The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?

Jul 16, 2020
by Mike Levy  
Art by Taj Mihelich

In case it wasn't already obvious, mountain bike editors have it very, very good. We at Pinkbike, along with a relatively small group of equally spoiled people around the globe, get to ride and write about the latest and most interesting mountain bikes. A lot of them cost more than anyone in their right mind would ever spend on a bicycle, but a lot of us aren't in our right minds, are we? Halo-level bikes with five-digit price tags are often what brands prefer to send us to be reviewed - they don't want a set of inexpensive, troublesome brakes or low-end wheels dragging their frame down that's been in development for the last two years - but the more sensible out there understand that you usually get diminishing returns after a certain price point.

Don't worry, we're not about to stop reviewing bikes that cost way too much, but Pinkbike needs to test and feature far more reasonably priced bikes and gear. Our first move was the Value Bike Field Trip series that compared eight affordable trail rigs and, after years of riding dentist-spec bikes non-stop, reminded me that capability and good times don't have to be tied into the price tag. The MTB on a Budget series takes the same approach, with the first two articles covering the ins and outs of clothing and where to save money on components.

Beginning with the idea of assembling a capable, reasonably priced trail bike for our needs, episode 14 of the Pinkcast sees Kazimer, James, and myself talking about what'd we'd purchase with our own limited funds. Kazimer and James bring common sense to the discussion with well-thought-out plans based around an aluminum Stumpjumper and Commencal, while I blow my budget on an exotic frame and lightweight wheels that leave me with an over-priced run bike.

Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever else you get your podcasts.

July 2nd, 2020

KOMs on aluminum bikes are obviously impossible.

Hosted by Mike Levy and 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?

Hit us in the comments with your suggestions: What do you want to hear us talk about? Would you be into watching a video version, or are our dulcet voices enough for you?

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 57 1
 Levy working at Tim Horton's and sitting around polishing his pole. The future is grim.
  • 13 2
  • 2 1
 Levy responds TWICE below that the Grim Donut is coming soon. How is that still lost at the bottom of the comments?
  • 5 0
 @gomeeker: Because nobody believes it. It's coming soon for a few months Wink
  • 25 2
 Levys the kind of guy to buy an Unno then screw with it. Sramano, Industry King, RockFox.
  • 5 2
 You forgot: Trust!
  • 2 0
 would have been nice if he was allowed to answer the question like Kaz did...what budget bike?
But that said the pole also works for X-mas rides.
  • 14 1
 Making it your own is half the fun Wink
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: i agree just busting yer nuts. Great podcast with the premiss of getting chucked to the curb like it happened to many of us who live to ride but used to be employed outside the industry to support our bike love. I was an early user of grip shift, XTR duall control, UST and i-sometimes-drive-XCR1000 all questionable choices but personal preferences. Now I prefer SLX brakes and drivetrains 11 not any 12 yet.
I was hoping a budget bike would cost 4K after swap outs.
  • 12 0
 Hi Pinkbike!
Just wanted to say THANK YOU for these podcasts. Lying in bed with concussion after crash on Sunday, listening to you guys brings a smile to my face and help me pass the time Smile
  • 7 0
 Dont ride too soon after concussion. I only left it a few days and my balance was screwed up, ended up crashing again on a section I know well. At least you recognize you have a concussion instead of just carrying on, too many people are unaware of the consequences of even a mild knock to the head.
  • 4 0
Thx mate, yeah it will be slow recovery. I can’t look at screens more then few minutes at a time so really relying on audiobooks and podcasts to pass time.
  • 1 0
 Stay strong man, it's all part of our great sport. Shit happens...
  • 1 0
 Also, don't let the crazy mood swings and cognitive disconnects get you down. Concussions really mess with your emotions and if you're not expecting it, get even more depressing!
  • 12 0
 Whats better the 'perfect' bike you pay full price for, or the 'good enough' bike you get a hookup on?
  • 37 1
 Sounds like my love life.
  • 4 0
 Good enough with hookup!
  • 14 3
Mike Levy: *makes grim donut*
Everybody: "Give us the grim donut!!!"
Mike Levy:

