Opinion: Why You Shouldn't Care What the Pros Ride

Jun 22, 2022
by Seb Stott  
Yeti Rocky Mountain and Nuke Proof were the top teams on the day.
The winning bike must be the best bike, right?


The phrase "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" is a cliché for a reason. It's tempting to think that if a bike is good enough to perform at the top level, it must be a good bike. If it's winning races, it must be really good.

But there are a few problems with that line of argument.

For one thing, professional racers are, by definition, paid to ride a particular bike or product. When I've asked racers about the bike and setup they're riding, I think they're remarkably honest - they don't tend to repeat the marketing material or try to sell the bike they're riding - but I think it's harder to be honest with yourself if riding at the absolute limit depends on having absolute faith in your equipment. You'll occasionally hear racers talk about testing things "just to confirm" it's the best it can be, or wanting to stick with what's worked in the past rather than testing different setups with open-minded curiosity about which works best. They have a huge incentive to convince themselves that their setup is giving them every possible advantage.

For this reason, pro racers can be quite conservative with bike choice and setup, and those who are at the top of their game are probably the most conservative - why change if it's working?

Defending champ Jack Moir never quite found the pace this weekend.
Jack Moir back in the mix and third today.
Jack Moir raced last year's bike at the first round of the 2022 EWS, then rode the new bike in a size small at round two.

A case in point would be Jack Moir. The 2021 Enduro World Series champ chose to ride his 2021 race bike for the first round this year, saying he hadn't done enough testing on the 2022 Canyon Strive by the first round. In his vlog, he said that he wanted to make the new bike "as close as I can to the bike I rode last year...to get a comfortable feeling on this bike for the first round," so chose to ride a size small, which has a similar wheelbase and reach to the 2021 size large. That makes sense, given he was riding so well on the old one and he didn't have long to adjust to something radically different before the season started.

But Moir's decision to ride a size small, at 185 cm or 6'1", has a lot of commenters convinced that shorter bikes are better, the trend towards longer bikes is an industry conspiracy, and we'll all be back riding smaller bikes as soon as riders stop being brainwashed and wake up to the #truth.

Well, there are a couple of problems with that. For one thing, there's no way of knowing if Jack Moir, or any other top racer, could have ridden even faster on a different bike, frame size, or setup. That's because, unlike in a scientific experiment, in racing there's no control, no way to test what would have happened if one of those variables were different. Even if someone wins a race by ten seconds, that doesn't tell you if the bike they were riding is any good; for all we know, they might have won by twenty seconds on another bike. Put another way, the race result doesn't tell you anything about the bike because different bikes are ridden by different riders.

Besides, it's not as if every racer is going toward shorter bikes. In downhill, world champ Greg Minnaar is running his V10 about as long as it will go, and even in enduro where a shorter bike is more appropriate given the tight trails and minimal practice, Moir is an outlier.

Greg Minnaar's got his V10 set up pretty lengthy, with a custom headset that adds 5.2mm in reach and slackens the head angle by half a degree, forks fully extended and chainstay in the long setting.

Of course, some professional racers arrange test sessions in the off-season to try out different frame sizes or geometries, swapping back and forth and comparing times. But mountain biking isn't like Formula 1: there are so many variables that can change from one run to the next that it's very hard to determine if one setup is "faster" than another. Besides, a new setup can take a while to get used to - Greg Minnaar said he tried a prototype longer DH bike in the early 2000's (which was significantly shorter than modern bikes) and didn't like it at first, so went back to the even smaller bike. Similarly, it took a surprisingly long time for EWS and downhill racers to embrace 29" wheels after they became viable, considering that now they seem like the obvious choice, at least for tall riders. Or in road cycling, for decades it was taken as read that the narrowest tyres were the fastest, yet we now know that's simply false.

But even if pro racers are able to ride faster on a shorter bike, that doesn't necessarily mean the same's true for the rest of us.

For one thing, most of the top racers have been riding bikes very fast for a very long time. That means their skills and riding style have been honed, at least in part, on bikes which these days would be considered small (any bike built more than five years ago was small by today's standards). This reminds me of an episode of Mythbusters where they were testing the theory that it was possible to swim through syrup as quickly as through water. They initially wanted to use a professional swimmer to test this but found he wasn't able to adapt his technique (which was perfectly optimised for swimming in water) to the unfamiliar fluid. Instead, they recruited an amateur swimmer who was able to swim almost as fast in the thicker liquid by adapting his technique to take advantage of having more to push against. In case you can't see where I'm going with this, I suspect that pro racers, particularly those who have been competing at a high level for a long time, are less able to adjust to a new style of geometry than those of us learning these skills from a relatively blank slate.

Also, pro riders are able to ride stiffer suspension without getting fatigued. Stiffer suspension makes the bike chassis more stable (there's less pitching and diving during braking or weight transfers) and this may reduce the benefit of a longer wheelbase. I once had the pleasure of riding Gee Atherton's enduro bike, which I believe had around a 480 mm reach and 1,280 mm wheelbase (roughly). I was able to ride it okay, but with his suspension settings it was too firm and harsh for me to do multiple laps, and with softer suspension, it felt a little unstable for my liking. Not terrible, but noticeably more prone to pitching than bikes with 1,300 mm+ wheelbase.

Not all pros are running firm suspension, as this interview with Innes Graham illustrated, but pro riders are also far more skilled at keeping their body weight at just the right point between the wheels than the average Joe or Jill. Watching the Tweed Valley EWS from the sidelines, it was interesting to see how the fastest riders' bikes remained incredibly level through sections of intense braking or changes of gradient, while the merely "fast" riders bikes were pitching and moving more erratically. Ben Cathro discusses the skills needed to keep the bike level and settled while getting on and off the brakes in the below video. I'm not for a second saying that a longer bike is a substitute for these skills, but that a very experienced rider may be able to get away with a shorter wheelbase without feeling like the bike is pitching and unstable, while a less skilled rider may benefit more from extra stability.


What's the bottom line?

To be clear, I'm not trying to convince you that you need a longer bike. I'm only arguing against the reasoning which goes: "rider X has downsized, therefore smaller bikes are better." It's just fundamentally impossible to separate the effect of the bike from that of the rider when it comes to race results - some racers may be conservative with new trends, and what works for a top athlete may be quite different to what's ideal for you or me. So try out as many different bike geometries as you can and ride whatever works best for you, or just be happy with whatever bike you've got. But don't try to justify your geometry theories or bike choices based on what your favourite racer is using.





307 Comments

  • 270 5
 Reasons that should influence what bike you buy. 1. It does what you want it to do. 2. It looks really fuckin cool.....thats it. Thats all there is. Everything else is extraneous bullshit.
  • 147 2
 3. You have reason to believe it won’t break for your usage.
  • 246 1
 4. It's available.
  • 129 3
 @NoahColorado: 5. You can afford it without taking out a loan.
  • 39 81
flag BornOnTwo (Jun 22, 2022 at 12:46) (Below Threshold)
 6 It has a high pivot Wink
  • 37 79
flag intensecp (Jun 22, 2022 at 13:03) (Below Threshold)
 7. It's a mullet
  • 124 9
 8. It's got a water bottle cage.
  • 155 13
 9. It looks like a Session
  • 121 5
 @pushmongo: 10. Has at least 3 new standards to prevent you using your current wheels and drivetrain.
  • 6 73
flag Monkeyass (Jun 22, 2022 at 13:38) (Below Threshold)
 11. Its a Pole
  • 13 79
flag americandentalassociation (Jun 22, 2022 at 13:39) (Below Threshold)
 K. It's a Yeti (Santa Cruz is cool too)
  • 58 16
 11. it has the cables routed trough the headset ;oP
  • 7 41
flag radgetzoff (Jun 22, 2022 at 13:46) (Below Threshold)
 8. Holds a bottle
  • 57 6
 12. Has the ability to refresh, so not to feckup the counting
  • 24 31
flag hamncheez (Jun 22, 2022 at 13:49) (Below Threshold)
 "It does what you want it to do"

How do you know without essentially buying one and riding it for a month? Thats kinda the point of watching pros- I want to go fast, so I look at what Moir or Rude is riding for guidance on what bikes are speed optimized. I want to climb like a demon, so perhaps I look at what Flückiger is on. Perhaps I love a playful steed, thats comfortable on big jumps but isn't a chore to throw around. I might see what bike Semenuk is on and investigate his setup.

DH bikes don't really sell much anymore, but its where the technology is innovated, tested, and proven. I love my single pivot, and in the past I haven't been convinced that multipivots are worth the extra complexity. However, Commencal has been going scorched earth on the DH scene lately; maybe there is something to their 6 bar and I should investigate further?

