The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 156 - Fall Field Test Companion & BTS in Whistler

Dec 15, 2022
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich


With four of them spread around North America, it's been a busy year of Field Testing and we've all ridden a lot of bikes, some better than others. Our last series of 2022 just wrapped, so it's time to sit down and talk about the Fall Field Test that saw us on five new trail bikes in Whistler, BC. I know, not exactly a terrible way to spend the last sunny two weeks of the season, especially as all of the bikes impressed us in one way or another. Sure, they're all a few pounds heavier than they might have been three or four years ago, but they also shrugged off two weeks of hard riding in the bike park and beyond, a routine that would have rattled their predecessors apart in short order.

This episode sees Kazimer, Matt Beer, videographer Max Baron, and I chat all things Fall Field Test, from why most of the fleet was so expensive, if it was fair to ride them in the bike park, why they're all kinda heavy, and why this Field Test gets a 9.5/10 tractor rating from us. Max also explains how the team shoots a Field Test, the logistics of it all, and why efficiency is so important. Got a question? Post it down below and we might answer it in a future episode.





THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 156 - FALL FIELD TEST COMPANION & BTS IN WHISTLER
Dec 15th, 2022

BTS at the FT with PB.


2022 Trail Bike Field Test photo by Satchel Cronk.
Santa Cruz Hightower C GX AXS Reserve
• Travel: 145mm rear, 150mm front
• 29" wheels
• 64.5° head-tube angle
• 76.4° seat-tube angle
• Reach: 472mm (lrg)
• Weight: 32.4 lb / 14.7 kg
• MSRP: $9,799 USD
• More info: www.santacruzbicycles.com

2022 Trail Bike Field Test photo by Satchel Cronk.
Yeti SB140 LR Turq
• Travel: 140mm rear, 160mm front
• 29" wheels
• 65° head-tube angle
• 77° seat-tube angle
• Reach: 480mm (lrg)
• Weight: 32.7 lb / 14.8 kg
• MSRP: $10,200 USD
• More info: www.yeticycles.com


2022 Trail Bike Field Test photo by Satchel Cronk.
Trek Fuel EX 9.9 XX1 AXS
• Travel: 140mm rear, 150mm front
• 29" wheels
• 64.5° head-tube angle
• 77.2° seat-tube angle
• Reach: 485mm (lrg)
• Weight: 31.9 lb / 14.5 kg
• $10,750 USD
• More info: www.trekbikes.com

2022 Trail Bike Field Test photo by Satchel Cronk.
Scott Genius ST 900 Tuned
• Travel: 150mm rear, 160mm front
• 29" wheels
• 63.9° head-tube angle
• 77.2° seat-tube angle
• Reach: 485mm (lrg)
• Weight: 30.1 lb / 13.7 kg
• $11,000 USD
• More info: www.scott-sports.com


2022 Trail Bike Field Test photo by Satchel Cronk.
Norco Fluid FS A1
• Travel: 130mm rear, 140mm front
• 29" wheels
• 65° head-tube angle
• 76.7° seat-tube angle
• Reach: 480mm (lrg)
• Weight: 33.8 lb / 15.3 kg
• $3,999 USD
• More info: www.norco.com


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.

Subscribe to the podcast via your preferred service (Apple, Spotify, RSS, LibSyn, etc.), or visit the Pinkbike Podcast tag page for the complete list of episodes.

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

34 Comments
  • 19 0
 Am I having deja vu or did this podcast actually launch last week on Spotify?
  • 1 0
 Yeah it did
  • 1 0
 Lol yeah just had the same reaction.
  • 1 0
 Not just Spotify…I listened to it on Pocket Casts last week, too. It must’ve just got pushed to the RSS feed early.
  • 9 0
 My bad, I forget how to internet sometimes
  • 7 0
 I think this was the best produced field test to date. The photo and video quality was exceptional this time around.
  • 4 0
 I’m curious which rider should choose the norco optic over over the fluid, or vise versa. On paper they for the size large the have the exact same head angle, chainstay length. Only 5mm of rear travel and .6° of seat tube angle separates them. @mikelevy are the ride characteristics on trail night and day between the two despite so many similarities?
  • 2 0
 I've been wondering this myself.... How can both the Fluid and Optic exist in the same space? Side by side, they even look very similar, so (without riding them, which I haven't) it leaves me thinking the Fluid is due for an update, or perhaps will soon be going away? Certainly would be weird to see two 140mm forked, FS bikes for sale from the same Manufacturer.
  • 7 0
 @Nellus: I'm sure you mean Optic is due for an update or will go away given the Fluid is substantially newer.

The Fluid has always meant to be Norco's affordable trail bike. The bonus is that this generation (and to an extent, the last generation) are huge upgrades over older bikes and kinda slap hard.

From the Fluid's review, it appears to be a less 'sporty' suspension tune out of the box, meant to give a plusher, better traction, maybe more forgiving ride than the optic.