I'm just sayin'....
  • 9 0
 The symmetry is beautiful.
  • 1 0
 obviously the Donut wasn´t grim...
  • 1 0
 @Lanebobane: I thought so too.
  • 4 2
 @Lanebobane: if only you could fit the fox 38 lowers to a zeb 38 crown to stop the creak or can you ?
  • 16 1
 Part two is very close Smile
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: you better be telling the truth
  • 4 0
 @ifindbikesinteresting: he's been telling "the truth" for the last couple of months though... Wink
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: ya close as in April fools again
  • 1 0
 @Matt115lamb: I would maybe suggest getting the first year a FOX 40 came out for 29" if that's your wheel size and reducing the travel. That way you have an actual stiff fork and aren't stressing the steer tube with enough force to lift a 72 Cadillac with.

"Travel on the 40 can be changed from 8” to 6” in 1/2” increments by rearranging the four internal travel spacers inside the left leg of the fork. With the proper tools and oil, changing travel can be done in about 15 minutes. 1 qt. bottle of Fox Suspension Fluid (7 wt.)"
  • 1 0
 @downhillnews: I’m on a 27.5 and going with the zeb 38’s !
  • 8 2
 Bad mountain biking: I'll say it. Austin, TX area was some of the most boring, uninspired, riding I've ever encountered. Sorry guys. I rode the Violet Crown, Brushy Creek, and Rocky Hill Ranch. I did LOVE the downtown road biking and the Ladybird Johnson trails though.
  • 1 2
 You obviously did not find the good stuff.
  • 3 3
 True. Please don't come to Austin. The trails suck here.
  • 2 0
 You and I have different opinions on what makes mountain biking. I like riding a bike off road. That's it. When I lived on the goddamned prairie I made the best of it and rode my bike and enjoyed the hell out of it because I love riding a bike off road. Thankfully, I now live by mountains and can enjoy the ups and downs.

If you lived in Kansas, would you simply not mountain bike? Would you only bike when you went "better" places to ride?
  • 11 0
 @font9a: Don't worry no one is coming to Austin

@Explodo: Why....why would you have to live in Kansas? I would just not live in Kansas because I like biking. There's these things called cars and they are amazing! You can just get in one and go to wherever you want. Big Grin
  • 3 3
 @friendlyfoe: You don't always get to choose where you live in the short term when it comes to careers and things.
  • 6 0
 Sure you do. If someone offered me a job at double my pay but it required me moving to the prairies I would turn it down. Work to live not live to work.
  • 1 0
 @friendlyfoe: While I agree, all of our life choices are compromises. You just have to pick and chose your priorities.
  • 7 1
 Best bike you can buy is the bike that makes you get out and ride.

Who gives a shit if it isn't the greatest bike to anyone else if it brings you joy?

