Field Trip: Stoic vs Sentier vs Two Stroke vs Fluid vs Growler - Value Hardtail Roundtable

May 3, 2021
by Sarah Moore  

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.

Norco Fluid HT 1
• Fork travel: 120mm
• Wheel size: 27.5" & 29"
• Frame construction: aluminum
• Head angle: 66.5 degrees
• Chainstay length: 430mm
• Reach: 440mm (medium)
• Sizes: XS-S-M (27.5") & M-L-XL (29")
• Weight: 31 lbs / 14.1 kg
• Price: $1,499 USD
• More info: www.norco.com
BMC Two Stroke AL ONE
• Fork travel: 100mm
• Wheel size: 29"
• Frame construction: aluminum
• Head angle: 67 degrees
• Chainstay length: 425mm
• Reach: 445mm (medium)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 27.75 lb / 12.6 kg
• Price: $1,599 USD
• More info: www.bmc-switzerland.com

Vitus Sentier 29 VR
• Fork travel: 130mm
• Wheel size: 29"
• Frame construction: aluminum
• Head angle: 66.5-degrees
• Chainstay length: 439mm
• Reach: 428mm (medium)
• Sizes: M, L, XL
• Weight: 30.2 lb / 13.7 kg
• Price: $1,449 USD
• More info: www.vitusbikes.com
Canyon Stoic 3
• Fork travel: 140mm
• Wheel size: 29"
• Frame construction: Aluminum
• Head angle: 65-degrees
• Chainstay length: 428mm
• Reach: 455mm (medium)
• Sizes: 2XS - XL
• Weight: 32.2 lbs / 14.6 kg
• Price: $1,199 USD
• More info: www.canyon.com

Rocky Mountain Growler 40
• Fork travel: 140mm
• Wheel size: 29"
• Frame construction: aluminum
• Head angle: 64 degrees
• Chainstay length: 435mm
• Reach: 440mm (medium)
• Sizes: S-XL
• Weight: 31.2 lbs / 14.2 kg
• Price: $1,699 USD
• More info: www.bikes.com

Which of these five bikes would you most like to try?








The 2021 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with support from Toyota.




Video: Jason Lucas, Max Barron
Editing: Tom Richards



190 Comments

  • 197 3
 Uhhhh my frame cost twice as much as the canyon, and it was on sale.

***disclaimer***
If you are looking to get it mountain biking, the above sentence will be you in 5 years
  • 66 2
 Unfortunately your disclaimer is 100% correct.
  • 26 0
 Don't say we didn't warn you.
  • 58 0
 When I first started mountain biking. " I would never spend more than $1000 on a bike."

Now, "That new Yeti looks like the right fit."
  • 27 0
 @moefosho: As someone whose fork costs about as much as the Canyon bike, this is is a pretty expensive sport once you really take the plunge. But boy howdy, it's rewarding.
  • 64 0
 And then 5 years later, you'll have enough parts to build a hardtail and realize how much fun they are all over again!
  • 8 0
 @woofer2609: and then the circle will continue
  • 22 1
 I'm fairly certain cocaine is a cheaper alternative to my mtb addiction.
  • 63 0
 Somehow the general public freaks out when they hear you spent $5k on a bike, yet nobody bats an eye at people in 40k trucks and SUVs. I opt to spend my disposable income on bikes and save elsewhere. I bet I have a lot more fun too.
  • 22 0
 And your tolerance for multi-thousand dollar mountain bikes will make any skis or snowboard you look at seem insanely cheap. $1200 for carbon touring skis? Even cheaper than that value hardtail I got 5 years ago!
  • 27 0
 Give it another 5 to 10 years and there is a chance one will be cured (have experience) and realize that often the less expensive stuff will do the job perfectly.
  • 1 0
 Disclaiming 100% jealousy
  • 38 0
 @hatton: This one always gets me. My blinged-out Yeti costs less than the higher trim packages on a lot of common cars on the road. I ride the bike of my childhood dreams and all it cost me was what most people pay for leather interior and fog lights.
  • 21 1
 @hatton: Where are you shopping for trucks and SUVs? More like 60-100k. It is insane.
  • 3 0
 @haop: Experiencing this myself. Helps that the inexpensive new stuff is really really good.
  • 10 0
 @hatton: that 40K truck is entry level. I know people spending twice that, but very few buy it, so it's really all about what bi-weekly (or weekly!) payment you can "afford". Not saying this is good thing, but we could probably get you into a new Yeti for as low as $69/week!
  • 8 0
 @carym: I get my Trucks and SUVs at the used minivan lot (nothing says rad dad like a hightower on the back of a honda odyssey)

