Field Test: Devinci Spartan 29

Dec 20, 2018
by Paul Aston  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

DEVINCI SPARTAN 29

A full on race rig with elite level stiffness.

Words by Paul Aston, photography by Trevor Lyden


The Spartan 29" was designed with enduro racing in mind, and with 170mm of travel up front and 165mm out back it's part of a new wave of long travel 29ers. Similar geometry is available in a 27.5" Spartan if big wheels aren't for you. This machine is a full carbon affair, but complete bikes and frames are also available in aluminum.

The Spartan benefits from a geometry flip-chip, but all numbers are referenced in the low setting. It features a 65° angle, 465mm of reach on a size large, 432mm chainstays and a 76° seat angle, which is in the ballpark for this style of bike, but the chainstays have been kept noticeably short using the Super Boost 157mm rear spacing.
Spartan 29 Details

Rear wheel travel: 165mm
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: carbon
Head angle: 65º
Chainstay length: 432mm
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: 30.56 lb (13.86 kg), w/o pedals
Price: $8,999 USD / €9299 EUR
More info: www.devinci.com

Our bike is the X01 Eagle build kit with Rockshox Lyrik RC2 (51mm offset) fork, Super Deluxe RC3 shock, SRAM Guide RSC brakes, Race Face NEXT R carbon wheels and finishing kit, and the obvious 12-speed X01 Eagle drivetrain for $8,999 USD.




Climbing

The Spartan had an above average climbing position for me, though I still slammed my saddle as far forwards on the rails as I could to get the position I like. I find after riding the few bikes on the market that have really steep seat angles, around 77º or steeper, it’s really hard to go back to anything else.

The suspension design was firm under power and pedaled well but when I ran it softer, with more sag, to get the ride I wanted when descending, there was considerably more pedal induced bob. However, flicking the compression lever on the Super Deluxe shock prevented any bob under all but the worst pedaling techniques.




Descending

On paper, the Spartan’s geometry looks good, but out on the trail the 65-degree head angle didn’t go unnoticed on steep descents. The size large’s reach, chain stay and wheelbase numbers are all on par with other bikes in this category, so it should hold its own when you hit steep tracks, rougher lines or reach top speeds, but it would have been nice to have a slacker front end.

The bike’s ride characteristics don’t function in isolation, and Devinci have chosen to spec the longer 51mm offset Lyrik. Normally, longer offsets are used to help increase steering sensitivity on slacker bikes, and with the Devinci this was the case as it seemed like the longer offset fork made the handling more nervous and twitchy compared to the other two bikes in this test category with the shorter offset.

At 30% sag, the bike was noticeably harsh, with a reluctance to absorb bumps or rider error. After increasing the sag to 35% it was better, but still a touch harsh. This could be down to the shock or the anti-squat of the frame holding the shock up high in its stroke.

Adding to the harshness was the stiffness of the bike, which made it fatiguing to ride and more likely to ping off rocks and roots than track. The stout frame combined with the carbon bars, stem, and wheels makes for a less-than-forgiving ride. A sensible choice would be to buy a lower spec build with more compliant aluminum parts.




Pros

+ Good pedalling performance and climbing position
+ Lyrik fork is easy to tune and a great performer
+ Stiffness could be good for harder/heavier riders
Cons

- Harsh suspension performance
- Stiffness of parts package may contribute to fatiguing ride
- Tires and brakes unsuited to bike's intentions






329 Comments

  • + 164
 I wanna see things like the following after the bikes had ~3 months of solid riding:

-What parts broke on the bike?
-Where are the tires rubbing? During normal riding and bottom outs.
-Are the suspension bearings smooth?
-Is the shock and frame alignment good? Take the shock out and check for alignment.
-Can you actually fit decent sized tires on the bike? Show me the clearance! Tell me which tires you tested.
-Submit an anonymous warranty claim, was the process good or terrible?
-Call and email the frame company with technical questions, did they respond?
-Is the bike creaking at all? If so, where?
-Hubs! How are the hubs and rims holding up? Are they cheap generic hubs or are they good?
-Chain rubbing the frame anywhere?
  • + 29
 THIS is all of what matters.
  • + 7
 Wheels/hubs are def a critical point on the more affordable bikes.
  • + 17
 Fair enough but that is a maaaaassive amount of work to do across all these bike on top of what they are already doing. . All you would end up with is a load of PB commentater disagreeing with them / picking apart their method of testing / saying they not riding in the right conditions or the right terrain etc etc so why bother?
  • + 4
 Add maintenance to that. Take it all apart, replace the bearings, and put it back together. You notice a lot of little details about the bike’s construction doing this.
  • + 20
 @skelldify: Comon guys - no one in any journalistic field does product reviews that in depth... your asking for the moon... for free.
  • + 9
 I'd rather have a mechanically solid bike than a bike that's 1 degree slacker! Maybe it's a spin off for Pinkbike...Pinkbike Mechanics Edition! $5 a month gets you real long-term bike reviews with an emphasis on the bike's mechanics instead of the frame angles!
  • + 6
 But like half of these would jeopardize Pinkbike's ability to get free shit from bike manufactures so we can't have that
  • + 1
 @skelldify: you are so right about this! I recently took the shock off my 2018 Capra and the damn paint flaked off around the shock mount. I’m no mechanical hack either. Bearings are super smooth after a season of abuse but the paint is horrific. I contacted YT about this, they were kind enough to send touch up paint. Then I asked if I could spray on a clear coat to protect the frame and they said it would void the warranty. This bike has small chips all over the frame and in places where invisiframe doesn’t cover. I’ll be hesitant to buy another YT based on this alone.
  • + 12
 @matixsnow "-Submit an anonymous warranty claim, was the process good or terrible?"

That doesn't work. First, if it's not a direct sales brand the process is usually 'Take it to your local dealer' - but since it's a demo bike they don't have a dealer. If it is a direct sales bike the process is "Who are you and what's the serial number". But you're not a customer and they'll know the serial number is of a demo bike. So what's going to happen from there?

Even if you could get around those issues, you can't just magic up a warranty issue. If you actually broke something to show them a broken thing, tech departments are surprisingly good at seeing what's a genuine fault and what's abuse/intentional. Bottom line, your journo's anonymous warranty experience is guaranteed to be terrible because you're trying to hack a system that exists to help real customers with real problems, not fake customers with non-existent problems.

Plus, it's the bike biz and everyone knows everyone. Go behind their back like that and you might find it's the last demo bike you ever get!
  • + 19
 The field test is a much shorter format ment to compare a bunch of bikes. The normal reviews are longer term and designed to address these issues.
I’m not disagreeing with the questions you’ve asked, but I’m guessing that answering them in a big group test would be near impossible.
  • + 3
 @ryan83: Yeah, I seen quite a bit of chipping around mounts and pivots. And to me, it's just silly that clear coat (or paint job) voids your warranty.

Also if you don't like chipping paint on frames - don't purchase a Transition. Their paint has been horrendous the past few years. Great bikes, but the paint needs to be more durable.
  • + 0
 @Karve: anandtech.com does it for tech, why not Pinkbike for MTB?
  • + 40
 @matixsnow, the Field Tests are different than our long term reviews - they're more focused on our initial riding impressions rather than going deep into the durability aspect. We typically address most of the issues you brought up regarding broken parts, tire rub / clearance, and any creaks / strange noises, in our longer format written reviews.

We're not going to be filing false warranty claims any time soon, but thanks for all the suggestions; we'll certainly keep them in mind for the future.
  • + 2
 @wingguy: by anonymous, i meant dont tell the bike company you work for pinkbike. obviously dont make up a fake claim. it might not work for pb for sure having a demo bike.
  • + 5
 @mikekazimer: ha, for sure. definitely dont submit a false claim.

just throwimg some ideas out there to get some good conversation. the paint chipping is something i didnt think of, for example.

thanks for the content. its great reading.
  • + 2
 @Plancktonne: What are you smoking? anandtech which I do happen to read doesnt ever take a new product sent in for review apart, to check its build quality.
  • + 1
 Nailed it!
  • - 5
flag dirtworks911 (Dec 19, 2018 at 20:59) (Below Threshold)
 @mikekazimer: what's the riding time for each of these bikes during this "field" test? Are they all on the same trails, same conditions, same rider? What are the riders specs?

I can't help but think so much of the take on these bikes are based upon hyper-initial impressions and fuzzy "okay, how was this bike compared to the others" post write ups. If something doesn't feel right at first does the tester try everything he can to correct it? (Add volume spacer, spend additional time with adjustment Knobs, ect)

When I first rode a Sentinel I hated how I was snagging rocks on the rear wheel in switch backs. My hyper-initial impressions would have been, "this bike is a drag in the corners." But, just like jumping from 26 to 27.5 and from 27.5 to 29, there was about a week long period where I had to get used to it. Now, I prefer the long wheelbase of the Sentinel and the pros far outweigh the cons.

I think your readers deserve to have all the answers to my first paragraph and will help them determine the credibility of the tester's statements.
  • + 10
 @dirtworks911, the introductory article and video should help explain things a little further: www.pinkbike.com/news/video-introducing-the-2018-pinkbike-field-test.html.
  • + 17
 @dirtworks911: As @mikekazimer and the Field Test intro video explained these are more of a 'First Look' than in-depth review.

