It was only a few months ago that we featured five 29" downhill bikes in a Ridden and Rated feature
. That crop included Trek's Session, Cube's Stereo, Banshee's Legend, Norco's Aurum HSP, and Commencal's Supreme. This second batch includes four more race winning rigs from Intense, Saracen, GT, and Devinci. That's nine downhill bikes in a head-to-head comparison, and if you are wondering who came out on top, and which was my preferred rig, read on to find out.
Saracen's Myst has been on the racing circuit for years, a brand with a long history that in more recent years was revived and fuelled by Madison – one of the UK's biggest distributors. This 29" wheeled downhiller for 2019 and onwards shares a silhouette with the previous Myst but has been tweaked and tuned with input from no other than Danny Hart, and 2018 Junior Downhill World Champ, Matt Walker.
The Myst is now available with 27.5" or 29" wheels, various build kits, framesets, and even a budget alloy version. We opted for the top of the line, full carbon, 29" wheeled Myst Team. The Myst Team is a replica of the bike that the Madison Saracen
200mm rear / 203mm frontFrame construction:
24T/40T/3K Toray UD CarbonSuspension Design:
Linkage driven single pivotSuspension:
Fox Factory 49 + DHX2Sizes:
M and LWeight:
£5799 GBP / $7445 USD (approx.)saracen.co.uk
Factory Team have been racing this year, built to.their racer's spec' with Fox Factory Suspension, Shimano Saint stopping and starting gear, and a DT Swiss FR560 wheelset wrapped in Maxxis rubber. All of the above is available through your Saracen dealer or their online shop freewheel.co.uk
for £5799 GBP (est. $7445 USD)
The Saracen was a real head-turner out on the track. People seemed to love the orange frame that matched the Fox 49 and the clear-coated carbon-fiber treatments. The Myst proved that a single-pivot bike with a linkage-actuated shock can still hold its own against the big boys.
The Myst is a great all 'rounder that will do everything well, with some adjustment to fine tune the fit and feel to your needs or to the track. The lack of an XL size puts tall riders out of the equation, but smaller riders can opt for the 27.5" wheel version that offers even smaller sizes. It' only other limitation is that it is not available globally, but one can be found in many dealers around the world, or from Madison's own online shop, freewheel.co.uk
Great suspension and a solid build+
Balanced and adjustable geometry
Lacking XL size-
Limited availability worldwide
Devinci's Wilson has been on the World Cup circuit for years, but after a brief hiatus, it is back under the Unior Devinci Factory Team
, with Dakotah Norton taking it to 5th place in Losinj. The current iteration rolls on 29" wheels, with a Canadian made aluminum frame and 204mm of travel, delivered via a Split Pivot suspension design.
The Wilson 29 is available as a complete bike in two spec' levels or as a frame only, with a choice of colorways: the black / silver (pictured) or red / orange. The ready-to-race SRAM X01 DH build (tested) with a top spec' Rockshox Boxxer World Cup fork and Super Deluxe shock is available for $6449 (approx. €5681), while the GX DH build has a Boxxer RC fork in addition to the more affordable
204mm rear / 200mm frontFrame construction:
6066 T6 aluminum, carbon seatstayFork:
Super Deluxe CoilSizes:
S, M, L, XL (tested)Colours:
Black / Silver and Red / OrangeWeight:
38.03lbs / 17.31 kg (XL, w/o pedals, actual
$6449 (est. €5681) X01 builddevinci.com
drivetrain and can be bought for $4119 (approx. €3629). The frame-only option comes with a Super Deluxe Coil WC shock and FSA headset for $2279 (approx. €2007).
While the Saracen Myst is a great all-'rounder, the Devinci Wilson is a high-speed brute whose massive size and geometry ignores boundaries. This is a bike for people who want to go fast and carve corners, and one of the best choices if you ride brutal descents serviced by chairlifts.
Great overall package+
A big bike for big speed+
Full external brake routing
Difficult to adjust rebound-
Hard to slow down in steeps-
A little on the heavy side for some
Intense has been competing at the sharp end of the downhill World Cup since before many of Pinkbike's readers were born, with the legendary M1 regularly visiting the podium. Back in the day, other manufacturers simply re-badged Intense frames with their own team logos. Nowadays, Intense Factory Racing
and Cero Design (the studio behind Unno Bikes) have been heavily involved with the development of the 29" DH bikes. They were race-testing aluminum M29 mules during the 2017 season and were one of the first to debut a carbon production model.