I know truck/suv prices are insane. Sounds like cars are starting to go through the bike industry squeeze now too.
  • 4 0
 @moefosho: Dude I remember when $700 for a bike was insane. I just spent that on annual maintenance. Oh the things we do to enjoy the ride!
  • 2 0
 @plyawn: Nice
  • 18 1
 @hatton: When we found out our third was on the way, we went car shopping. Looked at some larger 3-row SUVs, then looked at a couple of minivans. There really is no contest in terms of functionality. Minivans for life, baby!
  • 2 0
 @big-red: Please create a DH MTB line for your minivan. We would all die laughing watching it on YouTube and with all the folsk who'd watch it on loop (like me) you'd be able to more than cover the cost of the damage!
  • 1 0
 @woofer2609: this is so true. Been there and about to that point a second time. I even have the parts to build one up and an older frame, but want more modern geo on my next HT build.
  • 2 0
 @hatton: I got a minivan so I could put my bike inside of it with ease!
  • 3 0
 @hatton: I'm with you man but, please ask yourself what's the difference in real value between 8 mid-range mtbs and a mid-range truck both at 40k. Cost of materials, engineering, electronics, finishes, having a real warranty, durability... that's the sad thing of spending 5k on a bike, not the fact of spending them. In bike industry, you never get what you paid for...Just take mx tires. They're the almost the same price as maxxis EXOs? Frown . I'd love to see the margins of benefit in the mtb industry compared to other industries...
  • 1 0
 my frame was like 3x. lol

I am future you, @slayersxc17 !!!
  • 1 1
 @Lanebobane: so much of this. I look at new models, full price and think.. yeah..I could get a pair of those; the price is "more than resonable" Smile ))))
  • 1 1
 @aharms: that's because you buy fox forks in the US. In EU, I just paid 1300 euros for a damn '38...and that was at a discounted price. Regular prices are between 1500 and 1650 euros.
with a good set of wheels, preffered cockpit items and a pair of maguras, plus the frame, I am looking at 5.5-6k euros for a bike. Not that I'm complaining but, does it really is 6 times that canyon stoic? (I seriously doubt it and, for the record, 5-6 years now when I was doing epic trips and mountain cross-overs on my 700 euros hardtail, I was having pretty much the same fun.. only the speeds were different)
  • 2 0
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: selling or using?
  • 2 0
 @carym: welcome to inflation! hope that stimmy check was worth it.
  • 1 0
 I have an expensive Bike too, but i ride it since 6 Years and still see no need to change. (Process 111). So dont think its such an expensive sport...
  • 1 0
 A buddy of mine just built a Moots Womble and spent over 8k on it.
  • 1 0
 @Strider1138: ...and when you factor in that bikes will be our primary form of transportion (outside of walking and horses) after the Sun's next Carrington Event its really not a bad place to invest your money.
  • 64 0
 As I got passed multiple times on the climbs yesterday while riding a 170 coil Capra by someone on that very orange BMC, I would like to give that a crack as a switch up bike
  • 4 0
 by the same guy/girl?!
  • 8 0
 Riding vastly different kinds of bikes is the best way to figure out where you can and can't compromise on other bikes.
  • 38 1
 Forget all these bikes. Get a cheap Kmart bike and put a ceramic speed jockey wheel on it and you've got a bike for the same cost which will save you 1% of a watt. Actually, just get the growler and tear it up
  • 1 1
 So...double the price of the kmart bike then?
  • 26 0
 I do think that people in Europe will choose differently because of accessibility than for example North America.
  • 41 0
 "After intensive research I choose..... the one I can get"
"sorry, but that is none of the above"
  • 1 0
 Yep, it's a challenge to dissect review results with local supply and logistics constraints also.
  • 3 3
 Not to bash PB (Love you guys), but I'd definitely but more time into research on Europe-based websites instead of US/CAN based for more relevant info if I were you.
  • 1 0
 unfortunately none of the European (canyon, vitus, bmc) accessible bikes are in stock... sad times to be looking for a new fun hardtail. Commencal meta ht am seems the only choice, shipping some model as soon as July.
  • 18 0
 There was lots of discussion of brakes. Even the Vitus which ships with Deore (2 piston, 160mm?) had a con of "Brakes lack power"