I can't speak for the other editors precisely but we all had a similar schedule. Alex and I worked as a team and did the following:

Before riding anything we set all the bikes with the same bar width, bar height from the front axle, seat height, bar roll, brake lever position, tire pressures were the same every day on each bike. Then we set the suspension based on sag, and manufacturer recommendations, which were really helpful with the Fox X2 and Grip2 for base settings, for example. Luckily the only real difference between our preferences was seat height, and the tires were nearly identical on each bike. We did want to swap out wheels to see how much affect the carbon rims on the Devinci and Pivot were having compared to the Scott Ransom, but thanks to a silly amount of hub sizes, this wasn't possible.

We both did one day in the park on each bike, mostly riding loops of the same trails on Creekside, with a couple other laps down things like Dirt Merchant to get us to and from Whistler village. We also did a small climbing and singletrack trail from the house to get us warmed up in the morning each day.

After the first rides, we tweaked a few settings to make changes and hopefully improvements. Then another full day on each bike. After this we did another half day on a bike of our choice, then 2 days of filming and shooting.

The Pivot was actually too big for Alex to ride properly as the minimum seat height was too high, so he spent more time on the Ransom and Spartan. Kazimer had already ridden the Pivot at the launch and had one at home that he had done a few rides on before breaking himself to smithereens. So we compiled all three of our opinions to make the film.

We had started timing some of the sections, but a big dump of rain one day completely changed the dustbowl conditions and time restrictions meant we couldn't get anything useful from this.

I did over 15000m descending in total on all three bikes.
  • + 2
 If someone wants all this real world input and experience on a bike go browse through the forums, mainly MTBR there is pretty much a running thread for all the major bikes out there with people discussing buying and tire choices handling tweaks etc. may take a while for it to be on these newer bikes but the infos out there
  • + 1
 @matixsnow: $5!! F that, no way would i ever spend FIVE DOLLARS to read something online. now leave me alone while in enjoy my second $8 double espresso mocha latte.
  • + 1
 @cherbein03: Ha, well said.
  • + 119
 65 degree head angle isn’t slack enough on a 29er? Since when? If you can’t ride steeps with that head angle the issue is with the rider not the bike.
  • + 36
 Or you have ridden numerous slacker 29ers and have felt the advantages? In my opinion, these bikes should be able to take on World Cup level DH tracks. The terrain found at EWS races where these bikes are aimed towards have serious descents.
  • + 16
 This article isn't about rider skill, or "if you can't ride this with that head angle, then you suck". It's about what new, modern bikes are specing relative to the competition, like the Sentinel.
  • + 19
 Yeah this is insanity. Danny Hart's 2011 WC run in that horrid mud? The bike he was on had the exact same HA as this one...and 26" wheels, too
  • + 52
 @paulaston: That is true, but they also have lots of climbing and technical flatter terrain, tight corners, and racers ride for hours multiple days in a row instead of a couple 2 minute timed descents. So, to hold these bikes to a strictly DH standard is not really accurate for their intent.
  • + 31
 @paulaston: Numerous is a stretch. The vast majority of these type of bikes racing the EWS are sitting at 65 or 65.5. Sure slacker might be nicer but it’s crazy to call it out as not good for steeps.
  • - 1
 Get a bigger size frame not slacker head angle. Bigger frame weights the front wheel more. going slacker moves the weight on the bar further behind the axle making sharp corners harder.
  • + 9
 This one confused me, too, at first, especially given the Pivot has the same HTA, and this was not mentioned in that bike's review. Also, the only bike they've reviewed so far with a slacker HTA was the Yeti 150, which for whatever reason didn't fit in this category. But they went on to explain that this bike didn't sit into the travel as much as the Pivot, so it felt steeper, and therefore a slacker HTA might have done it some good.
  • + 31
 @covekid: Diid you read the review? They said that in relation to the rest of the bikes dynamics they wished it would be slacker. The same head angle on the Pivot was fine as it "sat into its travel". So it wasnt that 65 in general isnt slack enough but matched with the rest of the geo and the feel of the bike, slacker would have have helped. Dont get hung up on a number.
  • + 5
 I reckon it’s the bigger offset that makes it feel worse . In my experience a shorter offset makes such a difference on long travel 29ers.
  • + 12
 @PLMedia: @paulaston Yeap agree, this frame looks too small for you sir! Look at your torso and elbow position on 3rd pic...
  • + 6
 @paulaston: I must admit I had to read that part several times to understand what you were saying: 65° still seems pretty slack for a 29er to me, so when you said it made itself felt that suggested to me that the bike felt aggressive, which didn't fit the sentence at all.
  • + 6
 @jimoxbox: wouldn't a shorter offset make it feel even more twitchy though?
My understanding of the reason for short offset fork is you can run a slacker HA and the short offset compensates to make it feel less raked out and make steering more responsive. This is contrary to what the reviewers expressed so perhaps I am mistaken.
  • + 3
 @shami: this is what Ibis has made with the Ripmo, so you rigth.
  • + 7
 @mnorris122: So if Danny Hart rocks up to the first round of next years World Cup and the team says "Sorry mate, your bike got lost in transit, but we've found a mint 2011 model you can race instead!" he'd be totally fine with it, right?

Or do you think he'd really want to have his newer, longer, slacker, bigger wheeled rig instead? Wink
  • + 10
 I mean, this is a fine review, but has zero consistency with other recent reviews...
  • + 7
 @powderturns: It actually sounds in line with the way the top of the line 27.5" version felt to me when I test rode it back to back with the SB150 & Pivot 5.5.
No one told me the angles on the Yeti until after I rode it. Had no idea it had a 64 degree head angle. Did not ride like it.
And I agree withe the feeling that the Devinci rides more "upright" than the 5.5. I LOVE dw-Link suspension feel and it allows the bike to sit in it's travel and yet work the whole time without ill effect.
The Devinci felt like it just wanted to stay in the top 3rd of it's travel, even when I leaned back into it hard.

None of the above bikes are anything I've ridden in the past and I had very distinct feelings about how they rode, which was of course amazing, because all were $6k + bikes.
But that being said, I'd take the 5.5 out of all 3, the SB150 (if they'd make it in 27.5) and the Spartan last. It's still a pretty awesome bike, but not for my riding style and the way I like the rear end to behave.
  • + 5
 @covekid Paul has definitely ridden several 29ers slacker than this.

@TheR they get into it in the video that the bike rides higher in its travel compared to the Pivot, so it the HTA feels steeper.
  • - 6
flag MTB-Colada (Dec 19, 2018 at 16:26) (Below Threshold)
 @brianpark: Sorry, now I am really confused. If one rides 'higher in its travel', wouldn't the HTA be slacker, compared to when the fork is more compressed?
  • + 1
 @brianpark: Yeah, that’s what I said.
  • + 3
 @MTB-Colada: he is talking about the frame which means rear shock.
  • + 3
 @MTB-Colada: nope.... if the backend stays high up, the bike is going to be steeper angled.
  • + 4
 @TheR: oh god, I should read entire comments before I get all snappy hey?
  • + 1
 @Hundin: OK, fair enough. I was indeed thinking more about the fork.
  • + 0
 @but, it is a downhill race.
  • + 0
 @ppp9911: But, it is a downhill race
  • + 8
 @paulaston: c'mon Paul, why are you even reviewing these bikes in the first place? Just post the specs and all your brilliant readers can review it by the specs alone. 65 HTA means it absolutely has to be good in the steeps right?
  • + 3
 @brianpark: Haha! All good. I had to go back and check what I wrote to make sure that’s what I said. Great job on this series!
  • + 1
 @ppp9911: have you seen the EWS courses?
  • + 1
 @paulaston: Yes. And if these guys had watched and listened to the video properly they would understand what you were on about.
  • + 3
 @mnorris122: Pretty sure the Giant team was running anglesets on those bikes to 63 degrees. I agree though that 65 on a 29er enduro bike is fine... 64/64.5 with a shorter offset fork might be better though.
  • + 1
 @Karve: that’s the problem, people don’t listen or read
  • + 4
 @paulaston: Ed masters pulled off some great results at the EWS on a firebird with a 65° head angle. Seemed to do the trick for him.

