Field Test: 9 XC Bikes & the Grim Donut VS Impossible Climb

Aug 24, 2020
by Mike Levy  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Cross-Country & Down-Country Bikes VS The Impossible Climb

Bro-Science in the Name of Climbing




Would it even be a Field Test if we didn't have some dubious challenges to attempt aboard our fleet of test bikes? The Huck to Flat video is on its way - I know that's what you're waiting for - but first, I had to get them all to the top of the mountain, and the route there was close to impossible. Perfect.

With this Field Test focusing on short-travel bikes that should make your life easier on demanding ascents, we knew that our Impossible Climb had to be the most impossible yet. But then the rains came and, well, it ended up getting far trickier than the cameras make it look. I guess that's always how it is, though. Last year's dusty and cactus-lined climb in Sedona, Arizona, wasn't easy, but the greasy mud, ice-like roots, and decieving steepness of this episode stretched traction and slow-speed handling to the limit. In the end, most were stopped in the same spot, a rocky, rooty uphill chute with a single, straight-up-the-middle line that offered close to zero grip during the afternoon downpour.

But while most bikes stumbled at that slippery wall, one bike did manage to get considerably higher than others.




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


288 Comments

  • 266 2
 LOL the blurring on Levy's crotch in the opening shot.
  • 21 2
 Yah, thanks for that!
  • 15 1
 "It" did the impossible climb! Big Grin
  • 28 1
 Did Levy just get a boner on camera AND they posted the video of it!? hahaha
  • 71 0
 @mateo5: He says he likes climbing.... I guess he REALLY likes climbing!
  • 22 0
 Too bad they gave up on the blurring after the opening shot?!
  • 7 2
 Pixelating the bike shorts? Come on, we all know Levy doesn't have anything to hide!
  • 6 2
 Didn't bother with the moobs though?
  • 3 0
 @mateo5: The effect of the Grim Donut..?
  • 2 0
 Gotta monetize that video! And you can't give the goods away right from the start, right?
  • 1 0
 From 6 to midnight....
  • 2 0
 Well, it was "far trickier than the cameras make it look"
  • 11 2
 Came here solely for the grim Donut segment...
  • 4 0
 I thought it was my tired sight at 7.44pm after a long day hahahaha. come on , you made people look at it more..
  • 10 1
 @mateo5: @ 1:00 "It doesn't look like much, but that's hard."

Sorry Mike, you knew we were evil.
  • 4 0
 Gonna have to name this climb "Moose Knuckle"
  • 2 0
 Least they're not white!
  • 17 0
 Crotchcountry
  • 1 0
 error
  • 4 0
 Dude is packin' heat.
  • 1 0
 Well played, Pinkbike censors, well played. Slow ????
  • 5 0
 @landscapeben: came for the donut, stayed for the dingus?
  • 1 0
 Money shot @ 1:38 where the censors missed it.
  • 2 0
 It's like: NOTHING TO LOOK AT HERE...
  • 5 0
 Should have called it the hardest climb.
  • 6 0
 @krichardson: There should be a comparison between lycra shorts and baggies on this climb.
  • 6 0
 His shock was on the "firm" setting
  • 3 0
 All “impossible climbs” moving forward must have a guest appearance by Braydon Bringhurst to determine level of impossibleness.
  • 3 0
 Its just a prosthetic. It was lost in a tragic doughnut accident back in '92.
  • 1 0
 Must be the "Rocket Ron" tires...
  • 6 0
 Video editor was feeling generous with the diameter of that blur or didn’t know it could be sized down.
  • 5 0
 Does Mike have a license for that concealed weapon?
  • 2 0
 Nowhere to hide in a sausage suit.
  • 3 0
 @davec113: This is the most important post here ever.
  • 58 0
 Request: Once the bike fails the climb chuck it in the woods at the point of the fail. Not gently placed but an " FU bike" mad as hell toss. That would be gold especially once 3 or 4 10k bikes are pilled on top of each other...

Suggestion: How about instead of a monster climb make it like a stage race/ elimination. That way all the bikes get a fair shake at easier short climbs and you can give each bike 1 mulligan ( non golfers that is free redo). As you go the climbs get more tech but you start to drop bikes.

All in the name of better bro-science.
  • 2 0
 Wish I could upvote this more
  • 31 0
 Back in the days of tubes and QR skewers, a buddy of mine got a flat and wasn't carrying a tube (I was, but I guess he wasn't thinking straight). Got off the bike, removed the rear wheel, and immediately flung the entire assembly over the nearest hill in rage. We climbed down to get it and his skewer was gone- spent an hour trying to find it but it was long gone. He had to walk 10 miles out of the woods, just steaming mad.

