Video: Top Fuel vs Element vs Jet9 vs Trance 29 vs Blur TR vs Lux Trail - Field Test Roundtable

Dec 10, 2021
by Henry Quinney  


PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Downcountry Round Table



There were a lot of people that laughed at "downcountry". Well, they're not laughing now, are they? But I think they perhaps should. The name, or category, is just as ridiculous a word as ever. Is a downcountry bike a real thing? Is it here to destroy mountain biking? Will there one day be downcountry specific trails that you're not allowed to ride unless you've got between 119 and 121mm of travel? Well, I think we know the answer. It's an unequivocal yes, obviously.

But, apart from an existential threat, what does a downcountry bike pose? Well, let's be honest, in most cases it's just a very light 120mm bike. Except some brands didn't get the memo on the lightweight part. To say these bikes are no different from 120mm bikes of the past, though, would be wrong. They are, and they ride very differently. However, there are some bikes that feel more like traditional trail bikes.

For instance, the Giant Trance Advanced Pro 29 and the Jet 9 RDO are bikes that seem to be just about capable enough to ride just about anything. They borrow a lot of the characteristics you've probably come to love in your enduro bike. They're higher at the front and the rider's weight tends to sit slightly more rearward. This means that while they're very confidence inspiring on the steeper trails, they don't feel so alive or quick to respond on flatter terrain.

Similarly, the Trek and the Rocky seem to embody the downcountry revolution with untempered commitment. They're long, they're slack, and they're probably longer than most EWS race bikes. Is that a good thing though? And is this what we want? In some aspects these bikes shine, but what are the shortcomings of having a 480mm reach on a shorter travel bike? Or is it a win-win situation?

Then, of course there are the XC race bikes who have undergone some serious revision to now be worthy of the "trail" name. How much difference can just adding one word make? And can they move away from their XC roots to open up new stratas of capabilities? They were certainly lively, but what does that mean for you and I riding on our local trails?

Some riders will want the extra security of being over biked. However, others enjoy pushing a short travel bike to its limit. The geometry of long-travel bikes has threatened to work its way into short travel applications for a very long time. Now that it's here, is it worth it? Or do we prefer something a little more classically inspired?

Top Fuel 9.8 GX AXS Details

• Travel: 120mm rear / 120mm front
• Wheel size: 29" (except XS)
• Head angle: 66° (low)
• Seat tube angle: 76° (low)
• Size tested: large
• Reach: 480 mm
• Chainstay length: 435 mm
• Sizes: XS, S, M, M/L, L , XL, XXL
• Weight: 26lb 3 oz (11.9 kg)
• Price: $7,549 USD
trekbikes.com
Element Carbon 90 Details

• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 65 - 65.8°
• Seat tube angle: 76 - 76.8°
• Size tested: large
• Reach: 475 mm (low)
• Chainstay length: 435 mm
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 25lb 0oz (11.3 kg)
• Price: $9,589 USD
bikes.com

Jet 9 RDO Details

• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 66 - 66.5°
• Seat tube angle: 76 - 76.5°
• Size tested: large
• Reach: 469 mm (low)
• Chainstay length: 432 mm (low)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 28 lb 5 oz (12.8 kg)
• Price: $5,899 USD
ninerbikes.com
Trance Advanced Pro 29 1 Details

• Travel: 120mm rear / 130mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 65.5° (low)
• Seat tube angle: 76.3° (low)
• Size tested: large
• Reach: 472 mm (low)
• Chainstay length: 439 mm (low)
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 29lb 9oz (13.4kg)
• Price: $7,000 USD
giantbicycles.com

Blur TR X01 AXS Details

• Travel: 115mm rear / 120mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 67.1°
• Seat tube angle: 74.9°
• Size tested: large
• Reach: 457 mm
• Chainstay length: 436 mm
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 23 lb 12 oz (10.8 kg)
• Price: $9449 USD
santacruzbicycles.com
Canyon Lux Trail CF8 Details

• Travel: 110mm rear / 120mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 67.5°
• Seat tube angle: 74.5° (low)
• Size tested: medium
• Reach: 460 mm
• Chainstay length: 435 mm
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 26lb 10oz (12.1kg)
• Price: $6299
canyon.com


Which downcountry bike would you like to ride the most?





