The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 108 - Behind the Scenes at the Value Bike Field Test

Mar 5, 2022
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

It's time for another Field Test, and this round sees the crew trade the cold, wet weather of the Pacific Northwest for the sunshine and cactus of Tucson, Arizona. Mike Kazimer, Alicia Leggett, Beta's Ryan Palmer, and myself are in the middle of hitting cactus and tending to our sunburns while testing nine value-minded mountain bikes that include four hardtails costing between $1,500 USD and $2,100 USD, and five full-suspension bikes starting at $2,600 and going up to $3,500 USD. And while we're around a month away from any videos or verdicts being released, the four of us thought we'd sit down to chat about some impressions of the bikes so far, how the different brands are trying to make a lot of bike for not a lot of money, and even dodging trail-side rattlesnakes.

Got questions about our Value Bike Field Test? Put 'em down below and we'll try to answer them in the next episode.

March 5th, 2022

Nine bikes, one rattlesnake, and more than few screams.

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.

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
Episode 59 - Value Bike Field Trip Surprises & Spoilers
Episode 60 - What Kind of Mountain Biker Do You Want to Be?
Episode 61 - Athlete Pay, Lycra, Equality and More from the State of the Sport Survey
Episode 62 - Editor Preferences and Why They Matter
Episode 63 - Our Best (And Worst) Bike Buying Advice
Episode 64 - Who's On Your MTB Mount Rushmore?
Episode 65 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 66 - The Best and Worst of Repairing Bikes
Episode 67 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham
Episode 68 - Who Are Mountain Biking's Unsung Heroes?
Episode 69 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 1
Episode 70 - The Good, Bad, and Strange Bikes We've Owned - Part 2
Episode 71 - The Story of Mountain Biking's Most Interesting Man: Richard Cunningham - A Pinkbike Podcast Special, Part 2
Episode 72 - Hey Outers!
Episode 73 - The Details That Matter... and Some That Shouldn't
Episode 74 - The Best Trails We've Ridden and What Makes Them So Special
Episode 75 - Things MTB Brands Waste Money On
Episode 76 - MTB Originals and Copycats
Episode 77 - Interview with Outside CEO, Robin Thurston
Episode 78 - Modern Geometry Explained
Episode 79 - What's the Future of eMTBs?
Episode 80 - The Best Vehicles for Mountain Bikers
Episode 81 - You've Got Questions, We've (Maybe) Got Answers
Episode 82 - Behind the Scenes at Field Test
Episode 83 - Does Carbon Fiber Belong On Your Mountain Bike?
Episode 84 - Explaining RockShox's Computer Controlled Suspension
Episode 85 - Is the Red Bull Rampage Too Slopestyle?
Episode 86 - Greg Minnaar on the Honda DH Bike, World Cup Racing, and Staying Fast Forever
Episode 87 - How to Love Riding When it's Cold and Wet
Episode 88 - Mountain Biking on a Budget
Episode 89 - The Derailleur Pickle
Episode 90 - Is Supre the Future of Trouble-Free Drivetrains? (with Cedric Eveleigh of Lal Bikes)
Episode 91 - Riding Every Double Black in the Whistler Bike Park with Christina Chappetta
Episode 92 - Does Bike Weight Really Matter?
Episode 93 - Staying Motivated and Overcoming Burnout
Episode 94 - PBA Contestant Tori Wood on Her First Race and Finding the Right Mindset
Episode 95 - Field Test Down-Country Bike Debrief
Episode 96 - PBA Contestant Israel Carrillo on Riding in Mexico and Why It's Not Always About Speed
Episode 97 - Can We Predict the Future of Mountain Biking?
Episode 98 - Field Test Trail Bike Debrief
Episode 99 - New Year, New You?
Episode 100 - Q&A with the PB Editors
Episode 101 - MTB Tradeshows Explained
Episode 102 - Should MTB Media Be Going to Press Camps?
Episode 103 - Secrets from the World Cup Pits with Henry Quinney
Episode 104 - Lachlan Morton on How to be a Happy Bike Racer and the World's Longest Climb
Episode 105 - The 3 Bike Budget Challenge
Episode 106 - What's Your Ideal Ride Look Like?
Episode 107 - How (And Why) Did You Start Mountain Biking?