Unrelated but still one of my favorite MTB moments Smile
  • 3 0
 @mcaninch35: a mate of mine signed up for an enduro where he was in quite a bit over his head. At the bottom of one of the stages on a particularly steep and slippery chute he'd finally had enough of falling on his arse, picked his bike up behind his head with both hands, aimed it downhill and then both he and bike bounced down the hillside as he slipped arse over tit. Was very amusing for the crowd of people watching him at the bottom.
  • 3 0
 @johnnyboy11000: sounds like the Friday Fail of the year!
  • 1 0
 @johnnyboy11000: was that Ardmoors 2017 by any chance? Saw a couple of guys doing that towards the end of the last stage. Never ridden in conditions like that before or since!
  • 1 0
 @Pigglet13: nah it was the Naughty Northumbrian
  • 62 4
 You know what I like about this one? No “What about the Grin Donut” comments in the comment section for the first time in months.
  • 39 4
 you just wrote it!
  • 10 7
 @rajcoont: Wrote the words, but not the same intent.
  • 4 1
 The grimmest donut in that test was running that hill 10 times including in the rain for a box of Tim Horton's. Up your baked goods game Levy!
  • 2 0
 @ICKYBOD: but what was in the box!? If it was full of sour cream glazed Tim bits with a large double double on the side you'd be hard pressed to beat it!
  • 1 0
 @landscapeben: I don't know man, that looked like plain old vanilla frosting with sprinkles followed by bavarian cream. Not the stuff of donut legends.
  • 7 0
 @landscapeben: WHAT’S IN THE BOX????!??!?!
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: its like the suitcase in pulp fiction...we will never know!
  • 3 0
 @funkzander: it was between a dozen Tim Horton donuts, or Gwyneth Paltrow's head...
Both are kinda gross.
  • 1 1
 @ReformedRoadie: 7even is a masterpiece
  • 1 0
 @ICKYBOD: Plain old vanilla frosting with sprinkles is very hard to find. My favorite doughnut by far, I've seen one twice in the the past 5 years.
  • 54 2
 Every climb is impossible without pedals. Obvious miss guys.
  • 9 126
flag Matt115lamb (Aug 24, 2020 at 12:11) (Below Threshold)
 My kenevo would’ve smashed it and the downs while he’s still trying to get over the 2nd root lol
  • 73 5
 ^^ this here is why emtb is not mountain biking. Missed the point mate.
  • 6 87
flag Matt115lamb (Aug 24, 2020 at 13:00) (Below Threshold)
 @danielstutt: what’s your point ? Life’s too short to hiking a bike up hill !
  • 6 1
 @danielstutt: Agreed, point definitely missed. I'll take my true pedal power every day, but the whole purpose of a bicycle is in mechanical advantage--who's to say where that line is?
  • 44 4
 @HaggeredShins: im not actually against e-mtbs but I think they give a platform for a new generation of rich lazy "bikers" who are missing the true spirit of what mountain biking is.
  • 2 0
 @danielstutt: I hear ya, I think you're spot on. Its an interesting separate question about when these bikes stop being bicycles, but as far as saying a Kenevo can beat an XC bike up some roots, yea that's solid comedy
  • 16 5
 @HaggeredShins: not sure what you mean by 'the purpose of a bicycle is mechanical advantage', but anyway, a motor is a very clear line.

On other note, last week on holidays I had the chance to try an ebike in the trails for the first time, it handled LIKE A FCKING COW, seriously. Making climbs easy just to battle that pig downhill ain't worth it. Is like having just one ice cold coke with a lemon slice vs. bottomless pepsi at room temperature. Pass.
And I did so with an open mind, considering to rent it for a day or two. Went for a Trance 29 instead, which I loved.
  • 5 9
flag HaggeredShins (Aug 24, 2020 at 16:04) (Below Threshold)
 @ismasan: mechanical advantage is the foundational concept of why a bicycle works and is worth the effort to pedal. You should check it out.

So my question: How is a motor a clear line? Why are you the one to decide that? Back to the way normal bikes work, we're talking about creating mechanical advantage via the drive train to amplify output. Adding a pedal assist motor is another way to amplify that output. Its not a moped yet, its just a bike that's better at amplifying output. Point being, the line is more difficult to draw when you break things down to fundamentals.
  • 9 1
 @HaggeredShins: The obvious answer is of course the power equation. Using an external energy source vs using your body. But I don't want to define what MTB is. The line indeed gets blurry. A person taking the lift to the top of a bike park and going downhill is essentially using an eMTB if we look at it from an energy balance perspective. Is that not MTB? Hard to say.
  • 4 2
 @agul29: I agree, although I don't think taking a lift is anything like pedaling a pedal assist bike. Personally I've been pretty anti-eMTB but I'm looking for ways to rationalize that--breaking the mechanics down to basics is one way.

Bottom line, go watch BK ride one and tell me that its not MTB. Pros are riding them harder, longer, and to a higher level than 99% of this forum will ever ride any kind of bike. Now whether or not eMTBs get regular Joes to places or into situations they don't belong, that's a whole other story.
  • 4 13
flag Matt115lamb (Aug 24, 2020 at 16:53) (Below Threshold)
 You boys get wound it easily lol
  • 6 7
 @Matt115lamb: or you're too fat... Maybe...??
  • 8 7
 @danielstutt: i dont own an e-mtb, and am not planning on getting one anytime soon. But do tell me more about the true spirit of mountain biking - do I qualify simply because I don't have a motor and battery? Or do I need to lose the rear suspension and ride everything on a hard tail? Or perhaps fully rigid? Single speed? Fixie? Old Schwinn klunker with coaster brakes? Let me know where there line is, since you seem to be the arbiter of this sort of thing...
  • 18 2
 @g-42: I have been riding for 10+ years and there's always been a real sense of community down on the trails, in the car parks, on the push ups, in the bike shops, where ever you go and there's other MTBs. However more recently I have noticed more and more unfriendly riders on the trails who won't even acknowledge you. I was riding at Hamsterley the other day and the uplift was closed because of covid so was pushing up the fire road along with a bunch of other friendly guys I had never met before and several e-bikers whirred by and the looks of scorn for us "push-bikers" was real. That in my opinion is the spirit of mountain biking which is being ebbed away by newcomers who are given an "easy access" platform of not having to pedal.