I dont think 65° should be considered not slack it might not be the slackest but for bikes its the sum of all parts and numbers that make a bike feel stable and confident not just a slacker head angle.
  • + 3
 I can't wait for PB to bag on the new Kona Process. It must be a complete piece of crap since it has a 66 deg head angle if I'm not mistaken... I'll wait...
  • + 1
 @powderturns: they already reviewed it. they liked it in 27.5 & in 29 from what I could tell.
  • + 0
 Pinkbike seems to moan about every bike not having a steep enough head angle. Well, they can grab themselves a Haibike DH E-bike and stop complaining. I actually have my bike on the steeper setting. Stop testing bikes on DH type runs only which many of us don't have direct access to. Companies make bikes for the average biker, not professional MTBers solely.
  • + 1
 @vesko: alot of us have dh trails and want to know about these bikes. Lots of trail bike reviews out there.
  • + 1
 @vesko: If you live in Ontario then look at trail/XC bike reviews, plenty of bikes out there for people to match to their local terrain. Lots of people have access to terrain worth of all mtn/enduro/DH bikes, hence why they exist, are reviewed and purchased by many.
  • + 43
 gotta love how every bike review said guides were comeback of sram to brake Business, reliable, powerfull even for dh bikes and everything but in reality they were shit AF but now since codes are out in every review of bike with guides is "not enough performance"
  • + 8
 Funny, I noticed that, too.
  • + 18
 Or how EXO tires were fine until Double Down came out.
  • + 18
 Or how 65 head angles were great on 29ers until they weren't.
  • + 9
 Or how creaky CSU's were never mentioned until four years into the problem, and only once it was a universally-known and undeniable problem.
  • + 13
 Or how aluminum frames/handlebars/rims were bad until they suddenly weren't.
  • + 2
 Same ‘reviews’ about GX and same hints starting to come through confirming. How touchy it is.
  • + 51
 Or about how riding with no pants on was fine now suddenly it’s not.
  • + 2
 That coolaid tastes good I guess.
  • + 8
 @mironfs the Guides were absolutely a comeback for SRAM compared to their Avid offerings. First, we ask more of our bikes in 2018 than we did in 2014. Second, our 2014 Guide review described them as more powerful than their Avid predecessors, but "maybe not Shimano power," and our 2015 review of the Guide Ultimates put their power as a touch less than the 2-piston XTR M9020s. And third, bike reviews are an assessment of a manufacturer's spec choices as well as their design choices. Of course we're going to point out where we think they could have made better choices.

@TEAM-ROBOT Double Downs have been available since late 2015, and they should probably be on all these extra-smashy enduro bikes. Geometry progresses—70° HTAs were "good for 29ers" until they weren't too. Why wouldn't we call out that we think geometry is going to progress further on these bikes?

I'm with you on creaky CSUs, they're annoying af, and aluminum's resurgence is pretty cool.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: Well 29er DD DHF's in WT 2.5" don't exist yet. They come in 2.3" but I don't think any manufacturer puts them on.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: I think it's good to call out manufacturers on not specing Double Down or SuperGravity casing tires on enduro race bikes. I get they want to keep the listed weight as low as possible, but really they should be putting beefier tires.
  • + 1
 @TEAM-ROBOT: What will they do when the new casing thats between DD and EXO comes out?! lol
  • + 4
 @Kruetters: we'll have to insist that they're specced only on bikes with 65.1°-65.3° HTAs in the 'Upduro' category.
  • + 1
 @brianpark: @brianpark: What are you talking about? 70 degree head angles were never good on 29ers, ever. There was once a misconception from engineers that "29ers need steeper a head angle to compensate for their increased trail number," and that idea has been pretty thoroughly disproven. On the other end of the spectrum, it's still possible to choose a "too-slack" head angle number, and if Paul is expecting major brands to make 63 the "new normal" for long travel trail bikes, he's off his rocker. 63 is only a normal number for downhill bikes.
  • + 3
 @brianpark: If SRAM's 4-piston trail/enduro/DH brake (Guide) doesn't quite match the power and consistency of Shimano's 2-piston lightweight XC brake (XTR), that speaks volumes. As for a whether the Guide qualifies as "a comeback" for SRAM, go to the PB buy/sell section and see how many brand-new/take-off Reverbs and Guides are available, and use that to gauge how effective and popular they are. **Hint** They aren't. They might be better than the Avids that came before them, but that's not saying much. And none of that is to bash on SRAM as a company. Codes were great for years, and so have SRAM drivetrains. But playing defense for companies and guarding customers from the truth about mediocre products does no one any favors in the long run.
  • + 1
 @Kruetters: DEXOD casing? Strategically optimized for Midduro riders.
  • + 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: "70 degree head angles were never good on 29ers, ever. " I'm not sure I agree, and viewing HA in isolation is a trap. I've definitely ridden full EWS courses on a 29er with headangle steeper than 70º, on na 2009 vintage bike.
  • + 33
 Yet again harping on about seat angles. I'd like to see any reviewer correctly identify in a blind test a bike with a 76 degree seat and one with a 77 degree seat angle. I suspect any difference that is 'felt' in reviews is more placebo effect than anything else.

The main problem I have with bike reviews on Pink Bike and magazines is that reviewers always seem to test with their own notion of how a bike should be in their heads. They may not realise they do it, but they do. You can almost identify the reviewer from the negative and positives he or she points out.

I'd like to see more objective reviews. Why not actually test against the stopwatch, for example? Using an average of times set on the same day on different bikes would give some idea of whether the more contentious aspects of design (short offset forks for example), give any meaningful improvements on the trail.

I've been around long enough to remember certain mtbs being criticised by reviewers for having head angle that were 'too slack' at 70 degrees, so you'll have to forgive me for being cynical.

JP
  • + 13
 I think even if you tested against a stop watch you'd still be dealing with a subjective measure of what makes a bike best. The same conundrum exists in traditional research disciplines where we assume that numbers equal this ideal human construct of 'objectivity' but forget that humans are providing the meaning to those numbers and fitting them into their own measures of reward and harm reduction. I think as a consumer of information you have to understand that any piece of information is filtered through a lens and we have to interpret whether or not that lens is meaningful to us.

I appreciate the qualitative reports on how these "objective" data points combine to create a qualitative experience. Some of the riders in this test may be looking for a similar experience to me and others may not. That whole last category of bikes for example seemed to totally miss the experience I was looking for when compared to the initial category which was closer to what I find rewarding in riding. Overall I really appreciate the time and effort put into these and the lens offered. Thanks Pinkbike!
  • + 14
 @snl1200: Thats 100% right man. No idea why everyone is whining about the reviews so much. Use your brain to extrapolate what you need from the reviews and be thankfull that we get pumped this stuff daily. Thanks Pinkbike!
  • + 8
 @Karve: It's just annoying when reviewers get sucked in to thinking one thing is best, then making out like you can't live without that thing. You can't remove subjectivity, but you can think twice about whether a degree difference in one of the angles on the bike really makes a difference (not just in your head) before committing it to a review.

JP
  • + 23
 Quite obviously, the reviewers should be wearing blindfolds during these tests.
  • - 2
 @A-HIGHLY-EDUCATED-PROFESSIONAL:

Don't be facetious - you know what I mean.

JP
  • + 4
 Sometimes i wonder how i even ride my 2016 trance with its 73.5 degree seat angle...just kidding, it still rips
  • + 5
 Yeah we're down with adding some more broscience into our reviews for a frame of reference... but a slack STA is fairly easy to pin down—the challenge is in matching up how manufacturers measure the effective angle to the real world, and assessing them in the context of the rest of the numbers (reach, stack, etc.).

Short offsets are maybe a little less apparent and more of a "feel" thing than speed thing. I suspect it'd be hard to say with confidence that one is faster than the other.

I do hear you that our reviews should aim to be universal and useful for a broad spectrum of riders. That's why we try to stick to explaining performance characteristics and make recommendations that are "who should consider this bike" rather than giving it some arbitrary "5 stars" rating system thing.

As for how reviews age... I doubt we'll be looking back on 2018 and going "know what? head tube angles were too slack, and seat tubes were too steep."
  • + 1
 How about testers just changing out the chassis (the frame) to see/feel the difference? Build up bikes identically and compare it against what you are familiar with.
  • + 32
 Before anyone says anything: these are not budget bike reviews. Quit moaning.
  • + 4
 jep, you are right.
buuuuuut - are you aware of what 10k can get you? like buying a new car for under 10k. it just boggles me, that EVERYTHING they have in a bike - there is more of in a car.
i really wonder how much money bike companies make on those bikes. just by comparison (lets say: new VW up against this bike) they should make TONS of money. but I guess they dont. So where is all that money lost?
  • + 2
 Na, it appears Davinci has bro cred. Not much whining about the price. But for some reason, Yeti and Pivot don't appear to have bro cred, and therefore triggered outrage about "dentists bikes."
  • + 3
 @dodobob: R&D. Everyone knows a bicycle requires more R&D than a car...
  • + 3
 @skelldify: ah, damn - should have figured that on my own. think i need to hand back my degree.

.... ooooooooor, I should start working in the bike industry myself ! yay!
  • + 2
 @dodobob: Economy of scale is an illuminati conspiracy.
  • + 4
 @dodobob: If you built a bike to the same quality as a 10k car you would have a £500 bike. If you built a car to the same quality as a 10k bike you would have a 200k car. A 10k bike is just about the most expensive bike you can buy without stupid gimmicks like gold plating the frame. You are comparing that to the cheapest car you can buy.

A brand new Bugatti costs like £1000000 and has exactly the same stuff as a Dacia Sandero so why is it 100 times more expensive?

