Pinkbike Poll: How Much Does the Bike Impact Racers' Results?

Feb 7, 2020
by Mike Levy  
I have friends who believe that whatever bike has been raced to the top of the podium most often is surely the fastest, bestest bike. There's a bit of truth to that, I guess, but is the winning bike actually "the best" bike? I'm convinced that racing is far too nuanced (and sprinkled with chance) for it to be that simple. Skill, style, and countless other human factors are at play, all of which has me wondering how much the bike and equipment actually matter to a top-ten, world-class professional?


It s getting repetitive at the top at this point but you wouldn t want to swap out legends and legends in the making like this for any old racer.
Would this podium be any different had they all been on the same type of bike? Or, what would the season have looked like if Pierron and Bruni had spent 2019 on the same type of bike?


Could Gwin really ''win on a shopping cart,'' as it was often suggested after that mind-melting chainless run at Leogang? Not an actual shopping cart, obviously, but the implication that the American could have coasted to victory on any modern, respectable downhill bike would mean that maybe it doesn't matter what he's riding. If that's the case, could Nino have bagged that perfect 2017 season had he be on a mid-grade aluminum cross-country bike? I wonder if Ravanel could put minutes into the rest of the EWS field aboard a $4,000 enduro rig, or if Semenuk would still be Semenuk on... Nevermind, he would be.

You get the point: Assuming they're still using the right tool for the job, how much do you think the bike and equipment impact top racers' results in each of the disciplines below?


How much do you think the bike and equipment impact top racers' results in World Cup XC?

Top-ten racers, and assuming they're still on the right kind of bike


How much do you think the bike and equipment impact top racers' results in World Cup DH?

Top-ten racers, and assuming they're still on the right kind of bike



How much do you think the bike and equipment impact top racers' results in the EWS?

Top-ten racers, and assuming they're still on the right kind of bike


Curve ball: How much do you think the bike and equipment impact top riders' results at the Red Bull Rampage?

Top-ten competitors, and assuming they're still on the right kind of bike





219 Comments

  • 240 2
 The performance of the bike matters a little. But the mental side of it, how much the racer believes his bike is performing well or otherwise matters a lot more.
  • 30 4
 Absolutely, shitty bike for you, dream bike for other guy, he will crush it in his category
  • 27 2
 Ya, but...The riders belief/trust in the bike is huge. K Courtney makes that point beautifully in the new "Fast Life" edit.
Turns out I voted with the majority. Once you've felt the improvement (in one ride) upgraded equipment can make, i.e. a lighter wheelset, or better suspension, then you wont discount the 'better bike' idea. This poll, however is about the top 20 Worldcup DH racers, I doubt there is much difference in performance between those bikes!
  • 8 41
flag Santamtnbiker (Feb 7, 2020 at 11:50) (Below Threshold)
 I think the bike matters a little more in rampage. I don't think its possible to do rampage on a supercaliber...
  • 40 1
 @Santamtnbiker: The poll assumes "they're on the right kind of bike".
  • 40 0
 I have put Boxxer stickers on my Pike. With 50 mm of additional travel and double crown you can really feel the difference..
  • 29 1
 I think you guys are conflating trust in the bike with Trust in the mechanic. Everyone's equipment is so similar at the top, that the mechanic and setup becomes much more important.
  • 23 7
 Disagree. The bike matters. Look at Nathan Rennie going to Morewood, Brook MacDonald going to GT and back to Mondraker.
  • 3 1
 Ask to Fith Element Suspension about placebo efect
  • 9 7
 @sambobcat: Exactly what I was thinking. Let Bruni/Brosnan/Pierron/any top 10 rider race on a Orange and you'll have your answer. It's still the right kind of bike, but not the right bike. On the other hand, give that same Orange to a Rampage podium contender, and, probably, he'll do pretty fine anyway
  • 15 1
 Hey - if Sorge can win Rampage on a Polygon...
  • 6 1
 If the bike don’t perform then the rider ain’t gunna believe it’s gunna perform ! If you asked the top riders I’m sure that bikes and equipment impact results alot more than we think !
  • 15 1
 I think we can all agree that the difference in bikes in terms of time (in say EWS or WC DH) is not zero. If we take a stab in the dark and say that the difference between a "good" and a "bad" bike is 1% in speed (I believe it's more than that personally based on what I have measured myself, as an admittedly nowhear near WC level rider), over a 4 minute DH course that's 2.4 seconds. Look at any given position in whatever DH WC results and look where 2.4 seconds either side of that is. Over 50 minutes of EWS racing, that's 30 seconds... again look at any given position in the results and see where 30 seconds faster or slower would sit a rider. It isn't the difference between say 1st and 50th, but it might be the difference between 1st and 5th.
  • 32 1
 Is it just me, or is everyone missing the point that I think @mikelevy is trying to make? People are here talking about putting Boxxer decals on a Pike. I don’t think that’s the topic up for discussion as the point is obvious. So the question isn’t about “is a modern super bike better than a cobbled-together low-end bike?” I think the question is, “what is the effect on performance for someone (say Amaury Pierron for instance) riding his top tier Commencal vs him riding a top tier Specialized Demo?” Do we really think the magnitude of the effect is 25%? I’m doubtful. Put him on any one of the top tier DH bikes and he is going to have very similar results.
  • 14 1
 I think the first category is too broad at 0-5%. 5% is a huge difference in a race. In a 90 min xc race, that’s 4.5 minutes. The difference between podium and also ran.
  • 5 3
 @whambat: yep, redo the poll with 200 different options. That will for sure increase the accuracy of the results....hell, 500 options. We need 5 sigma accuracy, or whatever the generally accepted threshhold is to claim something is true, otherwise this poll is pointless...
  • 4 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: name checks out...
  • 3 0
 Maes on a GT...
  • 4 3
 @scvkurt03: Yeah, but top riders, like Sam Hill, could 'prolly win on ANY bike.
  • 7 2
 Seriously Pinkbike, this poll has a meaning if it`s answered ONLY by TOP competitors, not by the common wankers we read through these columns, including me of course Smile
Amen†
  • 1 0
 Damm dude, glad others get it. I know I'm not much faster based on an the cost of a bike but my confidence when I have a better bike does.
  • 6 1
 @RayDolor: Unpopular opinion (unpopular because today's world is ridiculous): Sam Hill would not win a single EWS round on an XC bike.
  • 1 0
 Typically they say at significance level alpha = 5% @takeiteasyridehard:
  • 6 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: it’s been too many decades since my last statistics class to be certain with this, but my point is that you can’t have 0% which is statistically insignificant and 5% which is statistically significant in the same group. That’s like saying it doesn’t matter at all and it matters greatly in the same check box.
  • 1 1
 @whambat @takeiteasyridehard: you’re confusing effect size with statistical significance here.
  • 2 0
 @Hayek: I'm confusing nothing. I know nothing. I guess I may be confusing you about whether I know anything related to statistical analysis, which I don't. I do agree this is a very confused and silly poll, but I dont have any firm opinions other than that. I was being facetious.
  • 1 1
 @takeiteasyridehard: my mistake. That’s a fair point.
  • 18 1
 Mind blown. You think the bike has a 10-25%!?!?! effect on winning. Are you f*cking kidding me. If it could be measured and was over 1% I would be surprised. From most important to least:

Mental state.
Skills/natural ability.
Training/strength.
Mechanic/performance tuning.
Tires.
Luck.
700 other things
Chain.
Bike.

This is assuming a top spec bike of course.
  • 7 2
 @Rasterman: isn’t performance turning, tyres , chain and a few hundred of that 700 other things THE BIKE !
  • 2 0
 Yeah a good example of this is Brook on GT. He even admitted he struggled with the bike
  • 1 0
 Well in my opinion it does matter a lot, specialy the guys who have factory support, and susppension testing, tunning, that doesnt apply so much for CC or enduro but it does for DH. It would be amazing to see everyone racing on stock susspension and not prototype or other sh*t. So stock for every1 would eliminate that 5-10%factor which mean a lot in DH, every other discipline it doesnt matter so much since they are much longer and it comes down to pshysical and mental prep for each individual and not so much about equipment. Just my 2cents tho.
  • 1 0
 @Matt115lamb: maybe that’s the huge reason for the big percentages. To me the question reads as if brands of bikes and equipment make a difference. I could see how you can lump all of those things you mentioned into “the bike”, but to me it didn’t. Poorly thought out and worded survey I guess.
  • 1 0
 @sadfusde: Orange bikes are amazing so they'd be just as fast as before
  • 2 3
 Yeah bc you can win any World Cup in a Walmart bike if you are in the right mindset
  • 1 0
 @Hayek : your point really shows that the question needs to be better laid out, with possibly an example. Because my understanding of the question is, does it matter if the rider is on the brand's best equipment or would the rider get similar results with the brand's mid-level equipment.
  • 6 0
 @Lagr1980: nope. 99% of the pro’s bikes I’ve worked on for events (one of them being a rainbow jersey) gave zero f*cks about the equipment on the bike so long as it was in working order. Most of them couldn’t even tell the difference from an XTR to an SLX derailleur until it being pointed out to them after the race, zero of which blamed the equipment for their performance to boot. It’s a good reason why even here on Pinkbike when they do a bike check, you notice most of the parts are upper-mid tier, like SLX or XT....because they don’t really care as long as the bikes works like it should and to the needs they want.
  • 2 0
 I'm in the 0-5 % for all. If the bike is fit for purpose and suspension tuned for the rider in question then the top peeps could swop bikes and the results would be much the same.
  • 1 0
 @Santamtnbiker: DJ rode Rampage on a Mongoose...
  • 1 0
 @rupintart: you’re right , all they care about is susp setup , tyres and control positions, only nerds care about tubeless juices , gear ratios and other nerdy stuff Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @rupintart: I have never seen pro bike check with anything SLX and XT is also quite rare thing to see. It´s all XTR/saint
  • 2 2
 @CycloGoss: yeah and he didn’t finish any of his runs
  • 2 0
 @thewho07: What about Maes? He crushed everyone on GT...
  • 1 0
 @tabletop84: We ll exactly - just goes to prove my point. I mean how did Chris Akrigg manage to even hop a twig on a low budget Mongoose? He should be leaping over the moon on his new GT. How does anyone manage to ride at all on a metal framed bike that doesn't say SC, Pivot, Intense on it? . Or on a hardtail for that matter...
  • 1 0
 Just ask POLE, they're having a case of ED!
  • 48 3
 Well considering Gwin won without a chain once...
  • 68 3
 Considering Gwin had a hell of a time with bike set up last year....
  • 22 5
 @onemanarmy: yes.. but Gwin was also injured most of the year.. I think that had more to do with it than bike.. he did get on the podium once when healthy.. and a 6th as well..
  • 6 1
 @billybobzia: It's not like wonky setups have nothing to do with crashes...
  • 5 5
 @onemanarmy: and he's the team owner, so no excuses for him there.
  • 35 1
 But he couldn't win on a 2013 Demo by the end of his run on Demos neither could Sam Hill. . It strikes me as being like motorbike racing. The bike has to reach a minimum level of competitiveness, from there the best riders add that last couple of percent over the rest of the field.
  • 4 1
 @Fix-the-Spade: well put. This poll is kinda stupid. If we are measuring how much equipment matters, and we are only comparing the very top level brands top offering, then that will be different than saying "What percentage does the bike matter for Gwin to win if one is a carbon uberbike with his custom fox suspension VS a 10 year old clapped out DH bike that hasn't seen a fork rebuild ever"
  • 28 7
 @hamncheez: was there ever a poll that was not stupid... it’s just different shades of stupid. So considering that racers and their mechanics actually know the right answer, isn’t the point of this poll to figure out the level of stupidity among people answering to it?
  • 4 4
 ...and now he can't win for love nor money...
  • 3 0
 @scvkurt03: the crash that hurt him was absurd.. that off the boardwalk feature, tire off by an inch and season over basically.. who knows what his season would have been like.. maybe the bike, maybe not.. dude has won on everything he has ridden.
  • 7 1
 @WAKIdesigns: best comment so far mate. I actually agree with you!
  • 7 1
 @WAKIdesigns: I also have to ask you a question. I mean I look at a few articles, read a few of the comments and 99% of the time there are a number of comments from you. How do you find the time? Are you a bot?
  • 1 0
 @billybobzia: I'm not completely blaming the bike or his setup, especially on that crash, but in a game of milliseconds literally everything is a factor. He was on his way back when he crashed in practice and hurt his thumb... Not entirely sure what caused that...
  • 14 2
 @JezzaE: Waki isn't a person. Hes an idea. A movement. A belief. A hope for a better future.
  • 5 1
 @hamncheez: he's the commenter we need, not the one we deserve.
  • 1 6
flag ranke (Feb 7, 2020 at 17:14) (Below Threshold)
 Well, considering Gwin won on a yt a lot... (Just playin', all u entry level shredders. I was there once)
  • 10 4
 @JezzaE: I'll tell you how waki has the time. Waki spends his time trashing people and making rediculous comments because he cant get out and ride and hes pissed about that. He cant ride because him and his wife have kids and he blames them for his missing out on things. So for some reason a healthy substitute for that is ripping on people online all day, everyday.