Shut up and pedal. You can listen to podcasts while you ride. I'll probably listen to this one tonight on my ride...
  • 11 1
 Where are the ladies in these podcasts!!!
  • 5 0
 Don't worry, we'll have Sarah Moore and Christina Chappetta on sooner than later - stay tuned.
  • 3 0
 I did the "buy on a budget" exercise last year and got the Rocky Mountain Instinct BC alloy. And now they've recalled it. I need some help on knowing how pissed I should be. Part of the bike's appeal was the killer paint - what I call '78 Trans Am - metallic brown with mustard trim. Now they're replacing all the frames with matte gray. No choices, no options, just sorry, eh. I get that it's expensive and complicated from them, but come on, not even an attempt at customer satisfaction? What's you guys' take on that recall and Rocky's response?
  • 5 0
 Cool podcast, very interesting to hear what kind of bikes you would choose.
  • 2 0
 The sensible budget questions is interesting as it is relative to a variety of factors in ones life. I owned a RM7 when they first came out and probably topped out at around $10,000 when all was said and done. I was fresh out of university at the time with school debt and an entry level professional job. Fast forward 15+ years and I have a family with 2 kids, a mortgage but earn considerably more and my budget for a bike was $2,000 this past year. My previous bike was a Range, I had owned for 9 years. I ended up buying a Specialized Fuse in May and couldn't be happier. After all these years i am back to where i started biking, on a hard-tail and loving every minute of it. I ride all the same trails i did before, but can ride up. I realized I probably spent the bulk of my riding years over biked for my skill level and style. Anyways Budget is relative to many factors. Fun podcast guys.
  • 2 0
 How do people like their Giant Trance's and Reign's? Giant has always made the lowest priced bikes even being sold in a bike shop rather than online. When I was a noob I bought a 2012 Trance and the standover and geometry was totally crappy. I notice their standover's are still a bit high but I wonder what people's experience with the Giants are these days
  • 3 0
 I have a 2019 Trance 29. Very happy with it. With 2.4WT Minions its very, very capable. The standover is still a bit high but its not something i notice when riding. The frame is nice and light too, which can be rare these days, even in short travel rigs. I live in gnar country and 130/115 seems plenty to me, but I keep my wheels on the ground mostly.
  • 3 0
 I had a 2017 Trance that was an ex-rental and i rode it hard for two years with only minor problems and basic maintenance done to it...pretty decent bike. End of last year i "upgraded" to a 2020 GT carbon expert, mostly because it was a really good deal through a mate at a shop. I've have had component after component break and fail. Thankfully the distributor has played ball on all the warranty stuff, but in my eyes the Trance was so much better just because of the reliability... i'd recommend a Trance or Reign to anyone looking at that price point of bike. it'll get ya out riding.
  • 2 0
 I have a 2020 Trance Pro 1 that is my daily bike... It's a really impressive bike. Some say the geometry isn't up to date, but it's not far off from the current Tallboy. I've done a demo on the Reign 29... I would consider it to replace my Slash... Giant may not be the flashiest brand, but they work well...
  • 2 0
 You heard it guys. We all collectively need to hammer Kaz about being too skinny on every single article he is involved in. I don't care if it's freaking socks! He is too skinny to have an opinion on anything! (this is obviously tongue-in-cheek)
  • 2 0
 At this point, my dream build would be upgrading my 2020 RM Slayer A50:
- Lyrik to Mezzer (or maybe a ZEB)
- tracking down a custom 750-800lb spring for the coil (anyone have ideas?)
- SLX brakes to Saints
- dream wheels (silver Profile Elite MTB laced to WAO rims - maybe the loudest possible wheels out there?)
- RF Affect cranks to eeWings

Grey/silver/black colour scheme.
  • 2 0
 I think a better discussion would be, if the Mikes and James did not have brodeals/industry hook ups and had to pay retail prices, what would their dream build be? This is a much more relatable question for most of the PB audience.
  • 4 0
 I just came here to say this. Love the podcast but I feel like they didn’t really answer the question. Like seriously, none of these die hard mtbers would even have a carbon frame? Come on... it’s not just your “budget bike,” it’s your passion.
  • 1 0
 Pretty interesting to talk about stuff wearing out. My 2014 Pivot with XT has been super reliable. I've changed a few chains, smashed a few derailleurs and put a wide range cassette on it. No failures of brakes, dropper, wheels etc.
  • 1 0
 Mike levy haha "I'm commiting to the budget bike, by specing super expensive shit"

My dream custom build 2021 raw meta am with
Fox36/x2 2020
hope brakes/hubs
Stans rims
Gx/carbon decendant.
Reverb c1
Comes in at less than £4k
  • 1 0
 I had to laugh. Alloy Stumpy Evo is what I've been eyeing up next when I commit to big wheels. Mezzer on the front, TTX on the back and I'm good to go. Not gonna spend $7500(NZ) on the entry level Enduro when I have to change everything on it.
For comparisons using the Big Mac index a New Zealand Enduro Comp costs 1136 Big Macs. In the US it's 790 Big Macs. For Canadians it's 930 Big Macs. But hey, we've got decent healthcare and a small population miles from anywhere so can't complain too much.
  • 1 0
 I bought a stock 650b Alloy Evo and planed to leave it stock as I have another bike that i ride more. It currently has 29” carbon wheels, Helm coil fork and a TTX coil shock. It’s fricken awesome... even if it now costs more than the swanky carbon model.
  • 1 0
 As Mike said, changing suspension would be a worthwhile upgrade.
I agree completely.
If your bike comes with the standard Super Deluxe air, you’d put a MegNeg can on.
If it came with a DPX, you could have it custom shimmed, which is cheaper than buying a Float X2
  • 1 0
 This week gave me some good chuckles. You guys mentioned again how impressive modern bike tech is, from entry level up. We're in a golden age right now where just about anything you throw a leg over is going to work properly. But with that in mind, if you had to tell the bike industry to focus r&d on only one area, what would it be?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer thanks for answering this question on this week's podcast!
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer @mikelevy marzocchi air or coil? reliability/ smoothnes or a bit more mid stroke support?