TL;DR: its hard to know what a bike does without riding it or seeing others ride it.
  • 48 4
 13. It matches your Pit Viper kit
  • 26 1
 99. Because you're wife said she'd be pissed if you bought another bike
  • 72 4
 14. Has a BMX background.
  • 54 27
 15. It's not a specialized.
  • 21 0
 @hamncheez: If you look at others, you will see a bike that does what THEY want it to do. I think that is the point @sebb-stott is trying to make. I prefer to look at my peers instead of the pros to see what might be right for me.
  • 3 0
 Agreed.... Ride as much variety as you can get your hands on and buy what you like best.
  • 4 4
 @hamncheez: agreed, I'd say it takes a few months of riding a bike to really know.....we can cut through some of that BS by looking at pro setups....
  • 11 1
 @hamncheez: totally agree on the difficulty of assessing "It does what you want it to do"

I'd like to see a poll for the number of us who've bought bikes without a test ride, only after a test ride, and stats on how many folks have decided not to buy a bike only after test riding. I'd wager too many folks buy a bike after reading reviews and maybe checking reach, weight, BB height, and chainstay length. And bottle fitment, lol.
  • 8 1
 This thread is the comment of the year
  • 1 0
 @Davidsym: No, everything breaks. Eventually.
  • 6 3
 @ACree: 16: internal frame storage
  • 7 7
 @chrod: 2018 YT Capra 29 AL owner here. I bought mine without a test ride. However, I was riding a 2015 Specialized Enduro 29 prior to making the purchase. Since the suspension design was mostly the same and the Capra had the geo that I wanted, I felt it was going to be minimal risk that i wouldn't like the bike. The biggest risk was fit. Based on the numbers, I thought I wanted a medium, but the size chart had me on a large. After chatting with the folks at YT, I took the risk on a large.

I'm still riding the Capra, but really eyeballing the Stumpy Evo Alloy. I currently have my capra set up with the same geo settings I would use on the Evo, but I really want bottle fitment and frame storage. Big Grin
  • 4 12
flag pen9-wy (Jun 22, 2022 at 22:59) (Below Threshold)
 @jojotherider1977: cool story
  • 1 0
 @NoahColorado: Put it into no. 1.
  • 16 0
 yeah it wasn't obvious after buying my Madone why I wasn't as fast as the USPS team, it all become clear later though
  • 2 0
 566. Has a threaded BB, But mostly as @wilsonians says it looks cool
  • 4 1
 i would like to congratulate @wilsonians for creating a delightful and amusing pinkbike reply thread - well done!
  • 3 0
 The actual Nr.1 reason that people should buy a specific bike for is the sizing and geometry. Nothing will be more fun and engaging than a bike that fits your proportions perfectly. Every consideration other than sizing is secondary at best.
  • 200 1
 dont ever trust the opinion of the pros, designers, friends, or family. only trust the comments section, weighted of course towards who answers first and/or uses the most capitalized letters.
  • 6 1
 Only comments about how a bike looks matter. Who cares how well it works?!
  • 13 3
 mY BykE Is tHe beSt!
  • 10 4
 I only trust cryptic symbolism found in dreams
  • 13 1
 Don't forget to watch two or three contradicting youtube reviews
  • 4 2
 @hamncheez: sure i wont be the first not to be surprised
  • 4 0
 LOUD NOISES!!!
  • 45 1
 I think another thing to consider in Jack's case is that he's got fairly long legs and short arms for his height, which I don't think gets considered enough in bike sizing. But l agree with most of the points in this article.
  • 177 1
 Yes, people forget that a shark ate both his forearms, but that a skilled team of doctors were able to sew donor hands directly to his elbows.
  • 20 0
 Also he’s mentioned a lot of times he likes the larger frame at home doing laps on local trails and parks. He chose the smaller especially for EWS races in Europe. Probably same with this year’s rig.

And if one is to follow what top riders use, should I go for 780 mm bar as some or 720 bar as Innes Graham? Or Moir’s 760?
  • 16 3
 @NoahColorado: Totally did not know about this.
  • 19 1
 Wingspan is the most overlooked metric when it comes to bike sizing
  • 14 0
 I learned today that I'm the same height as Jack (I thought he was more like 190cm).

But I've got the same "problem" that he has. I've got a 36.5in (~92.7cm) inseam, which is pretty long for my height. Thus, I've found I'm relatively more sensitive to stack height (because even if I hinge at the hips, my hips are higher than avg, so I need stack height to match). And you can see that in his bikes where he massively increases stack height.

Conversely, I've got a buddy who while shorter than me (5'8", or ~173cm) is apparently all torso, with a negative ape index. He's got like 28in (71cm) inseam. So a frame that fits him well looks proportionally very different to one that fits me well.
  • 3 0
 @NoahColorado: Yes! that gave me a good laugh.
  • 4 0
 @ocnlogan: Very recognizable, I am also at the all-limbs-no-torso end of the scale. Bike reviews hardly ever touch on this, they seldom let different people with different e dimensions rise it and comment on how it fits for them.
  • 6 0
 Short arms eh? Do you know this because he shirked his round at the pub? Couldnt reach his pockets to get to his wallet? Such Moi Moi controversy Smile
  • 3 2
 @ak-77: yeah, as an opposite (6 ft tall, 30 inch inseam), I dislike the PB-driven geo dogma. I feel like it's disseminated out to the point where everyone online thinks that long fronts need long chainstays, and everybody needs a long seat tube.
  • 3 0
 @Arierep: I'm very interested if we will see a development in future years with a reach to wingspan ratio and inseam to stack ratio. Further complicating and distressing consumers to the point of total exhaustion when considering their next bicycle.
  • 2 0
 Long legs and short arms? Thinking of a T-Rex on a bike now.
  • 2 0
 @sorrymissjackson: we need Jack to ride in the T-Rex suit now !
  • 2 2
 @ocnlogan: I'm not your friend but that's also me. On medium bikes, at 173cm, I look like a circus bear on a childrens trike bike. So, I ride a large and that's it. Everyone I meet tells me that I'm on the wrong size bike.. but, for me it is what it is.
  • 2 0
 @Arierep: Inseam lenght and spine flexibility: Hold our beers.
  • 4 1
 @kiisseli: The short bar trend was created by the dark and all powerful bike industry cabal in an attempt to get us all to cut our bars down to 680, realize we've gone too far, and subsequently need to purchase new OneUp carbon bars to get back to a reasonable length.

wAkE uP sHeEpLe
  • 2 0
 @NoahColorado: helps him with arm pump
  • 46 1
 If I learned anything about mtb, it's that if you're not where you want to be it's 100% the gear's fault and you need a new bike. :-)
  • 11 0
 If I'm not where I want to be I usually think I need a new map.
  • 5 1
 @Linkpin: Or a plane ticket
  • 26 0
 There has been one instance of mimicking pro bike setup that has worked out for me, and that's going down to 760 bars from 780, which made my bike a lot more fun to ride. Some of what they do ends up just being really utilitarian ("I have to ride really fast through tight trees, I need to cut my bars" or "I need to run dh tires so I don't flat") and often runs contrary to what the industry is pushing, so it can be helpful to keep an eye. Still though I agree with the article. Pros are as weird and idiosyncratic as anyone else and it's silly to take anything they do or run as more than an interesting theory to try.
  • 4 0
 This is probably the best take thus far. Knowing a number of pros in 'action' sports, you have as many who are just great hard workers and know how to ride a bike vs. those that are also into bikes on this level.
  • 1 0
 How big of a guy are you? What did you notice most about the ride after cutting the bars down?
  • 2 0
 @Svinyard: Not who you asked, but I’m 5’11 with longer legs than arms and I bought a bike with 760’s and gave it a shot. Turned out I really liked it and felt more comfortable on longer reach geometry than before. I’ve since started running 760’s. I don’t see any downsides for me personally.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: I recently trimmed my bar down to 740 from 760 on my 120mm bike after three years. When it comes to descending...it's not a huge difference. I did notice that the bar will deflect a bit more when hitting something big. It took a couple rides to get used to it. With a slightly shorter bar...the bike feels like it handles a bit better. Out of the saddle pedaling doesn't feel like my arms are spread so far apart. Maneuverability...feels improved when linking turns. I'm 5'8" (~173cm).
  • 2 0
 @Svinyard: 5' 11" on an s4 Enduro. Just makes leaning the bike and dipping and diving through tight trails much more fun. Haven't lost much stability on wide open sections.
  • 2 0
 @Svinyard: I'm 6' and have been running 760's for a few years. Wide bars make my shoulders uncomfortable and don't allow me to maneuver the bike as well. You also need to take stem length into consideration. Stem length and bar width work in tandem to impact handling feel.
  • 1 0
 @abtcup: Your shorter bar will not deflect more than the longer one given it is the same bar and same impact force. Bending stiffness is determined by material properties and second moment of area. A cut down bar has the same material properties as the longer and the cross sectional geometry is the same, you have simply reduced the lever arm length at which the load is applied by your arms. The bending moment is reduced as is the deflection.
  • 6 0
 @kleinschuster:
I think he meant that the shorter bar transfers stronger steering input to his hands, thus deflecting them from the position he wants them to be.
but don't mind me, keep ranting
  • 1 2
 @whoopsy: Possibly, that wasn't my interpretation of the terminology used. I don't think I was ranting, simply explaining what actually affects bar bending stiffness/deflection. Steering torque and reaction forces to the handlebars are obviously inversely proportional to bar width due to same lever arm relationship. The ~1% difference in lever arm length from 760 to 780 is likely tough to discern by most riders. I think HTA and fork offset will play much larger roles in steering feel and impact reactions than bar width. Party on with whatever bar width makes you feel most comfortable!
  • 1 0
 I'm 6'2" wingspan is the same and my bars are 770, any wider and I feel locked into the front of the bike, can't get the same bike body separation. I could see for someone who doesn't control weighting their front wheel this could be a benefit.
  • 30 2
 Uhhhh. Talent trumps gear? What a concept...
  • 3 0
 Nope. The concept is: if you have more skills, you will want different gear. Not that talent doesn't trump gear in most cases. But that's not the concept here.
  • 38 14
 I think the pros know it better than, our beloved marketing guys and designers!
  • 26 8
 If we can't trust the pros to figure out what makes a good bike, how are we supposed to trust bike reviewers?
  • 85 4
 @OpeSorryAbootThat, well, most reviewers are able to ride way, way more bikes than a pro will be able to over the course of a year. That's how we're able to compare a Slash to an Enduro, or a Stumpjumper to a Spur - by riding multiple different models from different brands.