These are really good brakes and I have hard time imaging that someone buying one of these bikes is going to notice any shortcomings with them.
  • 11 0
 maybe we're just too fat lol. My GF still complained to be this weekend ride that her sram level paired with 160mm were too powerful
  • 5 0
 The complaint was the resin Pads/Rotors
  • 18 0
 @fabwizard: a new pb video about pad material vs rotor size vs nb of piston would be good
  • 3 1
 Resin pads are ok as long as you dont start riding trails. I mean, not flat trails or the green ones.
I guess in Canada there are a lot of trails...?
  • 4 0
 @cxfahrer: I've tried resin pad in huge place like Mont Saint-Anne or Bromont and yeah at 185lbs they are garbage but I would bet someone around 100lbs wouldn't notice difference between resin and metal
  • 8 0
 I got a new Altitude this year that came with Shimano XT's and the bite point changes on them every time. So spending 7500 bucks on a new bike doesn't guarantee you get you good breaks these days.
  • 1 0
 @powderhoundbrr: I feel you, got saint m820 right now ... I just gave up on the bite point and just change pad more frequently
  • 5 0
 My girlfriend has only been biking with me for a year and never really thought of anything to complain about her brakes. But I got her Deore 4-pistons and moved her to 180 calipers (and she only weighs 120 lbs) for Christmas and now she's faster at the beginning of the season just because she's so damn comfortable going fast now that she can stop quickly. I definitely don't think most people need 4-pistons and I agree with you about 2-pistons being enough. However if you have small rotors, less pad area, and if you aren't a 120 lb rider, these aren't a great combo. Luckily rotors are cheaper to upgrade than the entire setup like you'd hqve to do with Tektros
  • 1 1
 I have got to agree with you. My dirt cheap 2 piston Tektros with 160mm rotors is the best pair of brakes I've ever owned. I've bled them once in two years and they perform the same as my 2 piston Shimano XT 180/160! I brought my Tektro bike in after 2 and a half years of consistent riding (60 mi a week) because I thought sure the pads were toast and was told they had 50% life left. It makes expensive brakes look like a waste. The only downsides I can see is if you're doing enduro/downhill and need 4 piston or you're a weight weenie (guilty myself).
  • 1 0
 I got a Zee front brake that came with resin pads. Zees are super powerful but those resin pads were basically just a cock-block.
  • 1 1
 @Elgaucher: anyone that ever complains about brakes being "too powerful" is instantly discarded as not having a worthwhile opinion on the matter. lol. there is literally no such thing as TOO powerful of brakes. just....you know...pull with less force.
  • 1 0
 I have the 27" Vitus with same Brakes.

You really on notice the power shortcomings on very very steep descents (i.e Tracks designed for DH bikes, which would be pushing it for this bike).

On everything else, the brakes are awesome and work very well with the Schwable Tyres.

The Vitus is the best value bike there IMO. The growler looks amazing also.
  • 1 0
 *only notice
  • 2 0
 Vitus have downgraded the brakes on the 2021 bike. They’re 410’s with the crazy long levers.

My 2020 Sentier VR has the 501’s with the shorter lever. They’re plenty powerful enough and feel on par with Deore’s I’ve had before.
  • 23 6
 Hey! How is it impressive that you can ride a bike straight out of the box, as opposed to what invent the wheel first!?
That's the bare minimum I expect from every bike I buy, no matter the price.

Also, isn't it time to retire that Direct-to-consumer "disadvantage", especially when it comes to beginners.
If you're a beginner any bike you sit on would be somewhat awkward at first. Heck, lock a first timer's suspension out and tell them that's how it is and they'd still be perfectly happy.
Beginners get used to whatever they have, it's likely they'll come to like any bike if it's their first and develop warm feelings towards the brand in general.

Note: Never in my life have I bought a bike from a LBS, nor I went to demo the bike I ended up buying. The second hand bikes I bought, I also decided on the spot, so I didn't have time to compare.