Just like the motorcycle argument. You are not comparing apples to apples.
  • + 2
 @dodobob: 1. economy of scale 2. decent margins for salers (cars and motorbikes have just minimum margins) 3. somewhere down the line in car manufacturing someone isn't paid enough, probably around raw materials extraction etc. In reality you can ask yourself how on earth can a car cost so little. And yes bikes cost a lot but the materials aren't the cheapest.
  • + 28
 Whoa. Harsh review. That's new. Could you expound on the tires being ill-suited to the bikes intentions? A DHF and DHRII seem well-suited to a bike that looks like it has downhill fast type of intentions.
  • + 37
 It's the EXO casing that they're referring to. The tread pattern is great, but the thinner sidewalls aren't ideal for race / bike park usage.

It's a common theme with these bigger, burlier bikes - companies want to keep the weight down, but that means riders who will be pushing the bikes hard will likely need to buy a different set of tires.
  • + 2
 Think they’re getting at the fact the tires have the EXO casing rather than the tougher Double Down casing ????
  • + 2
 I'm sure he meant the casing and not the tread pattern
  • + 3
 They took issue with it having the EXO casing. That's a lighter weight sidewall that, on a bike this big and burly, does not make that much sense as you'll get punctures more. They always want the burliest stuff so I'm guessing they want the dh casing. The tread I think they were cool with.
  • + 2
 Never need the DDs on the trails I am riding in Fernie.
  • + 9
 @mikekazimer: Yep, I feel like it's almost time for bikes at this level to just spec a bike without tires, give us weights without tires and then let you work that out yourself or with your shop... similar to pedals. Depending on who you are, where you ride, skill and aggressiveness level and racer or not, lots of different choices, opinions and preferences when it comes to tires.

Then, when these companies send bikes for reviews, depending on the reviewer, spec a tire to suit or ask them what they'd like. A proper tire has a pretty big impact on how a bike handles and feels.
  • + 9
 This is really a matter of taste. If you intend to climb on the bike and you are not a super strong or heavy rider or you don't live in an area with a lot of rocks EXO casing is better IMO. Even on a bike like this. If you never climb DD is the way to go. But this is not a DH bike. So EXO is a reasonable option. And mentioning DHF and DHRII are not suited is extremly harsh. Even if you prefer DD an EXO DHF and DHRII would be the second best option.
  • + 1
 They probably meant the exo casing.
Not the thread pattern.








Smile
  • + 1
 I did a race at Mt. Bachelor this summer. The DD casing I was running was no match for the insane sharp rocks everywhere. Flatted that out twice in practice and bought an EXO tire and foam inserts since I couldn't find anything DD or DH. Installed that with a spoon and a headlamp at night at my campsite and that has held ever since. Long story short if you are really concerned about destroying tires on sharp stuff only foam will save you so I don't see how tire casing can be something to complain about.
  • + 5
 @IluvRIDING: this IS a race bike, meant to be pushed hard.If you intend to climb on the bike and arent a super strong rider or if you dont live in an area with a lot of rocks( that’s irrelevant btw ) THIS IS THE WRONG BIKE FOR YOU.

Would you buy a Ferrari with cheap chinese tires for your commute to work sitting in traffic the whole time? I guess you could but a Prius would be a far better choice for that.
  • + 0
 @taquitos: Deciding on rubber for my new bike I was going back and forth between EXO with inserts or DD. I decided to ditch Maxxis and went with Magic Mary's in SuperGravity which is supposedly better than DD at similar weights.
  • + 2
 Even a troll that doesn’t ride, namely me, can remove a 1ply tyre off a rim of a 140-160 bike in a corner. I can also puncture a 1ply tyre with procore inside. DD is legit but only because it is as close as it gets to a DH tyre. SG can do it too, but there are no other non 2ply casings that can handle riding proper stuff on 160 bike under a rider who can load a corner.
  • + 1
 Loving the honest feedback!
  • + 3
 @mikekazimer: While this is a totally reasonable issue, is anyone speccing DD casing tyres on a bike from new? Seems like every bike I look at has EXO casings front and rear.
  • + 7
 @danprisk: A large portion of the field tests they've done have included EXO tires. If they are going to bash one build for EXO tires they should bash every bike that has EXO tires. the Kona Process 153 had them and there wasn't a word. Consistency guys. Come on...
  • + 2
 @danprisk: marketing, exo cuts the weight by 2 pounds. And some folks are fine with it since they can’t corner
  • + 5
 @danprisk: My Nukeproof Mega came with DD tyres.

JP
  • + 2
 @taquitos: to be fair you are partly right, if pinchflats and dented rims are the main issue, inserts are better choice than thicker casing, however it won´t help with sharp rocks cutting sidewalls.
  • + 9
 @danprisk: No one is on a 29er because Maxxis do not offer the 29x2.5 WT with DD casing. It's either DH casing (which would be way overkill for avergae rider) or EXO...

www.maxxis.com/catalog/tire-468-140-minion-dhf
www.maxxis.com/catalog/tire-470-140-minion-dhr-ii
  • + 1
 @JulienBoulais: This is a good point... and why I went with Schwalbe Magic Mary's on my new 29r as they offer 29" sizes in SuperGravity. I'm pretty sure we'll see Maxxis offer DD casings in the spring. Or, they probably see 29" tires as perfect for their yet to be released EXO+. Maxxis has some catching up to do!
  • + 3
 @tuumbaq: What I meant with the climbing was, that say DD ads 20% rolling resistance (I don't know how much it might be even more ...fby my personal experience). So even if you are the best athlete you are going to do less climbing on a day with DD than if you are riding EXO. And less climbing equals less descending. Again it's a matter of taste, if you are willing to add effort on the ups to have to a marginal advantage on the descents. I ride EXO front and DD rear personally. But I would never say that EXO is any bad on bike that is intended for climbing.
  • + 3
 @taquitos: The Kona Process was in a different category where lighter tires are to be expected. It was tested in a different group. It's not inconsistent- everything in this group is expected to be able to handle a bigger hit than the 150ish group.
  • + 3
 @JulienBoulais: I went with the DH casing and never looked back.
  • + 3
 @IluvRIDING: Actually exo+ would be next best option. But yeah, exo w/ cushcore is pretty good.. Still susceptible to getting torn by sharp rocks though.
  • + 1
 @danprisk: Nukeproof does come with DD tires !!! Available from canadacycles.com or chain... !!!!
  • + 2
 @IluvRIDING: Where do get 20% increase in rolling resistance figure for DD tires? I believe there would be an increase but 20% is a lot. Exaggeration or can you cite source?
  • + 2
 EXO tires may be more prone to punctures but I’ve been totally surprised by how many DD tires I’ve seen blow off rims. Pick your poison I guess. If only there was another MTB tire manufacturer out there...
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: The DHRII and DHF are great tires, and the EXO casings are perfectly appropriate on the 115mm, 26lb Giant Trance. This is an enduro race weapon, and very few people who should be riding these bikes would choose an EXO casing for most of the terrain they're riding.

The 2nd best option here over a DD casing DHRII/DHF would not be an EXO version of those tires, it'd be a tire from another brand with a comparable casing and tread.
  • - 1
 @IluvRIDING: this bike is meant to go down at a blistering pace. EXO casings simply will squirm during fast hard cornering. If climbing is your big thing, this is not your bike. Not even the Troy is, for that matter. This is a race machine pure and simple.
  • + 2
 @lccomz: which is why they make the DH casing tires as well. DD is for enduro.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: "but there are no other non 2ply casings that can handle riding proper stuff on 160 bike"
Yup, because french tire manufactures don't have enought ews wins on their reinforced, pro xl and hardskin casings
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: "marketing, exo cuts the weight by 2 pounds. And some folks are fine with it since they are not carrying 15kg too much." Fixed it for you.
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: thanks for the reminder. DD is two ply of 120tpi with a folding bead, and DH is two ply of 60tpi with a folding bead. Please correct me if I’m wrong. But really, I’m not talking about Enduro vs DH vs XC, blah blah blah. I’m just talking about mountain biking, and tires staying on rims under hard riding but also staying on rims during the inflation process. FYI, I LOVE mountain biking.
  • + 0
 @lccomz: Each step up the rung of tire burliness is harder to blow off rims. In fact, you're more likely to damage your rim than blow a wire bead DH tire off while overinflating it.
  • + 1
 @IluvRIDING: 20% is way too much, I'd say maybe 5%. I'd also say that I've had more descents limited by slashed and ruined EXO casing tires than the barely noticeable difference the little bit of extra weight makes for climbing to those descents. When I switched to a burlier casing, grip levels and trail damping increased and as a result my speed increased while destroyed tires stopped. Yes, I did notice the weight while climbing for maybe my first half of a ride, then I got used to it, over time I also probably just got stronger and they've never limited the length of my rides. I ride with guys who use EXO and we all climb at about the same pace and I lose them on the descents... and lose them even more when the have to repair their tire, throw a tube in or walk out. The upsides far outweigh the downsides for me. But it definitely is a personal thing, based on how and where you ride as well.
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: your comment is simply untrue.
  • + 1
 @kanasasa: my bad sorry. It was a bad way of saying anything under 1000g is crap for any serious terrain and speeds.
  • + 25
 Blind test. 44mm offset vs 51 mm offset. My money is on you not telling the difference!
  • + 5
 Yes. I would like to see if people could actually feel the difference, blind.
  • + 11
 @a-m-c: I'll save you the time... nope, they can't. Same with one of the posters above, regarding a 76* vs 77* STA. People have to complain about something though.
  • + 1
 Offset brings the wheel more underneath your body weight and was instantly noticeable on higher speed corners on the same bike It real!
  • + 4
 @a-m-c: They'd probably be more concerned about the tree they just hit.
  • + 2
 I have 37mm offest lyrik RC2 and 46 mm lyrik rc both at 160. Have swapped them back and forth and the only difference I can perceive is damper (same airspring, same sag/psi, same number of bottomless tokens). Although this is 27.5 bikes not 29ers so maybe it is more relevant on a 29er?
  • + 4
 From my bmx days I could very much tell the difference between a 0.5 degree change in HTA. Different offset forks were noticeable as well. But in my opinion, minor adjustments like that don't feel any different after an hour of riding.
  • + 11
 I went with a 42mm offset 160mm Lyrik on my new 150mm 29er full-sus. It has a 65 deg head angle. With the 42mm offset fork that gives it the same trail figure as if it had a 51mm offset fork and a 63.6 deg head angle. Yes, sixty three point six degrees - almost one and a half degrees slacker. If you have any sensitivity to geometry then you WILL notice the difference, it's a bigger difference in steering feel than taking a degree off the head angle!
  • + 1
 Running lower offsets makes a pretty large difference in handling at speed.
It's especially noticeable in rough off camber chop and high speed corners. You don't have to fight the handlebars as much, and have more front wheel traction.

