over and over again -- bravo!
  • 8 0
 Agreed. Fantastic consistency Mike.
  • 2 0
 the editing near the beginning implies they started with a higher number, then found out Levy couldn't do it repeatedly
  • 3 0
 @AyJayDoubleyou: That’s because it’s tough! I’m not sure how many people know what wattage they push, but it’s likely not a steady 300 for a sustained amount of time. So many would be redlining, including me.
  • 1 0
 @TheR: I was thinking the same thing. I don't use a power meter so I can only go off my Peloton and assume its similar. But putting out over 300 watts repeatedly for 3 min intervals isn't too shabby at all.
  • 24 2
 Did we just learn that the bike with 1400g wheels beat the bike with 1610g wheels which beat the bike with 1700g wheels and the Grim with Enduro tyres on heavier wheels went the slowest.
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!!!)
  • 10 0
 Granted, this is specific to road bikes, but I would suggest applicable for this kind of test (no braking/re-accelerating):

"Why Rotating Weight Doesn't Matter On Your Road Bike | GCN Tech Debunk A Common Cycling Myth"

I found it quite interesting.
  • 2 0
 The math says that rotating weight is only twice as important as static weight for accelerating and climbing. Ofc. on a full suspension bike, rotating mass is also unsprung mass, which is inefficient in different ways.
  • 1 0
 @mtbracken: He answers his own argument in his opening statement when he refers to putting more energy in.
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.

Simple test.
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.
  • 1 0
 @betsie: To be fair, DH tubes have a TON of rolling resistance.
  • 1 0
 @betsie: My understanding from the video, is you don't lose the energy of accelerating the rotating mass – until there is braking involved. Overall mass makes a difference, but due to inertia, rotating mass has a negligible impact until braking enters the equation.
  • 16 0
 No control tires on the Donut? I demand a re-test!
  • 15 0
 Eating a donut while watching a donut ride a donut
  • 23 0
 Hey, I resemble that comment.
  • 15 0
 "Climbs just like an XC bike!". Oh. Wait. No, it doesn't.
  • 3 0
 Yeah multiplying this out to a real climbing interval of say an hour is just painful. 10% faster downhill, 50% slower uphill is not a good trade.*

*I realize now this is probably about the grim donut.
  • 5 0
 Thinking about this further:

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.

  • 5 0
 @tempest3070: I must say that I wonder how much variation in conditions there was. A 2mph headwind vs a 2mph tailwind could make a big difference. Something you might not even feel on the ground.
  • 3 0
 @LeDuke: The other thing I was thinking about was drivetrain and condition - since this is >5% of the total power loss between the pedals and the wheels - putting the 'real' power to the ground potentially as low as 292 on some bikes.

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.
  • 3 1
 When [competent] people say "climbs like an XC bike" they are generally referring to technical climbing performance that is a result of geometry.

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.
  • 4 0
 @tempest3070: at least you’re not over thinking it.
  • 2 0
 @CircusMaximus: Somebody's gotta be the nerd
  • 11 0
 For the most part looks like the heavier bikes went the slowest. If you want to be fast uphill a light bike is your friend.

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.
  • 20 0
 Yup, I agree on the hardtail. My line was actually very bumpy and I was getting knocked out of the saddle quite a bit while on the hardtail.
  • 3 0
 Note also that the hardtail wasn't on control tires.
  • 7 0
 @mikelevy @tubby1536 SRM I believe lists the accuracy of their meter as 1.5% which is about 2.5s over 2:45. That margin of error puts 3rd through 8th in a statistical dead heat. These results pretty much verify what a lot of us have said for years: tires are the most important variable on a bike and these tests have controlled nicely for that fact. The outliers from that dead heat show some real variation in suspension/ geometry design, weight, or equipment choice (e.g. wheels or crank length), at least on a smoother dirt road as opposed to a trail.
  • 3 0
 @whambat: I think the accuracy would apply to the nominal power, no? So ~ 7.5 watt spread rather than directly comparable to the times. Regardless, it is pretty much a dead heat as you indicated
  • 1 0
 @Jcmonty: does it? Or would the error % for a given crankset be near constant each time it is used?