This is turning into a long reply but there were a few barriers to entry before namely fear of injury and the fact mtbing requires a fair bit of effort. E-mtb removed that effort part and hence has opened the door some people who dont appreciate others in MTB. And just to be clear, this isn't a bias I applied to the e-mtb riders, before arriving at Hamsterley I had positive thoughts about them but seeing it that day changed my view.

I ain't no arbitrator but I've been riding long enough to know that biking is more than just the trail and your push iron. It's the people that make biking special.
  • 7 2
 @HaggeredShins: definitely think e-mtbs have a place for aging athletes and those who have suffered from injury to allow them to ride longer.
  • 9 1
 @danielstutt: mate I've seen it too down at Hammers, I've had them push their way past me on technical single track climbs without so much as an "excuse me". I'd like to think it's because they're embarrassed rather than just a-holes
  • 2 0
 @johnnyboy11000: interesting you noticed this too. Sorry I down voted you by mistake, no undo button on pb.
  • 1 1
 @garrisond5: or maybe not ! Just watching Levi trying get up that climb was cringe but somehow amusing
  • 3 12
flag Matt115lamb (Aug 25, 2020 at 0:41) (Below Threshold)
 @danielstutt: I ain’t rich lol and probably mtbing before you were born mate so don’t try and me what the true spirit of the sport is ! I’ve climbed mountains on full rigid bike , hardtaila , full sus bikes and I have an ebike as well as a DH bike think I know a little !
  • 3 7
flag Matt115lamb (Aug 25, 2020 at 1:08) (Below Threshold)
 @johnnyboy11000: I always ring my bell so you guys can get out of my way ! Lol
Seriously though , dickheads can be seen riding all bikes so putting down ebikes is abit narrow minded . A group ebike ride is among the best Mtb experiences I’ve had in 35 years of riding . You’ll be on one soon Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @Matt115lamb: can I see you muscles?
  • 2 0
 @Matt115lamb: I totally get that the chosen mode of transport doesn't automatically turn somebody into a dickhead. Just an observation of something I've never personally encountered before.

I think it's a bit embarrassing because even on normal bikes it can be awkward when somebody gets dusted by a superior rider, but e-bikes amplify that because in that situation it has less to do with the prowess of the rider and more to do with the type of bike they can afford. Which is why it isn't 'in the spirit of MTB' in that respect.
  • 1 2
 @johnnyboy11000:
Most emtbers have the same ethos as you and are considerate on the trails . We are not all overweight , old and unskilled wannabes ! Give an newbie a £10000 s-works don’t make him a good rider , however he could ride alot more and learn quicker and offer you a tow up that hill !
  • 3 1
 @Matt115lamb: I agree with you mate however you are in the minority as every single e-bike rider I have come across fits at least 2 out of those 3 categories. They look like they get out of breath jogging past the salad bar. The vast majority (not all!) of ebikes are bought by people who can't be arsed to put the work in.
  • 1 1
 @johnnyboy11000: “vast majority” , think you just made that up ! I know at least 10 emtbers and none are in those categories, and the numbers are getting bigger every year !
Was only messing but it does fire up the haters !
  • 1 0
 @Matt115lamb: yep vast majority - like I said you and your ilk are in the minority. Primarily bought by "unathletic" people with a bit of disposable income.
  • 1 0
 @johnnyboy11000: disposable income in Newcastle, you got me ! Lol
  • 2 0
 @danielstutt: I don't know how things have been going for y'all in the British Isles; here in the Pacific Northwest (Washington State), the pandemic unleashed a wave of new people onto the trails, and for some of them, there's been a need to do a little indoctrinating into the culture of the sport (I've had a lot of conversations with folks who were commenting on how neat the trails were, and then were surprised to hear they were all volunteer built). That, along with a general sense of heightened anxiety (lots of people out of work, or worried about pandemic-related stuff) and a general sense of flaring tempers (the US is a bit turbulent these days) has led to the odd miscue. But I'd be hard pressed to identify specific user groups contributing to that on the trails. Your experience seems very specific - I'd just caution against interpreting things as "looks of scorn" etc. without really having engaged with the folks you're putting into categories.