The 2021 Fall Field Test is presented by Rapha and Bontrager. Thank you also to Maxxis, Schwalbe, and Garmin for control tires and equipment.





249 Comments

  • 192 3
 Unfortunately as I get older and less rad these bikes are looking more desirable than the big travel smashy bikes I usually ride. Which makes me sad that I am sucking and a down country bike might be sufficient for my needs. Now get off my lawn.
  • 22 1
 Comes to us all pal.
  • 25 0
 Come to the not so young side, join us
  • 37 0
 I think we need a term for getting older and less rad. Downward country seems about right. Welcome to the club from a long time member... Fortunately, they are making bikes for us and they keep getting better!
  • 4 0
 Right there with ya.
  • 14 0
 @fracasnoxteam: *in my best Darth Vader voice 'I am your Grandfather...' *very heavy breathing...
  • 82 0
 After 40 it's all downcountry
  • 11 1
 On the flip side, they can work for not-so-old guys (like Levy) too. Those who unwisely like to get sideways and a little scared on the descents, but also like to mash the pedal to the floor the entire climb.

I've had one for a little while, it's a f*cking dog fight every descent and climb and I'm totally hooked.
  • 4 0
 @50percentsure: My favorite bike right now is actually a hardtail - such a blast to ride on the edge of control without needing extreme terrain to get that thrill. But my aging bones can't take the beating for long and I'm leaning toward trading in my trail bike for something downcountry. Totally aligned with Levy' comments. Downcountry - bridging the generation gap!
  • 2 0
 So that's what it is... I wondered why these kind of bikes are so appealing to me now.
  • 6 0
 @gomeeker: Deradification?
  • 8 0
 @50percentsure: 100% agree with this. Was on a Troy until recently, and unless I was bombing sketchier trails, it made my usual solo routes a little uninteresting, and it was a dog on the climbs (2017 alloy version). Took an epic Evo around my favourite loop, its way more fun going up hill, and makes the downhill way more spicy/interesting.

It's not for everyone, for sure, but I think a lot of people could stand to go down in travel a bit more than they'd think.
  • 1 0
 @number44: Nailed it right there....
  • 4 0
 ...welcome to the "i'm not as rad anymore, my son sends it bigger now" club.
  • 3 0
 I'll direct you to 12:35 when Levy shows the universal hand sign for shorter stem and riser bars on the XC weapon
  • 3 0
 @jason475: I have 2 sons who are now sending it bigger than me Wink
  • 2 0
 All about finding the sweet spot for me. My YT Izzo is a tad too XC firm and the Jeffsy is too tankish to me. I want something that falls somewhere in between. Hoping I can tweak the Izzo to find the right balance. The Spur and the Element might be the sweet spot. But neither were available. In normal times, I would have demoed a bunch of bikes and found the perfect one. The bike shortage has made bike shopping very tricky.
  • 2 0
 @wutamclan: the spur is not plusher and more squishy than the in izzo though... If anything, the spur is the more xc/downcountry and the izzo more of a trail bike...
  • 1 0
 @powderhoundbrr: thats truly awesome!
  • 9 0
 No problemo PowderHoundbrr! I'm 75 YOA and help coach a high school MTB team. I tell them "I used to go fast and far; then far; now I just try to go!"
Rubber side down! Rule #1 is FUN! :-)
  • 1 0
 I’m 40, so “over the hill.” It’s all downhill from here!
  • 2 0
 @wutamclan: the new stumpy is what you want
  • 2 0
 @number44:
I resemble that but took me 10 additional years to figure it out.
  • 7 0
 @bryce77: Indeed. I think many of us have followed a similar path over our riding lives and as the industry evolved.

Started on a GT Outpost and quickly upgraded to a custom Zaskar and that build evolved from a MZ Flylight 100 to a DJII to a Z1 or drop off, I don't recall but it was an anchor.