Guess what - it's fine! If you want a bike - get one you can afford and go ride. Everything else is splitting hairs and bullshit.
After that you can enjoy the funny reviews and lust over 10k bikes.
  • 19 2
 Two words: Kona Honzo.
  • 3 0
 The og. The original ones that were super aggro a few years ago are still great xc bikes compared to modern bikes. The new one looks like it would rip like the Growler.
  • 3 0
 Still ripping my 2017 Kona Big Honzo. I bet the new ones with more progressive geo would be even better. I still love my transition scout more though...
  • 3 0
 Got an email from the bike shop today, my new frame is finally in the US! Should be in next week, can't wait. I'm replacing a 2017 Honzo I ran with a 130mm fork, and that was a super fun bike to ride. The short chainstays make the Honzo a 29r that's fun to hoon on. Anyone interested in the bikes in this article should also look at the Honzo, it's a great bike.
  • 2 0
 @mikealive: No question. I almost bought one and I kinda wish I did. I'll get one someday!
  • 12 1
 BMC is so much lighter (one of the most important point for young racers since they are most of the time light as well).

My bet is the BMC would make the best first XC race bike of the lot.
  • 3 2
 Yep imho the others are insanely heavy. Of course, times change, bikes are bigger and tougher, but only some years ago 13kg was considered heavy for a beginners hardtail, now we are taking 15-16 and nobody says a word about it! Yes weight was certainly overrated, and now that everybody shreds sick trails and jumps you need something with more stability, but still, a standard beginner riding fireroad and normal trails will not break a sensibly light hardtail frame.
  • 8 1
 I love my steel 2020 Norco Torrent Norco. Very forgiving with 2.6 tires and a light Huck Norris , it’s a super fun second bike . More fun than I thought it would be . Frame was 749 Cad in Dec 2020.
I built it up with cheap Pinkbike Buy and Sell parts so I could have spare parts for my Stumpjumper Evo. LBS warned me months ago that I would run into supply problems .
  • 8 0
 "It was the hardtail that surprised both Mike Levy by how much fun it was to ride. "

I knew it, there's two of him!
  • 3 0
 I think they're cloning him. That was my only conclusion when I saw that.
  • 5 0
 Wish I could pick 2 to try, would love to growler for descent but really curious about trying the bmc to see how faster is it on climbs.
  • 2 0
 Dang, me too. Sadly cant have it all.
  • 7 0
 Devinci Kobain vs. RMB Growler...!?
  • 4 0
 That's what I am looking at right now. Well, the Growler, Kobain and Norco HT1.
  • 3 0
 the Devinci is a made in Canada frame too!
  • 3 0
 Kobain, if you rather be dead than cool.
  • 7 0
 Can we have a write in option for the Devinci Kobain?
  • 7 2
 I like how there is only 1 hardtail there thats lighter then my 2012 Reign lol. 26"=lighter!!
  • 5 14
flag blowmyfuse (May 3, 2021 at 9:25) (Below Threshold)
 And the hardtail dude wanting to buy it for "reasons" will try to convince everyone he's having a better time than someone on a full suspension cause it's so "nimble & snappy & responsive". All the while slathering chamois butter on his mind, upgrading to gel grips, Thudbuster seatpost, Assos liners, $300 Sidi's, Kitsbow $170 flannel jersey & ND filter for his GoPro.
  • 1 1
 @cuban-b-can-blow-me: Well I did keep my old Medium HT around because it IS snappy and responsive compared to my newer Large HT and fully. It IS a more fun lively ride and I'll never get rid of it cuz of that and it's nice to switch back and forth.
  • 1 3
 @zephxiii: I had to ditch riding hardtail on trails. I ride rear heavy & switch ride my trail bike like my DH bike. Wiped out more than once when that rear went skipping across the roots instead of tracking. Hah.