I use an adjustable offset crown from Outsider Bikes: outsiderbikes.com/products/fox-40-adjustable-offset-crown-kit

To me the change in handling seems drastic.
  • + 4
 I stuck my 180mm Lyrik RC2 27.5 on my new 29er frame. I don't really know what the offset is or what HA I am now getting but I do know there is enough clearance and it rides well. People love buying into the idea of 'incremental improvements' but it's purely for hobby and knowing they are either best equipped for riding to their ability or they could be riding even better - thus continually fueling the industry. It's not that far removed from the road bike industry.
  • + 12
 PB, it would be amazing if you could do a frame up build shootout based on a standard parts package. Do a primo build with high end everything, and then an every day build for us commoners. I don't care what tires they spec honestly, they won't be on the bike long enough to matter. Same with seats / grips / other consumables. Frame up standardized builds would be fantastic for comparing ride quality and geometry.
  • + 12
 For what it’s worth, I own this bike and love it. I ran it at 30% sag on some of the chunkiest trails in southern Utah this weekend and it climbed awesome and felt super plush on the descents. If anything, I would put a volume spacer in to keep it from bottoming. I tried it at 32% sag and it felt way too soft on uphills, and I was bottoming it on downhills. It’s a rad bike. Oh and as I already commented, it did take second in the EWS overall, so it must be doing something right.
  • + 3
 This is why I said this review is very biased below. They want "superenduro" bikes to mirror the DH bike metric. My interpretation is that they are looking for these to be mini DH sleds that have ridiculous straight line speed and stability and high levels of compliance (read squish) and gravity component specs.Thus, shorter chainstays, lighter parts, and higher anti-squat (less sable, less overtly compliant) bikes are getting dinged in this category.

For me, this is not what I expect these bikes to ride like. I want a long travel bike with the geometry to take on steeps but also want to be able to ride it on a variety of terrain, climb well, corner well in tight trail sections, and still be poppy enough to play around on. Having ridden the firebird 29 and the spartan 27.5 I can say both of these bikes excel at what I want and make me wonder if I really need my shorter travel trailbike given how well they pedal and how fun they are with shorter rear ends (I don't particularly like 29 inch wheels but both firebird and spartan come in 27.5)

Therefore, these last two reviews don't resonate with me or provide me with any real metric to review any of the reviews in this class. Others may be looking for mini DH sled capability out of these bikes so the reviewers takes may be relevant for them. It would be very nice if Pinkbike had taken the time to flesh out what exactly there reviewers were expecting/looking for in this class...
  • + 1
 I find at 30% ill use all my travel pretty much every ride, but i never feel like its bottoming out. Not sure the shock would survive at 35%. Haha
  • + 3
 @ppp9911: these are Enduro race machines, not do it all bikes or for all day grinders. Enduro race bikes are mini DH sleds that are fast on the pedals. Don't forget, the Spartan was created for Stevie Smith to race at a WC DH World Champs.
  • + 15
 Reminds me of my ex, looks sexy as hell but beats the shit of you when things get rough. Sounds like my ex.
  • + 9
 Mmmm, mmm... she single now?
  • + 15
 Wow only a 65 degree HA? Do you even descend bro?
  • + 13
 Lots of negatives but I think you forgot to mention that it took second in the EWS overall!
  • + 2
 I don't think the two have to contradict each other. Kinda makes sense that a EWS winner will force a burlier bike into compliance better than mere mortals.
  • + 3
 Yep. 'it suits bigger riders' - doesn't really apply to Oton.
  • + 3
 @heinous: "Stronger riders" applies to all EWS pros though.
  • + 2
 Worth mentioning that Damien sports aluminum bars, runs an aluminum wheel in the back and carbon in the front. So it's pretty far separated from what's being reviewed here. Likely alot more compliant with his setup..
  • + 8
 65 deg not good enough? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. So I’m guessing it has to be 64 degrees? Seriously doubt even the pickiest rider feels the difference in that. I only take these tests serious when the Mikes do them. They know what they’re talking about. This test makes no sense but whatever. Head angle has become the skinny jeans of mountain biking!
  • + 15
 The thing is, when you are riding the bike.. it is never at 65*. It is only at 65* when it is sitting without weight on it. If the rear end squats alot, you will easily drop below 65* by several degrees.. If you brake hard and the front end dives, it will shoot up way above 65*. So like the said, because the rear has so much anti squat, it sits high, causing the active front end to sit steeper than some other bikes of the same category. Make sense?
  • + 4
 @gnarnaimo: yeah total sense!!
  • + 11
 Carbón bars and rims are too stiff? It is not the story I heard from people who paid thousands of dollars for them
  • + 5
 I get the sarcasm: I don't understand this, I changed my alu 7071 handlebar for a 6061 without even knowing and for my life I could feel the "softness" on the 6061. I can't imagine going back to 7071 or anything stiffer. Who wants ultra stiff bars?
  • + 3
 @WAKIdesigns confirmation bias is a thing, but not everyone is a 150lb test editor either.
  • + 2
 @WAKIdesigns
www.pinkbike.com/news/sea-otter-dt-swiss-2009.html

WAKIdesigns (Apr 24, 2009 at 3:52)
2200g for AM wheels with these ex5.1 rims, even softer than 6.1d?! on such a price?! lets take very decent hope hubs and mavic ex721 rims with dt champion spokes and U get a 1950g wheelset for half a price!
  • + 0
 @DH-Racer-GC: what do you mean by posting that?
  • + 1
 @brianpark: and why is a 150lb editor testing these bikes when the overwhelming majority of readers are in the 170-200lb range?
  • + 0
 @Nathan6209: Brian Park said "Not every one is a 150lb test editor." What are you trying to get mad about?
  • + 1
 @Nathan6209: Where did you get that from? I don't think that's accurate..
  • + 2
 @gnarnaimo: yes, most readers are above 200lbs and that is a very gentle way of saying it. I am sure though that it is not because they are obsessive power lifters... they do curls with donutbells
  • + 3
 @Nathan6209: “sorry guys, you’re really good at your job but I have to let you go because you’re not fat enough.”
  • + 0
 @Nathan6209:

I'm 165-170lbs depending on the day and specific kit.