Wanted more squish but still ability to ride trails with one bike, say hello to the Coiler (far ahead of its time).
Meh, I want to go bigger and ride rougher, but still don't shuttle and occasionally ride park... enter 1st gen SX Trail (if only you could raise and lower the seat with a button!).

Hmm, still want to push harder on DH trails but can't justify a DH specific sled so let's just rent for park. Trails seem so much smoother, but let's be honest, I'm no Sam Hill and there's now kids running around the house so maybe I should try more XC oriented riding...

Hang up the pads, jump the ship and buy an Epic. Holy smokes this thing is FAST - accelerating uphill? what is this? - but TWITCHY! Covering more ground, but even the slightest air or sketch makes my sphincter uncomfortably tight.

Well, what do we have here, a Fuel? hmm, better geo, more travel - just size up and shorten the stem and enjoy this nimble toy while the 29er world figures itself out and then bam, geo and components come together in these wonderfully capable new breed of Downcountry/Trail machines that honestly make me wish I had my Tall Boy for the past 25yrs. It's perfect for what I ride. Too bad I had to wait two decades for the industry to produce what I had tried to build with my Coiler back in 2004.
  • 1 0
 At 57 I know what you mean! Still pedaling though...
  • 55 2
 This Field Test was definitely fun to watch (props to Henry Quinney) but I think the budget ones were way more helpful for the majority of riders who aren't looking for an $7500 bike.
  • 70 0
 Yep, we're not going to stop doing the Value Field Tests any time soon - we've got another one already on the calendar for early(ish) 2022.
  • 25 7
 @mikekazimer: Would be cool to see a hardcore hardtail field test, there haven't been many hardtails tested Smile Would be interesting to see how you would ride/review and like them compared to all the fs bikes
  • 12 0
 @NuclearNachos, we had a handful of hardtails in the last two value field tests, and there will be more in the next one as well. You can find those here: www.pinkbike.com/news/welcome-to-the-2021-pinkbike-value-bikes-field-trip.html and here: www.pinkbike.com/news/welcome-to-the-2020-pinkbike-field-trip.html.
  • 6 0
 @mikekazimer: Providing the links...not sure Frank can call THAT a "large disservice".
  • 4 4
 @mikekazimer: I've seen those, but those don't scratch the steel hardtail itch I have haha. Still great you included them, would love to see some chromags, niners, ragleys, stantons, etc. Only issue is most hardcore hardtails are just frame only or not the greatest value, but at least we have hardtailparty for great reviews and info on a ton of bikes
  • 4 1
 @mikekazimer: Not to sound like that guy who cries about "X" bike brand not being included in any test, but I'd love to hear PBs take on the Bird Aether 9 AL as it recently won trail bike of the year in a British publication. On paper at least it looks like great value, so any chance you'll be able to obtain one for next value test @mikekazimer ?
  • 7 0
 @MumblesBarn, I'll see what we can do - it all comes down to availability, which is extra challenging right now.
  • 9 0
 @NuclearNachos: It would be great to see a field test of the Kona Honzo ESD, Cotic BeFe Max, Chromag Rootdown, Rocky Mountain Growler, and I am sure people can add more to that list. I admit a field test like that would not be for everyone, but it would totally be my favorite to watch.
  • 5 0
 @Offrhodes: @NuclearNachos So basically you want to watch Hardtail Party on YouTube. don't worry, he hasn't been bought by Outside.... yet.
  • 4 0
 @andwrong: But I want them all tested on the same trails, same weather, save few days period for a true head to head comparison.
  • 6 0
 @Offrhodes: Could bring in @hardtailparty as a guest editor to join the PB crew for a mashup. Would be a fun cross-channel exercise.
  • 5 0
 @Offrhodes: Good selection. I'd like to add the Pipedream Moxie, Ragley Big Al
  • 6 0
 @dennis72: Yup. I'd also throw in a local - the Knolly Tyaughton; possibly also something like the RSD Middlechild or the Passila Ramakka.