If they keep sanitizing the trails in my region, I'll reconsider a bike path bike.
  • 2 1
 @blowmyfuse: "I ride rear heavy"... go on...
  • 2 0
 Gotta go with the bmc based on weight alone. 5lbs is a lot. Downhill performance is sweet, especially for new to the sport people. So i am only selfishly thinking of what I would want. Put me in the fat old lazy camp that needs climbing and lightweight. I'll make it up on the down. Every ride around here has mandatory climb unless you on the lift. Cant be burnt hard and expect a good run down. You can pull some swanky stuff cruising down, but uphill is reality 90% of the time literally. Not cashing in the 401k for an ebike so...light climber wins it for me.
  • 3 0
 It was a hard call between the Canyon and the Rocky Mtn. I went with the Canyon because I think you could take the $500 difference and make some upgrades to it and make it just as rad or better than the RM.
  • 5 1
 That two stroke is a nice looking XC bike, but they don't sell it frame only right?
  • 6 5
 The Canyon is by FAR the least expensive and while a dropper post may be a better riding experience, for a beginner this isn't really a thought yet. As for range, I'd just like to point out that people are drooling over that rigid purple "enduro" a bit down the news feed. It wasn't long ago that 11-36 was all that anyone needed even with a 10 speed configuration. Again, for a beginner mountain bike you probably wouldn't consider range. MAYBE put a smaller chainring on it.
  • 3 0
 Guilty as charged on the purple drooling
  • 6 1
 To be fair, I'd rather set the bar low for a new rider, and that means as much gear range as possible, and a dropper post so that they don't go over the bars on their first technical descent and never ride again. Same as I wouldn't start a new driver out on a 1980 f250 with a vague 4 speed manual transmission combined with a difficult to push clutch pedal, no power steering, no ABS, and an am radio. You have to learn to savour such things!
  • 2 0
 @woofer2609: Thats what I started on except 73 "supercab" - the steering was more like herding it down the highway
I also started mountain biking on a fully rigid Fuji with friction thumb shifters
  • 3 2
 @A-Highly-educated-professional

11-36 was good when we still had front derailleurs, which would usually have a 22-24 tooth low gear in the front.

The modern 1x set-ups don’t normally go lower than a 28t.

So the range comment seems valid to me, but I do agree a smaller front might work, if you can go lower with it.
  • 1 0
 @acrowe: I love those trucks. I have a 1995 f150 with no hood, my shocks all have massive dents, my tires look like racing slicks, and no dash. Other than that my engine is running very well.
  • 1 0
 @Saidrick: NsBillet makes 24T for sram , shimano or cinch mount.

I'm considering going back for a while to 24T with a 10speed 11-36T as I have like 2 casette brand new lying around
  • 3 0
 @woofer2609: I understand what you mean, but I argue that the question is not about range but rather having a low gear for the beginner rider. Also, if this is a first mountain bike, you're probably not going on those technical descents right away, eliminating the immediate want for a dropper. However, after you spend half a season getting comfortable on a mountain bike IF you like it and IF you have the time to continue, maybe you want to spring for that dropper post!
  • 3 0
 And I'd also say that this being the LEAST EXPENSIVE HARDTAIL in Pinkbike's VALUE test it seems that this is the exact example of what a first mountain bike would be for someone. Hence get a good bare minimum that really doesn't hold you back and then you can upgrade it a little bit. Something that I think Canyon hit a bullseye with.
  • 1 0
 @A-HIGHLY-EDUCATED-PROFESSIONAL: Fer sure, low range is the most important to begin with
  • 2 0
 Since I already own a pretty rowdy hardtail, which is even better equipped for decsending then all bikes in this test I'd love to try the BMC and get a taste of how much fun a XC bike can be.
  • 1 0
 I dont think entry level is a good spot to see how any type of bike can be. A 28lb xc bike isn't all that special.
  • 2 1
 @RonSauce: as a starting point, it’s not bad. It’s inexpensive enough to get you started and having fun, but leaves a LOT of room for people who like to upgrade their bikes over time. So long as the frame is nice enough, all the other parts can be swapped out one at a time as budget allows, and even in its stock form, this bike looks like it would be good to go. PB’s choices for first upgrades are spot on though... I’d personally swap the cassette out for one with bigger range as soon as I could, just to get up the hills a bit easier.
  • 1 0
 @MB3: you're talking about someone who already owns a hardtail though. Buying an entry level bike, then dropping 5 hundo on it isnt how to experience a bike. Borrow/demo a real xc bike. Im not saying its a bad bike, just not an ideal way to "experience xc".

If you haven't owned or ridden a real bike sure, entry level with upgrades makes sense. If you are talking about upgrades out of the gate you should have bought a higher teir bike.
  • 1 1
 @RonSauce: depends on your definition of a “real” XC bike is. The BMC has the right geometry, it’s a decent bike for sure. Is it World Cup racing ready? Of course not, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be ridden on XC courses, as an XC bike.

The upgrades are entirely optional. This is a bike that can be ridden as is. Saying that this BMC isn’t a “real” bike has a hint of bike snobbery about it... we’re not talking about a Walmart bike here.