If you're a pro that's sponsored by company X, you're going to be riding one particular bike, and modifying it however you can to make it feel right.

Of course, test riding a bike is obviously the best way to see if it'll work for you, and it's good to take reviews with a grain of salt, since the tester's riding style and preferences may not match yours.
  • 27 0
 @OpeSorryAbootThat: you can't ride like a pro, so it's irrelevant what they do, that's the whole point
  • 7 0
 Pros ride what they get-the best can have a positive influence on design (Schurter's input has resulted in waaaaay better geometry for Scott's XC race bikes) but that's not always true.
  • 16 1
 @mikekazimer: yeah but you guys only get to typically ride one size of that bike that your are sent. The pros get to ride whatever size they want and are at times included in the product development cycle/testing as well with prototypes etc etc.

This article isn’t about which bike is best, which you guys test a bit. It’s about which size is best (particularly for downhill standing), and you guys don’t test that significantly.
  • 32 0
 @Svinyard, there's an article on the way where Seb does exactly what you're talking about - look for that in the next week or two.
  • 15 1
 @mikekazimer: for me it takes weeks if not months to dial in a bike, test rides are fun but rarely inform a buyer on long term performance.

Just look at all the chatter on the forums.....guys gets bike, stoked and it's the best bike he's ever ridden then 2-3 months later he starts asking questions about it, then a few weeks later it's on the PB Market.

that's where looking at pro setups, with a gain of salt, can help, they ride these bikes and optimize them....it can help illustrate how to set up a bike if you ride sim terrain as them and are of sim build.

Many amateur guys do whacky stuff in the name of performance as they have no clue WTF they are doing.
  • 9 1
 @RadBartTaylor: I feel attacked by this comment

Just look at all the chatter on the forums.....guys gets bike, stoked and it's the best bike he's ever ridden then 2-3 months later he starts asking questions about it, then a few weeks later it's on the PB Market.
  • 4 1
 @adespotoskyli: following that line of argument to the logical end - next question - why sponsor/pay pros $$$$ in the first place if no one cares what they are riding on? At the end of the day, I don't necessarily agree with this line of argument. If someone comes up with a better design/linkage etc - ultimately the races are where you prove it (either that or some pinkbike test a la grim donut)
  • 3 0
 @trillot: Define 'better' in your post. Because what is better for you is not necessarily better for me. Or for Minnaar, Rude or Schurter. And sponsoring pros still make sense because people will care even if it's not relevant to their own riding experience.
  • 1 2
 @mikekazimer: is there anyone here that thought that Matt Beer lacked credibility when he started working for pinkbike? Lack of experience somehow? I understand your point of view Kaz, I just think there's another side to this story. Love all your work, and really enjoy your presence in the comments! Thx.
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: very cool. Let’s hope it’s better than Enduro Mags version where they used actual pros bikes (jacks included) on a pro ews track…AND they included quite a few test riders. It’ll be interesting to investigate geometry realities with a decent sample size beyond just Seb and a buddy. Geometry is at an inflection point and best to shed some light on it.
  • 2 0
 @Svinyard: I’d say the best pro-level reference is the non-factory riders. They don’t get a bunch of bikes each year and they’re usually not on proto gear. What they run is of course what is comfortable but also what they deem fastest.
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Quite right. And I find you get used to a set up and ride it happily you're going along one day and notice your sore hands after a long descent and start thinking about tweaking your fork a bit. You mess around a bit and suddenly your bike feels a whole lot better. I'd imagine the pros have it far easier with this kind of thing. Think GM and his mechanic. Still doesn't mean their bike or setting would help you as a part time rider.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: do you have a link to that?
  • 4 2
 @mikekazimer: It depends on who the reviewer is. Seb’s a big gangly bike guy and I’m not so I’m generally not going to pay much attention to his reviews. The pro’s lead the way, they show everyone else what’s possible and how they did it. I’ll rarely listen to what they have to say about whatever brand they’re currently being paid to promote but I’m watching like a hawk when it comes to how they set their bikes up, body positions, how they’re getting their bikes to respond how they do etc because that’s how you progress. You’re always going to learn more from someone that’s good at riding bikes than you will from someone that’s good at writing about riding bikes.
  • 1 0
 @trillot: for the same reason you can't drive a rally car like loeb, a trophy truck like menzies and a f1 like hamilton, the attention you seem to give to the top pros is what matters when brands need to sell their stuff, image is far more important than actual performance in many cases, like jim clark, he used to win on anything with round, rectagular or all of them missing on sub par cars
  • 1 0
 @Reno233: so much this - I'd like to see bike checks on what the fastest weekend warriors are riding. Perhaps focus on EWS qualifiers or something
  • 5 1
 @CleanZine: Someone needs to beat this level of due diligence with decent sample:

enduro-mtb.com/en/enduro-race-bike-mtb-review/#toc_erkenntnisse

Jack, Maes, Rude, Remy…the list goes on Seb, of guys riding shorter bikes. And don’t tell us “oh that track had lots of turns” lol, it’s MTBing, there are lots of turns.

From enduro conclusions:
“Not only did the shorter bikes record faster times, they also allowed our test riders to change direction more quickly and position themselves better before corners to carry their speed through them. On top of that, the agile handling of compact bikes is usually more fun. Anyone who thinks that these bikes aren’t composed at high speeds can rest assured: handling stability is heavily determined by the suspension and all the bikes on test performed brilliantly in this regard.”
  • 3 1
 @Svinyard: He’s not totally wrong though. These massive, long, 29’ers are super easy to ride. If you’re the kind of rider that’s just started out or not that confident and it’s just a case of getting down the trail without dying then a massive bike is a good call. They slow everything down, feel super stable and super confidence inspiring and get riders down stuff they might have walked on something else. If you’re at a point where it’s not about making it down the trail in one piece but making it down the trail as fast as possible then you don’t need the assistance of a long bike. You need a bike that’s capable of reacting as fast as the rider can, take all the sniper lines. So I needs to be smaller and more responsive.
  • 3 1
 @thenotoriousmic: Maybe, but the first thing new riders struggle with is...turns. A giant bike doesn't make that easier. However you are correct and I don't disagree. I don't think one is wrong and one is right...I think its a pros/cons sort of thing. The problem is that it isn't framed that way, its constantly like "oh ignore that man behind the curtain...with the not-trendy-long bike" kind of thing. Sure the long bike is a comfortable crutch and I'd take one but the idea of a more typical bike length as being "wrong" or an oddity or the pros usage not being for the regular riders...I don't think that's legit. And I don't like all the hand waiving either with zero evidence produced too. Heck PB did a enduro test...guess which was fastest for Beer? The short Capra lol. Not that Lincoln of a Norco Range. But that was hand waived away because the Lincoln was more comfortable?
  • 16 0
 Isn't the reason EWS riders need to go with a shorter wheelbase because the tracks are filled with tight turns & switch backs? Of course a DH bike can just get longer when the track is built completely different.

If you're a local racer that also rides enduro tracks with switchbacks etc, then you probably will be faster on a shorter bike too.... If you're not racing on tight tracks then go as long as you want... it's that simple.

Seems like a lot of these "don't do what the pros do" articles miss the point - especially that recent GMBN video...
  • 14 0
 I saw that GMBN video and thought it was crap. A lot of the "things the pros do" are helpful elements of setup that I have adopted with good result.
  • 3 0
 Yep simple! Know your purpose and got the bike for it, then put that in balance with your riding style. We have to choose a compromise (one bike) , the pros don't have this issue.
  • 5 0
 @MT36: completely agree, the whole "don't cut your bars shorter".. I got a hard time believing 800 or 820 wide bars are ideal for most people on an enduro/trail bike.
  • 8 0
 @MT36: that gmbn video pretty much listed all the things from pros setups that the average rider should copy. Most people end up running their bars too wide, with suspension too soft on bikes the wrong size for them. Bigger rotors increase power and modulation, and heavier tires protect the rims better than a lighter tire, and last longer on rocky trails. I’m not really surprised though their content has been going downhill ever since Scott Laughland left.
  • 3 0
 @TheSlayer99: This x100. Just fixing those few things would help so many riders.
  • 5 0
 @TheSlayer99: Their target audience is not us. It is the masses of people just dabbling in the sport, young first year riders or casual weekend warriors. The video is pretty much saying you don't have to spend more money to immediately update the lowest priced option bike you bought off the floor. Honestly that is true for most people. But, as people get more into the sport I completely agree that every single point they made is actually something that will improve your ride and performance.
  • 6 1
 GMBN is the worst MTB industry shill media.
  • 1 1
 @onetrykid: Bummer too. I think it was about 4-7 years ago I watched it and liked it. Especially vids on maintenance were good.
  • 15 0
 Custom linkages, revalved suspension, custom shim stacks, bushing burnishing, prototype tread patterns/durometers and hours upon hours of analytics are just a few things you wont see on your $10000+ out of the shop 'I care what the pros ride' bike.
  • 15 1
 I don't care what anyone else rides, I try to choose bikes/geometry that work *for me*. I did size down for my latest bike (a hardtail) from a medium to a small. It doesn't feel quite as stable as my longer bikes, but sure is fun to ride!
  • 4 0
 good point. pro riders are paid to be fast - but riding faster doesn't necessarily mean having more fun.
  • 13 0
 Fit is an interesting topic. I remember reading that Richie Rude was faster on a medium than a large and there was a test in Enduro magazine that said so-and-so was faster on a smaller frame.
From personal experience I've learned that I go faster on longer frames and I believe it's because I need stability to feel comfortable going fast at the limit.
I have no trouble believing that pros can go much faster then I can with much less stability. I also believe they can use that ability to take advantage of a shorter faster turning bike.
I'm 5-11 with very long legs and currently on a large with a 489 reach. I rode an Xl with a 510 reach and liked it more. I know it's too big for me according to current practice but I had no trouble turning it and can't find any other downside.
The next can of worms to open is, if a longer, more stable and faster bike is more fun for a non-racer like me?
  • 3 0
 I think everyone's idea of fun is different, I'm a little taller than you and got a bike with 490 reach and 29" wheels and it felt like cheating, made the trails easier in a way that felt boring. It made some really scary trails less scary - that was fun. Also felt more likely to wash out the front end compared to a 27.5 or shorter reach bike
  • 3 0
 @Dogl0rd: fun is where the trail matches your skills and confidence well.