Alex is 170-175lbs depending on the day and specific kit.
  • + 2
 @es7ebanlv: Nice try brah but 6XXX and 7XXX aluminum have the some modulus. Any stiffness difference you feel would be result of wall thickness, diameter, or bar width.
  • + 1
 Point taken, however having testers that will have as similar a ride experience on a bike as your audience seems like common sense.
  • + 1
 @paulaston: You're shading the scale at 165 fully kitted up on a good day if I'm not completely off.
  • + 1
 @gnarnaimo: Brian said it.
  • + 0
 @Nathan6209: having a tester weighing as much as the average specimen of the audience... and you put the term "common sense" into this sentence? When I think of a bike tester, journalist my main criteria would be that he can ride a bike rather well and then put a few words together. But to trouble you a bit, you should be more concerned about Paul Astons skills. They are way above average audience. Let's just pick up the first random Joey riding like a bag of potatoes, as long as he can write, he'll do. He will even like Exo tyres.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Eh come on Waki, pretty sure you miss my point. I think riding style and ability go hand and hand with physical strength and size...so that should be pointed out. Put me on the same ride as Aston and I'll have a different setup and that should lead to a different experience. The industry tries to make bikes that work well for the majority of riders, but different body types and riding styles will still impact how each rider responds. I'm reviewing the reviewers, I know, but I want better, more useful, reviews and I think the audiences deserve the best out there. Being "fast" matters on race day, but it doesn't matter to the average rider looking for a new bike. What matters is knowledge and similarity to the reader or at least being able to translate what you feel in a way that can be useful to a wider audience. I think that's been missing in several of the reviews. Nit picky, absolutely, I'm being picky and I'm aware of that.
  • + 7
 This obsessive need to go slacker and slacker is a little strange. I've found bikes like this one that will be pedaled uphill at times are best around 65 degrees. No need to go slacker but it you must add a Work Components headset and done.
  • + 10
 I swear there are more SRAM Code brakes for sale used then there are new. How are SRAM still selling them at this point?!!
  • + 7
 99% are OEM, noone in their right mind would buy them for ridiculous money they ask for them, hell even at 50% price there are better brakes out there.
  • + 2
 It does seem strange that all the media publications say they are one of the best, if not the best, brakes on the market but in the real world people are junking them. I sold my Guide RSC's months after getting them on a complete and even had a brand new Code fail before I had even ridden it.
  • + 4
 SMagura it
  • + 0
 One of my friends can’t even give away the SRAM brakes that came with his bikes
  • + 9
 There have been plenty of reviews of bikes with full carbon specs that are not called out as harsh. A 170/165 bike should not feel harsh, it should feel plush! WTF!
  • + 3
 I rode the lower end Spartan 29er, did not feel harsh or stiff at all with alloy wheels and bars. It's a component issue, not the bike itself.
  • + 5
 coil er up
  • + 0
 Yeah test the gucci full carbon build then say it is too harsh... recommends budget lower spec and ALU ?
Get a Clydesdale then to punish these carbon wonder bikes and report back !
Skinny Minnie Miller need not apply.
  • + 7
 I had the 27.5 Spartan (201Cool and have just ordered the 29.

It’s amazing how much of the negative review comes back to the Rock Shox rear damper in my opinion. I found it harsh and really nasty feeling. I put a coil in, and immediately the bike just f*#€king hummed. It felt straight away like the designer intended the bike to be used with a coil.

The Ltd model below this comes with a short offset fork too...
  • + 3
 Interesting about the Ltd model with shorter offset.. I just looked it up.. The Ltd model also comes with codes.. Seems like the better option
  • - 1
 The super deluxe is not good...at all.
  • + 4
 I'd be very interested in seeing how the Spartan would perform with a coil. We do need to assess bikes based on how they're specced/tuned though.
  • + 2
 @Mntneer: Seemed to work well for Damien Oton..
  • + 2
 @brianpark: Yep, I 100% agree you can only test what you're given. It would sometimes be interesting to hear in reviews the difference in spec between what is sold and what team riders use (ie: RCT damper, or coil in Unior-Devinci) but that's just a wish - the reviews are generally really high standard.

What was interesting when I spoke to SAR and Push was they spec a comparatively heavier spring in the Spartan than most calcs suggest.

We're in a weird time for bikes, and it would be nice to see guys like Aston who have very specific preferences (as popped up in the Ransom review today) to actually state what they 'like' or view as ideal so the reader and reviewer can both account for that bias.
  • + 8
 My YT Jeffsy came spec'd with the SDG Fly saddle as well and I swapped it out after a few rides getting the sleepy pee pee for a WTB Speed. No more sleepy pee pee.
  • + 7
 We appreciate the imagery.
  • + 5
 Please oh please give me a break. Flexy frames are bullshit! I want a rigid frame, a rigid bike. Stop downgrading bikes for being rigid, that's ridiculous. I can make an exchange with whoever buys this bike and finds it too rigid, for my Capra CF 29. Although I'm somehow skeptical of how rigid it really is.
  • + 5
 It's interesting the reviewers didn't mentiom the gx ltd version. I bought mine about a week after the release which comes with Code rsc, the 44mm offset lyrik rc2 and runs a pair of raceface arc 35 alloy rims (which might make the bike less harsh). 100% agree with the exo comment, raced Blue Derby two months back and ripped a hole in the sidewall on a pretty minor rock and have had to run tube since. The lower shock mount came loose, so i went completely over the bike to check the pivot tourque settings. Suprised how easy it was to get to all the bolts, matainance looks pretty simple on this thing. I am actually running it in the high setting at the moment, i think it's a slight bit twitchyer, but not by much.
  • + 2
 Was gonna comment this. The LTD version definitely remedies a lot of these issues.
  • + 3
 Yeah that would have been interesting to test. I'd have to go back and dig into our notes to confirm, but I believe this was the model they had ready in the size we wanted back in August.
  • + 9
 this bike would truly excel as a 27.5 wheeled bike
  • + 5
 Then you are in luck!
  • + 5
 "A sensible choice would be to buy a lower spec build with more compliant aluminum parts"

I always read advice to swap harsh aluminium parts for carbon to dampen the trail buzz... So what is the consensus now?
  • + 4
 The handlebar feels too stiff? Put some fat grips (like ESI xtra chunky)
Wheels feels too stiff? Loose up those tight spokes just a little.
The frame feels too stiff? Put a lighter compression tune at the damper, run lower pressure in the tires, get shoes with softer insole.
  • + 4
 Is it possible to do a Reviewer VS Product Manager discussion?
It would be interesting to know the reasons for the specs and components as opposed to just listening to reviewers opinion.
  • + 2
 Actually I really appreciated the first critical, opinionated review that I remember! Really did! All other reviews are too same same. PB community even makes fun of it all the time... rides like it has more travel blah blah blah.... now there is a real opinion and all these people dont like it cos it doesnt hype their dream bike... We need more of these please!!
  • + 5
 They failed to mention that the LTD build is much cheaper, has a short offset fork, codes, and nice alloy wheels.
  • + 4
 Huh... The Spartan sucks. I wish I saw this review before I got mine and fell in love with it. Oh well, too late I guess...
  • + 2
 You and me both
  • + 2
 How does it compare with the Process ?
Yeah - I know different group.. But the process is 4K less expensive and you can get it cheaper to 160 or maybe even 165 rear travel then fixing the brake spec. of the Spartan..
  • + 1
 A good and honest review. I am not bitching about my Guide RS brakes but I did a pad swap that helped. The Lyric RC2 fork seems to be similar to the 2019 Fox 36 Performance with the GRIP damper. Less adjustment but bang in some air, get the rebound right and enjoy. Not sure about the wide spec on the rear as well and the price point - killer aka No Sale for most of us but that is the top of the line Spec and I would have bled the same if I went for a YT Capra Pro or a Trek Slash 9.9
  • + 1
 From the video I think you should run a little more in the rear and a little off the front cause that may feel like the front suspension is working very nice and you start focusing on that and in the end is just a little bad body position,but you could also blame the geometry of it cause it might not suit you or your riding style and that can give you the bad impression off the bike ,but yes there might be bikes that are “riders”proof,or maybe I’m just guessing
  • + 3
 First few paragraphs gave me deja vu! Had to pull up the firebird write up to make sure I wasn't tripping balls. Well played Trevor!
  • + 1
 I mean Paul. Great shots Trev!
  • + 1
 I don't get to ride all the bikes daily these reviewers get to. They have a huge advantage over the public that they don't have to be committed to anything they purchased. They get to try lots of different geos, and understand the differences when being compared.

However, I added a -1 headset to my Foxy 29 recently and 3 of the geo changes that occurred were VERY noticeable and most definitely appreciated if not huge (HTA, STA, BB), one change was not appreciated (shorter Reach), and one change was completely invisible to me (WB).

And the absolute changes were comparatively minor. No reason to think that these testers could not feel a 1 degree seat angle difference when I could easily feel a .6 degree change.
  • + 2
 With all these reviews it would be nice if each reviewer had a list of the bikes from to bottom that they liked. Placing them in order by person against other bikes would give us a relative picture.
  • + 4
 Just got mine. It's a beautiful, fast, and playful freak. Feels like a meaner, deeper, stiffer Troy. Love it.
  • + 3
 FOH with these prices. I make decent cash and have been very lucky in life (not bragging one bit) and I top out around $5k USD for bikes. Even that stings quite a bit.
  • + 3
 The GX or GX LTD build (which comes with a short offset fork) is pretty rad and right around that price point.
  • + 1
 "Adding to the harshness was the stiffness of the bike, which made it fatiguing to ride and more likely to ping off rocks and roots than track. The stout frame combined with the carbon bars, stem, and wheels makes for a less-than-forgiving ride. A sensible choice would be to buy a lower spec build with more compliant aluminum parts."

- wouldn't stiffness of the bike not be respective of how the suspension is setup to the frame? wouldn't this be reflective of suspension performance?
- so don't buy a high spec bike that is stout and less than forgiving? buy one with alloy parts?
- spend $9k on a bike then sell all the carbon parts for alloy parts?