You would think that maybe he could spend the time that he pounds on his keyboard on a bike but he cant. He uses that time to post videos of him outside his house learning to turn a bike instead- one day he may master turning. He wont go far from his house because he needs to feel the wifi surging through him. I hear if you dont reply to waki he loses some his power. But that's just a rumor. He also bases his opinion of our ability to ride a bike on how many pictures we post online. Because posting pictures online = bike skills somehow. I challenge you to not reply to his comments, its hard because hes so infuriating but that is the best defence.

There is also a chrome plugin somebody made, you can google it. It's a free download and it removes him from your browser so you cant see his comments. When you use the plugin the amount of comments per article drops dramatically, possibly saving you valuable data. I wont say for sure if I use the plugin because he will see this comment and most likely unleash a verbal assault on me but he wont know if I can see his comments now so when I dont reply he will stew in front of his multi screen setup, possibly taking his anger out by going out front of his house and turning really hard on his bike as he films it.
  • 3 0
 @warmerdamj: Now this is content. Can Mr. Voreis draw a cartoon depicting this comment?
  • 5 4
 @billybobzia: I honestly think the 3 frenchies have gone beyond gwins natural top speed that won him so many races. Gwin will have to step up into the unknown for him to catch them this season. The only guys are Troy and hart who seem to have it in them to go to their level. Gwin appears to be affected by small details on his bike too so he’s always having doubts with equipment when he’s not near the top 3. Gwins been outstanding for the sport but everyone has a max speed they can react to and I’m thinking he’s reached his and loic and Perrion have surpassed his comfort zone.
  • 1 1
 @warmerdamj: or is that your story ?
  • 2 1
 @WAKIdesigns: What level of stupidity you at Waki?
  • 1 1
 @mikelee: good analysis. Well thought through. I fully agree.
  • 2 0
 @mikelee: Although you have a point, I believe Gwin hasn't truly gelled with the bike yet. He was unbelievable on his Trek, even on Spesh. That run in Val Di Sole was too good. He truly believes he can win every race, I just don't think things have went his way the last few years. He was ahead of the game a few years ago, there's no way he has lost the edge since then. I agree others have caught up to speed with him, but on a near perfect run I cannot imagine someone beating him.
  • 3 3
 @thewho07: I may suspect that he is having premarital sex With use of contraception and Jesus may be punishing him
  • 1 0
 @Christopherhamilton: that would be awesome.
  • 1 1
 @thewho07: That was almost ten years ago on Trek! His last race win was ages ago. I know he didn't win any races last year, did he win any the year before even? When was his last race win? I'm guessing... the first race of 2018? Lozenge? Or has he won since then?

The last time he looked dominant was 2017! 2016 he was lucky to beat Danny Hart (Hart won more races that year) and 2018 there was no consistent competition.

I keep saying it and I've yet to be proven wrong, his days are over.
  • 1 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: agreed... no bike will win it for you, but the wrong bike can cost you a podium (either for the particular rider's style or missing key updates to industry competition levels).
  • 38 0
 I think that it depends on what you mean with the percentages. If we're talking time, I think that 0-5% is the only reasonable answer. At Leogang last year, a 5% difference in time is roughly the difference between 1st and 50th (though to be fair, some races were a bit more spread out).

I absolutely do think that bikes make a difference though. With everyone so good these days, a even a 2% advantage via the bike is huge. As someone said in a difference discussion on here, "No one seems to be hurt by changing to Commencal"
  • 4 0
 I think the real question one should ask is about an average Joe... Because most of us behave as we would be racers and this 2% matters. Like 2% is the difference between 14 and 16 kg bike + 75kg rider...
So it matters only in people's heads, but this is a foundation of bike industry...
  • 7 0
 @lkubica: Well, I think there is only one way to determine this. Pinkbike, we need a timed Average Joe DH bike field test. I volunteer my services for the "slow hack" category, where you might see the biggest variance in what the bike can do for the rider. I don't know what level @lkubica , but as part of this thread, I think that he should be invited to participate as well.
  • 11 1
 This. Over a 4 minute race run, 5% is 12 seconds. You're barely even in contention when you're 5-8 seconds off the pace these days. 0-5% is the only sensible answer. Even at 25% you're talking about enough of a margin that no hopers could be getting on the bike and winning.
  • 2 1
 @MarcusBrody: Buy me a ticket to Canada and medical insurance an I am in Smile A am the most average Joey of them all Smile
  • 7 0
 @lkubica: I drank that cool aid hardcore. I’ve been racing DH on my enduro bike for a while now. It’s specced out with all the goods and fine tuned for speed. I’m at the bottom end of domestic pro racing so not beginner but nothing special. I finally bought a supreme thinking “it hasn’t hurt anyone else so sure it will help me” I love the bike but my results haven’t changed a bit. It’s definitely the rider. And not the bike
  • 1 0
 You make a good point. I think the way the question is phrased is a bit ambiguous. I interpreted the question as: “What percentage of a rider’s time can be attributed to their bike rather than their own skill?”
  • 3 0
 Quick correction: I meant to write “What percentage of the gap in time between elite riders can be attributed to the bike rather than rider skill?”.
  • 2 0
 Came here to say the same thing. Really il the poll should be from 0% to 10% . 10% slower on a weekends EWS racing is many many minutes, you won't even be remotely competitive. How much lower spec really is a $4000 enduro bike from what the pros ride?
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: only if you actually ride like a racer. That means freakish watts, but also picking the fastest racing line. Most riders are clueless about how to choose the best line, let alone execute riding it fast.