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 65 7
 @mikelevy @henryquinney

When did the bike marketing industry decide to start calling an individual's collection of bikes a "quiver"? This term is most often when talking about a "quiver killer", which seems to describe a great all-around bike.
I believe this term is borrowed from the ski, and possibly the surf industry, where describing a collection of the aforementioned recreational equipment as a quiver makes sense. If you stored your ski's in a cylindrical storage vessel, it doesn't take much imagination to see resemblance to an archer's quiver.
Mountain bikes will not in the foreseeable future strike this same resemblance. Therefore, I insist Pinkbike takes the lead on abolishing this word-crime by desisting use of the word "quiver" in MTB journalism. Next launch a multi-million dollar market study (funded by Beta subscriptions, conducted by "MikeBike") to solicit new names for a MTB collection.
I'd like to suggest "a stable of bikes." Comparing bikes to horses. Then when the new high-pivot, gearbox, linkage-fork, supersuperboost down-duro-slope/cross-trail-country bike gets reviewed, you can call it a "stable killer", or "glue maker".
  • 6 48
flag PHX77 (Mar 5, 2022 at 9:02) (Below Threshold)
 You are complaining about nothing. Go ride your f*cking bike!
  • 12 0
 Not getting into bike industry sales pitches, but for what its worth.... "Quiver" was definitely first used in "action sports" referring to a necessary selection of surfboards. Which is definitely legit, being that different breaks/conditions warrant different boards. This term definitely dates back to the 1990's in the surf world and likely goes back way farther. Quiver is a valid term in bikes, boards and planks because of various conditions, locations and objectives. And with all due respect we all know Robin Hood probably invented the term.
  • 12 1
 @JDFF: nahh I'm in team stable
  • 6 1
 I definitely have a quiver of skis and it is necessary. More and more on with mountain bikes though I have been able to do pretty much everything I want on a 160 - 170mm Enduro bike.
  • 11 0

High five. I say we go all in on these horse metaphors.

May as well use some of the outside $$$ to rename bike categories to horse types. Here’s a few examples

Downhill bike = Destrier
Trail Bike = Gelding
Strider Bike = Shetland Pony
  • 27 0
 @jmsjns: Haha! @mikelevy I'd love to do a podcast about the worst clichés in MTB - all the crap we say ourselves included.
  • 19 0
 @henryquinney: Added to the list.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: so a podcast version of this?
  • 3 21
flag taskmgr (Mar 5, 2022 at 15:55) (Below Threshold)
 This is idiotic. A quiver is a container for arrows, bolts, etc. The bike industry steals from every other sport when it comes to slang and terms. It's the ultimate try hard me too blow hard sport with no actual self developed identity.
  • 22 1
 @makripper: very serious
  • 6 0
 @makripper: r u angry
  • 1 0
 @makripper: need a hug?
  • 1 0
 @waldog: he’s probably goodnow that hr blew his quiver clear outta the water Wink
  • 4 1

You seem a bit upset, have you euthanized any horses lately?
  • 2 2
I don't think you understand how words and their definition become part of the accepted language. Basically if enough people use and understand it, it becomes accepted.
  • 1 0
 Expept for France, they have a government body that controls the language!
  • 3 0
 I thought it referred to a bike that could most easily destroy an archer while out riding. Quiver killers will therefore vary somewhat by location and use of compound bows
  • 4 0
 @henryquinney: Anything quiver related is annoying but I think the worst is “confidence inspiring” or “inspires confidence”. The most overused terms and they somehow apply to everything. And now “acoustic” and “analog” bike is being thrown around and they so unnecessary and cringy. Bikes were around first and don’t need to be renamed. We already call the new electric ones E-bikes, so can’t we just leave it at bike and E-bike?
  • 2 0
 How a Mountain of Bikes ???

Pretty funny tho and also, quoting @milekazimer “its just riding bikes” so as a metaphor, it works. Im fine if it goes away but given there 681 other mtb cliches in the verbal quiver ( !!! ) at PB and mtb-culture wide Id have have to say…

In the meantime - hang in there, lets regroup, powwow, reach some conclusions, think outside the box, and at the end of the day it'll be a win-win situation - failure is not an option and you've tone granular and earned your chops on this low hanging fruit
  • 1 0
 @ak-77: yessss
  • 1 0
 @IMeasureStuff: What's their stance on "downcountry", do we know?
  • 1 0
 @IMeasureStuff: le ordinateur !
  • 1 0
 Hearing you guys talk about life threatening thing on the trails.. here in the UK the worst we get is a slightly miffed squirrel!
  • 35 4
 Also not too sure that Palmer passed the vibe check. If he had to ride hard tails he would just get into rock climbing??!? That’s kinda sad…
  • 12 3
 Pretty much what I was thinking. Seems MTBing whooooshed right over his head.
  • 5 0
 @maddog39 @DBone95 - He was mostly joking, but it's harder to get that across when there's only audio and no video. And to be fair, I've had many bikes that didn't light a fire under my ass to go riding, even though I know full well that it's not about the bike I'm riding.
  • 9 6
 Palmer is always like that, OG PB staff is def a cut above
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: We’ll said! I’m for sure watching all these field trip videos when they come out so I’m excited to see his thoughts on everything. Cheers
  • 7 4
 Palmer passed for me - his bust about getting full sus as a hardtial dunked (and I loveHT). Its just words, opinions, talking, chatter, and banter - its ok. He’s a rider, he rips and he says things. Not a biggie…
  • 31 2
 My suggestion for testing the hardtails... ride them like a hardtail, and don't waste any time comparing them to a full suspension. Choose better lines, unweight the bike better, shift your weight better, anticipate better... ride better. Instead of just talking about how the 190mm fork slotted in the 41 degree headtube angle allows you to "hammer down the gnar like your on a full sus", talk about the feel of the frame. Try to feel the differences in compliance and try to verbalize those differences. Wooden? Harsh? Compliant? Buzzy? I'm looking forward to seeing what you all come up with and not just the "it rattled my fillings out" now onto the real MTBs with rear suspension.
  • 16 0
 Yup, we've got four hardtails and we'll be comparing them to each other.
  • 9 0
 @mikelevy: Super stoked to watch it..... and for the love of all that's holy, please don't use the words "beginner's bike" when talking about them!
  • 16 0
 @DBone95: Agreed, saying "beginner's bike" feels like I'm talking down to new riders or about the bike. Far prefer 'value bike' instead.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Sweet.... can't wait to watch and read the tests. As you can imagine my frame up Lizard build is far from cheap and that's being polite (please don't read this wife) but when compared to a carbon framed full suspension bike with similar components, it's a down right bargain.
  • 25 3
 Hardtails don’t teach you to choose better lines. They teach you to choose better lines for hardtails. Which is great and all, and I’m guessing a lot of sloppy riders could use the wake-up call that they’re just monster trucking everything.