Maybe those scary trails your big bike made fun are what @Artnshel rides every day. Or maybe you're noticeably more skilled so you need less bike or more trail to hit that fun sweet spot.
  • 1 0
 Re: bigger bikes, see the top comment.
  • 4 1
 If you're riding more wide-open bikeparky trails with high-speeds then a long bike is going to feel stable. If you're riding technical trails where you have to be quite dynamic on the bike then that reach is going to be cumbersome. EWS trails are technical so riders need the right equipment for the job. No one's going to be winning an EWS on a long (relative to their size) bike any time soon unless the courses change to bikepark style runs (Which would be terrible for EWS).
  • 3 1
 One argument with the pros is this: Bike length is a compromise between stabiliy at speed and cornering/line change capabilities. Pro Racers need both. However, bike length isn't the only way to increase stability, suspension can do this as well. So the Pros choose to optimize frame size for cornering and get the necessariy stability from suspension.
  • 3 0
 @Ttimer: Suspension is one way to increase stability, but also just sheer strength and fitness. With narrow bars and a short bike, rocks and roots will deflect your wheels much more and you don't have as much leverage to fight back. But, if its your job and you train specifically for this type of racing then you can hold on in those high speed rough situations, then gain time in the tight sections where your small bike makes a difference. Carrying speed through corners is where you win and lose races, so making your bike set up for that should be the number one priority even if it slightly compromises your bike in other areas.
  • 2 1
 I’m built very similar, however am downsizing on new bikes. The maneuverability makes the bike feel more stable in the corners which is where speed is made up (and fun). A longer bike is a slower bike when trail riding.
  • 3 0
 Definitely. For most riders, having a stable bike is more fun because it is less dangerous, and it is hard to have fun if you are concerned for your safety too much. This is mountain biking of course, so people have varying degrees where they lie on that "how much danger is still fun?" sort of spectrum.

For a pro, winning is fun. Plus, if you have world class bike handling skills, a more maneuverable bike is going to be faster on technical courses. What feels like a sketchy bike to a normal rider, to a pro, is going to be a bike they can throw around, jump and corner more dynamically with. This is essential when you travel the world, riding trails that are largely or wholly unfamiliar and a lot of line choice is done on the fly.
  • 2 0
 @MT36: Agreed. I run a longer bike because I don't have the strength nor the skills to make a smaller and possibly stiffer bike work. I like going fast and jumping, but finding the absolute limits of the bike or my skills are long in my past. My long bike with soft suspension is the equivalent of an old guy buying the big, comfy Cadillac. I'm old, so the bike works for me.
  • 17 2
 People race mountain bikes?
  • 3 0
 Me at a MTB race, "You guys are getting paid?"
  • 8 0
 I feel like something that gets overlooked too often is the cumulative "feel" of a bike- how geometry, suspension kinematics, setup and even things like tire choices affect the overall ride. Yes, this is impossible to actually quantify, so it's a little bit of nonsense, but I think it matters.

What I'm trying to get at is that 2 bikes with identical geometry could ride vastly differently if one had a different suspension platform, or a coil shock, maybe even a different brand of suspension. How geometry and design correlate is arguably more important that either one of those in isolation- a steeper head-angled bike that rides deep in it's travel will feel slacker than it is on paper. Think how different your bike can feel with new tires or a different rise bar- it's huge. A bike is a system in which parts work together to operate as a whole- pros may be better at building an intentionally imbalanced system that allows them to play to their strengths, but for ordinary riders its about the right balance.

I guess where I'm going is that trying to distill it to "do x" or "rider y did this" misses the point- you can get close by picking a vaguely correct frame and spec, but setup will define if it actually works for you.
  • 1 0
 I just rode a Hardtail for 2 years just because balancing out the factors was much easier than on my previous fs, back on a Fs now, its fun but still not there after 1 year.
  • 8 0
 Jack even mentioned pretty clearly that for familiar trails back home he rides a larger frame. Last second twists and turns riding unfamiliar courses at speed justify the smaller bike.
  • 2 0
 Larger... So a medium?
  • 7 0
 I get he sentiment of this article but isn't this a circular argument? We're all riding longer bikes because back when they were shorter, pros started experimenting with longer bikes and when we were riding 27.5 (or 26 for that matter) pros started using 29ers. If pros start riding smaller bikes, the companies will start selling smaller bikes, and we'll all be riding them because that's what's available. Just ask the 26er die hards about how hard it is to source parts....
  • 16 6
 Don’t know, don’t care.
  • 6 0
 Don't forget the trails that are ridden, dh is much faster than ews so they need a longer bike, ews tends to be tighter so shorter bikes are better. What kind of trails do you ride?.....get a bike for those.
  • 4 1
 Funnily enough, I ride my longer bike faster in the tight, twisty spots of the trails than I used to with my previous not so long bike, it must be tgat it was just a crappy bike overall I guess.
  • 2 1
 @adespotoskyli: there’s more to geo than length
  • 2 0
 @adespotoskyli: ya I had a privateer 161 that was fast as long as you rode it fast, hand full when slow though. I have a banshee prime now that I like better, more conservative geo and better suspension. Does most things better for me.
  • 1 0
 @joelsman: I went from the jeffsy to the 161, and yes the superdupercrap rs shock on the privateer doesn't compliment the bike, I run a topaz now and it's nothing like the rockshite it came with. Test rode a banshee prime and it was really good but the frame only price of the 161 won me over. How's the two compare? I indeed found the banshee more supple but in the chunk the x2 was shite.
  • 2 0
 @nvranka: indeed, longer, slacker and lower and still ride better in the tight spots, wonder what might be the issue.
  • 6 0
 Out of the many differences between a pro rider and myself, one of the main factors to consider is that a pro racer is choosing a bike to the absolute fastest, while pure speed is much lower on my list of bike priorities.
  • 5 0
 I think reach got really long on trail bikes to provide stability when head tube angles weren’t super slack yet. Now that head tube angles are getting pretty slack I think reach could be dialed back slightly but as a tall guy I’m super glad bikes have grown in the last 5 years.
  • 9 1
 It's all in the engine and ecu...
  • 5 0
 I’m 6’1 and prefer my 485mm reach 27.5 scout to anything longer or bigger wheeled I’ve ridden. Yes, a longer bike may be more stable, but its harder to throw around the trail to gap the bumps that slow you down...
  • 5 0
 I concur... 6ft and prefer a 465- 470 reach and prefer a wheel base closer to 1200mm than 1300mm. The wheel base is the bigger issue though. On long bikes, I feel like the there is a significant delay in what the front end experiences and the rear end finally experiences. Like I'm dragging a caboose or trailer behind me. Turns, gaps, drops even roots and rocks.
  • 2 0
 485 is still pretty long for your height, assuming you have reasonably standard proportions. 480mm reach was an XL frame only a few years ago.
  • 1 0
 @PhillipJ:
I have ridden 505mm reach bikes - can ride easily, amazing straight lining, but I’m way slower in the corners.

I’ve had plenty of 455-470mm reach bikes, super playful, and at the time, didn’t know any different, put some of my fastest times down on them. But as I moved to a slightly longer reach it gave me more confidence to hit steeper stuff faster. I’ve settled on 480-485mm :-)
  • 7 0
 I buy bikes that pro riders ride because those companies are keeping the sport I love alive.
  • 3 1
 No they aren't. If racing stopped riding would continue. In any sport participation comes first and competitions come after.
  • 3 1
 @iamamodel: but racing is awesome
  • 3 1
 @iamamodel: I love watching downhill racing bud. That's my sport. My weekend riding activities are a pqssion and a hobby.
  • 3 2
 @jtorrento: Me too. I'm not saying racing shouldn't exist, I'm saying it doesn't keep the sport alive which is what you wrote. If racing stopped mountain biking would continue.
  • 4 0
 Something that you need to read between the lines on, from reviews and pros: ownership experience.

If a bike is being annoying in some way to you, maybe due to imperfections in manufacturing, that can be a huge turn-off. Canyon and YT seemingly are notorious for this, despite looking great on paper and in reviews. Santa Cruz seems to deliver a no-hassle easy-to-live with experience, in contrast.

How much is this worth though? Santa Cruz seems to charge like $800+ extra for this peace of mind, compared to the competition.