Sorry, really confused.
Maybe I'll just stick with my alloy 29er with alloy parts.
  • + 1
 Well my experience on the 27.5 version of this bike was nothing short of epic, I did my longest ride of my life 10,000 feet of vertical climbing in one day over 13 hours, and I also raced DH successfully on it. I would also do my regular 30 mile trail ride a few times a week and took it to the whistler bike park for a month.To me the 27.5 version of this bike nailed everything I was looking for in racing and was still a blast to take on the sketchy tech climbs of the north shore. It will be interesting to see what the next version of this bike rides like. I cant imagine it being as different as this article suggests but the first rides will tell.
  • + 3
 Paul only likes Pole geometry. Anything with a slacker seat or head angle is a negative in his book.
  • + 4
 Paul knows what's up...
  • + 5
 It's not Pole geometry, it's GeoMetron geometry!

I have ridden a bunch of bikes like that: 5-6 different Nicolai's, couple of Pole's, my custom Robot, custom Starling, BTR Pinner (although v.short CS), and every 29" downhill bike of 2018.

After I have ridden all of those bikes, interspersed with 'normal' bikes for the last four years, there is just no way to go back. It is possible to go back to them and get used to them over time, but I always feel at home instantly when going back to the 'modern' bikes.

These 'new' bikes can be ridden harder, are safer, give more grip, better balance, climb better, centralize you and give you more room in the cockpit to really control the bike. I have been beating this drum for ages now, I have been called crazy/biased/stupid more times than I can remember, but the proof is in the pudding - nearly all manufacturers are moving this way one little step at a time. 500mm reach was ridiculous 4 years ago, now nearly every brand has an XL around that size, all bikes are much slacker and most have steeper seat angle and shorter offsets.

I bet that in another four years, all the bikes in this 160-180mm category will have 63.5º head angle, 79º (or more) SA, 500mm reach for a large, 450mm+ chainstays.
  • + 0
 @paulaston: One can only hope! Any chance of seeing your custom Robot?
  • + 6
 @paulaston: It is funny to read the comments on your reviews which are always full of "Paul Aston only likes long bikes with crazy geometry." and then also watch the entire industry creep slowly towards that point that GeoMetron jumped to a couple of years back.
  • + 0
 @Mondbiker:

Here it is, I reviewed it two years ago, I wish I still had it!

If I had the chance to make another I would do nearly the same but with 29" wheels (which did fit in that frame when MTB-news.de reviewed it). I would change the seat angle to 82º and lengthen the CS to 470 to see what happens. 82º would be steeper than anything I have ever ridden, but would still have scope to slam the seat back or use an offset post if I really screwed it up. Even the bike with the steepest SA I ever rode felt better with the seat slammed forward to the max.

www.pinkbike.com/news/robot-bike-co-r160-custom-review-2016.html
  • + 1
 @paulaston: Hmmm, 82 would be steeper than anything commercially available too, however it wouldn´t be too far from Porter´s G1 geometron, just with more normal seat position Smile That bike looks really cool, I would have hard time finding reason to opt for is instead of Geometron/Pole and save some money for better componentry. Not to mention that it would be hard to find better suspension design that the one tinkered by CP. I hope you still have all european g16? Just maybe with more european stuff where it wasn´t before Smile
  • + 1
 @paulaston: funny in that review that you said that EXO tires are some of your favorite.... but yes agree with you that enduro bikes will be around 63 to 64 HA / 78 STA and 450 stays. Wander what will come next ?
  • + 2
 @paulaston: I hear ya. You have more experience than I do and definitely feel strongly about a particular style of geometry. I don't question the benefits as you describe. Just pointing out that in your reviews that I have read, anything that isn't designed as the bikes you prefer, is nicked for not being so. So, I have to wonder, what is the point of having someone who has a stated bias for geometron geo review anything that doesn't fit in that category?
  • + 0
 @paulaston: I'm convinced man, I really am.

I have a 2 month old Foxy 29 that many consider cutting edge and it was a large improvement over my SB5.5. Then I added the included -1 headset and the steeper seat tube angle (in combo with pushing the seat forward) and even slacker front end made the bike notably better for me, on absolutely all trails I ride. Handling, even in the trees, was improved for me.

I love that Foxy 29, I really do. But when I sprang for this thing I mistakenly imagined I'd be content for many many years as the geo was so ahead of the curve. Now the realization has set in that the bike would be a bit better for me if it was a bit longer yet, notably steeper STA, and maybe even slacker than the 65 degrees I'm at now.

Not claiming to know where MTB geometry ends up, but I don't think it's 'there' just yet.

PS. That Robot bike looks great. As does the Sick.
  • + 1
 @paulaston:
There’s are plenty of downsides to the Geometron style geometry that you don’t mention. Dirt Magazine (RIP) raised them with Chris Porter in an article years ago.

The main issues relate to the reach being excessively long. This makes the bikes cumbersome in the air (maybe not an issue for some, but I, and many others, like jumping) and on really tight trails they’re just too long to be quick.

I’m not advocating shorter bikes; I just think that extra long bikes aren’t the panacea that some journalists believe them to be.

JP
  • + 2
 @Jprestidge: hmmm, if this looks cumbersome to you, you must be quite a beast...https://ep1.pinkbike.org/p5pb12311030/p5pb12311030.jpg
  • + 0
 @Mondbiker: Yes - it does. How many dirt jump and slope style bikes do you see with long reaches then? Just because it’s possible to do that on a long bike doesn’t mean it does it well.

JP
  • + 3
 @Jprestidge: Oh my, I cannot believe anyone would compare DJ/slopestyle bike to anything even remotely close to actual mountain bike. I haven´t seen it in reverse order either, perhaps dirtjumpers aren´t dumb enough to compare incomparable. Guess what, riding trials on enduro bike sucks, f*ck this full suspension bullshit if it sucks in trials it´s no good for anything.
  • + 1
 @Mondbiker: Stop deliberately misreading what I wrote. My point is that long bikes are more cumbersome when jumping. The DJ bike comparison is just to show that if longer were better for jumping then they would be long too. Or you can continue to argue black is white if you like...


JP
  • + 1
 @Jprestidge: I´m reading what you wrote, word for word, you compared extremely focused enduro bike to extremely focused dirtjump bike after I proved you wrong by posting picture of a guy you wanted to persuade about long bikes not being good at jumps sending bigger and more stylish jump than 99% of pink bike users can even dream of. Breaking news, long bikes are not so good if you want to do cork 720 or cashrolls all day. Does it matter one bit? I don´t think so, But I will ask you a question, how about 29 inch wheels, are they better for jumping then 26 inch wheels? Yet no one cares that they aren´t, so either people don´t give a shit about tricks (quite likely) or i don´t know...
  • - 1
 @Mondbiker: OK - you're right. Long bikes are the Holy Grail. I've seen the light.

Yawn.

JP
  • + 1
 I used to own a Devinci trail bike, I felt like it had top notch build quality but an uncomfortable ride. I’m not surprised they found it harsh. I wonder if a lighter compression tune would help
  • + 1
 In all the video reviews I've watched lately, all the Rockshox forks get full travel on the squish tests, whereas the Fox forks all seem to stop 20mm short. Anyone know why this is?
  • + 2
 Is it just me or does 30+ pounds without pedals for a 10k full carbon bike sound heavy? I could swear my aluminum Enduro isn’t much more than that...
  • + 1
 Depends on the intended use. The more rugged the bike, the more abuse it can take and the higher the acceptable weight would be. 30 lbs for a 165mm 29er that survives DH runs isn't that bad.
  • + 3
 I don't think so, because it is a big burly 165mm 29er. If I am dropping $10k on a rig like this, yes I would have weight in mind, but I want strength, durability, etc. higher on the list.
  • + 1
 @cgdibble: I couldn’t agree more. But what I mean is my 4k all aluminum (not a drop of carbon) X1 equipped 165mm specialized enduro basically weighs the same.. seems like some real diminishing returns for 10k and pure carbon...
  • + 1
 @TheDoctoRR: in my opinion the law of diminishing returns sets in way before 10k Smile
  • + 2
 Would love to see a Transition Sentinel Carbon shoot out with the Yeti 130, Evil Offering and other 130-140 rear suspensions.
  • + 1
 Wondering what you guys had for PSI in the tires? Reason is every other bottom out pic has the tires nearly bottomed out as well, and they have plenty of squish left in this one.
  • + 0
 I thought a longer fork offset would extend the front axel out farther. Am I wrong ?
If the fork axel extends out farther doesn't that make the steering slower and less twitchy?
A longer fork offset would make a longer wheel base would it not. Wouldn't that be more stable for DH?
  • + 6
 Yes it extends the axle out further, but makes the steering more twitchy. Turning the bar makes the tire track over a greater distance as the offset increases. Think about it this way, if you hit someone with a really long stick it'll hurt more because the end of the stick travels faster in relation to your arm versus hitting someone with a short stick.
  • + 1
 @djbuilder: the slacker the Head tube angle the farther the front axle gets pushed out yes?
More offset to the crown also pushes the front axle out farther.
  • + 1
 @Sshredder: yes slacker head angle generally makes a longer wheelbase but doesn't directly relate to slower/faster turning. Slacker head angle doesn't move the axle further away from the center of where it turns (headset).
  • + 1
 @djbuilder: what?
I have bikes with steep head tube angles and those bikes have faster response to steering input.
Slacker head tube slower steering . Ride a DJ bike then a hard tail trail bike. There is a drastic difference in feel.
DJ hard tail 70 degree HTA
Hard tail trail bike 65 degree HTA
DJ bikes have very responsive or twitchy steering.
  • + 1
 @djbuilder: Perfectly explained - a strong quick explanation of what fork offset (essentially what amounts to trail) does to handling. On bikes that have a sufficient reach - and occasionally even on those that don’t - and certainly on slacked-out bikes, less offset makes for a more controlled dynamic ride. I would always spec a mountain bike and definitely an enduro bike for the high-speed turns and berms over straightaway stability; a bike goes dead straight on most trails far less than it moves and dynamically reacts to rider-induced trail inputs. For what’s it’s worth, Bike Radar did a piece with Chris Porter of Mojo Suspension in Wales, in 2015. Mojo is a major Fox tuning facility in Britain. At the end of the test, it was revealed that Porter himself uses a shockingly short, 30 mm offset fork. Just 30 mm! Undoubtedly his DH bike is long AF and quite carefully angled, but if this doesn’t make the point about less offset and more trail and the benefits for many I don’t know what could. Great read. I highly recommend checking it out. A Google search will turn it up.
  • - 1
 I had been holding my breath on the past reviews but this one takes it to far. 80% of the "review" was spent talking about the components. im not saying that you should review a cheaper build but you should focus more on talking about the frame and rear shock. why even include the bits where you mention how the fork feels of how the saddle hurt your butt. everything on a bike is replaceable but the frame and rear shock kinematics. the way i see it this isnt much a bike review it is more of a spec review which is not what people need to learn when they are researching bikes. This review was practically useless.
  • + 6
 The vast majority of people buy complete bikes, not frames.
  • + 2
 The best thing about riding a Spartan is yelling,
"THIS IS SPARTA" whilst smash roosting berms.
  • + 2
 Long live chainsaw, still missed. P.s. Devinci is still one of the best bang for your buck company
  • - 1
 All of the reviews emphasize the seat tube angle in isolation of the reach. It seems to me that the longer reach is driving the need for a steep seat tube angle because the two have to work together. Seat tube angle by itself is not necessarily going to put you in a better seated climbing position if your reach is too short or too long.
  • - 1
 OUCH.... the positives came up and and they said what was good. But then when the negatives came up after that I was thinking, wasn't the whole first part of the video mostly negative. They have more negatives...?

