Pinkbike Podcast Episode 59: Value Bike Field Trip Surprises & Spoilers

Apr 29, 2021
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

If you're looking for a mountain bike and want to spend closer to $2,000 than $10,000, you're in luck. There are plenty of reasonably priced bikes that offer an impressive amount of performance for less than the cost of some high-end forks or wheelsets, and that's exactly what our annual Value Bike Field Trip is all about. This year, we tested five hardtails and five full-suspension bikes ranging in price from the $1,200 USD Canyon Stoic to the $3,000 Ibis Ripley AF (scroll down to see them), all of which were evaluated back-to-back on the Sunshine Coast's incredible singletrack.

We're in the middle of releasing the video reviews, which calls for a spoiler alert: Podcast 59 sees Sarah Moore and I talk about how the bikes performed, our winners and losers, some surprises, and where we think some value bikes are still coming up short.

April 29th, 2021

Put aside some money for brake pads.

5 Full-Suspension Value Trail Bikes

Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Devinci Marshall
• Travel: 130mm rear, 140mm front
• 29" wheels
• 66.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 460mm (medium)
• $2,299 USD
Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Polygon Siskiu T8
• Travel: 135mm rear, 140mm front
• 29" wheels
• 65.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 460mm (medium)
• $2,369 USD

Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Giant Trance X 29 3
• Travel: 135mm rear, 150mm front
• 29" wheels
• 65.5°/66.2° head-tube angle
• Reach: 456mm (medium)
• $2,500 USD
Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Marin Rift Zone 29 3
• Travel: 125mm rear, 130mm front
• 29" wheels
• 65.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 455mm (medium)
• $2,849 USD

Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Ibis Ripley AF
• Travel: 120mm rear, 130mm front
• 29" wheels
• 65.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 475mm (large)
• $2,999 USD

5 Value Hardtails

Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Canyon Stoic 3
• Travel: 140mm front
• 29" wheels
• 65° head-tube angle
• Reach: 455mm (medium)
• $1,199 USD* (adjusted after filming)
Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Vitus Sentier 29 VR
• Travel: 130mm front
• 29" wheels
• 66.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 428mm (medium)
• $1,449 USD

Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Norco Fluid HT 1
• Travel: 120mm front
• 29" wheels
• 66.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 440mm (medium)
• $1,499 USD
Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
BMC Twostroke AL One
• Travel: 100mm front
• 29" wheels
• 67° head-tube angle
• Reach: 445mm (medium)
• $1,599 USD

Value Bikes Field Trip 2021
Rocky Mountain Growler 40
• Travel: 140mm front
• 29" wheels
• 64° head-tube angle
• Reach: 450mm (medium)
• $1,669 USD

Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Presented by Wilier Triestina

Italian bike manufacturer, Wilier Triestina, has released a new full suspension XC mountain bike

Well known for its road bikes, Wilier Triestina has designed the all-new URTA SLR to be a new niche product in the XC world, bringing its style and racing DNA to the off-road market. The URTA SLR has been designed to be fast, compact and reactive with racing geometry, a monocoque handlebar, integrated cables, two bottle cages and flat mount rear brakes for a new off-road experience. Discover more at or in the best Wilier Triestina shops

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy
Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive
Episode 47 - High Pivot Bikes: The Good, The Bad, and The Why?
Episode 48 - Rides That Went Horribly Wrong... & Why That Made Them So Good
Episode 49 - What's the Best DH Bike?
Episode 50 - Are Bikes Actually Getting Less Expensive? (Value Bike Field Test Preview)
Episode 51 - Should MTB Media Post Spy Shots?
Episode 52 - Our Most Embarrassing MTB Moments
Episode 53 - Should Climbers Still Have the Right of Way?
Episode 54 - Best and Worst MTB Product Marketing
Episode 55 - Big Dumb Rides & Staying Motivated
Episode 56 - What Were the Most Important Inventions in Mountain Biking?
Episode 57 - What Were the Best (and Worst) Trends in Mountain Biking?
Episode 58 - Debunking Mountain Biking's Biggest Myths