But there are plenty of great lines that full squish makes possible. That chunky outside setup for a corner is going to cause all kinds of havoc on a hardtail, but it’s probably exactly where you should point the full. Or maybe there’s a twisty slow line through roots and all you have to do is get light for a second to straight line it. On a hardtail you have to be really sure you can stay light through the whole section (cause coming down in those roots SUCKS), but on a full you do the best you can and focus on the next obstacle. Riding that twisty bit slow doesn’t make you a better rider.

Anyway, I think hardtails are a useful and fun tool for teaching better line choice. But as a contrast to your main bike. It reminds you to think about your lines a lot more, and gives you a reminder to consider whether that rougher outside setup is really the best choice. But as a beginner? Nah. It just teaches you to pick your way through the safe line and to be scared of anything bigger than a tennis ball.

And to be clear, I own a hardtail and love it. I think they’re far better toys than most people assume. They’re great for a lot of things. But they don’t magically make you a better rider by denting your rim.
  • 3 3
 Dude: one of the best points / comments ever here - hardtails teach u to take the best line for hardtails. A top 10 of all time in my book.
  • 2 0
 Great point! I have the hardest of hardtails, a gravel bike. Very little translates over to riding my Status.
  • 17 5
 "Won't ride a hardtail." "Big fan of internal routing because riders don't have to deal with it, that's a mechanic's job."

Are these not some of the worst takes on the MTBing experience? What am I even hearing right now? Not only bad takes in general but awful takes when the context is judging value products for their value. I really hope this guy only touched the most expensive full suspension bike and isn't doing a full review on any hardtails.
  • 2 3
 You're hearing it bc people have thoughts and say those thoughts and that is OK. Its just a conversation and you should disagree and post that here - thats further conversation and thats great. Its not about who's right and wrong. He's not saying Exterminate Hardtails and Their Riders - he's saying he doesn't like em and a form of cable routing. Not a big deal. People have opinions, as do you. But agreed: if Palmer really hates hardtails then most of his opinions about the ride are less relevant. Other PB staff make up for it
  • 6 4
 @Mtn-Goat-13: If it's an op ed piece yeah. But these are NOT good takes for someone reviewing bikes. Ya know every reviewer has a slight bias. There are times when I enjoy Levy's bias towards short travel downcountry bikes, and there are times I don't. I really like Kazimer's reviews. Obviously he leans more downduro and often says a bike could use a little slacker this and 10mm extra that.

But Palmer didn't come off like a person who can clear his lens to look at things objectively, despite it being written off as humor.

It's also one of the reasons they seem to go somewhere different because PB often got shit for riding budget bikes on some of the gnarliest (and wettest) terrain near their home, when that isn't quite relevant to the majority of MTBers.

I hope to be pleasantly surprised by Palmer's review, unless his version only goes to beta and not PB, but those takes were just not something I want to hear from a reviewer. Particularly specifically a budget hardtail test... Like... f*cksake. Let this guy do the 5k-10k full sus tests if he can't be bothered to run a tube in tube or a magnetic tool cable routing. A LOT of us budget bikers are doing our own maintenance. Because of the cost of shop labor. And that needs to be understood when reviewing budget bikes.
  • 1 0
 @lepigpen: Word & Ok, that makes sense. I was getting sidelined by varying opinions but -ok. Im also doing 99.9% of my servicing too so Im def on that page - in fact, I may love diddling w/ my bike as much as riding it.