In 2019, the M29 will be available as a complete
208mm rear / 200mm frontFrame construction:
Rockshox Boxxer World CupShock:
Super Deluxe World Cup CoilSizes:
M, L, XL (tested)Weight:
16.77kg / 37lb (XL, w/o pedals, actual
$5,999 USD Elite buildintense.com
bike in the 'Elite' build and also as a frame and shock. Initially, a race team replica going by the name FRO (For Racing Only) was released, and the 15 bikes sold out almost immediately, despite their $10,000 price tag. The Elite build reviewed here costs 'only' $5,999 USD and is ready to be put to test against the clock straight away. The frameset is also available for $2,499, including a RockShox Super Deluxe coil shock.
The M29 did have a few little annoyances when it came to shock access and some small hardware issues, but who can't like the M29? The iconic shape and style of Intense is something that is envied by many other brands.
The M29 had a unique ride quality and feel that is not found anywhere else. It excelled everywhere and sits securely as my second favorite thanks to its combination of style and superb ride characteristics.
Fantastic silhouette and heritage+
Superb bump compliance and traction+
Lively and confidence inspiring
Low-spec components for the price tag-
Some slightly frustrating maintenance access issues-
Only available in bigger sizes
After seeing prototypes of the Fury under the GT Factory Racing Team on the race-track in 2018, this new model was much anticipated. The Fury 29 marks a departure from GT's I-Drive suspension configuration, to the more conventional LTS design, with a high main pivot point and idler pulley. The current iteration's carbon frame can change between 29" or 27.5" wheels with a 'Switch Kit' in order to offer a bike for shorter riders and to provide snappier handling for bike park use.
The Fury is available in three complete builds. The Carbon Team 29 being tested here was inspired by the bikes their race team ride. It retails for $7900 USD and comes with Fox Factory suspension, using a 49 fork and a Float X2 shock. The drivetrain is Shimano Saint and the finishing kit is by RaceFace.
GT FuryRear Wheel Travel:
190mm (29") and 200mm (27.5")Wheel size:
29" or 27.5"Frame construction:
carbon front triangle and aluminum rearFork:
Fox Float X2Sizes:
S (27.5" only), M, L (tested)Colors:
Blue / YellowWeight:
17.84kg / 39.06lbs (L, w/o pedals, actual
$7900 USD / €7499 EUR Carbon Team build gtbicycles.com
Other models available are the Carbon Pro for $5775, with either 29" or 27.5" wheels (size S is 27.5, M = 27.5 or 29, L = 29). They also offer the Carbon Expert 27.5 for $4200, and the frame separately, including the Switch Kit, for $3000.
On track, the Fury had a great balance between a real high-pivot-idler machine and classic four-bar system. If you like a four-bar design, the GT gives you that, but with a smoother ride and less feedback from the trail through your feet and legs. Its heavy weight will put some riders off, but if you want a rig that can be bashed around bike parks, or you're a hard rider and don't want to worry about thin carbon tubing, the Fury could be for you. We had an issue with a weak shock bolt during testing, but GT assures us that has been addressed on all models moving forward.
Rewards aggressive riders+
Stout chassis for serial bike-beaters +
Plenty of tuning options and adjustments
Weak lower shock bolt-
Low front end on size large
Like the previous Ridden and Rated for big wheel downhill machines, and despite my criticisms, all the bikes featured here are more than capable of taking on the hardest tracks all over the world, and they are all better than everything from earlier this decade – if you have an old 26" bike from 2011, anything here will blow your mind with its capability.
But, one bike has to come out on top. The Intense M29 was a fantastic machine in my eyes and sets a benchmark for many others to work towards. But, and there is a big but – the Commencal Supreme 29". The Supreme took our 2018 Bike of the Year award, and I still post it at the top of my list. It simply does everything - it's a superb value and it comes in many colors, build options and sizes. Above all that, there is still nothing else that gives the bump munching ability, grip, balance, tracking, and silence that the Andorran bike offers.