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 64 1
 Oh thank god levys back. i thought something terrible happened like maybe you had been assasinated by big mountain bike for creating the greatest mountain bike ever (the grim donut) and leaving them all in the dust. kinda like that guy who made the water powered car.
  • 6 0
 What if this is a pre-record like field test too !?
  • 1 0
 @Noeserd: levy posted this. so i think he has to be back.
  • 10 1
 @Noeserd: we recorded this on Tuesday. Smile
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: so levy is back yay!
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: How was your vacation!!!
  • 4 0
 You know he was away working with Pivot on the new Grim Donut.
  • 3 0
 OH THANK GOD, Levy's alive.

Insert Pinkbike virtual party here.

Insert "Look at Banner Michael" - by Gob Bluth - here
  • 2 0
 @Waldon83: lol love that scene
  • 2 0
 Paging Brian Blessed
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: This sentence is a good summary of the tech from Stanley Meyer's Wiki:

"No engine or vehicle manufacturer has incorporated Meyer's work so far.[15][16]"
  • 46 1
 Levy's internship at vital didnt go well it seems
  • 13 0
 maybe they sent him back as a spy
  • 44 0
 Levy: „Hey Pinkers“
Pinkers: *deep sigh of relief*
  • 4 2
 ffs.. kaz is great but.. not hosting a podcast Smile so glad to hear Levy on the podcast again... it felt.. well... empty without him. Big Grin
  • 27 0
 Hey @brianpark, just to clarify on the Robot Welding comment, these investments were made for the Bixi Bike Share bikes. The Marshall is still hand welded by humans. We'll send you a picture if you need to see it Wink
  • 3 0
 id like to know who made my wilson! be cool to have a personal sig on the framesets!
  • 5 0
 That's awesome, thanks for the clarification! Will you ever be able to use that robot welding on mountain bikes?
  • 2 0
 While we're on robots. Am I the only one compiling video footage into my head of a robot welding a bike together, and then a cut scene to those real robot boffin type guys that have just won a match on battle bots. I'd be pumped to see the engineers jumping around high fiving, hugging etc like they have just smashed up some bots, but they've actually just welded together a downtube to a BB.
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: That is something we are looking into since it would enable us to scale up production even more, but at the moment MTB frames are more ''complex'' than the bikeshare bikes and makes it more challenging to achieve. To be continued...
  • 17 0
 So to go along with the budget bike shoot out....when is there going to be the budget fork shoot out? So many options at or under $500 some harder to distinguish from others (ie rockshox 35, yari, relevation)? It would be great to get a deeper dive into some of these budget priced forks
  • 12 0
 That's a great idea for a standalone comparison article, especially as we've just ridden a bunch of different options.
  • 18 0
 What if levy was actually going undercover as WAKI and thats why he is back and WAKI is gone again
  • 1 0
 Or more likely he (Waki) exited when the other gobshite who was banned reared its ugly head again. It imagine it can be tiresome trying to run two accounts at once.
  • 7 0
 You notice how Levy and Waki never post at the same time?
  • 14 0
 I'm such a sucker for this podcast. Look forward to it every week!
  • 6 1
 Spoiler: Levy thinks the Growler f*cks.

EDIT: BONUS LEVY - can't complain that the bike has a climb switch because you think bikes shouldn't need them anymore when there's no rear shock
  • 15 0
 Very little pedal bob on the Growler tbh lol
  • 4 0
 @brianpark - idea for field trip/field test: have a roundtable discussion at the end just for components. I appreciate the component comments for each bike, and it would be nice to talk about and compare all of the forks/brakes/drivetrains directly
  • 6 0
 Totally, especially the forks. We'll keep it in mind.
  • 8 0
 He's back!
  • 4 0
 Question for the next podcast:

