The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 82 - Behind the Scenes at Field Test

Sep 24, 2021
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich

If you've been on the homepage lately, you've probably seen us going on and on about the latest Field Test video review series, this time with enduro and eMTBs. Just as with previous examples, this Field Test was all about comparing test bikes to each other, a cage match of sorts but on the trail, and the fleet included some of the most interesting bikes on the market. Of course, the pickings were a bit slim this year given the lack of bikes anywhere, but our goal was to represent a spectrum of what's available, from the efficient We Are One to the heavy-hitting Norco Range. And the same goes for the eMTBs, with the relatively lightweight Specialized Turbo Kenevo SL contrasting the chonky Range VLT and its 900Wh battery.

As you might guess, there's plenty to talk about with a test fleet like that. Today's show sees Kazimer and myself ask Matt Beer and Henry Quinney a ton of questions; we expand on the reviews, choose favorites, answer some reader questions, talk about how they'd make the bikes better, and you know we have to cover the Huck to Flat's broken crank...

Sep 24th, 2021

Idler pulleys, giant batteries, and a broken crank.

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

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 17 0
 Hey @mikelevy
If you're looking for topics I'd like to see a discussion on places to save a few dollars. I'm a frugal guy and am always looking for alternative products that can be used instead of the (usually pricey) stuff you find in your local bike shop. I tend to shop for automotive cleaners, greases and oils - way cheaper. I also have purchased a lot of tools and misc products through aliexpress (rotors, master link pliers, hydraulic hose fittings, dropper levers, seatpost collars, stems etc) for a fraction of what the equivalent product would cost at the LBS. I've also had a couple spectacular failures with this approach (snapped a flimsy carbon bar and a crankset that didn't hold up) so it would be good to get some opinions on where the savings are worth it. Another place I've saved a few $$ is by buying bearing directly from a bearing manufacturer vs. a frame bearing kit.