and for this kind of bike, what reach and hta would you have? (assuming sta is like 77ish) Don't long reache #'s make the bike stretched out on steep trails? really enjoy the podcasts, I'm happy that Kaz rode sat and sunday lol
  • 1 0
 Hey guys, I'm on a 2020 Norco Sight A3 now and am looking to upgrade. All of the bikes below are similarly priced, which do you think is best bang for the buck? Alternatively, should I just take an extra $1,000 and upgrade my yari to a lyrik and upgrade the rear shock to a super deluxe or DPX2 (or something else)? I'm loving the geo on the Sight but the suspension isn't the best.

2020 Specialized Stumpy EVO Comp Alloy 29
2020 Norco Sight A2
2020 YT Jeffsey Comp 29
  • 4 0
 Yes, definitely thumbs up on Warner and Claudio!!
  • 3 0
 Hey Kazimer, how about a How-To article explaining how to make your hubs silent?
  • 2 0
 Onyx sprag
  • 3 0
 Clean out the old grease and add Dumonde Tech freehub oil. Or if you really want to quiet them down, 10W-30 (or something close) motor oil. It only takes a few drops of either.
  • 3 0
 @earache, @krka73 nailed it - I use Dumonde Tech freehub oil and it makes those Hydra hubs so much quieter.
  • 1 0
 @krka73, @mikekazimer: thank you both!
  • 1 0
 L&K, curious if you have ever ridden in the Downieville, CA area, and your thoughts? We've been taking the family camping there and in the surrounding area for years, and it's certainly one of our favorite destinations.
  • 1 0
 Yup, I've been there a few times.
  • 2 0
 No Ripmo AF Deore, how aboot the new Status, wish it had a 29 rear wheel option.
  • 3 0
 Ripmo AF with NX was a sick bike for the money. Now it's a full Deore build for 3199$....that's an insane value.
  • 2 0
 Most of us have just given up. Are you saving the donut as an emergency content rations for the second wave of Covid?
  • 1 0
 Levy: Pole Stamina - totally get it. Now that ACTO5 full Aluminum CNC is out ther, would you change your mind? If no, why not?
  • 1 0
 Hhmm, I liked the P-Train A LOT, but I want nothing to do with an idler pulley in day to day use, even if that one gave me no trouble Smile
  • 2 1
 Why don’t there’s come out every week I look forward just to be disappointed
  • 1 0
 We try to do most weeks, but miss a few here and there. There will be way more for 2021 Smile
  • 1 0
 Shit! Also forgot the Ripmo AF (Deore)! There re too many bikes to pick from...
  • 1 0
 @mikeLevy - buy an Orange. That's interesting
  • 1 0
 Still not an answer! Your killing me smalls.
  • 1 0
 So... we learned that Levy cannot survive outside the bike industry?
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 James, no Nukeproof?? Wink
  • 1 0
 Loved it being just the three of you guys.
  • 1 0
 You all should do a budget build video series
  • 1 0
 The Zeb and Pike are named after the same thing. So original.
  • 1 0
 It’s funny how your budget bikes aren’t even that budget friendly.
  • 1 0
 one wheel size
  • 3 3
 So what is going on with the freakin Grim Donut??
  • 11 1
 Very soon.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Best Troll EVER "very soon"
  • 1 1
 TLBig Grin L?
  • 1 4
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