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.
THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 108 - BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE VALUE BIKE FIELD TEST 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.
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".
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
You seem a bit upset, have you euthanized any horses lately?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
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.
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!
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.
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)_/¯
*Saw one guy with a flat and asked if he needed help.
"some people are just miserable, self absorbed, rude pricks."
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.
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.
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…
That and a cheap properly functioning coil fork and I'd call it macaroni.
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.
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.
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.
"I would get one with rear suspension."
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.
Are new riders really going fast enough where the ‘good’ brakes really matter that much?
In order of value:
Consistent shifting with wide range
Supportive suspension with decent damping
Things that ought to be optional:
I’d rather have a fixed post than crappy brakes.
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.
I know that I'm often an a*shole in day to day life, but almost never when I'm on the bike