Also, being experimental I have done nearly everything I can do: coil vs air, mullet, full 27s (on a 29 “only” frame), fork travel changes, various carbon parts, chainrings, upgrades & swapouts and even riding 180mm fork on a “max 160mm” bike - and yet I still up my personal times (speed measure only) constantly no matter what the change and I'm always having fun. Recently my fastest times ever on a few rugged/chunky DH segments was on a hardtail (which I usually ride only in mellower terrain). Point being: all the opinions & comments are only that: hens cackling in the yard.

Ultimately it all comes down to just loving to ride, experimenting some, listening to expertise & shunning or embracing it and maybe becoming the placebo.

I dont welcome nihilistic / nuclear commentary but I definitely want to think about ideas that rub me raw.

Palmer doesn't have to like hardtails and Id rather know he hates or dislikes them than for him to be either an expert or insincere. That being said there's no actual HT expert at PB is there?

Cant speak to the budget v. baller thing but to say that it was me, Id have taken a low to med range bike, tested out then upgraded over time (like any PB reader would) to hit that sweet spot where it shreds but aint dentist or boomer-bike. At each stage, comparison various actual gear a rider would naturally upgrade into over the years, compared & test in ways most of us wouldn't be able to do in a normal timeline - some of it is great and some is hype. This would be an awesome natural budget / baller comparison in my view

Anyway, sorry for the thesis, just ranting
  • 4 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Fact is I very rarely get rubbed the wrong way by PB staff. If they say something I personally don't agree with, I don't care. Like Kaz can be a fan of overbiking some times and Levy balances him out with his underbiking appreciation and each person will have their biases. I often like learning about their biases in order to absorb more concise information from PB reviews. Such as, if Levy says a bike is inefficient... I know he is just being a whiny baby and embarrassed that he was using a lockout lever Smile And if Kaz says a bike could be a little slacker I know he is just living in a whataboutism world where he takes the bike on more and more local trails.

But taking Levy's valid question of, what hardtail would you get for 2k, and having a humorous attempt at highlighting his distase for hardtails and not having an answer? Like sure, make the joke, get your hees and has, but ideally go on to answer the question... What the hell is he on a field test for if he's happily missing opportunities to serve the reader? And the mechanic take was... I have a LOT of opinions on people who say shit like that and I won't go over them. But let's just say a person who ONLY rides full suspension bikes and ONLY goes to a shop to have a bike fixed sets a really bad tone for a bike reviewer, and it sets an AWFUL tone for a reviewer doing value bikes testing. And I'll admit I've never heard of this dude beforehand so the idea of bringing on a dude who apparently wasn't vetted for hating hardtails for a hardtail test... Yuck. That sucks. I wish Henry Quinney went. Just the right amount of criticism! I can imagine him saying...
  • 1 1
 Hey, I thought he came across a bit buffoon-ish too FWIW.
  • 2 0
 @lepigpen: Word, good enough. I falsely imagined I was talking to a snowflaking word-and-idea Nazi that didn't like other opinions but - you clearly have substance to back it. Good enough. Funny about Levy & Kaz as well and I guess this is in part why I like them.

I liked a lot of Palmers work via Bike Mag and other than the 'screamed like a girl' - which my daughter immediate Showed the Hand b/c when its family bike events here, its the boys that whine like bitches climbing while the girls just keep it steady and its the Land of Woo's) but - yeah, I hear ya. Anyway - all the best, good notes. Discussions via words on a screen are just inferior to conversation, that's for sure.
  • 4 0
 @lepigpen: rubbed me the wrong way too, came off super entitled. And was probly discouraging to all the riders trying to try this out for 1500 or kids that think their hardtail is cool af.
  • 1 0
 @7imothy: Confused - this was just one comment (and a f*cking funny one, and I love my HT) - Kaz also said he's not riding HT's nor are they his goto, Alicia hasn't shopped for one in years and Levy "only rides them on special occassions like this" (more or less) and the whole exchange told me that HT's are not at all on the PB forefront which is hardly new, but all of it was funny.

But more so - based on what you're saying, Kaz, Levy & Alicia are (all of whom are riding more $10s of $1000s in gear in a month than most of us will ride in our lives) are entitled - its not really just a tone of voice. Seems kinda like the ultimate entitlement in that regard, if we're talking entitlement, not to mention probably $250K or more in bikes these guys have prob collectively bought & owned over the years. That's great & all - if I had that kinda bling$ I'd do it too, but I buy & upgrade a bike over 5-6 years and move on...not in my budget. I didn't feel the smarm.
  • 8 0
 Had three Rattlers in my backyard last summer. They really are more interested in getting a threat to leave than eating you. But they are still rather surprising to come across! I've only ever heard of two guys getting bit in my area. And it was all their fault for trying to pick them up like a reality show star.
  • 1 0
 cool. what does one do in Hilda? agriculture?
  • 3 0
 @jamesbrant: yup. Farm with my parents and my wife. Just grain, no cows. Cows are way more dangerous than snakes!
  • 7 0
 On a more serious note, I'm very interested in what you guys have to say about the Kona Process 134. I purchased the 2021 model for my girlfriend last summer. She's 5'2" so not a lot of bikes on the market fit her. Especially, not the small sized Giant Reign she had prior to this one. The XS size seems to be a good match for her with a 400mm reach. The 2021 model year was about $500 CAD cheaper than the current 2022 and came specced with better brakes, Shimano MT201 instead of those Alhonga brakes you guys deservingly joked about.