Regarding different sizes performing better, I'd say that's an issue with chainstay lengths not being proportional with front-center length. If I weren't afraid of BB creak, I'd be interested in a "Ride-9" style system for the BB section, to tune CS length and BB height, which would also affect effective STA, stack, and reach. Tunable dropouts could be an alternative too, but that would compromise rear susp kinematics.
  • 2 0
 Ride9 is very interesting. We have a couple of these. No creaks and nice bearings for the rear eyelets (pain to get out tho). The intetesting part is that it changes the travel a decent amount. Rocky doesn’t publish that but when modeled in suspension software, the travel will swing 10-15mm in one way or the other along with the progression etc. One of the reasons why position 3 is so nice…it’s got more travel and isn’t Uber progressive. It’s kind of like being able to have a customizable cascade link. Couple that with a Wolftooth headset if need be and it’s pretty cool if doing drastically different things with the bike or swapping to a coil where you need the progression. That said, I’d probably rather have some DWLink or Canfield suspension design maybe.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: After countless hours of nerding out on linkage and of course riding bikes, i could not support this more, especially DW and Balance are the best stuff out there. The Pivot Firebird and the Canfield Lithium are insanely well thought out. Maybe some day ill get one of those.
  • 1 0
 The price difference between SC and Canyon may be $800 in the US, but in places like Australia the value proposition is much more strongly in favour of the canyon.
E.g for the same price you pay for a SC Megatower C with GX, Float 36 Performance and RaceFace AR30 rims on 370 hubs, you get a Strive CFR with full XTR, Fox Factory 38s and DT511 on 350 hubs.
A more equivalent build in the Strive (XT, Fox 38 performance elite) is nearly 25% cheaper than the Megatower.
My friend has had a couple of warranty claims on the wheels from his strive and Canyon have been a bit slow but otherwise OK. Santa Cruz have been brilliant with bearing replacements for my other friend’s Tallboy, but on the downside that bike has needed the bearings replaced about every 8 months. Personally I’d much rather pay to have bearings replaced once every 5 years like I did on my old bike than have it in the shop for a week 7 times at no charge.
  • 1 0
 @dsut4392: I think it also comes down to how long you hold onto a bike. I spent a whole lot of time replacing bearings and bushings and eventually cracking frames on all the bikes I owned until I got a Santa Cruz. It’s lasted 7 years of hard riding since then, and the frame is in as good condition as when it was new. I’d happily pay an extra grand for that QC, good service (have been able to get fresh bearings and small parts wherever in the world I happened to be) and peace of mind. Granted, their new price increases are a bit ridiculous, but the bikes themselves are really solid.
  • 1 0
 Geometron
  • 5 0
 I'm pretty sure with this article Seb Stott is just trying to justify riding a bike that is just way too loooooong!

Also with this comment I am trying to justify liking bikes that are (a little) too short.
  • 5 1
 I am 183, used to run a Large Yeti SB150, had it for two years. Got it warrantied and asked for a medium in stead. 20mm differance in reach but a totally different bike, and in most cases noticeably better. But much of this is because the front and rear center is much more balanced, where with the large it was harder to get the same preassure on the front wheel.

Also, was super stoked when Seb joined Pinkbike after his videos on other platforms. Not so stoked anymore, almost every technical article is just him trying to find some science or math to explain his opinions, often not relevant to the way we ride bikes. The center of gravity one being the most obvious of these...

This one, basically saying that Jack would probably go faster on a differnent sized bike is like... what the f*ck man. Their job is to go as fast as possible, dont you think they try everything to get there? In Jacks case he has said in several interviews and on his own channel through the years that he prefers running a longer bike for downhill, but because of the tight and changable nature of EWS in europe he runs a shorter bike and narrower bars because it is faster for him. Then hes start comparing EWS to WC Downhill when he sais not everyone is running a shortish bike, apples to oranges? Richie rude is 6', rides a medium yeti (460 reach), innes graham (in that article you list) is 6' and runs a medium (455 reach with 720mm bar with at that)

Next article will probably be how longer bikes turns better than short ones, oh wait...
  • 1 0
 I also went back to the "normal" lenght of the bike and I'm very happy. When I was riding (I'm 171cm) spesh enduro S3 with reach 464 and wheelbase around 1240 I always felt like front center is too long, couldnt feel tires as I would like to, when I hoped on bike with short front center it was like revelation. I went for small madonna and that bike feels so much better for my height, it is balanced and natural but you can move around etc. in long bike I felt like Im locked in one position.
  • 1 0
 Yeah man the article is legit just circular logic comparing apples to oranges.

Downhill has been chasing the damn rabbit hole while snorting copious amounts of crack with the obsession for bikes to be as long as physically possible but then also stuffing small back wheels into them… cos… oh no shock horror my 2metre wheelbase bike doesn’t turn corners very well and feels like trying to ride a limousine… who’d have thought!

Sizing has gone dumb as shit, especially in the reach department, few manufacturers are actually balancing the geometry for all sizes and many are making it harder and harder to downsize or size up (looking at you Giant).

Like you want more stability and length for taller riders but you refuse to add chainstay length, instead just make the reach 520mm and call it a day? Do these designers even understand that by doing this nonsense every frame size rides like a different bike? And not in a good way.

I’m 183cm without shoes, but my wingspan is 190-191cm and I’ve got a 35-36” inseam… my ape index is significantly higher than the vast majority of people, long reach bikes (your typical “large” these days) do not feel great to me, bikes that are 455-470 immediately feel better to me just from a carpark test never mind actual riding.

Athertons size guide puts me on a 476 reach, which is the bottom end of most larges now, that’s good, because I’ve ridden bikes at 490+ and my current enduro bike is 488mm… I really don’t like it, to get the bike feeling ok I’ve had to run a super short 35mm stem and as much stack height as my steerer tube allows… it still only feels decent when your riding the bike like you stole it on flat out open tracks, the second you are trying to chill at a slower pace or need agility its a total pig to ride.

By comparison, my DH bike is 440 reach and feels great, when it’s time to buy a new DH bike or Enduro bike I’ll be sticking to 460-470 reach max.
  • 9 2
 Choose a geometry and be a dick about it
  • 2 0
 This has basically been it since the Great Wheel Size War was won, apart from the occasional mullet-related skirmish, obvs.
  • 10 4
 Don't listen to pro's, listen to industry shill media and the marketing department instead.
  • 6 3
 I see the comment about "test lots of bikes and pick what works best" at the end, but everything you wrote before that is an attempt to discredit anyone who would question the ever-lengthening bike geometry trend. If a racer downsizing their bike influences someone to try a shorter bike then current trends or recommendations would dictate, is that really such a bad, dangerous thing? This feels like a rebuttal to something that's a complete non-issue.
  • 1 0
 Exactly. Is it so hard to imagine that some riders (even pros) may not want the longest lowest or slackest bike out there?
  • 3 0
 That the bike itself doesn't matter that much for the pros can also be inferred from the fact that each season, the competing bike designs are between zero and four years old.
According to marketing, the "next model year" bike should be sooo much faster than a four year old design. But it never is.
  • 3 0
 "..or just be happy with whatever bike you've got".
If todays pros got good riding 26' wheels / 300mm reach bikes (or something like that) it's gotta be possible for me to get better with my horrendously outdated 2019 geometry, right?
  • 1 0
 Absolutely! I am chucking around my 2012 26' bike until I'm good enough (confident enough!) to justify a new (at least 3 years old) bike!
  • 4 0
 Also if you’ve ever ridden with a pro the way they ride a bike is so different from the way your average rider does that is almost a different sport. Same basically applies to set up.
  • 2 0
 Well put. It's like asking Jack Nicklaus which driver to use for mini-golf.
  • 6 3
 These "don't um ride what the pros ride, tisk, tisk" articles and videos are getting old. Guess what? A boatload of people ride what the pros ride because... these setups ride well and you can use them on big rowdy terrain. What a concept.
  • 6 3
 Have to go against the grain here. I like to support companies that support racing at the highest level. It proves their equipment, R and D, and provides jobs. It gives people a chance to make it racing. I won’t buy a bike brand that isn’t being proven through racing.
  • 2 2
 That must be tough. You have ruled out Bikes Direct, Guerilla Gravity and Evil. There's basically nothing left.
  • 3 0
 I don’t think Minnaar is a good example to counter the ‘pros run shorter bikes’ idea. He’s nearly 6ft 3, so of course he’s going to need a long bike. If Danny Hart or Laurie Greenland were running long reaches then that might make a good argument in their favour, but they don’t, so it doesn’t.