Would be ideal if they could keep the components aligned too (e.g., every bike runs the same general suspension - Fox Performance 34/36, OneUp bars, Code R brakes, etc. I get that the build kits all differ, but for HTs it makes sense to compare like with like to the extent possible.
  • 6 0
 @andwrong: I do watch most of steve's videos, I just think it would be interesting to see other people with drastically different trails review some hardtails
  • 2 0
 @Alexisjmorgan: I've been wondering if this would be possible. Have a control fork and component set and be able to move it bike to bike. Time sensitive and maybe need a couple sets of components and swap between but would be interesting to add even more controls. Like wheels down to the individual setup of a singular set down to spoke tension and it being the same fork with the same bushing movement and for there to be equal resistance in the hubs, etc.
  • 4 0
 @NuclearNachos: *Hardcore ridged fat bikes.
  • 4 0
 @mikekazimer: that's great, but why split everything into dentist level bikes and basic pleb sleds? Seeing as the vast majority would consider the middle tier gx/slx/xt builds, why not focus on those.
Ive reviewed my share of bikes back in ghe day and i get the appeal, and manufacturer preference too, of testing top of the line models but there's mo denying it is far less relevant.
  • 3 0
 @foxinsocks: I would test the entry level 12 speed, the shimano deore variety. Best transmission per dollar.
  • 1 0
 @BirdBikes Any way you can get an Aether9 AL to @mikekazimer to review?
  • 40 2
 Downcountry dog field test when?
  • 31 1
 Sign me up.
  • 9 3
 dogs are the best
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: If the Santa Cruz Blur TR was a dog, what breed? Also... what about the Rocky Element?
  • 63 0
 I have two Dachshunds, they're very "downcountry" – long and low, with short-travel legs. Underdogging FTW.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: Double Down Country!!!
  • 8 0
 @NoahColorado: I have two mini schnauzers... They are "Loud Country"
  • 4 1
 @NoahColorado: ride like bitches.
  • 15 0
 @NoahColorado: I am also a serial dachshund owner - too. The also frequently have "over-personalities" say acting like 170 mm when they are only 100 mm. Very poor performance in rock gardens and steep tech. Not to mention the "Live Poop Valve" which typically opens in the house during poor weather. These doggies never perform in the rain.
  • 1 0
 Ok, I got Sloughi to beat them all
  • 1 0
 @NoahColorado: LOL! Great bit metaphorical mash up!!!
  • 3 0
 @dldewar: These doggies never perform in the rain. Had a mini that used to look at me and gave a look akin to - "Do I look like a U-Boat to you?"
  • 23 0
 That Element. Woohoo. Literally the answer to my prayers after hacking my old Element (overforked, overtired, overrimmed, overbarred, understemmed, saddle slammed as far forward as possible) trying to achieve exactly what this one has done. Thanks Rocky... I believe my Element C70 is due to arrive in about 6 weeks.
All this said, I think the new Element is the new definition of a trail bike so this DownCountry title doesn't apply. Marathon Trail Hucker is the new category.
  • 19 0
 PB crew, you guys really killed it on this review. Really provided some great info.

That Element appeals greatly to me but I'd buy the Top Fuel for the compartment/ significant price savings/ & being slightly more XC oriented.

Would REALLY like reviews to include the following info: frame weights & if frame onlys are available.
  • 22 0
 My Element arrives Monday!!!!
  • 10 0
 *Napoleon Dynamite voice* Luckyyyyy... looking like June or so for mine, at the earliest. Enjoy it in good health!
  • 4 0
 How did you manage that? When I asked, I was told I had to order it back in May to get one.
  • 5 0
 @yonderboy: I called around and found a shop that had the bike I wanted on their Rocky booking. Put a down deposit and waited 30 days and now my bike arrives at my door monday.
  • 15 2
 I'd go with the trek i think.

The 9.7 build is $4230 usd comes with grip1 34, DPS shock, XT shifter/deraileur, deore 6120 brakes (swap to metallic pads and +20 rotors f/r), 170mm dropper (l, xl), and it has a swatbox.