For what it's worth - people working in the industry tell me that there are two waves of people buying eMTBs. One is people who've ridden MTBs for years, and this is an addition to the sport for them (want to ride more/shuttle less, or want to get more laps in, or want to be able to ride to the trails from further away without having to drive, or want to compensate for injuries or flagging fitness as they're aging). The other are people who came into it from e-bikes as commuters (started riding e-bikes all over town after ages of driving everywhere, loved it, then were exposed to the idea of eMTB and decided to branch out on the trails). Not to have a huge pro/con eMTB conversation (that has all kinds of facets, especially in places where there may be access issues to contend with), but to me that sounds like it's not too much of a different crowd than other people who might discover MTB and join us on the trails (like the parents whose kids got hooked on MTBs and who are now discovering them for themselves; trail runners who are getting into it; etc.) In the end, the higher number require us to be better about integrating them into the community (and educate them about trail etiquette, volunteerism, etc.) not just to make it a better experience for everyone, but also to get them involved in the responsibility parts that are absolutely vital (respect for other user groups, building more trails, advocating for trail access).
  • 1 0
 @Matt115lamb: lol that's why I haven't got an ebike!
  • 46 3
 Gets on Grim Donut. Dabs literally a half second later.
  • 44 1
 Loved the "Jesus" as soon as the super slack front flops sideways. Best part of the video.
  • 3 0
 Looks like he didn’t get into the pedal like he thought
  • 35 3
 I never thought the day would come that we would see the grim donut alive and well
  • 19 0
 Would be nice to see the winner go one more time at the very end to factor in fatigue. If it does it again or even close it’s unquestionably the bike!
  • 19 0
 Grim Donut fork not slack enough. Needs to be horizontal on climbs.
  • 9 0
 i think the one and only possible future is adjustable head tube angle just with click.
  • 16 0
 @Kptzbik: Specialized might put a brain on the head tube angle.
  • 6 0
 @PJSANAB: Don't give them any ideas.
  • 1 0
 @Kptzbik: you mean the canyon strive?
  • 4 0
 @Kptzbik: dropper headtube
  • 1 0
 @lognar: but not 1degree. I mean about 5 with steps and only headtube change. Just like @nfontanella said.
  • 16 5
 Give Nino Schurter 350£ halfords bike and he will clear it no problem, its all about the rider boys ;-)
  • 34 1
 yeah he will outperform levy. the performance of the bikes is what is on test. not what a champion xc pro can clear on a supermarket bike.
  • 10 1
 @a-d-e: do people actually watch these tests and think the epic must be the better performing bike just because it didnt slip on the rocks? Surely the rider has a big part in that.
  • 1 0
 @acdhrider: The weather too. It started raining during the test which made it easier for the earlier test bikes.
  • 1 0
 @acdhrider: you do not second guess bro science, what are you thinking?
  • 2 0
 Would have loved to see Chris Akrigg perform the climbs though. And allow him to define what makes for an "impossible climb".
  • 1 0
 @vinay: Let's be serious here. Akrigg could clean that climb on almost any bike (wouldn't even put it past him to figure out a way to massage it through on the Donut) which would prove absolutely nothing except that Akrigg is a better rider than 99.99999% of us, which we already know.
  • 13 3
 So an outrageously/jokingly designed AL enduro bike did about as well as $10k XC “race” bikes... hmmm....
  • 14 1
 Did you see the fat tires on that thing? Put those tires on the XC bike and the climb would be easy.
  • 12 13
 Most enduro bikes would clear a tricky climb better than an XC bike. The huge tires, squishy suspension, and lower COG give them much more traction. XC bikes are tuned for efficiency, with everything else a distant 2nd place.
  • 45 12
 @hamncheez: Most DH bikes would clear a tricky climb better than an Enduro bike. The huge tires, squishy suspension, and lower COG give them much more traction. Enduro bikes bikes are tuned for efficiency, with everything else a distant 2nd place.
  • 6 0
 @hamncheez: Maybe it's not a factor where you live, but accelerating and carrying speed into a technical section of a climb is most definitely a factor where I live, and that's where an XC bike excels.
  • 6 8
 @LeDuke : I'm not saying an Enduro bike climbs better overall, but on short, steep, tricky sections most of them will do better most of the time. A XC bike will not meaningfully accelerate faster in this context.

@tempest3070 You know what I mean.
  • 2 0
 @magnusc: but what about the grams?
  • 8 0
 The donut did well on this test because it was a sprint. If the test was a 5 mile XC loop, it would get owned. Ironically, big bikes actually do pretty well on tech climbs because you don't have to be so perfect with line selection. XC bikes are much faster when the trail opens up though.
  • 3 4
 @Glory831Guy: Thank you, my point exactly. They can climb better in short bursts, but are obviously less efficient (dramatically).
  • 1 8
flag alexrosenberry (Aug 24, 2020 at 11:09) (Below Threshold)
 @tempest3070: That's ludicrously false and I'd challenge you to go try that. Geo and squishiness on a full DH bike will absolutely hold you back on a tricky climb, especially regarding entry speed. I've done it on occasion. You only clear the tricky climbs on your feet if youre trying to take up a DH bike
  • 5 3
 @alexrosenberry: Hes trying to use exaggeration to disprove my point
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: oh no you're right. whoops!
  • 7 0
 I find that a DHR climbs better than an Aspen too. Doesn't make the DHR the better XC tire.
  • 5 1
 @alexrosenberry: I went on a group ride about fifteen years ago with a mix of riders, maybe forty all up. A mix of bikes. I was on an 18kg Big Hit with 2.5 Slow Reezay tires and double chainring. I was the only one to make it up a stupidly steep climb. Why? Because I had grip for Africa and 200mm of travel. Sure it was only about 30m long and I was gassed at the top. But no one else got up it.
I was the only one who could stand up and not spin out the rear tire.
  • 1 1
 @tempest3070:
( Smile ) )
and the comment of the month goes to..: !!
  • 3 0
 @ChazzMichaelMichaels: +1 for "grip for Africa"... learn something new everyday..!
  • 2 1
 The best tech climbing bike I’ve ever been on was the Santa Cruz VP Free. 215mm travel and Fox 40. Crazy high BB, long chainstays for the day. Add in some tacky rubber and get ready to pin it. Basically if you could get the front over something and keep pedaling the bike would make it up. Lots of good times on that bike but I don’t miss it.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: Thats why i run 2.35 Magic Marys on my Giant Anthem. I dont race anymore so more traction is better.