JP
  • 4 1
 What tends to be overlooked is when a specific bike (especially a new design) leads to not one, but several riders/racers dominating races on the same bike. That's usually a sign that said update or new design is actually going to have an impact on everyone's riding.
  • 3 0
 Great article but "But mountain biking isn't like Formula 1: there are so many variables that can change from one run to the next that it's very hard to determine if one setup is "faster" than another." is incorrect as F1 changes from lap to lap and the set up for one driver is not the same for the guy on the other side of the garage driving the same car. Sorry, but while MTB being a mechanically based sport is quite complex, it's not anywhere close to the level of complexity of F1. Maybe as hyperbole the comparison works but not in reality. Not even close.
  • 3 0
 When you look at riders like Danny Hart for example you can see it's not just the length, the reach or any other item, but the overall bike.... and that's VERY rider specific. Danny struggled massively in his final season on the Saracen, despite his team mate winning the Overall. Does that mean Danny was crap and the bike was great ? No, it means for whatever reason Danny couldn't get on with it, as is now being proven by the results he's getting at the moment.
So the take away for normal riders is "it all depends how YOU get on with bike XYZ"... I've owned a few bikes that the industry and mates tell me i should have loved and would be amazing.. But i never got on with them, 3 months in, still running wide. "you need to change your riding style"... yeah right, i'm 50 and struggling to get down the trail, let alone completely change how i ride to accommodate it.
Sometimes we as riders will find a bike and instantly when you sit in it, it feels 'right'. That's not the bike, the industry or the Pro factor... it's just how it feels for that rider on that given day.
  • 3 0
 How about considering where you live and ride, what kind of trails you ride and how you ride them, your own riding skills, then cautiously consider what's written in product reviews by the media and what is written about what pros ride...then relate that back to you and your situation...and then make a decision.
Or go to your favorite local bike shop where you know you'll get good advice on type of bike for the local trails and fit to your size and style, test one or two options and go from there!?
I live in this lovely place called Emmental, in Switzerland, and that's where I mostly ride. Short wheelbase, cut handlebars, maybe even a mullet set up - sounds perfect for me and for the tight, switchbacky trails I mosrly ride. I'd even be happy with 120mm of travel instead of the 140 that I have. But when I decide to go to the bigger mountains once in a long while, I really enjoy the extra 20mm (or more, if I had) and I might be happy with longer wheelbase...but my bike does just fine on those bigger, speedier trails as I'm so used to it.
My bottom line: Not considering what the pros ride (in relation to terrain) is just as foolish as only considering what pros ride. I for one get some affirmation for my own decision to ride a bike that's a bit "small" for my own size, reading that others feel and do the same.
  • 2 0
 What pros do is take the time to get a setup they're comfortable with-a lot of riders don't bother to fuss with their bikes.

Setup varies person-to-person, pro or not. Learn what the dials and knobs on your suspension do, and play with the settings. Maybe try swapping volume spacers. Figure out the ideal tire pressures for the tires you ride.
Get your seat height juuuuust right and sweat your bar position, grips, and controls.


Or not-ride what you have however you want to-but you won't get the most out of your bike (or yourself).
  • 1 0
 Exactly!
  • 6 0
 Are Enduro bikes Enduro bikes if they are too long for Enduro?
  • 4 0
 That's why no one buys enduro bikes anymore. They're too popular.
  • 2 0
 As per protocol, I must state an opinion in the comments section. I find myself not caring for some reason. Maybe it's because I've seen too many short term trends come and go to worry about them or who's following each. Bike's ready to ride. See you guys later.
  • 3 0
 Then why is pinkbike always writing articles about this weeks World Cups “winning bike” if not to convince me that I can only become a World Cup champion if I ride the same setup as the G.O.A.T.?
  • 5 0
 I’ve said for years, that we should pay attention to what the pros ride. I always got the, “they’re pros, they are different.”

I call BS and have worked toward learning more about why they choose what they choose. And the closer I get to that setup, the faster and better I feel.

Hump
  • 8 0
 @HumpDiesel: It's almost like they've discerned what works and what doesn't because it's their job
  • 1 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: No, the IntErNetZ knows better!
  • 2 2
 @TEAM-ROBOT: yup, that's why surf schools have the same size boards as dudes on the pro tour. Right?
  • 1 1
 @PhillipJ: not apples to apples, small boards are hard to ride for a beginner, small bikes are not any harder to ride.....easier in many cases.
  • 2 0
 @PhillipJ: I actually like your surf board example. Pros use shorter boards because they're less stable and more maneuverable, and beginners use longer boards because they're more stable and less maneuverable. Having never surfed, I feel more equipped to know which length surf board to use and why because I know which boards the pros use and why. The title of this article is "Why you shouldn't care what the pros ride," but I think that's a ridiculous claim. There's so much to learn about your bike and the discipline by looking at pro bike setups. Steeper track? Raise your bars. Flatter trails? Put on faster rolling tires and maybe pump up your rear shock. Having trouble keeping air in your tires? Its okay to add rotating weight in the former of heavier tires or inserts, because the fastest people in the world still manage to go fast with heavy wheels and tires. Is it okay to run a different bike setup than your friends? Sam Hill wins on flats, Innes Graham is fast with skinny bars, and Jack Moir rides a really small bike, so yeah, it's okay to do things different. There's so much to learn from pro bike setups, or pro surf boarders, or pro skiers, or anyone who's truly good at their craft. Just because you shouldn't mimic 100% of the things they do doesn't mean "you shouldn't care what the pros ride."
  • 2 0
 Well thought out article as always Seb! This may not be the case though: "It's just fundamentally impossible to separate the effect of the bike from that of the rider when it comes to race results". At an individual level - yes this is probably right, but maybe not on average. If you can measure the common causes (a big if) of race run time and chosen bike frame size (maybe rider skill, how tight the course is etc) you can build a statistical model to remove the effects of the common causes, and then you can estimate the effect of bike size on race time, on average. It's not as good as a proper experiment, but observational studies like this are pretty common, and the more data you have the better. If only trailforks allowed us to input frame size...

Here is a relevant tome: www.cambridge.org/core/books/counterfactuals-and-causal-inference/5CC81E6DF63C5E5A8B88F79D45E1D1B7
  • 3 1
 the other argument for this topic is: Jack moir isnt the only person doing this, 1: All the top Guys are on smaller bikes.
2: EWS courses are more relatable than Greg and a DH bike. 3: commencal making their bike shorter(am into sx) and now making a newer, even shorter prototype.
  • 3 0
 Yeah it was pretty lame to just leave out the broader reality and trend and act like Jack is the outlier here. No to mention Matt Beer tested two of the opposite ends of the spectrum at one point and found the same thing. The Norco Range was more comfy but slower (like a Lincoln) and the Capra was shorter and faster. Everyone always says “oh but the track was twisty”…we’ll WTH is everyone riding? Straight trails or something??

I’m not saying one is better but there is definitely something going on with this and geometry hitting it’s limit for length. I don’t know what the right answer but blindly following the “longer is better because PB said” isn’t true anymore. Enduro Mag guys found the same…you know, when they tested Jacks ACTUAL BIKE on and ACTUAL EWS TRAIL.
  • 2 1
 @Svinyard: For sure, i think Enduro-mtb are the guys to rely on for "realistic" real opinions on bikes and they dont seem to care if they hurt any feels - They are the only reviewers i trust, for me. i didnt buy a Meta am29 because of them and then i was glad as when i demo'd it, i instantly knew why they said what they said.
  • 3 1
 @HeatedRotor: I found the opposite to be true. pb and vital reviews actually go in depth into how a bike rides and behaves, enduro-mtb reviews are 75% going over how the frame looks and then just a few sentences about how it rides, with mostly bro-phrases and some more posing shots for good measure. No actual depth to the reviews, which is in line with the quarter page reviews of the other german magazines like bike or Freeride. Nice to read when you’re on the toilet but I wouldn’t base an actual purchase on them.

Stopped taking them seriously when they complained about exo casings being prone to flats on one review and then whined that DD tires were too hard to pedal up the hill in the next one. Or when they said cable routing through the stem was neat.
  • 1 1
 @Upduro: yeah i do get what you mean about enduromtb, i think it depends on which person there is doing the Review. i there the last sections of their reviews good, like the summary and the small graph showing, xc/trail/enduro/dh - all bikes ive ridden that ive read their reviews on, they are pretty spot on - enduro bikes shouldnt come with EXO tyres/tires - they are ENDURO bikes...not XC/trail bikes. If a trail bike came with DD tyres/tires though id be annoyed as i dont want those on a trail bike either.

I always find PB seem like they are influenced by the Companys and dont really ride on trails that the average person does.
Vital for sure is pretty good but they have some shocking Things, like when they tested 29 vs 27.5 and they used two completely different bikes lol or when they complained at shimano about the brakes on a bike coming poorly bled.
They reviewed the status at a jump park... like come on... one of the vital guys also comes across super arrogant.
  • 1 0
 @Upduro: I really like the reviews from Freeride, mostly because they often test the Bikes around or near my Hometown and I can related to what they say about them for I know the Trails. Thats why for me, Freeride does the best or most relateble reviews even if they are short
  • 2 0
 another reason is i have a fox shock that has factory written on it that has blown first lap and has been warrantied multiple times under a 145 pound rider, clearly we cant buy what the pros ride even when its billed to us as such
  • 2 0
 In the past 5 years my bike has gone from a 45cm reach up to a 51cm reach. Bars went from 74cm to 82cm in the same period. With my 193 height and 201 wingspan I feel like I'm finally on a bike that fits. Longer has been very kind to me.
  • 1 0
 I'm slightly taller than you and went from 52 down to 47.5 reach and 780 down to 750 and I am loving it....different strokes.
  • 2 0
 Pro needs to be the question here - world cup dh , ews enduro or xc racer boy on a bike messaged by WC mechanics that is way different from yours. Or will it be Instagram/ you tube pro - crazy darkside north shore stuff you will never ride or easy/ intermediate flat buff deer trail that you ride but is boring online so no one will post it . How about some old “legend “ that just hypes it all up just to stay in the game? Does his direct to consumer brand have a chance because he figured out a new go pro angle - but you cant swing a leg over it unless you plan your summer around a demo 4-5 hours away on a Thursday for 3 hours ?
In the end Support your local shop - ask them - try a bike or 2 based on there recommendation because more than likely they are going to fix it or modify for you for your needs and they ride the trails you do most of the time. Plus they will support the local trail association/ builders that are more important than gear / pro influence on line.
  • 2 0
 Seb hits the nail on the head here. I have been saying this for a while when we get asked about Longshot geometry. The stiff suspension keeping the shorter platform stable is an interesting point too.

