PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP
Hardtail Round Table
The five bikes that ended up in the hardtail category of our latest Field Test on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia all had precisely zero millimetres of rear travel, paired with fork lengths that ranged from 100mm on the racey BMC Two Stroke up to 140mm on the Canyon Stoic and Rocky Mountain Growler. The Norco Fluid HT and the Vitus Sentier sat in the middle, with 120mm and 130mm forks respectively.
As you may have noticed, we’re looking at some pretty different bikes here, and there's also almost $500 that separates the Stoic and the Growler. That might not be a deal breaker when you’re looking at $10,000 dream machines, but it’s a huge chunk of change when you’re looking at your first mountain bike and you’re not even sure if you’re going to like the sport.
Since it’s the least expensive of the bunch, let’s start with the Canyon Stoic. It gets you out there and the ride quality is impressive, but there’s obviously room to upgrade. You’ll probably want to add a dropper post and a wider range cassette, but you can have a ton of fun on this bike right out of the box which is impressive. Even with those upgrades, the direct-to-consumer bike is still going to come in at less than the others.
Next up, we have two bikes here that look pretty similar on paper, the Norco Fluid and the Vitus Sentier. The Vitus offers a bit more in terms of suspension performance and a more planted feel on the descents, but the Norco has the edge on the climbs and is available to purchase in a shop which will definitely appeal to some riders who want to sit on the bike before they buy it and have a go-to shop for service and future upgrades. If this is your first mountain bike, going down to a shop to pedal it around first is a huge plus for some people.
For the person who wants to do the odd cross-country race, the BMC will get you to the top of the climbs the fastest. It has a bar mounted lockout, no dropper post, and an aggressive climbing position with that long stem… This thing is looking for some lycra!
If you'd rather not see Levy and I don our lycra again, let’s take a look at the bike that's pretty much the opposite of the BMC, the Rocky Mountain Growler. It was the hardtail that surprised both Mike Levy by how much fun it was to ride. It’s the most capable on the descents and if that's the most important part of your ride, you'll want the Growler on your side.
Overall, the BMC is the best bike for someone who just wants to get into cross-country racing, the Canyon Stoic would be an awesome choice as your first bike, and if you want to get sendy on the descents, the Rocky Mountain Growler is the most capable of the bunch on the descents.
Stay tuned for our five full-suspension review videos an another roundtable video that compares them all.
The 2021 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with support from Toyota.
Video: Jason Lucas, Max Barron
Editing: Tom Richards