Also, one's carbon and one's alloy.
  • 1 0
 @j-t-g: very good points. I completely missed that the fluid only comes in alloy. Definitely a bigger difference there. Also makes sense that the optic could have a more “racy” suspension feel that would benefit a more experienced/aggressive rider who wants a shorter travel trail bike.
  • 2 0
 The bikes seem to all perform so well that it's kind of boring. Looks like the Trek was a bit of a standout compared to the rest but nothing crazy. I wonder if bikes in the future have a chance to really blow away testers or if it will be marginal gains from here on out.
  • 3 0
 There is almost no such thing as a bad bike anymore. It is just how much you want to spend.
  • 6 0
 What's Tom been up to? Long time no see!
  • 3 0
 Gius…sorry to ruin the illusion but at least on Oahu, the riding isn’t great. It’s okay. But when its wet, your bike weighs a ton and your wheels end up not turning. Granted, we had a grundig dh race back in the day…
  • 4 0
 We mostly just want to suntan and snorkel tbh
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: then this is the spot. Don’t forget the spf 5000 sunscreen. Last time I went snorkeling I saw a fugu. Luckily it was in its ‘calm mode’.
  • 1 0
 I think that one thing this group might have been missing is something a bit more out of left field. Its neat to see how the funky bikes from smaller manufacturers stack up against all the bikes we expect be good. This was a good one though, and I think the Norco (cheapish) might have been a valid infill for something funky I guess. Comparisons to previous top contenders now that there is a bigger catalogue of field tests is helpful (IE the stumpy evo in the round table video).
  • 4 0
 When did trail bikes get Lyriks and 36s? When Enduro bikes got Zebs and 38s.
  • 1 0
 Lots of love here for the too-cool, new and improved yellow Trek Fuel EX - and none to be found for the previous generations apparently - but for $150 CAD (or $100 USD) you can get a headset kit to slacken the HTA 1 or 2 degrees from a number of different companies for almost any bike. These have been around for many years now so it's not like Trek are re-inventing the wheel here on this model in this regard. Also, you still have to cough up extra dough on top of your $10 750 purchase for the privilege.
  • 2 0
 I agree, nothing wrong with the previous version but putting cups into won't make it anywhere near as capable as the new bike. The suspension couldn't be more different as well. That's not to say the last version is going to hold people back, just that they actually are quite different. The new and old Hightowers are much closer, though.
  • 1 0
 Come to Europe, do a Transalp- 7Days- 7 Bikes- 7 Riders ...every rider gets a different bike every day... Don't worry about logistics to much...I am sure the companies will be more than happy to have a bike for you ready at the start...you know they sell bikes in Europe too...
  • 1 0
 Hi @mikelevy et al. you mentioned in the pod you'd respond comments, many thanks. I'm rather curious about Matt's comment on sizing down on the EX, and where you are generally landing on reach and stack with the bikes. I noticed Levy you rode a size down at the Quebec test, maybe because Sarah is shorter, and then these were as much as 40mm longer. It would be great to get your thoughts on things.

I 'm happy on my 22 Top Fuel and I probably would prefer the 130mm fork M/L (just 10mm more reach). But for my 13 year old son I'm really debating on sizing. For instance, a 27.5 18/19 Sight M is 430 reach. A small 23 EX is 430 reach. Can I sneak him on the medium, coming off an 18 XS Sight at 385 reach.

So that's a specific conundrum, but it would be super great to hear your collective thoughts on sizing having ridden such different sized bikes a lot recently, and whether the new geometry means that a lot more reach makes sense.

Lots of good comments on the EWS bike setups. Think it would make a good dive in on the podcast (let me know if it's been hashed and I just missed it). Or if there's a quick general answer, like, buy the manufacturer reco size, reach is not IT, appreciate that too. thanks.
  • 1 0
 Strong, light, cheap. Pick two dumbies. I prefer strong and cheap because ultimately under 38 lbs weight doesnt really matter that much. Unless you are racing XC at a very high level. Then it matters.
  • 3 0
 Is Ryan Palmer coming back?
  • 3 0
 Holy smokes, many close to 10k and still over 32lbs.
  • 3 0
 The only trail bike is the norco
  • 4 0
 Sort of agree tbh
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: "Make Fox 34's Great Again"
  • 1 1
 Trail Bike is such a loose term these days. I would say all of these are trail bikes but some are more aggressive than others.
  • 1 1
 @fartymarty: All of them are more aggressive than the norco.
  • 1 0
 Hey Max are you using the sony FX3 or FX6 or FX9
  • 1 0
 We are using the A7S mk 3.
  • 1 0
 So a MTB now is 10 k. A bike with pedals.
  • 2 1
 Nah, there are plenty of $1,500 bikes you could have just as much on if you aren't concerned about full-suspension or what tier crankset it comes with.







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