Similarly spec'd element (C50 build) is $700 more.
  • 2 0
 GROTBOX
  • 2 0
 I looked at the 9.7 too vs the Element. The 9.7 is unobtainium.
  • 1 0
 @dmackyaheard: yeah seems like real deciding factor with all these bikes is which ones you can actually get your hands on.
  • 2 0
 @loudv8noises: Yeah pretty much. I called like 11 Trek shops, all they had were 9.8's for $6500, and I didn't want to spend that much, so I located a C50 Element... and boom... bought it.
  • 19 4
 Q: Which downcountry bike would I like to ride the most? A: Transition Spur
  • 6 0
 I have one. 6-12’ gaps, drops, it climbs fast and feels so good! Ride it everywhere but double blacks and bike parks here in BC.
  • 1 0
 @Jvisscher: I just got a Spur at the end of this fall, I only got a couple rides on it but wondering if you have any insight on rear shock settings. I found that my rear end feels like it's just skipping off the top of chattery stuff. I guess really my only option is to run more sag and play with my rebound but thought I'd ask if you have any tuning tips!?
  • 1 0
 @sledshed: If the bike is loosing traction after the impact and feels like its not gaining composure fast enough, decrease the amount of rebound clicks so that way the rear end can return faster to a full stroke position. If that does not solve it drop pressure until you achieve consistent damping in the rough section. sag percent currently?
  • 1 0
 @tprojosh: thanks. Mine was set too soft and I have been working on getting my DH figured out at the park so ignoring this so far. Also i used to like a supple 160psi and now run 250 in the rear on the DH so this spur will change for the spring.
  • 3 0
 @sledshed: they want 30% sag on that bike, but I feel like it is definitely too little psi for hard riding. Good for xc marathon and keeping the tires on the ground.
  • 1 0
 @Jvisscher: Yeah it almost sounds like a more progressive shock tune would help the bike for your riding style.
  • 3 0
 @tprojosh: no. I just need to keep it on my xc rides and use my enduro for enduro riding! Geometry just feels so good that it isn’t hard to take it past it’s designed use.
  • 9 0
 My version of downcountry - Kona Hei Hei CR Race. When built up to race XC it weighs 22 lbs. Mainly due to the Fox 32 step cast, carbon seatpost and sub 1400 g wheels with maxxis ikons. I take this bike and perform bulk component swap to increase the fun factor on the down. My changeouts include a Fox 34 fork, 33 mm internal carbon wheels (I9 hubs) with minions, and a Fox transfer dropper. This slackens the bike a hair and increases the weight 3.5 lbs or so.
  • 10 0
 Trek sells a version of the Top Fuel with a 130mm Grip 2 fork (or you can specify it through Project 1).
I wonder how much this would equalize descending and geo to the Rocky?
Thoughts @mikelevy @henryquinney?
  • 10 1
 Forget the Spur Vs Element.

Let's see Element Vs Element.

Version 1: Tallest Ride 4 position, stepcast 34 120mm fork, wicked lightweight (25-27mm internal) wheels and XC ish tires, 2 piston brakes, 750mm bars, etc....

Version 2: Lowest Ride 4 position, 34 fork at 130, proper burly-ish tires and 30mm internal rims, 4 piston brakes, Newest Float X shock, etc...

Ride them in the same places, compare directly on spec, overall weight, ride characteristics, etc...
  • 10 0
 Can someone at PB update this article with all the timing data? You guys went through all that work to time the climbs and descents, it's a shame you guys don't share the numbers with us.
  • 18 5
 TALLBOY
  • 6 0
 While I loved my Tallboy 4, it's not really a downcountry bike anymore. Most people are riding them with 140mm forks and big tires. IMO the essence of a downcountry bike is taking a lightweight XC bike, jacking up the front travel by 10 or 20 mm, putting some 30mm internal rims on there, and picking the gnarlier line on the descent.
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy - Just curious if you remember your ride impressions of the V4 Tallboy? How does it compare to the Element? The geometry is very similar with identical travel. Thanks!
  • 12 1
 The Niche Police told me that the Blur and the Lux are actually "Marathon XC bikes"
  • 1 0
 The new Element was designed with the BC bike race in mind. So the same niche "marathon XC" could be used to decride it.
  • 3 0
 @agnostic: except for BC Bike Race the Element was fitted with a 120 mm fork and steeper head angle
so maybe Rocky will be coming out with an XC or Marathon spec'ed version of the Element one of these years
  • 2 0
 @agnostic: Literally what I was thinking as I watched the Element review. It would be so good on BCBR. Man, the Element has come a long way from my 1998 Element Race with a coil shock!
  • 8 0
 It seems lately that with the exception VanDerPoel's rampage, that many of the crashes of consequence to podium placings at the World Cup XC level have been on the uphills or flat to uphill corners