Go to an open track event an you'll see Civics passing Ferraris-guess who's driving their car like a race driver??
  • 1 0
 @peleton7: A very true analogy - when I was into cars I remember giving a family member a ride in my BEGi turbo’d MX5 on track we passed a 911 turbo a Ferrari 360 and lots of others that at the time would be classed as super cars. They were blown away. I was not surprised, perfectly normal. I’d have still happily swapped cars for any of them. Cars, someone giving it all as long as it’s ball park power weight so not dropped on the straights will always be faster.
  • 1 0
 @peleton7: But this means that for a non-racer gear is even less important. I agree1000%.
  • 1 0
 @MarcusBrody: I’m totally down with that idea. I volunteer for the “old and busted” category.
  • 17 5
 Back in the day the gaps in DH times was quite large. Nowadays the times are tighter than ever which leads me to believe the racers have more in the tank and its the bikes holding them back. The bikes are all quite similiar but any little difference can knock a racer back .5 of a second into 15th place. So yes I think the bikes have a tremendous effect on DH racing. XC? Im not so sure, I think fit would play a bigger role than wheelpath or progression.
  • 2 0
 at the end of the day even in those races that come down to hundredths there was likely something the second place rider could have done to win on the bike they rode that day. that said, i love to speculate and seeing the canyon sender get the overhaul it needed had me wondering if a new bike would have gotten troy the 0.5 he needed to win world champs.
  • 3 3
 i think that's the opposite. I think times are tighter because more people trust there gear now, more than ever. Look at Loic. His suspension set up is noticeably better than everyone else and he pulled away from people this year with it.
  • 1 1
 @SnowshoeRider4Life: What about Bruni's suspension setup is noticeably better than anyone else at that level? Do you mean the bike and suspension components, or how he's setting them up?
  • 6 0
 @SnowshoeRider4Life: If you think you can judge suspension setup just by looking at various people with very different riding styles...And I don´t know but by my calculations Loic won 3, Amaury won 3, I wouldn ´t call that pulling away really.
  • 2 2
 XC bikes suck. They could be so much better. Wider bars, shorter stems, coil shocks, downhill tyres, big rotors, flat pedals, angle sets but seriously you’d be better off getting something else if I’m being honest.
  • 1 0
 There are some pretty dramatic differences in XC bikes geometry. I set a ton of new PRs on starve when I swapped out frames to my new Orbea Oiz.
  • 1 0
 @LexB: Just watch his bike on gnarlier course. less movement, bounce etc. It was incredible to see how much more his bike was composed at Snowshoe.
  • 1 0
 @Mondbiker: it's how he won. total number vs time margins. difference.
  • 12 0
 Why ask us? We don't know shit. Ask the athletes. I'll read the article.

As for my own bike (as a non-athlete), the bike shouldn't obstruct me. I want the top tube and saddle out of the way for moving around. And I want enough reach too. So yeah, if I'd get a bike with a high top tube and high saddle I would go slower. And just like I have my preferences which allow me to do what I need to do on my bike, athletes have their preferences too. What these preferences are? Ask the athletes.
  • 10 0
 Whatever bike they are on is the best bike they have ever had is the problem...lol. Sponsors would not like someone saying...yea this one is okay, but my last bike was better.
  • 1 0
 How much do bikes matter to 10 of the fastest riders on earth? Hmm, let’s ask thousands of random internet dillweeds who spend way too much time agonizing over aspect of their bikes (this includes me ha)
  • 9 0
 For this, I think it boils down to the rider and their riding style. Say you have someone like rude who smashes every rock or bulldog who has rocks move out his way, he'd want a bike that can take that, compared to a ride who is all about flow will want a bike that will have the design to be a little bit smoother. All in all, it depends on the rider, their style, and do they feel their style matches the bikes style.
  • 11 0
 In the event of casing a jump or receiving the bike on the head after a fall, I'd say the the bike does impact the rider quite a lot!
  • 2 0
 Ohh this is what they were getting at
  • 8 0
 That question is not really clear enough imo.
Especially in Downhill, are we talking about "Greg Minnaar on a L size 26" V10" impact on performance or "couple clicks of compression" impact on performance? What does "right kind of bike" mean?

The top 10 guys could still outride any local racers on a trail bike, but the field is so stacked these days that even marginal differences in performance can have a relatively big impact on the time.
  • 8 1
 I would say it matters less in the top 10 than for most riders. The top 10 have professional mechanics looking after everything for them. Custom shock tunes, custom linkages, prototypes for different wheel sizes, custom frame sizing, custom reach and/or angle adjusting headsets, the list goes on.

I remember in some interview years ago Steve Peat made some offhand comment about how they were experimenting with half a turn less spoke tension on the wheels to see if they tracked better. I imagine you have to have your bike pretty close to perfect for it to be worth paying attention to half a turn of spoke tension.