That being said these tires are absolute beasts, when i first put them on i thought my brakes were dragging, and that was coming from High Rollers not even an XC tire.
  • 1 0
 @fabwizard:
Don't ride the assegai then.
  • 1 0
 @fabwizard:
Try the WTB vigilante sometime. Very good grip/sturdy at low pressures, but it rolls a lot faster than Minions and Mary's.
  • 89 84
 Any other East Coasters look at this and shrug at the difficulty?

I know cameras don't always convey gradient well, but this looks like basically every climb around me but with a few less roots/rocks and not as steep. Not saying I can clean this sort of stuff every time, but I know A LOT of riders who can zip up this terrain w/o a thought.
  • 95 21
 Impossible climb or as east coast riders call it- my local trail.
  • 145 0
 The impossible climb a.k.a. the one that the old guy on the single speed Jones Space frame clears every single time and doesn’t know that anyone has a problem with it because he’s not on pinkbike and just rides
  • 24 5
 BEAST COAST! if he shifted into a gear or two lower I feel like there would have been more donut consumption with those bikes. way too spinny.
  • 98 3
 Slow clap for the gnarly east coast guy
  • 21 1
 this looked like it was more than a 4% grade though...


I kid


kindof
  • 4 3
 it's rained so much here we are inline to be considered "temperate rainforest" this summer. Which of course makes climbing just ridiculous.
  • 8 2
 And who wouldn't stay left and not try to ride over the loose rock on the right?
  • 7 1
 @JWadd: take a look at the ferns on the ground, they used those to create a "line" through the climb. They made the climb tough for a reason.
  • 122 2
 Yeah for sure, we out here in the PNW have zero experience with steep hills and wet roots. I'm sure Levy, a very fit guy who rides basically every day in Squamish, would love for you to come give him some lessons.
  • 7 2
 as a very proud East Coast Gnar rider who totally gets where you're coming from, this still looked pretty challenging
  • 43 0
 @Drew-O: dont worry a Brit will be by soon to tell us about rain
  • 4 1
 @usedbikestuff: The classic east coast version of Colorado's Black Sheep climbing god
  • 35 5
 my favorite comment section trope is the east coast person who just has to chime in about how it's not as gnar as the east coast. what's the deal with the trail insecurity? bikes can be hard anywhere. it's especially obnoxious when it's coming from people who clearly haven't ridden both.

also geeze, they chose a trail that they could repeat all day. don't expect it to be the hardest thing ever.
  • 26 1
 @Kiotae what if downvotes are just upvotes from folks in Australia? (stole this meme)...
  • 29 4
 Yes, the "mountains" on the east coast are much bigger and gnarlier then mountains out west..........
  • 12 0
 @Drew-O: the trails suck here, flat, dry, blown out, braking bumps. There's nothing good here, everything blows in PNW. They're is no reason to visit and definitely no reason to move here
  • 7 1
 @happycatbasket: having ridden in a bunch of places, I do not miss east coast rides. A good ride being 10 miles in 2 hrs because it contains some form of low speed rock crawl and front wheel grabbing 1 mph endo onto another rock pile. I lol at the Geoff gulevich videos, I would have killed for those trails.

He should go out and ride laughlintown or rothrock. The fun will be watching to see how many times his bike gets thrown and says f*ck this.
  • 22 0
 I am on the East Coast but this comment is ridiculous. Camera never does the trail justice, especially the grade.
  • 2 0
 @usedbikestuff: ...in cut-off, demin shorts after a couple IPAs.
  • 11 0
 @usedbikestuff: we ride miserable trails, often in miserable conditions and want to inflict our misery on everyone else god damn it.
  • 7 0
 @happycatbasket: our mountains are small so we compensate.
  • 3 0
 BLACK MOUNTAIN
  • 5 0
 @mtmc99: It rains.
  • 5 0
 @muscogeemasher: Exactly. Everything looks smaller on video.....oh wait, are we talking the spandex or the trail here??? :-)
  • 3 0
 I remember an interview with one of the local XC Pro's talking about his relative poor performance at a race on the east coast "I train for the hard climbs back west, this flat and fast course didn't suit me".

Could just be excuses, but I thought it was funny to think of after reading this. EVERYONE thinks their trails are the hardest trails.
  • 4 0
 Around here the trick is that you have the steep climb full of roots just immediately following a small downhill and a tight switchback -- it's not the ride up the hill that gets you, it's coming into it at low speed after navigating the turn.
  • 3 0
 I have been pretty lucky in being able to do some mtb vacations and trips-

I haven't been to Canada, but 2 areas in the US really stand out to me though for being difficult:

Western Washington seems to have all the altitude change + all the wet roots and rocks. It's the rockies plus the east.