Last year enduro-mtb showed that shorter Enduro race bikes recorded faster times
enduro-mtb.com
The fastest enduro race bike – 10 bikes go head-to-head on an EWS stage | ENDURO Mountainbike Magazine
Which is the fastest enduro bike of 2020? With most of the 2020 season cancelled, we decided to put on a race of our own to answer that very question.
enduro-mtb.com enduro-mtb.com
"EWS professionals ride surprisingly short bikes – for good reason
The development of innovations always follows certain trends. Often the pendulum swings far in one direction only to level off somewhere in the middle. This seems to be the case with modern geometry. If you check out the race bikes on test, you’ll probably be asking yourself how Richie Rude, who is 180 cm tall, can be so fast on a bike with a reach of only 460 mm. Jack Moir is 1.91 m tall and rides a size L Strive, which, due to the extremely tall cockpit, is guaranteed to have a reach under 460 mm. The mullet conversion on the GT Force Carbon that Martin Maes rides has also shrunk the bike down to less than 460 mm in length. The reason for this became clear during the course of our test. Not only did the shorter bikes record faster times, they also allowed our test riders to change direction more quickly and position themselves better before corners to carry their speed through them. On top of that, the agile handling of compact bikes is usually more fun*. Anyone who thinks that these bikes aren’t composed at high speeds can rest assured: handling stability is heavily determined by the suspension and all the bikes on test performed brilliantly in this regard."

"And, in comparison, here is the slowest bike in the test.
The loser of this test*
The clear loser in this test is the COMMENCAL META AM in size large. On average, it was a whopping 9 seconds slower than the medium Yeti. The main reason is its long front centre with a reach of 495 mm in combination with a short 433 mm rear end and slack 63.6° head angle. This combination means that you have to ride the bike very actively to generate enough grip on the front wheel when cornering. In tight sections, the META AM tends to understeer a lot and if you don’t reduce your speed, you’ll simply slide through the apex of the turn. Besides costing you a lot of time, it’s exhausting. "
  • 1 0
 When Yeti updates the SB150 t0 470-480mm of reach on the medium, Richie Rude will still be the fastest guy out there.
  • 2 0
 @Hardnacks: Richie Rude purposefully chose the medium over the large to get shorter reach, but as you mentioned he will still be the fastest guy out there, even with 420 mm reach ;-)

links didn't work above so try enduro-mtb.com/en/enduro-race-bike-mtb-review/#toc_erkenntnisse
  • 3 1
 @taprider: maybe you missed my point. My point is, don’t look to racers to get what will be ideal for everyone. Racers are going to stick to old standards, because for them consistency is more important than anything else.

As for progression in geo for racers. There is also a reason why barelli upsized his GG after riding the grim donut. He’s way faster on a long bike. It’s not as black and white as people like to make it out.
  • 1 0
 @Hardnacks: longer wheelbase vs relatively longer front centre are not equivalent
  • 2 0
 @taprider: true for the donut, not so much when just upsizing his gg.
  • 9 0
 What about the Specialized Epic EVO? I'm trying to decide between it and the Blur TR
  • 1 0
 I'm wanting a comparison too. I think it would've fit right in on this field test.
  • 10 0
 Seems that the two most wanted tests are Blur TR vs Epic Evo and Element vs Spur. The two bookends of downcountry.
  • 1 0
 The Epic Evo isn't as rowdy as some of the bikes in this test. I would say it's pretty similar to the Blur TR though. Basically a regular Epic with a longer travel fork and bigger tires.
  • 1 0
 Have ridden the prior Blur TR and current Epic Evo. Pretty close feeling, I would imagine more so now with the Blur having flex stay in the rear instead of the VPP i rode.
  • 3 0
 Add the Scott Spark RC into it too.
  • 4 0
 I've just bought an epic evo to sit alongside my enduro as I wanted something better suited for xc missions. After 4 rides I'm really enjoying the epic. It's really fast and it can handle a lot more than you would expect of such a light short-travel bike. I can see it being the bike I end up riding the most as its so versatile and it makes the flat stuff and the climbs enjoyable.
  • 2 0
 Also known as the Specialized "Out of Stock" or OOS for short.
  • 5 0
 @mikekazimer any thoughts on where the Scott Spark Trail version 130/120 would end up in this field of "Down Country"?