It matters most to guys like the privateer who ride fast but (no disrespect intended) have no clue when it comes to setting up a bike. The better something works out of the box, the faster those guys are gonna go.
  • 1 0
 It’s said that Gwin can tell a difference of 1-2 psi in his tyre
  • 5 0
 Great question PB. You what's another good question? Why can't PB write one news story tipping a hat to Dirtrag and Dirtfest folding after decades of being a fixture in the East coast mtn biking community? Why the conspicuous silence? I'm seriously asking
  • 1 0
 I also wondered the same thing. Was Dirtrag too regional?
  • 4 0
 Another question, say you were fast enough to race world cups, or qualify for DH finals: would you race on any bike if it meant getting factory support on the World Cup for that year but cost you placings (but not enough that you don't qualify)?
  • 3 0
 I’ve heard a privateer EWS racer say they think the best thing would be loads of individual sponsors you have seeked out - if you got full package you maybe lumped with some rubbish tyres that could loose you races for example. I guess the black marker can always be used. I guess Gwin effectively has done this, makes sure he takes his individual sponsors to the team.
  • 5 1
 y'all have any data scientists working at pinkbike?

because it would be very nice to see some work put into actually figuring this out (not really looking for a definitive answer but maybe enough data to suggest things one way or another) and then a poll. If PB has a Growth team, just treat them to lunch and borrow them for a week!
  • 5 0
 I'm a data scientist. It's a hard question to answer though as bike effect is hard to isolate. Riders rarely change bikes during a season, so it's really hard to separate rider effects from bike effects.
  • 8 0
 The other option would be to have everyone ride a benchmark bike and then compare that performance with their performance on their individual bikes. I'm thinking a 2000s Brodie 8ball would probably be the best choice...
  • 2 0
 it would be difficult to model due to other variables like injuries, tracks, wc schedule, team support, development level, bike parts.
  • 3 0
 There just aren't enough data points to really be able to isolate the signal from the noise, so to speak. Now if you could clone each of the top ten riders 100 times and get each of the clones to do 100 runs on every track and bike...
  • 1 0
 @cuban-b: let’s get all of the riders to race on the same bike...
  • 7 0
 The bike won’t give you the win. But it sure can keep you from winning.
  • 5 0
 How much does it matter if the rider believes in this equipment should be the question.
  • 2 0
 For amateurs a good bike matters a little bit for personal confidence but as far as seconds count, it's not much in the scheme of what really holds us back (i.e. old age, 15# overweight, damaged bones, work Monday morning, and lack of real skill).

For a Pro EWS racer a good bike matters but they would finish about the same on any midgrade bike as long as they set up their suspension and preferred tires along with bike sizing. I'd guess they'd lose 5-10 positions.

However for a Pro XC rig or a DH rig at a top 10 level where milliseconds matter and every top racer is already at the very top of their game, all of those guys would no longer be top 10 on an off the shelf low end bike, in fact unlikely to be top 50. Because that's what 10 seconds on a Pro DH run or a minute in a XC race will due to your placing.

Ultimately the bike is the last 10% difference, which makes all of the difference in the world at that level.
  • 2 0
 EWS races are coming down to the second nowadays over like 6 or seven stages and like 40km. I think having your bike sorted is even more important because they are riding longer distances or tracks they’ve seen once
  • 1 0
 I don’t think the poll is talking about mid-grade bikes or off the shelf low end bikes.
  • 2 0
 I think it has less to do with the performance of the bike outright than it does with the right match between rider's preference and riding style and the performance of the bike. One rider's perfect bike could significantly hold another rider back.
  • 2 0
 We all like our bikes and we all think there’s a best bike, but in reality all bikes are good, we’re wannabes, the guys that are fast are fast because they are fast.

I have yet to buy any product because it was popularized by a racer. I pick products because they work, because they’re a good value, because they represent my values, and because I like the way they look; a little vanity never hurt anyone Wink

I can’t even tell you who raves for whom unless it’s Gwin or Hill, I think Gwin still rides Intense and Hill rides something...
  • 1 0
 I think it matters a whole lot - we're all different, and ride different - so having a setup that responds the best to your own riding style it's crucial. . .. .

. . . . .. . there's a lot of the "it's not about the gear, it's the rider.. .." and to some extent that's true - I mean, put a talented rider on a shitty bike he will still be talented. . . ... but there's a point where gear needs to, at least, match.. ...

I think you swap them bikes in the morning and you'll see everyone changing stems and lever positions, and cranks and saddles and whatnot, to match their style.. . ....

... because, in the end, gear will matter.. .. a lot !
  • 1 0
 What does a lot mean? Because you can win or be 20th and are in the 2% difference. On the other hand, all riders change teams and sponsors and they do great vids no matter the brand. Kriss Akrigg can ride a road bike in the mountains better than most of us can ride mtbs.
  • 3 1
 The day after I brought my first “Long, Low an Slack” bike. I was crushing my DH strava PR’s, and getting the very occasional KOM too. In gravity racing, u can buy time.
  • 1 0
 Bikes these days, customised for the racer and tended by top mechanics, tend to be good. Gwin couldn't have done what he did in Leogang (for example) on a back-of-the-shed 2006 Kona, but he would have likely had good odds on any team's bike
  • 1 0
 Tough one.. Nino is the great example of this. Had he not been picked up by Scott and mentored by Frischi then I doubt he would have realized his full potential. Whilst that's not necessarily brand equipment specific, Frischi, Scott and Nino are inseparable in their race careers.. so yes, a significant portion of his success is attributable to Scott as a brand.
  • 1 0
 0-5% is MASSIVE at pro level, even amateur level.

That's what how much bikes make and probably under 1 or 2%. Those higher percentages are just stupid.