The Fruita Colorado through most of Southern Ut area and south into NM and AZ. It's dry and you have tons of traction but it's always some damn rock step every damn place, all of that is interspersed with trails where failure = death.

I live in Idaho- tons of climbing but not great tech. My trails aren't the hardest but we get some decent cardio.
  • 1 0
 @Dopepedaler: an a flannel
  • 1 0
 It appears a few folks aren't familiar with Poe's Law.
  • 2 0
 @tsleep: most of the mountains are lame when looking at vert, so we make up for it with ridiculous trail building. Two way trails where your favorite down is someone else’s favorite up is pretty common.
  • 2 1
 I just love all the east coast guys telling everybody how simple and easy their trails are. Nevermind the fact that your "mountains" cap out at ~3000 feet. That's not even a climb in the PNW it's a warm-up.
  • 1 0
 @garrisond5: life’s too short to spend 80% of my riding time on bike paths and dirt roads.
  • 1 0
 @ICKYBOD: Canada is basically just like Western WA but rootier and wetter
  • 1 0
 Western BC anyway
  • 1 0
 @garrisond5: umm...6000+ but then again most west coasters don't know what's east of the rockies...no worries.
  • 1 0
 @preach: 6000' isn't even elevation around here.

But that doesn't mean east coast riding is weak. Just silly arguments from internet people "My trails are harder." Just ride what you got and enjoy. I'm hoping to do some east coast riding soon.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: come on out!
You also gotta remember that Denver is flat as a pancake but a mile high so you're starting w a taller "first floor" than we are :-)
Of course us Carolina boys think we are hard because NC has the tallest mtns in the east.
  • 1 0
 @preach: I'm in SoCal. I live at 500', but can easily do a road ride up to 8000' from my front door. Did an MTB from my friends house at 2000' and went up to 8000'. A couple years ago did one in the desert that was 300', up to 8000'. Lots of climbing in SoCal...if you choose. I was camping at 9000' in Mammoth this past weekend, running with my lady friend at 11,000.

Friend of mine did one of those guided trips in NC last year and hasn't stopped raving about how awesome it was. I am stopping to visit a friend in Lexington, so NC will hopefully be on my list.
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: rock on...
Lexington isn't "Near" anything :-) But you can get to some of our DH resorts and the Mtns in probably 2.5 hrs from there. Also fun fact it's the crossroads for NC BBQ so all the different styles are there.
  • 5 0
 Mike hangs left... disturbed! Took a different line in on the Evo and it was dry.... Looked like different tyre pressures too. I did like the look of the climb, love a technical climb, even if my legs dont currently.
  • 18 12
 Easy climb on my 50 pound e bike with 63° head angle, boxxer, baggy shorts, hiking boots, and full backpack with trail building tools.
  • 8 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict user name definitely checks out.
  • 3 0
 No need to blur this guy's lycra. He's compensating elsewhere!
  • 10 3
 Where's the Yoan Barelli X Grim Donut Collab?
  • 2 0
 Next year.
  • 5 0
 Or the year after.
  • 8 2
 Reason No 1323454 why we dont wear lycra Smile
  • 18 2
 You're not self confident enough?
  • 1 0
 Reason #1 for me. I was happy to at least SEE the Donut in the flesh for the first time. Hell, they might be on to a thing or two. ComedyGold at the least.
  • 7 1
 @tempest3070: Fun fact, nobody wants to have your tackle in their face in the pub/cafe at the end of a ride.
  • 11 1
 @Davec85: are you that short?
  • 2 0
 @Davec85: I don't know, some of the looks I have received tell me I was wanted. Unfortunately I am a hetero male, but, someone wanted it!
  • 6 0
 Bring back "Hot Lap" but with The Grim Donut as the control bike Wink
  • 3 0
 Why XC racers really prefer steeper HAs? I find having a slacker HA makes things much less twitchy and easier to keep on a straight line on the climbs. And the bike that won this had the slackest HA...
  • 6 1
 Steep head angle makes turning easier. And a lot of the harder climbs require you to maneuver.
  • 3 1
 And weight over the front wheel when climbing
  • 3 0
 Its not just getting the weight forward...its the weight balance and slow-speed handling. Even if you spin out, getting that CG to hang sit directly in front of the rear-wheel's traction point means you can stay upright.
  • 2 0
 Since im about to get the epic evo, im gonna go ahead and say yay for bro science, totally accurate. 10 of 10 would not question again. Oh whats that? If I get the comp version that makes it completely moot? Boooo...oh hey...grim donut...dope.
  • 2 0
 For these kind of test I think knee pads would be a smart move, so you can actually go all in and not be afraid to slipp and injure yourself. Really hard to keep pushing to the limit if you keep bumping your knee on rocks, gear lever etc.
  • 6 0
 thanks mom.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: haha, yeah, better to chicken out like we see in the video.
  • 2 0
 This is as bro science as it gets, but knee pads totally destroy my climbing ability on tougher hills like this one.
  • 1 0
 @xvire: Guess it depends on the knee pads? My experience is that lighter XC-ish pads are less in the way than a baggy shorts catching your saddle. But knee pads without baggy is obviously not permitted!
  • 2 0
 Right off the start with the LUX, poor gear selection. Good luck making it up a steep technical climb at 100+ rpm. At that spin rate you have no torque, zero capability to maneuver the bike over obstacles by lifting front wheel or the rear wheel. Add to that the over active upper body that is throwing off your balance and that is made worse by the short wheelbase of XC bikes. The key to making it up technical climbs with poor traction is smooth and calm. Let Sarah at it.
  • 3 0
 Timed comparison to finish when the rider dabs, picks up bike and just straight hikes/ runs it up like a neanderthal. Guessin the donut a tad slower in that case?
  • 4 0
 I guess we have to wait until the next video to find out if Mike Levy is circumcised or not.
  • 4 0
 Grim doughnut officially just used for click bait Razz fast forwarded through it all just to see the grim doughnut perform
  • 1 0
 same here...only clicked because Grim Doughnut was mentioned.
  • 3 2
 Anyone else find it odd that the Epics got second attempts, but when the Scalpel spun a tire on the first wet root while pissing rain he just says 'oh well, this the real world here'. I'm not a C'dale fan but they got screwed here.
  • 1 0
 No kidding, wonder how much that second attempt cost specialized to bribe the testers.
  • 5 1
 Donut look down it's Grim
  • 5 0
 Where is the hardtail?
  • 1 0
 They don't do those here apparently.
  • 3 0
 Solid effort ML. But how about we put those bikes under Akrigg, Smage and Lenosky?
  • 2 0
 Every time I am in one of those crazy rocks gardens that is just not possible to climb, I catch myself and think of those types of guys. Then I just hang my head in shame.
  • 4 2
 Forget about line choice -- a 29+ with 29x3.25" Vee Bulldozers would eat up all those roots / rocks.