The longer bike is intrinsically stable, so I have been able to run my suspension softer and faster rebound for more grip without it getting out of hand. 10 years ago I was dialing up the rebound to calm the whole bike down.

Plus, amazing riders use the agility of a shorter bike to react and move their bike around trail features. For muggles like me with many many fewer tools in my skills cupboard, having my long wheelbase bike look after me and keep things calmer (and occasionally just be OK ploughing through stuff a pro might be able to skip around/up/over) is a much better proposition for me, and I suspect most riders out there.
  • 1 0
 OR....since we are going so much slower than pros, who downsize their bikes, does the stability really matter for normal dudes riding 1/2 the speed?

I've experimented with long bikes and short bikes, I don't think long bikes are necessarily more stable, it's a package and there are a lot of variables that make a bike stable....I ride my shorter bike which is ~40mm shorter than the longer one I had with same confidence down same trails....with more maneuverability. Being centered on bike with proper weight of F/R wheels is a bigger factor IMO....
  • 2 0
 At 6'5" I was welcoming of longer bikes at first, but the current sizes are way to excessive. Example, I brought a new Stumpjumper last year in an S6 (so XL) and it was pretty much unrideable.
I'm currently on an XL DH bike and a medium/large for anything else now. End of the day that's what is fastest and most comfortable for me.
  • 2 0
 I'm an inch shorter and ended up on a S4 SJ, I honestly don't miss the longer bikes....
  • 2 0
 The Pros have the luxury of experimenting/ testing, timing, every frame size offered. Seems like alot of the top guys that aren't overly tall run shorter bikes or bikes that fit them. Hill, Rude, Bruni, Greenland, Brosnan. I'm sure they have all tested the full range of sizing? The rest of the world sizes up because they think its faster because its more stable in the steeps and in a straightline and inspires more confidence. Increased confidence in the stability at speed but there is a tradeoff in the corners with a longer bike.
  • 1 0
 I would like to extend this to apply to all the YouTubers and other media influencers. They're all being paid alot of money to say whatever they're riding is great regardless of if it's true. I see FAR too many people fall into this trap, especially kids. Buy your bikes based on their numbers. Geometry, suspension design, and performance relative to price.
  • 1 0
 I have also the feeling that experiencing more different setups have more value to justify/argue/support certain brands/approach are the most supportative style of using/owning a tool (-- bike/frame/geometry) than just talking/arguing on the WWW.
I remember 'Crankworx' where famous slopestyle riders set on 'cheap' (Suntour) suspension while delivering the most advanced combos.
Experience is almost the valuable one and only parameter whether omeone is the 'best' - whether he's on Suntour or FOX.
  • 2 0
 I never did care about such silliness, so you're safe!

But I have a question: Why does Pinkbike promote that very thing?

Clearly the advertisers want us to buy what racers run ....
  • 1 0
 Somewhat related. My local multi-brand (Suzuki, KTM, Honda, Kawasaki, Husqvarna, Victory) moto shop owner said they didn't sell more Suzukis when the 4 and 94 won championships. Owner said same thing when #5 racked up titles on the pumpkin.
Peer pressure and social media sell bikes.
  • 2 0
 Hence they are unfortunately leaving MotoGP as they didn't see the wins translate to sales
  • 1 1
 Ehh, I think moto is a bit different because there are only a small handful of brands and most riders are loyal to a particular one or another.

Mtn bikers tend to pursue individuality. There are so many brands out there that I don’t ride with anyone that has the same bike as my other friends.
  • 2 0
 exactly, the same thing applies in ski world, Joe Schmo doesn't care who won on the weekend.
  • 1 0
 I bought a polygon because I saw Tracy Hannah killing it on one and thought "thats an interesting looking bike". Then I started looking into them and really liked the specs. I was sold on a T8 because of a DH racer indirectly.
  • 2 1
 Whatever PB comment section thinks we should be riding... Your better off with a pros bike than a PB comments influenced bike.... the comments are always filled with people justifying their purchase and why they bought their bike.
For e.g there are alot of bikes in the 3500 area that ride better/same then the 6k+(talking complete bikes here)
I'll always argue that an expensive botique bike is just that "botique" that doesnt mean it performs any better lol
  • 1 0
 Hate to break it to you but your comment reads like someone is justifying their 6k+ purchase Smile
  • 1 0
 @grotesquesque: im not justifying the price of my 9k bike, i bought it for reasons that im not sharing because ill likely sell it to try something new soon.
My bikes are like underwear, Cant wear the same pair for too long lol.
  • 2 0
 spot on dude how many times have we heard:

"it fits me perfect"

"if the perfect bike for the trail"

"it's so confidence inspiring"

6 months later they buy something else and say the same thing.....
  • 2 0
 proper suspension setup is way way more important than what bike anyone is riding I know people who has a baller bike but has absolutely no idea how to setup their suspension so in the end rides like crap
  • 1 0
 Interesting article - I pretty much agree that what a pro needs to go fast isn't neccessarily the same as what works for A.N Other person whos just riding for fun. I don't need a bike that I ride at the ragged edge and snap round corners that has suspension that can get me through a massive blown our root/rock garden at 30mph. I need a bike that I feel safe on, that handles predictably and that suits my longer legs/shorter arms. I need a cockpit setup that helps my messed up wrists and hands and suspension that behaves predictably and will bail me out when I run out of talent and that's soft enough to make up for the fact that I'm not as strong as I should be.
  • 1 0
 I think we should still care. But we need to know how similar the pros' body dimensions and riding preferences are to ours. And also the types of trails that they are riding. There are still some general trends that almost always start with the pros first. Isn't it the same with wheel sizes and many other things?
  • 1 0
 This article is weird. Treating the minority opinion around here as a sacred cow that needs to be killed. Making a long argument, then backpedaling furiously. I think it would be better to go after some of the narrow-minded stuff in-house at PB that gets echoed across the internet as fact. Balanced chainstays would be a good one!
  • 1 0
 I agree with the sentiment, but there is a deficit of good independent review material. Without a good review of the latest kit, looking at the top end of a pro field is a good way to cut through some BS. For example, it the Trust Message fork had got some good race results in it's early life, it would have definitely tempted me to try it before waiting for the trickle of reviews that sounded a bit 'meh'. Same for those carbon string spokes.
  • 2 1
 Todays bikes are often to long and that´s the mean point why Pros riding smaller sizes.
In fact, some arguments in the text are a little bit put or not taken into account.
Greg Minnaar for example is a big guy and the V10 is a relativly short bike with small sizing. Even the biggest size is not realy big.
Another point is that by now some pros have already ridden bigger bikes and have gone back to smaller bikes. And that is a point that should really make you think.
The marketing machinery of the bike industry has also propagated a lot of nonsense. Think of the low front ends and flat bars on DH bikes.

I'm not saying that all bikes are too long, but currently there is a trend to too long bikes.
Body proportions are also not taken into account enough. I, like Jack Moir, am someone with long legs and short torso and arms. Medium bikes are almost always too low, large bikes often too long. It is difficult to find a good bike for me these days. The Strive is not a bike I would want, but if I had to take it, I would take it in small. I am 1.80cm. (5'11")
  • 1 0
 Sam here, long leg necessitate taller / shorter setups. I'm 194cm and I'd take a size M Strive all day....
  • 1 0
 If this followed logic, why would canyon produce such an oversized strive and sell it to customers, but still pay for their main advertiser Moir to ride it in a size small essentially opposing the whole idea if the long bike?
  • 1 0
 Because the paying customers aren’t pro level EWS racers, and therefore have different needs. Jack has published his own videos of back to back testing of the old strive vs spectral and also commented re the new strive. He’s made it clear that the bike he chooses to race EWS on (depending on the course) is NOT the same bike he chooses to ride at home.
  • 3 0
 If Canyon build the new strive as short as the old, there are not many reasons to buy a new one. Make it different (longer) and say it´s better.
  • 1 0
 Interesting article, thanks. Neko Mulally is the exception, designing his own bike and choosing individual components based upon desired performance results and experimentation rather than the bigger sponsor budget. We are watching a young Roger Penske or Jim Hall in MTB racing, please give him his props. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 I tend to agree. Before I ordered my current enduro bike frame (2019 Megatower) I was able to test ride both M and L versions on the same loop. At 5' 10", I am often between sizes and could go with either size. I ended up with the L as it felt a little more comfortable. I tend to ride the bike mostly at bike parks, so the extra length and stability has been welcome.

One thing about suspension settings, I've discovered many setup guides seem to be geared towards "Pro-level" riders. I have found I need to run the fork and rear shock air pressures a fair bit softer than recommended for the bike to feel comfortable for the way I ride.
  • 2 1
 The hypothesis stands, winning bike is the fastest bike if ridden by a professional racer. What other datapoint could you get than highest level racing? Whether this bike is the fastest for Joe Average, probably not. However, as pointed, we can follow the longer scale trends. Moving from 26 to 27.5 and now 29 (for most), longer and slacker (up to a point). What is the tool or method used in racing and does that apply to your riding.