After BCBR last year in Penticton I have a Spark on order.

I am a Trek guy and that new Top Fuel looks pretty darn good!! as the old 120/120 Trek Fuel was rated the best All rounder bike for quite a while. It seems this years version might be the new Fuel of old at 120/120

Cheers Keep Shredding!!
  • 6 0
 "Strong, light, and Cheap. Pick two."
Light & Cheap: XC
Strong & Cheap: "Classic" /short travel trail
Strong and Light: Down Country
  • 11 1
 Giant went with: expensive, heavy, slow, you can have all 3!
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy With this new DC/Trail bike Field Test, how does the Specialized Epic Evo you reviewed last year fit into/compare to the bikes in this Field Test? Would it win this Field test too?
  • 6 0
 Also @mikelevy how would you compare the budget review Ripley AF to the new element
  • 4 1
 I'm not a fan of a million bike categories, but some of these bikes are still in the XC category while others are more in the trail category. Those still in the XC category fit the "downcountry" movement. But should the others be in a Short Travel Trail Bike category. It seems like the bike designers intents are different for some of these bikes. Or is every bike so different these days that categories are becoming meaningless?
  • 2 1
 I feel like the giant trance is definitely a full on trail bike, but since it has 120mm suspension they tried to squeeze it into a downcountry category.
  • 1 0
 I hear ya. But what’s surprising is that They are saying the short travel trail bikes are better climbers and more efficient than the “downcountry” bikes.
But how do these short travel trail bikes compare to the Stumpjumper? Surely it climbs just as good and is similar weight.
  • 1 0
 @Bay1: the more of these tests i see, the more happy i am i got a hold of a new stumpy. I considered a more "downcountry" The thing climbs so well but has more capability than any of these bikes, I ride it on long XC laps and enduro tracks accross alberta and BC and it just crushes everything. Super light too, mine is around 28lbs with no carbon other than the frame.
  • 3 0
 Great video and reviews overall! On the final discussion, essentially over vs. underbiking, there is no right answer. Pick one and be a dick about it.

That Trek seems mighty dialed for the essence of "downcountry" though. Not over or under, just right.
  • 3 0
 If I had to have one bike, probably the Blur TR as I race XC. If I could supplement my already existing Revolver FS100, maybe the Niner would be the best to reach into the more aggressive trails that would overwhelm the geo and suspension of my Revolver. Would love to see the Element and Top Fuel thrown into the pit with the Epic Evo. Or is the Epic Evo more comparable to the Blur TR?
Would love to see a full on XC test as well, Supercaliber, Blur, Epic, Revolver, etc.
  • 3 1
 On this list, if money is no object, I will take the Blur as specced on this comparison test. If money matters, I will take a lessor Top Fuel, say, the aluminum-framed 8.