Alternately, just bring on the 36ers!
  • 1 0
 Good to see the Grim Donut in action. I was guessing that its geometry had taken it completely offline after some sort of a horrific injury like an impaling or an errant testicle in the spokes.
  • 2 0
 Blurred video is hiding the prototype NADS shorts (Nabbed A Donut Stash). X-large size rumored to be able to carry a full burrito!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy PB should do an uphill hot lap series. Not that I doubt your climbing credentials but there's probably some gals and guys out there that are also quite good at climbing.
  • 1 0
 The thumbnail pic was just a photo op, because no pedals on! Speaking of which, I wanna hear a review about the SRM mountain bike pedals @mikelevy
  • 2 1
 I guess COVID brought out the worst lines for an impossible climb, which in any non-COVID years, would be just another easy climb through good lines. Big Grin
  • 2 1
 No review after months, but the only thing we get is a climbing test? Let me guess: simulations show the Grim Donut snapping after any drop that's > 2ft ?
  • 5 0
 You'll see Yoann Barelli absolutely hammer the donut down a relatively rough track near Pemberton. Saw a clip on ig, after seeing them in the area.
  • 2 0
 @blankty: do you have a link? With PB providing us with only the occasional crumble of information, I'd love to see and read more about how the Grim Donut rides, feels and performs.
  • 2 0
 haha...I'm just glad he's wearing his 'roadie tights' for that super high-speed ascent!
  • 3 0
 Needs moar spandex: onesie skinsuit!
  • 2 0
 Man, I am not going to read all those comments.
Just want to know if that was the "review" of the Grim Donut??????
  • 2 0
 Mike is it a rule you need to do these climbs sitting down? They'd be way more manageable off the saddle Smile
  • 2 0
 ... you did what to a doughnut....!?!
  • 2 0
 They really blurred out the outline of levy's package lol
  • 3 4
 Good to see some climbing testing, but you would get on better if lowered your saddle & lowered rear tyre pressure a bit!
Funny how you can go over the bars on a climb, but not on the Donut?
  • 3 2
 The point of the test was not to go up on all bikes but to see witch bike was best.
  • 6 3
 Lowering the saddle 1" or so makes such a massive difference.
I bet we all have our own impossible climb somewhere.
  • 3 0
 @betsie: Why is that? That seems counterintuitive. I do a fair number of challenging climbs and I like my seat high and forward for them personally.
  • 12 1
 @SunsPSD: Some tech climbs you really have to move around on the bike a lot and lift the rear wheel. With the seat just a little lower, you can still have a workable pedaling position and a little more room to scoop up the rear without shifting your weight too far forward.
  • 1 13
flag jcougs (Aug 24, 2020 at 9:32) (Below Threshold)
 @SunsPSD: lowering your seat a few cm can give you more power because you can pedal stronger if your legs stay a little more bent.
  • 15 1
 @jcougs: If that was the case, that would be the normal riding height.
  • 6 1
 @LeDuke: yes and no. sometimes lowering the seat can help with short bursts, but you can't comfortable maintain that position or output for very long)
  • 2 1
 @LeDuke: Not true, its less efficient for sustained efforts, but definitely a better technical climbing position.