I started on a steel hardtail back in the early 90’s that probably weighed about 28lbs once I slapped a first gen Manitou fork on it (it came with a decent rigid Ritchey steel fork, but front suspension was just starting to take off at the time). I rode it hard, raced XC during the summers, and made the occasional upgrade to it whenever my poor student budget allowed. If I had waited to get into mountain biking until I could have afforded a higher end bike right from the start, I would have missed out on a ton of fun riding, and some great experiences.

I think your concern is that someone might buy this bike and them somehow get turned off by XC? I totally get that if this was a department store bike, but this is just the right level for someone to give XC a committed try, and not just try and make their mind up about XC based on one or two rides on a friend’s bike that isn’t necessarily even the right one for them.

I mean, Levy and Sarah were even endorsing this bike as a good bike for a young racer to start out on. That seems like a pretty good recommendation to me.
  • 1 0
 @MB3: younger racer looking to start out =/= person with decent trail hardtail already
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: the question still stands: Why do you think this bike is going to turn someone off XC? The fact that it’s 28 lbs? That’s still 2-4 pounds lighter than most other hardtails in this test and price range.

As far as I know, BMC has a pretty good background in XC racing, with a robust racing roster. The geo on this bike is going to have just as much of an impact as the weight in terms of riding how it’s designed to. I mean, I have 3 different hardtails in my shed at the moment, and if I wanted another XC ride, I’m sure this BMC would probably ride just as well as any of mine, if not better. My bikes may be lighter, but none of them are as modern in design or in parts spec as this one.

I’m not saying you are wrong when you say a more expensive ride would perform better. I’m just saying that this bike (or any other value bike) is not worth overlooking. It may be just the ticket for many riders looking to add something different to their stable of bikes, especially if they aren’t a dentist.
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: I assume my hardtail is 15kg/33lbs+ (never weighed it) and has a downhill rear tire on it so I'd probably feel the difference.
  • 1 0
 @slothez: im just suggesting against filling your garage with entry level bikes, and suggesting against buying a bike for a discipline you dont typically ride where you are going to upgrade right away.
Most experienced riders read these bike specs as $1500, plus the cost of brakes and proper tires, and maybe a new fork, and a dropper. Plenty of us have spent a thousand on on bikes like this.
The real question is do you NEED a shorter travel hardtail? 100mm is not alot of travel, and xc bikes are not super easy to ride. I do all my "xc racing" on a 120mm trail hardtail personally.
  • 1 0
 I have a 2015 or 16 Kona Honzo st great bike - I love it but its not going to come in anywhere near the price of these bikes as a new build. Imagining you will build it from your extensive parts stash or pick through the garbage offered by people selling it used because its mostly wrecked, to find the good stuff is pretty unrealistic for a new rider who is just starting out. ,Realistically my Honzo probably cost $1500-$1600 Cdn, and I had cranks and wheels, pedals and seat etc. Just a decentish fork cost me $550 (supposedly deeply discounted).

I guess by this I mean this is a pretty useful article if you are looking to get a bike that will work to get you in the door to actual mountain biking
  • 3 0
 I always, always fall into the trap of buying a frame and then using stuff I already have. And it always cost more than a complete bike... doesn’t mean I’m going to do anything different next time. I’ll never learn.
  • 3 0
 @deez-nucks: same. I always convince myself it's just a simple frame swap.. until the bb isn't the same , color scheme isn't matching, oh I can run a longer dropper on this one, need an air spring (tho I fixed that one with the mezzer) , etc....
  • 1 0
 I know hta is a big deal going downhill, but in my experience front travel makes a HUGE difference on a hardtail. 140 is where I usually start forgetting I’m on a hardtail and start riding like an idiot. 130 feels well rounded and 120 feels xc fast but not wrist breaking. Never tried 100
  • 1 2
 100mm is not for anyone who isn't racing unless you don't hit anything nasty/stay off the big jump lines. I love my 100mm bikes and do the black diamond lines on them anyway but I won't pretend it's comfy.
  • 2 0
 Curious why none of these are offered as a frame only option?

I have a pile of parts sitting around in the garage, just need a frame to hang them off of.