Given that you are critical of the brakes on these bikes, what would you say is the best budget/cheap expensive brake set? Like that actually works?
  • 1 0
 This would be great to see/hear
  • 2 0
 A little off-topic, but you can buy the Grim Donut! German bike company AluTec built a replica and they are going in (mini) production. 3.000€ for the frame. All, incl. Geo, on the German news website
  • 5 0
 #toomanyberms #flatcorners
If you ain’t two wheel driftin you ain’t livin
  • 6 0
 Exactly! Anyone can look pretty decent in a berm, but nailing a flat, loose corner is everything. Not that I ever do that haha
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy with so much talk about getting better performing brakes for these value bikes, is there any chance we will ever see a test between different aftermarket brakepads (galfer, swisstop, Trickstuff etc.)? Would obviously have to be done on same rotor and rotorsize with same caliper. Too see if it makes any differance?
  • 1 0
 Would like to see this too
  • 2 0
 Re: resin pads on entry-level bikes. Price is definitely a factor but noise is the reason. Y'all nailed it when you said that new riders complain more about brake noise. Also, metallic pads tend to bite a little harder, so resin can ramp up a little more predictably for folks who are less experienced. Depending on where a rider lives, the terrain may not demand the harder bite or wet weather wearing characteristics of metallic pads.

Definitely think that resin-only rotors suck a lot though. I think that the rider should be able to pick what works best for their riding style and available trails. Sounds about as dumb as putting a hardpack-tire-only rim on. Not all riders on cheap bikes are entry-level riders, some are just broke...
  • 1 0
 Great podcast. But @brianpark “The barriers to entry are way lower than they have ever been”? Ever? Maybe the barrier is lower today than it has been in the last few years. However not ever. I was a shop rat in the late 80’s and purchased my Cannondale SM700 for about 600 bucks. I was a just as much a mountain biker back then, as I am today on my “need to discuss this with my wife before I buy it” rig.
  • 1 0
 $600 in 1988 is the equivalent of roughly $1350 today when accounting for inflation. That gets you a lot better bike than a SM700 today.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark Question for the next podcast. What matters more for stability at speed, a longer reach or a longer wheelbase? Ignoring that a bike's wheelbase will inevitably increase as the reach gets longer, wouldn't the bike's wheelbase matter just as much, if not more than the reach when it comes to stability at speed?
  • 5 0
 Given bikes of roughly the same size, I've found that rear-center has a massive effect on a bike's stability or lack thereof. I used to always want super short rear ends, but now I seem to prefer 450ish chainstays... I wonder if that's because I moved to a town with much steeper, rougher trails?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Thanks!
  • 1 0
 Question: When it comes to the negative effects of a bike's suspension design I don't understand how high antisquat could affect the bike when descending quickly. In the situation where the hub is spinning too fast to engage when there is kickback what exactly is at play? Would chain growth play a role? Or is it basically just your leverage curve at that point?
Why do some bikes feel harsh and supportive while others feel deep, bottomless and plush?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer @mikelevy @brianpark Would love to see a 5-10 min discussion on mtb pants for tall riders. The Jan 2021 PB pant article does not cover this at all. I've ordered & returned 5 pants from Fox, Endura, IXS, Dakine & Raceface - nothing fits. Seems all inseams top out around 32 inches. There are TONS of tall riders out there & certainly there have to be some options for us other than long shorts or knickers / warmers & pads and snowboarding socks in winter...

STOKED Levy's back. This cast is excellent anyway, but Levy's genius-gone-wrong character really make the whole thing fly.
  • 2 0
 Please remove me from any conversations about tall people, I feel attacked! Smile
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Will do... no low-hanging fruit jokes for short people here. I assumed you might be an expert on any bike topic, but I wasn't aware of either 1) your inseam or 2) sensitivity to tall rider topics and 3) I'll be sure to also ignore short-rider questions too (since I already do) so it'll all balance out. You have enough expertise & humor otherwise to more than make up for the lack of input on this one.

Heads up to other tall riders that (UK) offers custom pants / shorts, jerseys, etc - just learned of this after this post so that's a start.
  • 1 0
 I have question about fork service intervals. Why is this measured in time and not miles? I really started to think about this in relation to ebikes. Not an ebiker but I’d imagine that if they are riding twice as far per ride in the same time, then wouldn’t their fork be receiving twice as much abuse( if not more). Should ebikers really be servicing their forks every 25 hours then?
  • 1 0
 Question for @mikekazimer for the next podcast.