This about hiking steep rocky terrain vs walking up a smooth path. Different cadence, more bent over upper body, etc. Similar here.
  • 2 0
 @SunsPSD: it gives you more room to move around and brings the seat forward a little bit because of the seat tube angle so you can stay central on the bikr
  • 2 0
 @betsie: Climbs are very condition dependent, but some times rain can make it gripper or not?
  • 2 0
 Maybe we need a dropper post with a fore/aft saddle motion too?
  • 2 1
 @SunsPSD: also when rear hits a small sharp bump you're more likely to get bounced off saddle, unweighting rear and adding to traction loss. Using flats, one can reposition feet rearward to add traction for power moves--also a potential increase in height above saddle not requiring a dropper adjustment mid-move. Also crotch country Levy needs a Bossnut 27.5
  • 4 0
 Its to do with being reactive to the terrain.
Saddle at full height and its down to the suspension, tyre deflection and maybe some ankles, as on the tech you will have to put power down on the tech bits.
Lower that saddle 1" and you have 1" of body weight movement to play with too, move forward on the saddle if its pointing slightly down and you have probably 2" to play with, stand and power and any kick back off a root etc or even just a step up and your saddle is not going to hit you.
Technical climbing is not about 1 minute efforts, not many could manage 15 seconds at 100% effort let alone 1 minute up something technical (I cant thats for sure and I am a pretty good technical climber). XC WC racers are something else, plus they have saddles pointing way down and low front ends coupled with masses of power to power up the tech. I have yet to see a trails rider (which has to be the ultimate tech) ride with a saddle up.
Watch Chris Akkrig climb or Barelli (Saddle all the way down, dont think he has it wrong)
www.pinkbike.com/news/video-yoann-barelli-climbs-double-black-diamond-trail-in-whistler.html
  • 1 0
 @betsie: If you're sitting on the saddle, no, you don't "have 1" of body weight movement to play with too". All you've done is compromise the ability to produce sustained power and lowered your CG an inch. Also, the vast majority of XC racers have their saddles horizontal; I'm not sure where you are getting your information.
  • 2 1
 @pmhobson: Thanks for the response, but I'm pretty effective at tech climbs and floating my tires as needed for ledges with my seat at max height. Think I'll stick with that personally. Cheers!
  • 3 0
 @betsie: assistance is futile
  • 1 0
 @SunsPSD: Yeah, dogg. we've all got our own ways and techniques. It takes all kinds and that's rad.
  • 2 0
 thanks. really enjoyed the piece.
  • 8 0
 So did Mike, apparently.
  • 2 0
 Should have had some heart rate data with those efforts.
  • 1 0
 Ahhj just make Grim Donut back to this time line!... I was false prophet claiming it moved to another paralel Universe
  • 2 0
 I want to see the control tires on the donut.
  • 1 0
 Throwback to when @jasonlucas was mad at pinkbike for not making another Grim Donut in the IFHT Films quarantine video
  • 1 0
 Mike, could you put and old school, double crown Shiver on the front end of that Donut?
  • 2 0
 We finally see the grim Donut and its the XC review??
  • 2 0
 Don't look down
  • 1 0
 whats the name of that sweet tribal tune?
  • 1 0
 Well, some things can't ever be unseen.
  • 2 0
 4:43
  • 4 4
 he should have taken the same exact line for each bike and it seems like more of a tire thing if anything
  • 5 0
 All the bikes have identical tires.
  • 2 0
 they're on control tires
  • 1 0
 @jordanaustino: Except for the Grim Donut.
  • 4 0
 @steezysam: More like out of control tyres?
  • 1 0
 race Epic and Supercaliber for a timed lap?
  • 2 0
 choke on that donut.
  • 1 0
 These are my favorite videos, it's slightly not fair, but I dig it!
  • 1 0
 The Mike is so powerful on that Specialized Epic that he moves boulders!
  • 1 1
 Why is there no pedal on the bike . Or attached to the shoe!!! Click BAIT!!!!!
  • 2 2
 Can't wait for the XC/DC shootout 5 years from now when they all look like the Grim Donut.
  • 1 0
 Levy's good, am really liking him and Kazimer's vibe lately.
  • 1 1
 Grim doughnut officially just used for click bait Razz fast forwarded through it all just to see the grim donut perform
  • 1 1
 What we learn today? 1:nothing new... 2: after 20 try everything became easy... 3: my coil shock have a lot of grip!
  • 1 0
 Did we just see Mikes soft spot????????????????????????????????????Yikes
  • 1 0
 Bring in Nino and see how he would fair on all those bikes!!!
  • 2 1
 thanks again for more evidence that mountain bikers are lame! CM!
  • 1 0
 For anyone just wanting to see the Grim Donut in action: it starts at 4:41
  • 1 0
 We Willie Winky runs through the town, upstairs downstairs in his.......
  • 1 0
 Who is this rodie and WHY is he on Pinkbike??
  • 1 0
 Looking fit after all this XC testing!
  • 1 0
 Nice shorts
  • 1 0
 haha
  • 1 0
 what trail was that?
  • 1 0
 Hidden Gems
  • 4 5
 I forgot how much I hate seeing dudes in lycra until now. That is so gross!
  • 1 1
 haha awesome! The grim donut man that things SLACK!
  • 1 1
 Baggies, for Gods sake BAGGIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Grim frank and beans ?
  • 1 0
 MORE GRIM DONUT!!!
  • 1 2
 Friends don't let friends wear lycra.
  • 3 5
 Time stamp for Grim Donut please
  • 2 0
 NVM...4:41
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