She was initially disappointed the rear shock didn't come with a lock out like the Reign had. I've talked with her about upgrading the suspension as she gets better and knows more about what she wants the bike to do. Her skills need to catch up to the bike first.

Given the classic trail bike geometry it has, I don't see a need to upgrade the entire bike for another one until she starts crushing more Enduro style trails and needs more travel, we live in Nelson, BC. Upgrading the bikes current suspension with better dampers and a rear shock lockout will future proof the bike for her for years to come.

She likes the purple colour and that makes me happy!
  • 1 0
 My buddies on a Process 134 with no complaints for New England singletrack riding.
  • 1 0
 Any decent bike these days doesn't need a lockout. Just leave it open and ride.

Also, at 5' tall (and 120 pounds), I am always listening out for bikes my GF can ride. Right now she is on a 35 pound 170mm bike, not ideal for long epic rides.
  • 6 0
 I'm 54 and my only bike is a 29 Chameleon which I built frame up with every single component that I wanted. I've been doing this sport since 1987 and a hardtail is what mountain biking is truly all about.... to me any way and that's all that matters. When I want to shred, I hop on a 450. To each their own.
  • 4 3
 I'm similar and my only bike now is a custom steel hardtail ($5k ish build). It's flat here and the bike is perfect for all my local trails. There must be a load of other riders out there like this.
  • 1 0
 @tremeer023: *cyclingtips
  • 5 0
 I love when you guys ride budget bikes! It’s so cool to hear elite riders talk about how good inexpensive bikes are. How awesome that for $2,000 people have an awesome entry into the sport. I also agree that people should just start on a full suspension bike if they can afford it.
  • 5 0
 It's also more interesting to us. We love riding fancy bikes, of course, but they nearly always work well. Not so with budget bikes - there's always more to talk about with value bikes.
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: I know PB is probably sick of hearing suggestions for the next “Budget vs Baller” series (if you guys ever do another one), but how about using a typical starter or first bike (perhaps something from this value test?) as the starting platform? You alluded earlier that value bikes typically have a weakness or two. It would show two different paths to upgrading your bike as you get more serious about the sport, and give you an opportunity to explain why one might want to upgrade each component and what makes an expensive part different than a budget upgrade (and the stock OEM part too).
  • 2 0
 @MB3: Agreed! Have been wanting to see an actual budget-to-baller conversion over time, that is - getting the budget bike w/ a good frame, testing as is (w/ video / commentary) & then adding components over time (testing / commentary each time) not so that it necessarily ends up as a $7-10k bike, but just upgrading w/ various parts likeanynor most of us would do to get it “just right” - so its like a budget to baller evolution over time
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: “Budget to Baller”… I like the sound of that!
  • 9 1
 Re: people who don't say hi. This really passes me off. Be nice people!
  • 4 0
 When y'all do the 'are hardtails for beginners' discussion you rarely acknowledge that one reason they're for beginners is because they're cheaper. I certainly wasn't willing to pay 3000+ for a 'nice' full suspension bike when I was just trying to see if I liked the sport.
  • 8 4
 I smile and say hello to everyone when riding and when someone hasn't been taught manners and says nothing, I will slow or even stop and yell I said good morning..... works every time. Bunch of rude asswipes in the world.
  • 8 0
 Same here. If someone doesn't say hello back, I like to go hard with the hi haha
  • 1 0
 I pretty much always say "Hi." when passing or being passed out on the trail, but I'm a soft-spoken dude. Between my naturally quiet voice, full-face helmet, and being winded, I would bet that a lot of people don't even hear it and are probably thinking, "What a dick."
  • 3 1
 Some folks have to take the yuppie group ride for their shop every week, some may be going through hard times, some just don't wanna chat or say hi.
Maybe just consider that they don't want to instead of assuming that they are somehow worse people.

Sometimes I say hi and other times I just want to be left alone. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • 2 0
 Some people are introverts (like me). I don't want to socialize. I rode 6.5 hours yesterday 100% solo and didn't talk to anyone*, it was glorious.