I’m currently riding my 2014 V1 Santa Cruz Bronson that I’ve owned since new. I keep it well maintained there isn’t much I don’t ride it on. I’m a Dad and new mtb purchases tend to take a back seat when kids come along, but last year I was finally looking to update, but then COVID.

Since COVID it’s become impossible to test ride new bikes in Australia. Availability is tough enough so Demo bikes are non existent. I’m now reliant on yourself, @mikelevy and other journos from some of the other great mtb sites our there to get your views and opinions on how bikes ride & perform out in the trails. (Knowing of course that the PNW terrain is slightly different to what we have down here in AUS)

If I’m going to spend between $5-8k on a new bike, how important is the demo ride.

How many other people actually demo bikes before they buy these days? I mean properly demo, not just a car park test.

For reference I’ve been weighing up the Spur, Tallboy and new Stumpy.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy and the rest of the podcast crew. I have a question! Are bike suspension designs and settings better suited to certain weight riders? I’m just thinking of how a 150lb rider won’t put as much air into an air fork or shock as a 200lb rider. I know that we do this to get the right amount of sag. I guess to make the question more generic, if two people had the same bike setup perfect for them, would one person find it more active than the other person?
  • 5 2
 @ BrianPark, when can we expect the slim donut to drop. Me and probably three other people are anxiously awaiting!
  • 6 0 this is where it's at right now. Made a few changes since to drop the front end a bit and clean some things up.

At this point it's just waiting for the new frame (roughly the same geo but lighter), and new brakes. Oh and I've got some lighter summer tires that have to go on.

It's definitely an interesting bike, I think we've got a lot to learn from this approach.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: will a boomer donut edition be coming out?
  • 2 0
 @misterha: e donut?
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: thanks for the reply Brian...are you going to post an article on the solaris, or just the new frame? Just curious about the project and the journey
  • 1 0
 @bikeryder85: Not sure! Maybe we'll do a podcast about the journey. Probably need some people with more XC experience than me to chime in and explain why I'm an idiot tbh.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: I think that's a really good idea, project bike podcast 2... I find stories behind what spec decisions were made the most fun to read/hear
  • 2 0
 After all the hate about hardtails, and yet Levy's goofing off on the hardtail...
  • 7 0
 I'll goof off on anything tbh
  • 3 0
 He's back, love the podcast but it is not the same without the host.
  • 1 0

I think this needs to get purchased and wrapped with a pinkbike unpaid intern wrap
  • 1 0
 Yes please!
  • 1 0
 The boss swallowed his tongue when he was asked about the results of X-GAMES, LoL !
  • 11 0
 I am very uncomfortable chirping from the bleachers at people who I respect and who had a very hard job to do, but they got it wrong.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Fair enough, thanks boss !
  • 1 0
 Man, I was starting to get worried, I thought the samsquanch Levy saw as a kid finally caught back up with him.
  • 1 0
 Re: inexpensive brakes that work.

Isn’t this why Deore brakes are a thing?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy ”I’ve been shitting on the rear end for the last five minutes”.... best quote ever.
  • 1 0
 I think it would have been great to see the Devinci Kobain in the hardtail group. Looks like a very good build.
  • 1 0
 I avoided a bike (Norco FS2) because of the Rockshox 35. I didn't like the idea of a spring for a lighter rider
  • 1 0
 has anyone tried the trek roscoe 8. If so what do you think?
  • 1 0
 Where were you Levy? Curling camp again?
  • 10 0
 Tim Hortons internship Wink
  • 1 0
 It is not showing up in the Apple podcast app for me :-(
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike pls dont forget to upload to apple podcast
  • 1 0
 @mo-T: it’s showing up for us on Apple. Anyone else having this issue?
  • 2 0
 @brianpark: now its there! thx

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