I would love to be able to build up a Growler frameset!
  • 2 0
 build up a ragley frame! hardtail party loves the ragley's and even compares their alu to the feel and compliance of his favorite steel frames. also very cheap with 400 alu frames and I think 600 for steel. both wheel sizes aswell
  • 2 1
 It's great that PB did this review. Hardtails will always be part of the mtb scene at all levels of experience and terrain. Bike companies finally recognising that there is more to HT's than 79 degree head angle, 100mm stems, carbon and XC. I personally went back to a Fluid HT1 but with a 130mm fork, after riding short travel dually for years. It's a blast but definitely more challenging on bumpy terrain.
  • 1 0
 Appreciating that most pinkbikers are probably USA! USA! But I'm not clear on why people are all so keen on the better decending, shit-spec hardtail? Those things are 3 grand in NZ, I could get a Kona Process 134 or Giant Trance for bugger all more and second hand, that money would also get a decent spec couple of year old enduro rig and a service.

It seems, on the surface of it, there's going to be bugger all difference between the Growler and the Stoic which costs a grand less here. That buys a lot of TLD gear (I kid, its unlikely to get you a full kit), heaps of weed and redbull, or is a decent start toward another hobby if riding a shitty hardtail puts you off mountain biking.
  • 1 0
 I bought myself a fluid ht last year and i love it! I think they don't give it enough credit for its downhill capability in the review, because I ride even the gnarliest of trails on mine and i handles it just fine. Gotta mention I got grippier tires and a high rise handlebar for mine though.
  • 1 0
 Love that PB is evaluating value trail bikes! Only wish some of the picks would've been a little more comparable, and slightly higher up the food chain, closer to the sweet spot.

Next let's see ~$2K USD hardtails (in the $1700-2300 range):
$1849 Devinci Kobain SLX 12S hardtail w/Marzocchi Z2 fork & Shimano 12s drivetrain;
$1999 Canyon Stoic 4;
$2099 Rocky Mountain Growler 50 hardtail;
$2239 Marin San Quentin 3 hardtail.
  • 11 10
 It would have been nice to have a more varied bike list. Like, the Vitus and Norco seem very similar. Would have been interesting to throw in some outlier bikes, like a 29+ bike.
  • 5 0
 Only 29+ option at this price point I can think of would be from bikesdirect, I guess the rigid surlys are around $1600 but suspension makes it like $2200. The cheapest complete stache back when it was being made I think was $2000.
  • 10 3
 They probably don’t want to review bikes they would hate riding.
  • 4 2
 @mchance: Good point. 27.5+ value bikes perhaps then. I'll add the your list of 29+ bikes the esker japhy $2000. Which is pretty decent value for a steel hardtail. I got one in December and like it.
  • 1 1
 Isn't the Growler 29+? 2.8's on there at least.
  • 1 0
 @tremeer023: Growler has 2.6" stock. I didn't see any spec for max width the frame can fit tho.
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: Looking at mine, I would say 2.6 is the max... A 2.8 might fit but if the wheel was un true or the frame flexed when pedaling it might rub.
  • 1 2
 @kcy4130: I believe you can fit a 2.8 in the frame. Fit a fork with 3.0 tyre clearance and you're in business.
  • 1 0
 The Devinci Kobain and Orbea Laufey H30 would be really interesting contenders at this price point.
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: pretty sure I saw that it comes with 2.6 but you can fit 2.8.
  • 3 0
 Too bad they didn't make the Two Stroke ebike. It would give you even more reason to make motorcycle sounds when riding.
  • 1 0
 I chose the Vitus, but noticed it has a segmented shift cable that I would have to drill the guides on. Very surprising that they would not put full length cable housing on a bike!
  • 5 1
 well written article
  • 3 1
 could you please center the bar in the stem on the Rocky Mountain- HORRIBLE!
  • 2 0
 How can I take your reviews seriously if you can't get the door of the bus on the correct side?
  • 3 0
 Awesome. Answering all the important questions here.
  • 3 4
 What is this reality we live in that hardtails weigh 32lbs??????? I remember my first bike was a hard tail in the 90s and it weighed something like 24kbs out of the box. Does it not defeat the whole point of having one in the first place?
  • 18 2
 I’d suggest riding a new hardtail down an intermediate downhill back to back with your hardtail from the 90’s. I think it will clear things up.
  • 3 0
 @deez-nucks: Very true. At the same time though, could you help me with why aluminum frames and air forks aren't lighter than all steel anyway? I'm not trying to be snarky I actually want to know (I have to specify that or I'll get downvoted off the page and then I'll never know)!
  • 3 1
 @deez-nucks: geometry weighs 5lbs?
  • 4 1
 @deez-nucks: Not relevant bro and a little patronizing even though I know what you're getting at. If enduro bikes weigh 32lbs one can be forgiven for wondering where all that added bulk is coming from in the absence of shock and linkages.
  • 6 1
 couple of things I guess
- Dropper post weight vs skinny old 27.5 hollow post
- bigger 29er through-axle wheels vs old 26er wheels
- wider tyres with heavier casings
- disc brakes > caliper
- 35mm fork legs vs skinny old 28mm forks from the 90's
- frame built for big hits vs XC based frame from the 90's
- heavier cassettes
  • 2 0
 @dave119: This is spot on.