Say a pro XCO takes 1.5hrs to complete, if you're 2-3min slower that's massive and it's just 2-3% difference but makes a difference between 1st and 30th place.
I'm pretty sure if nr. 1 rider had a "comp" version of his top bike, he'd still be able to beat the rider who came 30th.
  • 1 0
 With MotoGP the figures are roughly 80% the rider, 20% the bike, F1 is said to be the reverse, 80% the car, 20% the driver. I'm going out on a limb and saying we're more in line with MotoGP than F1. Danny Hart is possibly the best example I can think of presently, he's won on Giant, Saracen and Mondraker. Rachael Atherton is another example
  • 1 0
 This is sort of a dumb question. Unless you believe the bike makes absolutely no difference then its obvious for the best riders who are very close in ability a small advantage can make the difference between winning and being 10th. of course almost any pro riding a beach cruiser could make me look slow even if I was riding my dream bike.
  • 1 0
 Rider is the most important component, however, the best rider in World Cup would not win on a bicycle that isn't competitive. World Cup XC with wheel bearings and a bottom bracket that has 5-10% more drag than Nino Shurter's? Suspension that is less tuned than Arron Gwin's? Imagine hitting a Rampage grade compression without course specific shock set up? Competition is at a level now where there is no space for anything but the best.
  • 1 0
 I think its vary from rider to rider. I feel like there are some riders who would adapt to anything you put under them (obviously assuming its still a WC caliber bike). Then there are likely riders who are much more in tune with their preferences or have a certain riding style where they struggle on a certain bike or setup.
  • 1 0
 I feel that as long as the bike is set up to the riders preferences in terms of fit and suspension setup, it wouldn’t make a difference if they were riding Alu or carbon frame, bats or wheels. I think it’s more about being comfortable on the bike and being familiar with how the bike handles. RS vs Fox or kashima vs performance, that won’t stop a winning run from happening.
  • 1 0
 For us average joe's the bike make less of an impact, but I would think that for top racers where 1st and 2nd can be separated by a fraction of a second, the bike has quite an impact. Especially when you see racers change their chainstays by millimeters in length and make continuous tiny, seemingly-insignificant changes in other aspects of their bikes.
  • 1 0
 @theracingbear not so sure for joe average, I got a Radon Swoop asked loads of questions thought it’s the bike for me from reviews - spent 2 years adjusting it never really happy. Swapped the frame for an NS Snabb 160 same components fork etc, 5 minutes into the 1 st ride it was amazing way more at home on it, where I was nervous in the Radon I can just smash it on the Snabb, made hell of a difference for a frame that on paper is very, very similar.
  • 1 0
 @StevieJB: Nice! Have you recorded any runs and compared the times?

I agree bikes do make some difference, but spending more time on the bike, learning the trails, could improve a rider's ability far greater than the bike setup for the average joe. I remember working hard on trying to set a personal best on a local trail, only to beat it on a casual ride a few months later while riding the same bike. I might have done even better on a bike with current-year tech.

My overall point, is that for the pros racing at the top of the game, differences in bikes (even the most minor variances) make a much greater difference than for the rest of us.
  • 1 0
 Biggest difference is the mental strength of the rider and their fitness level. Who is willing to push that extra 1% to separate themselves enough to earn a win or podium. We are talking hundredths and thousandths of a second separating 1 rider from the rest of the pack. On average its maybe 5% the bike making a difference. But for the most part its how the bike is set up more so than the bike and the components themselves. Which sill only accounts for about 5% difference at best.
  • 1 0
 Are we talking generally high performing product? Because if you get a really good rider on really bad tires that could make or break the ride depending on the conditions. However, if we are only talking about pro callibre parts (Fox vs. RS or Maxxis vs. Conti) than I think the impact is far less.
  • 1 0
 think about it with another sport. If Tiger and I were to swap my crappy clubs and his custom clubs, he would easily beat me. If he were to play another pro with my clubs he would struggle to win. Even if he had an off the shelf high end, non customized set he would be at a disadvantage over the other pro with their own custom set. Having a bike setup and customized to your preferences at the elite level will give you the best chance and sometime certain innovations really increase that advantage but we all know that guy that has all the gear and no idea. It's the same in road racing when the guy shows up to a club ride with his s-works with custom titanium spoke nipples bragging about the weight savings but weighs 110kg. Don't be that guy!
  • 1 0
 10% is 18 seconds on a three minute course. If Amaury Pierron and Loic Bruni traded bikes would they be 18 seconds slower compared to their own bikes? Maybe on the first run but given a bit of practice time I doubt there would be much of a margin. Anyone who thinks a different bike will make them 25% faster is buying into some serious hype.
  • 1 0
 See I think of it as that 10% would be more within their range of performance: essentially within a standard deviation. If you consider it that way- a 10% difference in reasonable time might be 1-2 seconds... or a little less or more depending on the course. In that case I do think if skills are relatively well matched (like Bruni vs. Pierron) than maybe a bad tire choice, an unfamiliar frame/suspension design, or a malfunctioning brake could influence that difference.
  • 1 0
 While I agree they could all destroy the layman with a huffy, the level these riders are ALL at and the miniscule difference between 1st - 5th in many cases means absolutley every factor is high consequence/reward.

- Mental game important
- fitness important
- Getting the right start time in relation to the weather/wind/rain/ruts in the track
- even the slightest difference in equipment could make a differnce of a fraction of a second, which is all that sets aside the top spots many cases.

The chainlesss runs are always brought up but there is more going on there with the suspension.
  • 1 0
 I genuinely believe that your background on bikes is going to affect your performance on a certain bike. Someone that has been riding hardtails for decades may never feel comfortable on a 160mm carbon super bike so they probably could be faster on a short travel bike with old school geometry. Most of the people I talk to end up settling on a brand because it was the first "real" bike they rode. I believe part of it is loyalism, but part of it is they are comfortable with how the suspension reacts and know what to expect. When I first rode DW Link, I hated it. Not because it did anything wrong, but because it didn't react the way I was expecting. I preferred a modified single pivot. I don't anymore, but that's how I felt originally. Now I prefer all the linkages and technologies.
  • 1 0
 For factory racers it's pretty much the same yes, because the most important thing is not the bike itself but how it is set up. And by this I mean tire choice, suspension setup, frame sizing and geometry, and cockpit choice/set up. And all of this is obviously not independent from the rider. So it's all about having a bike that you feel comfortable and fast with, and this can happen with pretty much any good bike. Although it's also possible to be fast or faster, on a bike that you are not feeling fast in and vice versa, but that's another issue. Now, that's for enduro and DH, for XC I think the bike matters more, if some models are lighter, pedal better and have high end components. For enduro and DH that's not as important (or even straight-cut, since the trade-off between pedalling efficiency and suspension performance is still very present overall).
  • 2 0
 I don't think a good bike will make you win, but a bad bike will make you lose. Good and bad being very relative, and talking about the top fraction of a percent performance-wise.
  • 1 0
 I believe the combination of pierron, his bike and the current style of World Cup track is the correct combination to make him the fastest racer in the world. His flat out powerful style onboard the big 29 ploughing machine enables him to excel on many of today’s fast open rough WC tracks. Despite my contradiction as he was beaten by Bruni - but you could argue that was down to a few rider errors. My point being could he still pilot that bike to domination on tighter, slower more old school tracks, I would say no
  • 1 0
 in this 2020 era most modern stuff actually works so its a much more even playing field across brands.