*Saw one guy with a flat and asked if he needed help.
  • 1 0
 @JSTootell: There's a huge difference between "not wanting to socialize" and just being a rude dick. I ride 97 out of 100 rides alone as I too don't like to socialize while riding, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about someone passing you head on on a double track 5 feet apart, or me pulling over on a single track, getting me and my bike out of the way so the downhill rider can pass and as they go by me not so much as a thank you or response as I say "there you go, good morning".... There's a big difference between the 2 and some people are just miserable, self absorbed, rude pricks.
  • 1 0
 @DBone95: "I will slow or even stop and yell"

"some people are just miserable, self absorbed, rude pricks."
  • 1 1
 @JSTootell: Treat others how they treat you. I live by it and it works great.
  • 3 0
 I really wonder what goes wrong with these cheap brakes. It can't be that hard to copy, say, a tried and true design like a deore M615 and add some random esthetic changes to avoid lawsuits? Those weren't expensive already, a copy could be even cheaper, no? And they worked.
  • 3 0
 I really like when y'all get out out of BC/NW. Sand, rubble piles, hard pack that breaks away suddenly into sand and rubble piles, etc. I'm glad you maybe opened your hearts a crack to a little wider tires. Looking forward to seeing the test.

I also want to see (hear?) a special edition Ryan Palmer vs Henry Quinney smackdown to get some high level crankiness. Maybe have Mike Ferrentino come give a cranky update.
  • 1 0
 It’s definitely good for us to get out of PNW bubble.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Mike come to Laguna Beach for Summer field trip. Ocean views, and tacos and margaritas after every ride. Why would you say no to this?
  • 3 0
 Willing to give this Ryan guy the benefit of the doubt on this one, but you certainly don't bunny hop a DS different to than on any bike. Hardtails and DS bikes certainly should be bunny hopped in the same way. You shouldn't even bunny hop any differently even if you're clipped in. There's one right way to do it and about wrong ways to do it.
  • 1 3
 The timing and setup is completely different. Its like jumping on a bed vs jumping off the floor, the steps are the same but execution is different.
  • 3 0
 @RonSauce: no, they really aren't.
I'm a coach and teach this on a daily basis.
If you teach someone to bunny hop differently because they are on a DS bike or beause they are clipped in then you're teaching them bad habbits in all forms of jumping.
  • 4 0
 I’m really looking forward to this one. I wonder if @mikelevy will be pulling cactus needles outta his posterior after the impossible climb.
  • 6 0
 Not this time - Matt Beer put his hand up and did it for me Smile
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: he pulled the needles from your posterior or he did the impossible climb???
  • 2 0
 By my (questionable) memory, 2 of the last 3 value field tests have been in the desert. And from this podcast, this is apparently the only time you ride hardtails. Hardtail + rocky trails seems like a double whammy of pain. Do you hate yourselves or is this a cruel joke from whomever plans the field tests?
  • 5 0
 I hate myself but that's whole other topic.
  • 2 0
 As a heavier rider, a hardtail will give better bang for the buck than a cheap full squish that will never be right for a Clydesdale until they dump more money into it. A nicer component spec with good shifting and component life will be better for a newer rider than crappy suspension that can’t properly support the weight.
  • 1 0
 What are your thoughts on budget bikes with quick release rear ends? Is there a particularly good reason for it?

Personally I wouldn’t touch a bike with one, surely it just adds a bit of complication should you want to upgrade stock wheels. Plus, obviously less secure, all the usual QR issues…
  • 5 0
 The only reason for it is if the frame was made too many years ago and it hasn't been updated. All of our hardtail test bikes have a 12mm Boost rear end.
  • 4 1
 In theory a QR rear “axle” is perfectly fine since it’s not the supporting member. The end caps and the actual hub support load.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: that’s good to see!
  • 1 1
 @mariomtblt: I know that but they always seem to rattle loose eventually
  • 1 0
 @Sambikes11: LOL yeah, we’ll have to wait 10 years when QR are an innovation again
  • 2 0
 Wondering if you would do a show about your thoughts to approach to recovery when the inevitable injury occurs while biking. This is especially relevant to us old dudes that still try to ‘give’r’.
  • 3 0
 MT-5 would be a great spec for a budget bike. Wonder if anyone does?

That and a cheap properly functioning coil fork and I'd call it macaroni.
  • 1 0
 You mean the low end Shimano 4 piston brakes? Those are pretty hard to find at shops right now, probably because so many bikes come with inadequate brakes to start with.

I’ve been looking to upgrade the brakes on my kid’s bike for a while now, and can’t find them anywhere., and I’m not willing to spend too much on something he’s going to outgrow. Starting to consider going with the MT 200’s, but they are only 2 piston and I have no idea if they are good enough for serious biking.
  • 3 0
 @MB3: magura mt5. Great brake.
  • 1 0
 @sspiff: ah, my bad. I have to say that I’m almost completely unfamiliar with the Magura products. They are almost never mentioned in bike reviews, as not many companies spec them. And I haven’t seen many people compare them head to head with the Shimano and SRAM equivalents.
  • 2 0
 @MB3: Always liked them, but the ergos can feel a bit weird.
  • 2 0
 I have MT5s and they are good, once you have got them bled well, for the first few weeks they seemed to need bleeding after every ride and now they are good. If Magura could update the lever they are onto a winner, as Mike said above the ergos are a bit weird, and they do feel a bit different.
  • 1 0
 I don't know about today, but my Cannondale in 2015 came with Magura brakes.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy Question for the whole tech editor team: We all know the feeling when you like a product or bike and want it to be good but in reality it is not. I believe that you would give a bad bike a bad review no matter what but how does it affect you in terms of tinkering with the product to make it work (e.g. trying a different cockpit, tinkering with suspension etc.).