In the end, you can make your bike significantly faster by learning how to ride better, or just hand it to someone else.
  • 1 0
 Say what you will about how modern bikes are getting "too long".

But fact is, that length icreases stability. For most people, the added stability is going to make them more confident and thus better riders. There is obviously a functional size limit for everything, as the human body is only so big on average, but as it stands currently, a lot people would be faster and better riders if they were on a frame with 500mm reach.
  • 1 0
 yeah, there are some exceptions. If you find someone your size who put 10 second gaps on world class fields, you might want to copy his riding style. If he provides great feedback into the bike design AND the company listens, you might want to run the same bike in the same size. Hill won 3 EWS series titles and Nino won every world cup race in 2017. The bikes they won on were not trash.
  • 1 0
 Your needs should decide. I go downhill riding on rough fire roads in the woods, with a few 10cm jumps, then clinb the same road back up for 40 min, 5 days a week. Been doing that for 6 years. Went with Rekon 29x2.6 WT with i35mm rims /Rekon Race 29x2.4 on i35 vibrocore rims rear. 150mm Lyric Ultimate RC2 suspension and Banshee Paradox V3 aluminium with a flexy rear triangle. 31mm Renthal stem so I went for XL frame.
  • 1 0
 What is super useful though is to see what the pros are doing independent of sponsors. How they’re carrying tools, what their nutrition is like, etc. When it’s your job to perform at an extremely high level you eek out performance gains here and there which make racing go more smoothly but also make day to day riding more convenient.
  • 3 0
 I care, because pro DH and Enduro rigs are exact parallels to my mid travel trail bike :/
  • 4 0
 Forever on going issue with any mechanical sport...
  • 15 12
 Opinion: I'll pass on the next Seb Stott opinion/review. There's good reason as to why pros ride what they ride.
  • 3 0
 their contract?
  • 4 0
 It's called whoever pays me I'll ride it
  • 1 0
 Because pros are told what to ride. How many EWS riders would benefit from double crown forks or DH riders who could choose exactly what tyres / suspension they want to run.
  • 3 0
 In short, pros will be faster than you on a bike from Canadian Tire. Go have fun on your bike, then drink beer.
  • 1 0
 Only look at what a pro rides as an experiment or tip IF you ride like a pro or want to ride like a pro.

Otherwise, if you don't get the bike/setup that matches your goals/terrain/skillset, you are wasting money big time.
  • 2 0
 depends on the logic you use - pro's ride way faster than us, the shorter bikes are stable enough for them....so they should be for us right? It's an easy cop out to say what you are saying, the reality is, they cut through the marketing / trend BS and ride what works on the trails.....I wouldn't set my suspension up the same way Rude does, but can use sim principles.
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: I suppose what I mean is that the smaller bikes aren't necessarily more stable for the pros, but they have the bike skills to master a more lively/sketchy rig. What might be an unstable size for an average rider is a size that a pro can corner/jump/throw around more dynamically.

I agree and have learned actually a lot from learning how pros setup their bikes. Not to imitate their setups necessarily as much as to learn more about the principles involved. I would listen to a pro about bike setup long before I listen to a trendsetter or marketing person about bike setup.
  • 1 0
 If guys I know that go fast (sponsored friends) say it's fast. Good enough for me. Helps if it's been on podiums a few times so there's some racing pedigree in there somewhere. Size is one thing Geo is another.
  • 2 1
 Stop overthinking shit and ride your bikes, next thing you'll be introduced to seat foam durometer ratings and be sniffing pro's seats and coming up with all manner of tech excuses.
  • 2 0
 I remember Enduro Mag did a test a few years ago. Their riders were also “faster” on bikes with a shorter wheelbase. The longest bike had the slowest time in their test.
  • 1 0
 That will depend on the track and the ability of the rider. Pros may have the skills to hold onto a shorter bike that the rest of us would crash on due to the reduced stability
  • 1 0
 @chrismac70: we also are not going as fast as them. I don't buy the stability thing, I think it's misused, bikes are complex and lots of variables can help stability....including proper body position and balance on a bike, which I'd argue can be better with a shorter bike in some cases.
  • 2 0
 If people didn't care what the pros ride, sponsors wouldn't have any reason to sponsor riders and manufacturers would have no reason to have race teams.
  • 2 0
 How many pros actually ride stock bikes. So no over forking it. No geometry adjusting headsets. No custom linkages to change the rear travel or kinematics?
  • 1 0
 Something not mentioned in the article is that the bike you think you see the pro ride could be completely different from what you can buy. It might even be a different brand.
  • 4 0
 I don’t
  • 1 0
 My bike choice has never been influenced by anything except a) does a shop near me sell it and b) does it fit what I want to do.
  • 2 0
 Generally no because pros can hop on any bike and ride faster than me down a hill. My bike has to be setup perfectly
  • 2 0
 It’s crazy to think in just one year a Large bike reach was almost the same as the next years small reach.
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott - We should just put our faith in Chris Porter. He's old, fast and knows more than most about geo and setting bikes up.
  • 2 3
 I'm going to go with what a pro says about what works WAY before some media hacks who are trying to influence buying decisions (pushed by their advertisers) to convince you your current bike sucks and you need a new one. This article reads like an internal memo from Canyon.
  • 1 0
 If you're buying your bike to race at pro level, by all means set up your bike the same way as the pros riding your chosen brand. Speaking of internal memos from Canyon, have you watched Jack Moir's testing videos where he talks about deliberately choosing a shorter bike for EWS races than he rides at home, because nimbleness on courses you're riding blind outweighs stability and outright speed (for him)?
  • 1 0
 Every sport regular joes care what the pro’s ride & wear.
If we didn’t we’d all be wearing jorts & wife beaters
  • 3 0
 WHY YOU SHOULDN'T CARE WHAT PINKBIKE PUBLISHES .
  • 1 0
 Jack Moir never stopped racing and he's winning now. On a different bike but was not on the downhill bike. So your not exactly right at all.
  • 2 0
 Gonna get a mullet size S and put a 27.5 front wheel on it to help quickening the steering. I think it's the latest.
  • 1 0
 Wait, from prior experience on PB, I thought we were supposed to just pick a bike and be a dick about it. We’re still doing that, right?
  • 1 0
 If people were really buying what many pros use, there would be more average Joes and Jills running Suntour forks on their high end builds.
  • 3 4
 My short 31" inseam and really long torso have been given explicit instructions from my testicles to stay away from 29" wheels. Which really sucks for my balls because I ride a full 27.5" trail bike and a full 29" DH bike.
  • 4 8
flag poozank (Jun 22, 2022 at 12:51) (Below Threshold)
 Nobody asked.
  • 1 1
 @poozank: Awww....someone sounds a wittle bitsy grump grump. Beer
  • 4 1
 I'll grab some popcorn
  • 1 0
 But if we shouldn't care, how will we know what to answer on the PB polls that quiz us on this??
  • 1 0
 I’ve never seen a pro win a race on a KSL or S-works enduro so they are my bike choices
  • 3 2
 Who would you trust about bike size? The one who rides it or the one who sales it??
  • 3 0
 Speed and Power.
  • 2 0
 So buy what pinkbike says, do not support your favorite pro? Cool!
  • 1 1
 They are getting the bike for free, you aren't. They will ride whatever their sponsor requires, and it's not necessarily the optimal choice.
  • 2 0
 Fan boys and hero worship, get a flip ukulele life.
  • 1 0
 ever since bikes/parts shot up in price, i give zero poops about what anyone else rides.
  • 2 0
 Stfu I still want a black and green sunday.
  • 1 0
 I bet most pros could jump on one of our bikes and still win with some minor adjustments to air saddle height and bar width.
  • 1 0
 I think im following what a pro rode... www.pinkbike.com/photo/22794712
  • 2 0
 I like bike sizing article comment sections
  • 2 0
 Sounds like Seb is part of the conspiracy. Also, birds aren't real.
  • 1 0
 Im not sponsored nor do i get the newest kit like the pros i love my gear on my bike sposored by me lol
  • 1 1
 Why you shouldn’t care what politicians and experts say about anything specially climate change .
(Answer: look at their own personal actions )
  • 2 0
 Why you shouldn’t care about pinkbikes bike of the year picks.
  • 2 1
 450 reach, 68deg ht, 75deg sa, 440cs, 70mm stem, 720 bars
  • 5 4
 I don't care, I just ride my Santa Cruz Nomad CC and get on with it. Smile
  • 2 0
 ride what you brung
  • 2 1
 "run what you brung" vs. "what wins on Sunday sells on Monday"
  • 1 0
 Trek Session for life because Brandon Semenuk
  • 1 1
 started reading this article thinking, drugs.. aaaaaand drugs, and all the drugs.....
  • 1 0
 Dentists care about what the next dentist is riding….
  • 1 1
 Same high as Jack so if Jacks ride small frames i will ride small frames!

So someone wanna buy a L frame ?
  • 1 0
 WHAT! Marketing and real life are not the same?
  • 1 0
 Nr. 129.549 the bike itself has a good BMX background
  • 1 0
 I still ride my 2001 Schwinn Straight 8. the pros are jealous
  • 3 4
 Next article, why should anyone care what Pinkbike has to say about anything? Stay tuned.
  • 2 1
 lies and deceit.
  • 1 1
 Never cared I don't drive a F1 car.... so don't ride a pro bike.
  • 1 1
 Glad to hear someone else saying what I have been affirming for years!
  • 1 0
 Hooray I don't!
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