compare that to the 80s & early 90s were certain brands/components/frames worked very poorly, or had a rep for breaking, then that era had a massive impact on how much difference a bike made towards a racers results. henrik djernis winning world champs 3 times for ritchey, then moving to a heavyweight proflex with poor results being a classic example
  • 1 0
 I believe 25-50% of the bike and equipment reflect a racers results. Every rider is in their best shape. Their skills, strength and reaction time are all top notch. This is where different bikes benefit each rider. The bikes weight, geometry, suspension and wheel size are all taken into account. If every rider was on the same bike then we’d be able to see who’s skills are better then the next racer
  • 1 0
 It seems like some folks are into watching sports and some are into playing sports. I’m sure there’s plenty of variations, but for the watchers out there I suspect that they care more about what a racer is riding than the non watchers.

So yeah, not a watcher here, don’t have cable or internet, no TV, just a phone and a computer at work.
  • 1 0
 Is it even possible to ever measure which bike is better?

Nike's new controversial running shoes they can test and see how much it improves the runners time obviously it's a lot less variables but when it comes to mountain biking there's just too many factors to consider why someone won or lost.
  • 1 0
 Depends on what bike we talking about a well speced Giant reign could easily win EWS racers. But a 10k bike is always going to help over a 2k bike. No need for the most expensive frame but good tyres, suspension and brakes make significant difference of cheap ones.
  • 4 0
 It’s the man, not the machine
  • 2 2
 The rootier and more off camber the track, the more the rear suspension design matters. When keeping the bike glued to the ground to either maintain traction or accelerate, the suspension can fight, neutralize or give an advantage to the rider in grip on off camber or valuable momentum or power transfer for acceleration in chunky bits.
Need to pedal in off camber, slippery, chunky bits...the bike matters far more than we give credit.

Why don't we do actual anaylsis of where the suspension designs themselves may or may not improve rider result.
Take the last 5 years of World Cup results. Include World Champs.
Use a graph plotting the average finish of each bike design at race 1 for all 60 riders in the race.
That way we can see if a suspension design's average result at a World Cup changes based on the style of track.
Then assign a track style to each World Cup but keep the track categories simple with maybe 3 categories that indicate how demand the suspension system faces at each track.
If what I've always felt on a bike when riding it is true, we "should" see that the more technically demanding the track (either intensely difficult off camber traction OR straight line sprinting through rocky, momentum robbing terrain), DW Link & FSR style bikes gain in average result and single pivots & VPP on tracks that are more "no brakes & pull the pin" will have a higher average result.

SEBBBBBB....Roots and Rain....you want this challenge?
  • 1 0
 At the top level, the performance of most of the bikes are very close together. I believe bike preparation (mostly suspension and tire) is much more important than the bike itself.
  • 1 0
 Eddie Masters time on the PB hot lap was 3:31 on his usual bike and 4:11 on the Brodie 8-Ball. That's a big difference in time, but 4:11 is still faster than a vast majority of mt bikers can ride that trail!
  • 1 0
 That's ~%19 difference on an 18 year old bike and I'd suspect that's the maximum difference we'd see, the Brodie is the proverbial "shopping cart". Compared to new bikes the difference would be far less, given a lower spec bike with heavier weight and less sophisticated suspension damping, the difference might be small, but in pro-level racing small differences in time matter a lot.
  • 1 0
 For me the bike doesn't really matter all that much. For pros there are many factors that make up a winning formula but I don't have the experience or knowledge to really have an opinion.
  • 1 0
 Just watch any one of the Road Bike Party videos. Guys that are great are simply that, great. In terms of racing they are all using the best of the best equipment. I think it is the rider not the ride.
  • 1 0
 To me the bike itself doesn't affect much the overall performance and any high end bikes and equipment can provide world class riding. The key is all about suspension setup and grip.

(not talking about XC here..)
  • 1 0
 I don't even know how to interpret the percentages offered. I mean, what is represented by a 1% difference?
It sounds quantitative but with no parameters and no agreement on scale, it's just drunk talk.
  • 1 0
 It would be interesting to see a race where all of the racers are on the same bike. Little changes like shock and tire pressure and sizing would be considered, but very little customization otherwise.
  • 1 0
 My take is that the shorter the time of the race and the bigger the impacts the percentage of bike influence goes up. Hence, I increased the influence from xc to was to dh, and the highest to rampage.
  • 3 1
 Weight, tires, geometry, brakes, suspension, availability of dropper post (for XC). All huge.
  • 4 1
 F*** it.. if Andreu is on 26s I’m going back to 26s.
  • 2 3
 Surely you should be asking the pros this? Obviously us shitmunchers are going to be less informed than somebody who actually races at world cup level.