Assuming the same crankset was used, I dont believe the potential crankset error is the significant variable in this equation.
  • 2 0
 @whambat: A power meter having an accuracy of 1.5% does not mean that the power will fluctuate between this 1.5%. The power will be consistent on all bikes (as long as it’s mounted correctly), but the power might be 1.5% lower than the actual power Levi put down. If it’s 1.5% lower it will be 1.5% lower on all bikes.
  • 2 0
 @whambat: The accuracy is 1.5% but for this test, all that would matter is the repeatability. I would guess that repeatability is quite a bit better than 1.5%.
  • 1 0
 @magnusc: so you are saying the SRM power meter has 100.0% consistency? I understand the difference between accuracy and consistency but did not see consistency listed. Regardless, I think they’re enough variables in this test, wind, slight variations in line selection, 10s gap in power readings, etc to say that anything within a couple seconds is pretty much a statistical tie. That’s not to say that I’m not knocking this test: for a self-admitted bro science test, they did a pretty good job, but it helps to understand what’s in the ballpark of margin of error when you post times.
  • 1 0
 I think the suspension could certainly help - I remember a few years back MBUK did a similar test on a technical climb, but controlling for weight and varying travel - so using a cheap hardtail, midrange trail bike and top flight enduro bike. The enduro bike was the clear winner due to grip and control
  • 1 0
 @whambat: No, I pointed out that products marketing their power meter at 1.5% is about accuracy, not consistency. You used it as a measure of consistency.

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.
  • 9 0
 This was probably the most entertaining video of the bunch. Even for an efficiency test, the content on screen was funny and the editing was awesome. Great job guys!
  • 6 0
 Assume that all the bikes on the same second you ordered by the least amount of watts for the same time? Really 3rd to 6th or even 8th had almost the same result. Not a bad thing. Conclusions - Lux and Epic fast, Revel and Yeti slow. Levy needs bigger legs to handle the dounut. Suggest repeating the test at 500 watts to even the playing the field Smile .

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.......
  • 6 1
 I'll put my Grim Donut theory here.

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!
  • 1 0
 Word on the street is the Grim Donut is in production. Two models: One raw alu frame with 12-speed deore, strong alu wheels, 210mm dropper post and the ZEB. The other? A carbon frame in the color "Dentist White" with a carbon ENVE wheelset, AXS and all the kashima.
  • 1 0
 @SimbaandHiggins: Shut up and take my money!
  • 7 0
 Just wanna see Yoann shred the grim donut. Then try to eat it at the bottom
  • 5 0
 Would have loved to have seen the Spot Ryve 115 in the test. I enjoyed the review you did a while back, but I would have liked to see how it stacked up. Thinking it might have made the impossible climb.
  • 3 0
 That thing is so quick.
  • 1 0
 +1 on including the Ryve 115 in this test. The Ryve has also been characterized as a "rocketship" and levy noted it was a very different bike than the Spur. Yet the Spur did pretty well in the efficiency test. These field tests were great, although ride performance could have been much more detailed and elaborate. I really wanted to know how the Ranger, Spur, and Ryve compared and what makes one bike a rocketship versus another. Would all three bikes do fine on a long sustained, non-technical climb versus another? The one thing about the Ryve 115 is that you can order it tomorrow while the Ranger and the Spur are a ways out.
  • 4 0
 Hey Pinkbike-
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
  • 5 0
 Hey @mikelevy, this is some roadie shit but NP actually stands for "normalized power," not "nominal" power.
  • 3 0
 Ever since I started listening to the podcast I love this guy and his sense of humor! You are a gem and I appreciate all you do for the sport and for my entertainment. When this is all over I plan to come to Squamish, crush some steep trails and buy some donuts in your honor!! Great test.
  • 3 0
 They should have made a choice between pedallng in or out off the saddle. The riding dynamics of the geo and suspension are completely different in both cases. The footage shows both.

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.
  • 7 1
 Sarah Moore unpaid?! Where's the patreon account link?
  • 2 2
 What! What makes you say that? If she contributed to this video I sure hope she got paid
  • 25 0
 Sometimes watching the video helps before commenting haha
  • 3 16
flag LaurensVR (Aug 25, 2020 at 8:53) (Below Threshold)
  • 3 0
 Sarah is the North American content manager for pinkbike. She isn't just a contributor. Not even sure where this comment came from? I'm still in favour of a patreon account though. She's pretty great.
  • 3 0
 Seems to be a long running joke from the podcasts, Levy refers to everyone as either his boss, or his unpaid intern.
  • 2 0
 To actually judge the suspension you'd need to run each bike locked out as well and compare locked vs unlocked times. Of course to get times than truly mean anything you'd need to run each bike (locked and unlocked) multiple times as well.