And talk about kicking someone when they are down, even had to grip about the seat. Geeze.
  • + 2
 I wonder how it would fare in the test with proper coil shock instead of that RS crap.
  • + 3
 I want to write a useless comment.
  • + 2
 You fit in great here!
  • + 1
 Wow this seems like the most biased review yet (and seems to contradict everyone else's reviews of this bike). The 5899 LT version has a dope package.
  • + 5
 Biased? Or just negative? In isolation every bike in this field test (which has been awesome, thanks PB!) is probably outstanding at most everything but comparing similar models back to back shows their differences. Maybe outperforming a 2014 DH bike is assumed in this category and Paul Aston prefers more compliance. Or, you know, massive global conspiracy....
  • + 3
 Are you guys gonna test the Fezzari La Sal Peak?
  • + 3
 That bike wasn't included in the Field Tests, but it's on our radar for next year.
  • + 2
 With a review this negative I expect this bike to be separately nominated for mountain bike of the year.
  • + 0
 After a boat load of bike reviews You finally say something about the BRAKES. All those other reviews you don't even mention brakes . Why ? Oh you guys don't use brakes . Great review
  • + 1
 Does the fork flex on all the test bikes make the shock act like it has two stages? That shock stops moving with the fork flex
  • + 2
 a) it's gorgeous. love the green, so cool. b) it almost looks short compared to some of the new monster wagon wheelers.
  • + 1
 a) I changed the screen setting to show only grey scale and it looked even better.
  • + 2
 How is the "split pivot" design of this bike different from Trek's ABP? Or are they the same and it's just marketing?
  • + 0
 A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • + 3
 SB130 - expensive, Firebird - expensive, Spartan for 9300 EUR fine
  • + 1
 COMMENCAL META AM 29!!! I would like to see how the aluminum fares against the 9,000$ carbon bikes.
  • + 1
 @mikekazimer any comparison of this bike to the Meta AM 29er? Considering these and the Process 153 29er.
  • + 0
 Process 153 was reviewed in the first round of the Field Test. It is not an Enduro race machine and thus, was not in this category.
  • + 1
 @Rubberelli: I'm aware of that review and the previous review of the Meta AM. Kazimer reviewed the Meta and I was curious if he could offer a very brief comparison of these bikes.
  • + 1
 @paulaston

All the numbers seem pretty identical to the pivot you just reviewed, will there be a comparison peice coming?
  • + 1
 so is pinkbike not reviewing 27.5 bikes anymore? literally everything is now 29....
  • + 1
 The front page pic is taken in a clever way- at first glance it looks like an enduro frame, nice!
  • + 2
 Wonder if we'll see a Commencal Meta reviewed?
  • + 1
 They said they wouldn't because they already reviewed the Meta AM 29 in the last year. They made no mention of the new Clash.
  • + 2
 Cost isn't listed as a con?
  • - 1
 The drop test on that shock looked bucky as hell. Look how many feedbacks happen in that one compression cycle. Ohhhh rs fork still looks flexy as a limp noodle too. No wonder you are exhausted after riding that susp.
  • + 4
 I noticed the same thing watching the Pivot bottom out video with the Fox 36 flexing back a forth a few times. These forks are pretty much the same stiffness.
  • + 2
 TEWB - too expensive wouldn't buy
  • - 2
 Nice to see more of these bikes moving to 157... hopefully we'll see a future where all aggressive trail/enduro/freeride/downhill bikes share the same width standards. So, which companies have made or are making the move..? Pivot, Devinci, Knolly... others?

Also lets stop calling it Super Boost and just call it 157 spacing.
  • + 5
 148 is fine... more important is the wheel build for strength. Too wide of hub makes heel rub on the stays.
  • + 0
 Calling it 157 ignores the important fact that Super Boost has wider hub flanges (not just 157 mm dropout spacing). You need *some* term to differentiate the two.
  • + 1
 one of the reasons to go to really wide rear hub spacing, especially on 29ers, is that its easier to engineer short chain stays. The trend now is to get away from short stays (stability, climbing,etc) so the need for 157 is kind of moot.
  • + 1
 @jaydawg69: Lots of other good reasons including stiffness of longer chainstays (can use less material), stronger wheels with zero or less dish, ability to accept large width tires with no compromises and the ability to standardize widths across aggressive trail/enduro/freeride/DH bikes and be able to swap wheels. No reason not to really.
  • + 1
 @jaydawg69: Not if you design it properly, for instance Knolly bikes only decreased heel clearance by 1.5mm from their non-boost frames, so unnoticeable.
  • + 1
 @islandforlife: the question is if you can do what you mentioned with 148? More companies using 148 than 157 and I doubt companies like Specialized are going to 157. There was an article awhile back.
  • + 1
 Nice, a much uglier Slash with a little more travel! Sounds like the rear shock was broken.
  • + 1
 I have a Spartan and a Django...zero issues and the frames are silent and no creaks...
  • - 2
 Holy flipping comments, Dude it’s a mad copout to design a legit dw frame w janky paint and a bad components selection. Pivot way much more greater than this ehh? Devinci i is a little bit of a magestic name for something of this nature?

An insult basically look.

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (Italian: [leoˈnardo di ˌsɛr ˈpjɛːro da (v)ˈvintʃi] (About this soundlisten); 15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519), more commonly Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter, and tank,[2][3][4] he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal
  • + 1
 **
  • + 1
 This bike looks really nice
  • + 1
 Can I do a 3 year lease or a 72 month loan on the bike?
  • - 1
 Great bike, but if I had to spent $8999,- on a bike I'd go for a Yeti or Ibis...
  • + 1
 "gooch"?
  • + 4
 The space between. I'll leave it at that.
  • + 2
 He means between yo nuts an' yo assho'. Other names include your taint and grundel.
  • + 1
 @rezrov: I knew a guy who called it your "twernt" Because if it twernt there your guts would fall out.
  • + 0
 Only 29er?!!! Canyon torque 27.5 power !!!
  • + 0
 Bring on the Evil Offering ????????
  • - 3
 I had a '16 Carbon Troy and that was the creakiest bike I have ever ridden. I'll never buy another Devinci product again.
  • + 5
 Interesting, my '17 Troy Carbon was the most silent bike I ever had. My '18 Django is almost as silent.
  • + 3
 @Happymtbfr: same fro 17 troy and 18 spartan
  • + 13
 Probably has more to do with how you cared for the bike than the quality of the bike itself...
  • + 1
 @gnarnaimo: Regular service and properly cleaned without overdoing it. It was a disappointing experience, especially since it was such a fun bike to ride.
  • + 1
 @jhess8: creaked where / how?
  • + 1
 Ya buddy, never had any creaks from the frame itself. On my 5th Devinci. More than likely other components...
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