There's been plenty of pros who dominated their disciplines with bikes that we look back on now and think weren't great for their time. If you disregard the fact bikes weren't as good as they are now (obviously due to product development), there was always a few that will be looked back on for not being the greatest for their times, yet riders won riding them. Take the old GT Fury's and sanction when the Gee, Rachael Atherton and Martin Maes were all dominating on what now seem like fairly average bikes. List goes on, Peaty on Orange, Bruno and Vergier on Lapierre, Zink on Hyper, Akrigg on Mongoose, Wynn Masters on Bulls and there's definitely more....
  • 2 0
 And you can go ahead and bump all of our votes up 1-notch because none of us want to admit that marketing wins.
  • 3 0
 a pro rider on a mid tier bike beats a mid pack rider on a pro bike.
  • 3 0
 Those Commencal high pivots are insane though.
  • 1 1
 Yeah, my girlfriend`s high pivots are insane too even if she competes as an amateur.
  • 2 0
 being 20 something years old and having bones made of rubber makes you fast. ask Loic and Amaury...
  • 1 0
 truth be told, being confident in your gear makes all the difference in the world. if you think your gear is holding you back, it will.
  • 1 0
 Every "new" bike these days is super close in performance/geometry. They're all very capable. Totally the rider and his/her training and fitness.
  • 1 0
 I like to see a just for fun race where maybe pros draw each others rides out of a hat or whatever. Then they ride them with the other riders setup and see how everyone does.
  • 2 0
 i’ve seen state championships won on a hardtail in a group of full suspension mojo.
  • 1 0
 My impression is that the bike doesn't make a huge difference, but that switching bikes/making meaningful setup changes temporarily screws you.
  • 2 1
 Modern bike dont mean shiii, i could slap some corners and parkour the frick out of those world cup tracks in my crocks and still put down faster times than Pierron
  • 2 0
 and so yeah, the biggest question we all need to ask:

Hey PB, where’s the Grim Donut?

Did Levy wrap it around a tree?
  • 1 1
 A good love maker can accomplish his goal with a small penis, however the same goal is accomplished by the poor love maker with the large penis, making him a good love maker.

[Drops mic.]
  • 1 0
 It matters to a certain degree, worldcup XC on SLX vs XTR ? No difference. On a Decathlon alloy frame or on a highend carbon one ? Most certainly a difference
  • 1 0
 enduro setups give a broader range of right & wrong, DH it’s marginal at best just ask Gwin or athertons success across various bikes.
  • 1 0
 I the Mechanical aspect for the rampage is grossly underrated. Freeride athletes also need a setup highly specific to their needs
  • 1 0
 For Rampage its apparently way more important to be sponsored by the right company and to be associated with the right people...
  • 1 0
 Just watch that Sam Pilgrim vid of him shredding Whistler's A-Line on a $180 WalMart bike, and you'll see it's mostly the rider.....
  • 2 1
 Gwin won on the YT Tues and ( as far as I remember) not on the Intense. Nuff said!
  • 1 1
 I don't really think it matters much. That said, Andreu almost won on a TUES. Let's see if he can almost win again on a Sender.
  • 1 0
 @endlessblockades: Andreu's on a Sender?
  • 1 0
 @chriskneeland: No he isn't. I was on a bender.
  • 1 1
 He`s lost his god, that`s why.... Redhaired were persecuted and burned in the middle age. The curse goes on...
  • 1 0
 Carbon Yeti with Fox Factory vs. Aluminum Diamondback with a Yari? I think that would matter...
  • 2 1
 I don't think it would nearly as much as you think. The Yari is a pretty solid fork, actually might take it over a FIT4 damper, but not a GRIP/GRIP2. And the newer Diamondbacks with the dual link suspension are pretty good. Plus if someone feel more comfortable with how the Diamondback is set up compared to the Yeti, that particular rider will be faster on the Diamondback.
  • 1 0
 The Diamondback doesn't snap.
  • 1 0
 The rampage one is funny, the results wouldn’t change much I’d bet. However, if a part fails...
  • 2 0
 It’s not the rider or the bike. It’s ...both!
  • 1 0
 It's a massive factor. Gwin didnt look right on that xl 29er it looked way to big and cumbersome imo.
  • 2 1
 Gwin on a Yeti not great, Gwin on a Trek fairly great..... read into that what you will ????
  • 1 0
 Performance definitely matters, but all the "top racers" are on high end bikes set up to meet their needs. So 0-5% it is.
  • 1 0
 Bike set-up and sizing is important, bike brand or suspension type is much less important.
  • 2 0
 Sheeesh. WTF? The impact is huge. Hard to win without a bike.
  • 1 0
 I believe a pro rider needs to trust their equipment for them to have good results in competition
  • 1 0
 Aaron who? Win what? with what? what for? with what sort of belief?......

Ah OK.
  • 1 0
 Of course the bike matters or when top racers had there’s stolen they could have just carried on on a voodoo from halfords
  • 1 0
 But what about the more important question? How much does the racer impact bike's results?
  • 1 0
 This must be interesting for bike industry regarding sponsoring in different disciplines...
  • 1 0
 100%, no bike, no ride, no win.....the rider is just a passenger at this point!
  • 1 0
 The Grim Donut series showed us that ev //
  • 1 0
 There’s an old saying that goes it’s not the wand it’s the wizard.
  • 1 0
 I though all DHers rode Sessions anyway?!??
  • 2 1
 How much does the bike and equipment affect Friday Fails?
  • 2 1
 GEAR MATTERS. YA GOTTA HAVE A WATER BOTTLE!!!
  • 1 0
 1/3 skill, 1/3 stamina, 1/3 placebo effect
  • 1 0
 I’m embarrassed that I filled out this survey ????
  • 1 0
 IF Intense made shopping carts then Gwin could win on a shopping cart!
  • 1 0
 It's not about the bike. It's about the landing
  • 2 2
 Norbs couldn't podium on a shopping cart.
  • 3 3
 Depends if you're riding an Intense or not.
  • 3 3
 I just bought a DH bike. Now I am ready for Red Bull Rampage.
  • 2 2
 I totally agree with the above post.
  • 1 1
 Where is the grim donut did I miss it???!!
  • 1 1
 Sam Hill could kick your ass on a tricycle.
  • 1 1
 Sam Hill could kick my ass in a bar fight....
  • 2 4
 How did Gwin do on the Intense?
Yeah the bike matters...

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