You guys have been in the industry forever - what the best money saving 'hacks' you have heard of or used?
  • 3 0
 That would be a great episode idea.
  • 9 0
 Excellent idea.
  • 13 0
 PB content is getting smarter all the time. Some of the stuff the bike testers are saying in the reviews and in the comments speaks to a lot of thoughtfulness and integrity. This in the face of every marketing assistant in the industry trying to transmogrify every petty distinction between products into a meaningful ride-changing difference, and the whole peanut gallery that demands that everything and every one be rigidly ranked into some kind of pecking order. At some point, the smarter you get the smaller the claims one tends to make, the less one acts like they know it all or have seen it all. I'm curious to see how this trend goes for you, PB. We'll be ok as long as we can still get all our information from a mechanical engineer in the comments
  • 8 1
 Just chiming in as someone who has had to do a lot of futzing with internal brake routing. My experience with internal brake routing has me in full disagree mode with Henry. In the last year I broke my chain stay and downtube on my trek slash (don’t buy a trek, the won’t warranty it even if it self destructs through the knock block system.) I had to cut the brake line and reroute my brakes when I got my borrowed chainstay while I waited for the warranty and then again when the warranty came in. I then needed to do the same when I had to send my bike to carbon repair and build it back up. Now that I am on a spire I am super happy changing brakes is easy. Maybe just don’t buy a trek so you can avoid the issue all together, but having to reroute brake cables often is a pain in the ass.
  • 1 0
 I bought a trek really recently because I'd heard the warranty is good! What exactly happened to your bike and with the warranty claim? I'd like to be ready for any potential issues coming my way!
  • 1 0
 I'd also be curious, I had a weld fail on a 15 year old frame and trek took very good care of me, replacing with the equivalent frameset / MSRP in store credit. Perhaps the difference between a clear cut material failure and something defined as user error/crash replacement?
  • 1 0
 @everythingscomingupmilhouse: Good question. they are good with warranties depending on the issue. What happened to me was that my fork hit my frame when I stuffed it in a compression and compromised the carbon. The knock block was designed to protect this and failed to do so. That was not covered by warranty despite the fact that the bike self destructed and it was the company's fault that the frame was totaled. I was also passed around in the warranty department and basically told to pound sand. Even with the price of their slight discount for crash replacement Replacing my carbon frame was still slated to cost me more than bicycle blue book value of the whole bike. If you have a 2021 slash or newer you should be fine because the fork doesn't come close to the downtube. I was not so lucky. As an employee at the shop put it; Trek Warranty covers defects not design flaws.
  • 1 0
 @zanda23: that sucks! Knock block has always worried me! It's such a weird feature, they should definitely stand by it if the knock block fails and the frame gets damaged. I have heard this story before but only with carbon so I'm hoping my alloy frame might be ok. Anyway hope you got it sorted in the end
  • 1 0
 @everythingscomingupmilhouse: You should be good I bet. Aluminum is better for impacts anyway. if you dont careen into a compression like I did the bike should be good. I liked it a lot otherwise.
  • 11 0
 Enjoyed RC on the last one - can always use more RC in my life.
  • 2 0
 rc is always good
  • 6 0
 Something that I haven't seen come up other than in the comments with respect to the price of the We Are One is that the "cheapest" one spec for spec is actually quite competitive with other bikes with similar specs. This suggests to me that once WAO gets better access to a wider array of parts they could do a fox performance/slx build that would come in at a much more reasonable price.
  • 2 0
 A guy in Valemount let me throw a leg over his Arrival in the parking lot and it looked amazing and light with all the high end parts. That being said it's overkill for my smashing down the hill. Cant wait for a more every-day SLX type build. I'll be all over it.
  • 8 0
 Simpsons references are really on the rise in the podcast. Everything's coming up Levy!
  • 2 0
 One of the better Simpsons moments.
  • 6 3
 The Pinkbike podcast is in danger of growing stale! Henry's taking it to strange new places!
  • 4 0
 Simpson's forever
  • 4 0
 Pinkbike ! @mikelevy @henryquinney @mattbeer
Can you include in future field tests a previous winner from a few years ago where the bikes where different enough, you know, old geo, 26” (maybe even external cable routing) etc to really give us an appreciation for how good bikes are now, would be fun to see how they compare in times and what the test riders have to say ?
  • 2 0
 I would love to try and track down some of the bikes that the tech-editors adored when they first came out. I remember I had a 2009 Marin Attack Trail that I thought was amazing... would love to see how I feel about it now. I'm sure everyone of us has a similar bike in their history.
  • 5 0
 Would really like to see the DH bike comparison for future enduro field tests. I am thinking on some of the trails the Enduro's are winning over a full on DH rig.
  • 1 0
 Anything that will requipedaling; putting dualcrown on gt or norco will result pedallable dh

Even for bikepark days enduro bike with dropper and wide cassette super beneficial, since you do not wanna limmit yourself
  • 3 0
 I can see us doing one DH group test per year. We did DH Bike Week a while ago and will do something similar in the future. Most interesting bikes.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: vital did nice, no offense, i’m pb fan, however enduro and trail bikes takes 80% of riders or even more, so focus on bikes that matters
  • 3 0
 I'll start by saying you guys are massively entertaining so thanks for that. You guys are front-and-center for people's bike buying decisions possibly more than you realize. Dealers and brands often have to deal with customers thinking they need some gargantuan reach number for "speed" and "stability." You guys and gals also collectively remain one of the last publications standing that clamors for ever-larger bikes (reaches). Many other publications have dialled it back and also had articles about how your bike is probably too big, I am still reading and hearing how the YT was 'conservative' and should be rad and fit some imaginary version of their PR image. Possibly, they simply want to continue making bikes that ride well.

Here in the northeast, and all over the EWS series, Enduro-pro-bros (guys actually out racing pro, not praying for a Strava top-20 on the weekend) are downsizing and simply riding the bikes that fit and give them the confidence they need to ride fast.

Then there is the fact that nobody seems to talk about: why Enduro bikes have a longer reach than DH bikes? DH bikes are the more-capable big-brother to enduro yet those reach numbers are often smaller within the same manufacturer's range. Let's talk about this. And I understand that slacker = front wheel out further.

I have been riding, racing, wrenching and involved in the industry for over 25 years now. I am 5'8" on a good morning and also drank the long-reach Kool-aid riding large bikes for a few years and have since dialed my reach numbers back on my enduro bike to hopefully make it a little more nimble in those oh-shit-I-need-to-change-direction-now moments.