- Rims today is double width and larger diameter.
- Hubs are burlier and better then the old skinny QR ones.
- Dropper vs 27.5 post.
- Disc brakes vs V-brakes.
- Burlier forks that's not wet nodles.
- Heavier casset is probably offset by the front shifter and 2 more chainrings.
  • 4 0
 @dave119: I have a 500 dollar 2017 hardtail that weighs 28lbs.
-with a 30.1 dropper
-disk brakes
-air fork
-21mm id rims
-trail tires

My old 29er from the 2000s is the same story, 26 lb with no dropper a rear rim brake.

Xl 2021 stumpjumper, base model aluminum 30lb flat.

We don't have to go to the 90s for 31+lbs to sound excessive
  • 3 0
 ragley? they have great bikes too
  • 1 0
 When you graduate college buy a Chris kinged chromag. Then when you have kids and your short on money tell your wife it was an eight hundred dollar thirty pound bike.
  • 2 0
 These bikes should be also tested on pumptracks, dirtjumps, street... I mean like a secondary bike too.
  • 1 0
 If you're done with the Norco feel free to send it to me so I can play with it Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I put a deposit on a Growler 50 a few weeks ago. Stoked to see this review!
  • 1 0
 The Growler is the only Rocky Mountain that isn't outrageously priced. It's also the only one I'd consider buying.
  • 1 1
 Why do folk put bikes on beaches for pics, bike and sea sand do not mix. I have a physical reaction when I see it. Nice bikes though.
  • 1 0
 live in northern ireland and u will be able to sit on a vitus sentier chainreactioncycles.com all the way
  • 2 1
 How about doing a value e-bike comparison.
  • 1 1
 I don't know if we should start that war lol. Plus, there are e-bikes from Walmart that cost 4 figures. I would read a value e-bike comparison if nice brands like the ones above would make e-bikes that could be considered value.
  • 2 1
 what's the point of these comparisons when it's all out of stock
  • 1 1
 Companies should really check before they name things. Growler means something completely different in UK slang....
  • 14 14
 I'd prefer a quality steel frame over any of them.
  • 8 0
 Same, unfortunately there aren't many (or any) steel "value" hardtails out there.
  • 7 0
 Kona Honzo frame only retails for $600, or get in line for a $300 Marino custom frame
  • 3 0
 @kcy4130: Stif Squatch?
  • 3 0
 Here's my plan: Get the Vitus, sell the frame, swap with a Chromag Rootdown frame (700USD).... when it is back in stock in 2023.
  • 1 0
 *heavy breathing*
  • 1 0
 Where's the Rootdown?
  • 5 0
 The Rootdown isn't really what you would call a value (as in lower priced) hardtail. You don't generally buy a frame like that and build it up with the components that these bikes have, although you could. Newer riders are generally not looking to build a bike from frame up which is why this test is of models offered as complete builds. You can get the Rootdown as a complete build from Chromag but their cheapest version is $3k US so again not in the lower budget category.
  • 2 0
 @h82crash: Ahh yes, makes sense. Blinded by obtainable frame cost.
  • 2 2
 they all look like trek roscoes to me
  • 3 0
 roscoes geo is terrible
  • 1 1
 @davids1: i dont know man i put a 100mm fork on it and outride most people in my area ... shizz works for me
  • 1 1
 Why there is no dartmoor?
  • 3 0
 Why is there no XXXXXX.... So many bikes.
  • 2 5
 None of them as they are 29ers. I like my smaller wheels.
  • 1 0
 Hmmm well, Norco as long as it´s size M or smaller
  • 1 0
 Generally agree although I might be willing to consider 29 on an XCish hardtail. Still #27.5snotdead
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