In short: Does it happen to you that you have a product you don't like - ride it and think it's bad VS having a product that you like and giving it a second chance und different circumstances.
  • 2 0
 Added to the list for the next episode.
  • 1 0
 Listening to the podcast the question that came to me when talking about the rocky and loose arizona trails... Is there a bike type geometry that is better for that vs pacific northwest wet'n'loamy trails? Would you want shorter reach slightly steeper angles because its looser and you need to turn more than lean, and you don't want the long reach because it washes out the front wheel easier? Interested in your thoughts.
  • 2 0
 I think I’d want all the wheelbase and all the tire for when it’s rocky and loose, but good question for a future pod. Added to the list.
  • 3 0
 I really enjoyed this podcast, but Levy is killing me with his pronunciation of Marin and Commencal. Keep up the good work PB crew
  • 3 0
 Just wait until the Marin and Commencal videos… my bad haha
  • 1 0
 It would be interesting to hear how you would rate this years group of value bikes against those you tested last year. Since some of last years models are still current, anyone in the market for a value bike could be considering some of those bikes from last year along with these.
  • 1 0
 Excellent idea. We’ll do exactly that in the VBFT wrap-up podcast in a month or so. Thanks!
  • 1 0
 Question for the podcast:
Why don't bike companies offers more flexibility in the built of the bikes?
It has been mentioned a lot of times about the difficulties brands are faced with when choosing which components to put on their bikes, especially for the "cheaper" models. That's make total sense for someone who is getting into the sport who just want a bike and doesn't know much about the gear. But, for someone who has a really clear idea on what they want on their bike, providing options from component brands would give flexibility in building the bike they want. I know you could buy individual parts and put it all together but it would be nice to leverage off the bike companies' purchasing power.
  • 1 0
 I have a Trail-Hardtail in addition to my Enduro bike. The Hardtail is so much fun on the easier home trails and as a bonus my Legs are better trained when I go on some shuttle laps with the Enduro bike. Hardtail instead of Enduro on my hometrails got me more fun, more Training and better technique witch translated seamlessly to faster riding on my fullsuspension.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy do you and the canadian gang (Read: Christina, Matt, Tom etc.) ever talk much about how the value bikes in $US are unfortunately less "Value" when looked at in Canadian Pesos? E.g a $3500 USD bike is decidedly affordable, but at the moment that same ride would be almost $4500 CAD.
  • 1 0
 I'd be really interested to see what trails in TMP you rode. There are some really nice places in there, and there's some really awful spots too! Hopefully you got to take some other spins up Mt Lemmon, it's really fun up there! I am very sad you didn't have many good interactions with other riders in my current hometown, but mostly we're just in survival mode due to the snakes/cactus/poor traction/canadians (Big Grin ). Hit me up next time and i can take you on some wonderful trails!
  • 1 0
 Tucson Mountain Park is a good representation of the trails here in Tucson, rocky and rocky. I would love to hear you guys talk about what kind of bike you would choose for this kind of terrain. Most of us ride down low in the rocks with occasional trips up to Lemmon, but our daily ride is loose and rocky lots of punchy climbs and punchy descents you know how it is... Thanks and happy trails
  • 11 8
 Palmer's answer to what hardtail he would get was MEGA! And I fully agree.

"I would get one with rear suspension."
  • 3 3
 It's what we were all thinking haha
  • 2 1
 The question should've been "if you were looking to get a hardtail as a second bike, what would you look for in one". Hardtail as a second bike is amazing. Hardtail as an only bike, less so.
  • 4 4
 @mikelevy: Can Palmer get verbal PB host comment gold for one of the funniest lines ever in PB podcast history ??? I feel like my nee job will be to go thru every episode and pluck the gold nugget comment into a master list of lessons for us to pontificate (esp since so many people prob hated that one!)
  • 1 0
 I love hearing your impressions of riding in the Sonoran desert. I rode in Phoenix for 28 years before moving to Boulder 4 years ago, pretty much had to relearn how to ride a mountain bike when I got to Colorado.
  • 2 0
 You should run all the bikes on Mike Bear tires - it will give a more consistent comparison, and it’ll make the comments sections way funnier!
  • 1 0
 Really enjoyed Palmer joining the pod for the week, hopefully we'll hear more with him on the line. I'd like to hear one of Levy's interviews with him similar to the other PB crew interviews.
  • 1 0

Keep up the good work guys. Might want to double check the sound mixing on Spotify. For some reason the podcast comes through extremely quiet. Before anyone asks, I have check my volume settings.
  • 3 0
 Will there be a value bike edition for a Grim Donut part 3?
  • 3 1
 Yeah, it’ll be a link to aliexpress
  • 2 1
 Is there something to be said about these bikes being for new/slower risers?