I am also 190-195 pounds geared up to ride and I am built similar to a brick. One thing I have considered, also being in the winter sports industry, is how weight could play into bike fitment similar to how it does with ski and board sizing. Obviously, floatation and flex is not a consideration for mountain bikes but it does make me wonder how it could affect sizing choice with such a large ballast of weight transferring fore and aft. A large weight vs/ a smaller weight shifting in a small pocket could make a small bike nervous for a heavy rider but maybe not for a lighter one.

Food for thought. Thanks for the entertainment and a great assembly of personalities.
  • 3 1
 Regarding external brake routing - I absolutely agree with Henry. In this day and age bikes should have internal routing - those who need to change brakes alot are surely a minority ! I am really impressed with Transition bikes - but this is a deal breaker for me.
  • 2 0

Your corporate overlords say that mountain bikes are too long and too slack and everyone is on the wrong size. Thoughts?
@mikelevy @mikekazimer
  • 4 0
 I think Lee's RAD formula is OK for tight trails & jumping but doesn't make sense for faster, steeper riding where you need a bigger sweet spot to help with control. My new bike has 20mm longer reach than my old bike that was too long by Lee's formula but it suits well for the terrain I ride. You can't make assumptions on fit without considering usage.

And at the end of the article the author gives Ritchie Rude's bike as an example of a 6 footer riding a medium but we know that he can make that bike do whatever he wants and doesn't need that as big sweet spot as most riders.
  • 5 0
 I think one of us is going to write something Smile
  • 8 0
 @FensterM, I disagree with a large portion of that article, and with Lee McCormack's RAD equation. I've ridden a huge range of bike over the last ten years and by and large I'm very happy with today's modern geometry. Have some companies gone further than they needed to in regards to reach? Sure, but overall I'd say we're in a very good place, and I don't really see any reason to try and convince other riders that they're on the wrong size bikes.

I also hate when professional athletes are used as examples of what's supposed to be right. "Joe Pro rides a medium and he's 6'5", so that's what everybody should do" doesn't work for me. Professional athletes need to ride what their sponsors provide, which is why you see so many angle and reach adjusting headsets being used. As a consumer, if a bike doesn't feel good during a test ride it's easy enough to try an option from another brand that won't need as many fit adjustments.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer @mikelevy It's great that you guys touch on geo often, but I think RAD has its place for someone to size out their first mountain bike. Is that fair?

RAD is understood the best in (and directly influences) the Row/Anti-Row. In a full on Row, where the bars are pulled close to the hips w/ fully extended arms, a rider loses leverage close to the end of the Row on too long a reach bike (arms have to bend). Whereas on a smaller reach frame, a rider can get the bars right up against the hips with fully extended arms. But how often is the Avg Joe doing a full row trail riding? So, for someone 5'10" deciding between a medium/large, I'd ask, what does your local terrain demand? Tight and techy I'd go towards a medium. Wide open fast trails, towards a large? Bike park, jumping, maybe medium again? These are all considerations people should be making when purchasing a mountain bike. But I sure as hell wasn't 8 years ago when I started riding. I just wanted a bike.