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.
  • 2 0
 It seems given all the unaccounted for variables, this “test” basically shows only 3 things: the Lux and Epic are race efficient without need for lockout, the others will need a lockout to match those, except the yeti and ranger which may need more than a lockout, at least with their spec as tested
  • 5 0
 Fake news. Results were rigged....Garmin was hacked. Grim'nuts wheelbase finished before the clock started.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for suffering that climb in the name of ‘science’ ... it would be interesting to expand on this test someday to measure a wider range of bikes, tires, etc. I’d love to see the same bike with 5-10lbs of static weight added, to see how much weight alone matters...

While the impossible climb felt more like entertainment (in a good way) this generated some solid results.
Nice work!
  • 2 0
 This really isn't a poor experimental design to compare the relative efficiencies of various whole bikes. Its not a test of the rear suspension because wheels etc...weren't controlled. But as a field test and comparison of whole bikes, the experimental design is sound. Keeping in mind however that one trial per bike, on the same day, is a huge weakness in terms of having high confidence in the conclusions. Randomized order, multiple days, many trials, with different riders would make the data more amendable to sound statistical tests for significance. Field tests in particular are difficult to control and so the best approach is to build a body of a variety of different experimental designs, with multiple trials in conjunction with laboratory testing (easier to control). Overall, sound bro science we just need more data to increase our confidence in the conclusions.
  • 2 0
 Thanks so much to PB for the phenomenal XC/DC coverage. You guys really took the cake with all of these reviews and comparisons. Everything was really well thought out, and its cool to see an actual XC race bike paired to its longer legged version.
  • 4 1
 Surprised the hardtail didnt do better on its home turf. Rather interesting really. Kinda points towards a lockout not helping as much as I would have guessed.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, I'm also very surprised. Could be because of the better traction of the full suspension bikes? If this is correct, I can't see any use for hardtails at World Cups anymore, even at the mellower tracks.
  • 4 0
 @marin0: My line was actually very bumpy and I was getting knocked out of the saddle quite a bit while on the hardtail Smile
  • 4 0
 I spy Maxxis tires on the hardtail, the schwalbe pair is surely a bit faster rolling.
  • 4 1
 @Geoffire: Yup. I don't know how it translates to a fire road climb, but Maxxis MTB tyres always do so bad on
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: For how long did you stand up, and did you do stand the same amount on all bikes?
  • 1 0
 Extrapolating the numbers to my favorite MTB marathon race, The Cascade Creampuff, with about 80km fire road climbing and about 80km flowy but sometimes a bit chunky descending. There's no way I'm making 300 watts all day long, figure about 200, so let's say the 5 second difference between the Epic and the Epic Evo becomes about 8 seconds. That comes out to about 20 minutes more climbing time for the whole day. For someone with less than spectacular descending skills, like myself, that 20 minutes would probably be made up on the descents using the Evo.
  • 3 0
 As a different data point to this the XC bikes win the Downieville classic every year and there's tons and tons and tons of descending there.
  • 2 0
 @tempest3070: Good point. I have no doubt a rider with good skills would be faster on an XC bike. But for someone like me who basically sucks at descending, I'd probably be faster on the DC bike. That being said, people like me should probably just spend more time building skills on the trail and less time chasing watts on Zwift.
  • 1 0
 @dirt-roadie: I mean, maybe less zwift but to me it sounds like you just need to practice descending more.
  • 1 0
 This was a really good test. If we take the numbers at face value and ignore the variables that can't be accounted for, then the differences are significant. The Lux putting 19 seconds over the Yeti in less than 3 minutes? That's a huge difference.
  • 1 0
 My inner stats nerd says the result for the Luxe just seems too big. Adjusted for power output, most bikes (6 of 10) fell within 1% of the median, and all but the Luxe were within about 4% of the median. The Luxe was 7.3% faster than the median. That Canyon found a way to double the performance gain of the next best bike seems unlikely.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy, to me these findings seem "probably" legit, bro science or not. I'd really just want them repeated by a different rider, to make sure there's not some weird quirk that makes the results less generalizable. The size of some of the gaps is surprisingly big to me--interesting stuff.
  • 1 0