Are new riders really going fast enough where the ‘good’ brakes really matter that much?
  • 5 0
 For sure, we'll hit on that in the reviews and roundtables. Some of the brakes are so bad that there's surprisingly little initial bite, enough so that we have to change how we're riding. Granted, a newer rider might be going a bit slower, but they can still use real brakes.
  • 3 1
 @mikelevy: yea that’s fair. Perhaps a bit of they don’t know what their missing. My guess is you guys (maybe not Kaz, lol) are smashing these bikes harder than the people buying them.
  • 2 0
 If they're riding on the current crop of green flow trails that are being built everywhere to make riding "accessible" to newcomers, then yeah, they'll need good brakes. The speeds these trails allow by being so wide and smooth can quickly bite a newcomer if they get a little out of control.
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: it’s not a good value if the brakes suck bad enough to hold the rider back, just saying …

In order of value:
Consistent shifting with wide range
Supportive suspension with decent damping
Good brakes

Things that ought to be optional:
Dropper post
Carbon anything

I’d rather have a fixed post than crappy brakes.
  • 3 0
I'll actually argue those need to be rearranged like this:
1. Good brakes - even those singlespeed butters want good brakes, and mountain biking without brakes isn't really a thing.
2. Consistent shifting with wide range
3. Supportive suspension with decent damping - I'll take a fully rigid bike if that's what it takes to get brakes and gears and I'll bet most riders would. Remember there are ways to solve the rigid ride such as plus size tires.

Whatcha think?
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: As someone with crappy brakes and a dropper post, I'd rather have a dropper than good brakes... Maybe I am still appreciating any disc brakes thinking about the rim brake days though. Dropper post was life-changing.
  • 1 0
 Come ride on the east side of Tucson, near Vail and the AZT. We’re all very friendly and would be happy to show you guys around. Good luck on the test!
  • 5 2
 Hardtails separate those who can ride and those who can't
  • 1 0
 Too bad the Rossignol Heretic deore build with the upgradable Zen fork didn't make it to the budget FS field test. It would have been the 2022 polygon t8
  • 1 0
 Hearing you guys talk about life threatening things on the trails.. here in the UK the worst we get is a slightly miffed squirrel!
  • 1 0
 Ryan Palmer wants to take out a loan to avoid hardtails, let the mechanic deal with internal routing, and require a dropper post to ride. Paywall checks out.
  • 1 0
 While you’re in AZ, be sure to get some street tacos. Or, as they call them in Tucson, “tacos.”
  • 4 3
 Come do a field test somewhere in the flatlands! Like Santos in Florida.
  • 3 1
 Your downvoters must not be familiar with Santos. Or generally how there are some sweet trails in Florida, despite the flatness of the state.
  • 1 0
 my nipples are made of brass outa here asa effen P
  • 2 0
 I’ve been Alhonga’d!
  • 2 0
 We all now scream “ALHONGA!” when we’re out of control on the trail haha
  • 1 0
 How about a "value" used bike at the same price point as these 2 groups.
  • 2 0
 We’ve done a video about buying used at similar prices (at the VBFT from Sedona a few years ago) but we could definitely do more of that stuff. Noted!
  • 4 6
 sorry to piss you off if I see you on a trail and don’t say howdy. most days I’m zoned into lines and whats coming thru my earbuds.
  • 3 1
 @shedsidechuck I recognize the difference as I wear them too. I'm referring to the ones who look at me like I'm a tumble weed and can't be bothered to waste their energy with a smile and a hello as we pass by in the middle of nowhere. It's usually only 1 every few rides, but that is 1 too many.
  • 11 0
 I sometimes wear headphones while riding as well, and I understand that means that I'm in my own zone and don't hear other people. But this was much different - nearly every rider we saw on the trail rode straight past us without the slightest acknowledgment and despite us obviously saying hello and being friendly. Odd place.

I know that I'm often an a*shole in day to day life, but almost never when I'm on the bike Smile
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: I'm bummed to hear you guys didn't get a great vibe from Tucson MTBers. In general, I find us to be pretty friendly, although there are definitely those who are too focused on their strava times. I'm curious what trails you guys rode in the TMP.
  • 2 0
 @sdudash: definitely find it depends on where you are riding in Tucson. The more XC trails you definitely see that Strava segment look in the eye and they don't even acknowledge your existence. On the other hand, at 50 year or Mt Lemmon, often I stop for people climbing and they end up stopping for a chat.
  • 1 0
 @sdudash: i guess I'm not really stopping for climbers ever on Mt Lemmon. If I did it would be in amazement
  • 2 0
 @Trailfingers: I've seen some folks climbing Bugs. Mind boggling, really. But we did stop for them.
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