And on top of that, the difference between reach sizes is often "only" 25mm. But seat tube lengths vary wildly between sizes, which also affects bike fit for people with standover issues. Not to mention tons of other nuances that only bike nerds and engineers froth about. Enter RAD. A one stop shop equation to size a bike, for someone who doesn't sweat the details.
  • 2 0
 Question for next podcast: It might be a bit taboo to talk about the new Outside+ membership right now but what benefit is there for any customer outside the US? No subscriptions or print issue. I always subscribed to BIKE in order to to have something tangible to hold on to, I see a hole in the market that Outside could fill and help sweeten the change for us northerners.
  • 1 0
 Never been so happy to have passed on a sweet price on a pair of e13 carbon cranks...that I was going to buy from @mattbeer on the buysell. I thought to myself "this guy is a pro...he's either beat them to hell or he's broken carbon cranks". Amazing to hear many years later that is exactly what happened.
  • 2 0
 @gbeaks33 To be fair, e13 have revised those cranks from 4 years ago. The listing was also for NIB cranks.
  • 1 0
 What is your problem with bar-stem units? They are only fitted to the 10000+$ bikes. Nobody who buys these bikes cares if they have to replace them with something else in case the fit is not perfect. Such expensive bikes need to cool like they are from the future.
  • 4 2
 Can you review the Evil Following? I own one, I really like it, but I need some Outside validation of how good of a bike it is.
  • 1 0
 Bike mag reviewed the current following and really liked it. Since Beta is in Outside insider club, does that count?
  • 2 0
 I think I remember @mikekazimer saying in the past that they would love to review Evil bikes but they have never had one long term. If they get one it shows up and ships out pretty quick.
  • 2 0
 Maybe next year, you could have Matt and Henry both do the timed DH runs, it would be interesting to see if the order of fastest to slowest is the same or reversed.
  • 4 0
 Prediction: Pinkbike changes name to “PinkEBike”
  • 1 0
 Great to have @henryquinney on the podcast. He shakes things up and clearly does not have the same corporate mtb industry/sea2sky dork feeding tube that Brian park, Mike Levy and Mike kazimer have.
  • 1 2
 What! A field test without Kaz? What has happened to Pinkbike?? Then you have him on the podcast??? He's been talking about all these E-bikes he's been riding, and no one shells out the goods on longer travel bikes like Kazimer does. Then hes not even in the tests. Truly disappointing. Henry and Matt need to take a seat and let the OG's run the show. Keep it up Mike & Mike.
  • 1 0
 Hey Pinkbike: what where some bikes that you would really like to have had in the field tests but covid availability may have excluded ?
  • 2 0
 Can anyone explain a 3 inch grip on a 4 inch turd? Sounds like something from Viz' Profanisaurus.
  • 4 10
flag Binderclip FL (Sep 24, 2021 at 13:09) (Below Threshold)
 use your imagination
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy @mattbeer @henryquinney what were the reasons behind the control tyre selection? What did you think of the selection?
  • 2 0
 There aren't a lot of tires out there, and we needed 20+ of them. I've always liked the DHR2 upfront - tons of braking traction, of course. The Dissector for a rear tire isn't my favorite.
  • 3 0
 @sambobcat: I agree with Levy. To be fair, the Dissector in the DH casing was actually pretty good. I'm probably somebody that would tend to lean to a DHR2 front and back setup, but the Dissector did do everything asked of it and rolled pretty fast to boot. It went well for Sun Peaks but does teeter on being at risk of being a little overwhelmed in conditions that aren't so dry, dusty and fast.
  • 2 2
 I completely agree with Henry on the Transition rear brake cable. I hated the look of it when I rode it. Zip ties on a premium carbon bike frame put me off buying the Sentinel. Bike only looks good from one side
  • 2 0
 Do you think @mattbeer 's parents considered an alternative first name of coaster?
  • 1 0
 I have a new marketing slogan inspired by the field test timed lap…. Longer, slacker, slower!!
  • 1 0
 How about adding heartrate and power meter data in the for of a HUD display on the screen, YEAH I just listened to this!
  • 1 0
 Who’s going to be the first to ask, how innovations/marginal gains/incremental changes lowers the cost to consumers?
  • 2 0
 Question: What is the worse thing about being a mountain biker.
  • 2 0
 Having to explain to a lay person the reasons for why you need another bike
  • 1 0
 How’d the bikes compare to the Specialized? I don’t think I’ve heard in the testing.

  • 1 0
 Concerning ebikes, can Henry say the words "but" and "hole" really fast and then the word "Bottle"?
  • 1 0
 I would’ve loved to seen the intense tracer 279 in this test
  • 1 0
 We need more Henry Quinney in future podcasts, he's hilarious!
  • 1 1
 First, for Mike Levy:
Second: Please do bring back VOD.
  • 1 0
 I want @henryquinney on Twitch playing Age of Empires.
  • 1 0
 Wait, what day is it? "Sep 24rd, 2021" :-D
  • 2 1
 Mike "Pink Man" Levy
  • 1 2
 i hate pinkbike
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