 I'm not sure how much of an efficiency test this is as much as a weight test it is. Obviously the lightest bike did not win, but a heavier bike is going to use more power to get up the same hill. With so many variables, I don't think we can conclude really anything about the efficiency of the bikes.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy I'm curious about what the original power plan was. Was it the same distance at 400W and you didn't want to struggle through 30 x 100s @400W to test every bike, or was it 400 over a different distance? If you can do repeats like this at 300W then 400W is within your range too, but I'm curious about what ended up happening. Thanks!
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy How would you compare the 2021 Epic Evo to the new Hei Hei? I’m seriously considering the evo but might want something slightly more capable for long bikepacking races. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy I’m also curious how the Hei hei compares
  • 3 0
 More efficient than a hardtail(ish) bike. Science bitches! Let’s throw a cross bike in there next time!
  • 2 0
 I wonder if the Lux efficiency translate to game changer advantage at the finish line? It didn’t shine at the technical climbers or the DH and still it a world champ
  • 5 3
 Called the yeti being the worst back in the preview article. All the self professed bike engineers and scientists called me crazy.
  • 4 2
 Yeti is the worst by the virtue of being the Apple of the bike world.
  • 1 0
 @phops: Iphones are reliable though
  • 3 0
 The Revel & Yeti in the charts should be swapped around according to the video. Not that it really matters ;-)
  • 2 0
 The concept of EVOlution is obviously falsified (and in reality the world is only 5000 years old) - otherwise brothers without brains wouldn't have survived.
  • 1 1
 i am convinced that the bikes perform like we wanted to see the dissapointement was seeing the Cannondale stiff. I am not going to believe this was any kind of equal footed test...... different conditions like rain, Levy's fatigue, All the above makes it ridiculous to find a winner but I knew the Epic was going to take it being a 21lb trailbike trail slayer. That said I l LOVE WATCHING LEVY ramble through the testing taking a beating with every bike. This style of comparative testing would only be vital with multiple riders on multiple bikes re fitting. Again I think the show is awesome and Mike definitely shows us each bikes weaknesses and strengths without us test riding a full quiver of rides. Massive respect I only wished Kaz could get across the border. Looking forward to his testing as well as you both form a great cross section of rippers.
  • 1 0
 Interesting that the Ranger came in second to last. I’ve finally been able to keep up with my friends on my 34lb Balance thanks to CBF, and no lockout used.
  • 1 0
 Maybe you've just been riding with them enough that you're as fit as they are now? The Ranger got second to last because it's heavy and has heavy wheels (even with the control tires, those Fusion Fiber wheels are not light).
  • 1 0
 @PAmtbiker: I’d like to think it’s my fitness, but I don’t ride nearly as much as they do.
  • 4 0
 No Blur?
  • 10 0
 No Blur.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Blur is old and probably will get a reboot in 2022. Still a good bike, though...
  • 1 0
 @PAmtbiker: I'm thinking next year for the Blur... they just updated everything else!
  • 1 0
 The Grim Donut is the clear winner here...just multiply the finish time by the seat tube angle, then divide by the head tube angle.
  • 1 0
 So the bike with the most old school geometry was significantly faster than the rest (and the bike with the modern geometry the slowest, but built for other uses obviously)?
  • 2 0
 @Mike Levy Let's see the Grim Donut huck to flat. I bet you don't dare
  • 1 0
 Am i missing something? The list has both a trek supercalliper in 3rd and a procaliper in 6th?
  • 4 0
 Edit - i didn't watch the video
  • 2 0
 Basically, lighter bikes are more efficient.
  • 1 0
 Basically, more expensive bikes are lighter.
  • 2 0
 The donut lol. The fork stanchions already looks bent.
  • 1 0
 That was great! Watching the grim D from the side with Levy in lycra was priceless
  • 1 0
 This is like watching the Canadian version of Monty Python, sort of....Now how would the new Revolver FS compare?
  • 1 0
 That grim donut just looks all kinds of wrong from the aide view... no doubt every bike will look like it in a few years
  • 1 0
 Can we please have a downhill test with the lockout levers left on, for balance?
  • 2 1
 Gratuitous Taint shot to open *
  • 1 0
 Great video! You've really raised the bar on the field test this time.
  • 1 0
 Every time I see the Grim Donut I laugh.
  • 2 0
  • 1 0
 Sarahy is pretty cool beans!
  • 2 2
 so a fast pace fire road climb on XC race bikes on the clock but in open mode ? wtf lol
  • 1 0
 Levy how long was that fire road??? thanks and good video
  • 1 0
 Riding this test would be about as much fun as a molten lead enema.
  • 1 0
 It's two forty-five at 300 watts, not a cyclocross race.
  • 2 1
 video intro: NSFW
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