What I really want is an aluminum Spur. Maybe 2022?
  • 1 0
 I don't think an alloy spur is in the works. It uses a flex pivot so the entire suspension linkage would need changed to make it alloy.
  • 1 0
 @HB208: Alloy flex stays have been around for at least 20 years, so that shouldn't stop them.
  • 2 0
 @Genewich: A lifetime warranty probably does.....
  • 1 1
 Why would you want a bike with that little travel that would be 30+ pounds? Aluminum bikes ARE HEAVY unless you have a dentist style income.
  • 6 0
 Minnaar doesn't know what downcountry is, so does it really exist?
  • 2 1
 his long shocked and overforked tallboy sure is sweet!
  • 2 0
 @andraperrella27: that's definitely an aggressive trail bike in enduro bike clothing
  • 2 0
 m.youtube.com/watch?v=dIjQxEOgqIo
He sure knows how to ride it tho. To me this is Downcountry! a xc style bike that is more fun to ride and you wear a T shirt and shorts and smash a beer.
Funny thing is that now the Tallboy is a short travel trail bike.
  • 6 0
 My wife's comment. Are these guys triplets?
  • 1 0
 Clones actually I believe
  • 2 0
 As attractive as the element is, it is just too heavy for the money. I am going with the Blur TR since I mainly race XC. It is a hard choice between Blur TR and Scott Spark RC -- wish the Spark was included in this field test.
  • 1 0
 I have the current Spark. And It's an absolute rocket. Also love the twinlock. It's my favorite feature on the bike and a game changer for me. If you like it, go for the Spark. If you don't go for the Blur.
  • 2 0
 Curious as to how close the XTR Trek would be to the Rocky on the descents with the extra 10mm in the front. And how did these two bikes handle the bigger trails up high? Trying to decide which one I should replace my Phantom V3 with.
  • 8 2
 Why are you directly comparing bikes with a $3500+ plus price difference?
  • 5 2
 Happy to hear the Element is a close comparison to the Spur.... because I pulled the trigger on one a week before the review! lol
  • 8 3
 Ripley vs Element vs Spur
  • 6 3
 Meh, just Element v Spur
  • 1 0
 Following vs Ripley vs Element vs Spur
  • 2 1
 2 piston calipers aren't even lighter than than 4 piston calipers. Sram brakes save some weight in the lever, but AFAIK they all use the same bore diameter, so...

r2-bike.com/media/image/product/186007/lg/sram-g2-rsc-brake-caliper-post-mount-fw-rw-black~4.jpg
r2-bike.com/media/image/product/181362/lg/sram-level-ultimate-brake-caliper-post-mount-fw-rw-black~3.jpg
  • 1 0
 The new Element does seem very exciting, though perhaps I don't need to fill the already narrow gap between my 2021 Element XC bike and my Stumpjumper. I guess it would be almost as light as my xc race bike while perhaps descending almost as well as my trail bike - definitely tempting. But then I'd put 4 piston brakes, wider tougher rims and bigger tires on the Element, and it'd weigh almost as much as the Stumpjumper with just a little less travel. Still looks like a very cool bike though. However, I wonder why Rocky Mountain is abandoning the XC race bike market - I love the old Element for that. But perhaps you just but a lighter 120 fork on the new Element with an extender bottom headset cup and you've got a decent XC race bike as long as the slacker head angle works for your courses.
  • 3 0
 Will be great getting opinion on favorites this year vs last year. Like how does the Rocky compare to spur or trek to epic evo
  • 1 0
 So if someone was was looking at the difference between a Blur TR and Tallboy, both “downcountry,” what type of rider would be better suited by either. Or if you like the Element vs the Instinct. Lots of 120-130’ish bikes out there, but it seems like the companies are really trying to target different types of riders. Question comes down to not comparing everything against the Spur, but two similar bikes from the same company with different intentions.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy I agree with you on bike choice in general. I like a bike that have a personality and that shines in something specific, even if that makes it not as “all around”.
The all around good at everything but not so good at anything, are kind of blend or boring to me.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy @mikekazimer @henryquinney

Hey Mikes, Henry and anyone else, got a dilemma / quandry that I'd like to get your input on...

Been reading and watching the test videos here, but trying to get some perspective.

First, some qualifiers. I currently have a 2020 Scott Ransom, and a 2020 Ibis Ripmo w/ Fox 36 @160mm.

Debating whether a 3-bike quiver will be necessary, or can I get away with 2 bikes if my bike choice below is versatile enough. I could lose the middle Ripmo, or maybe the Ransom, as the Ripmo is pretty versatile and capable.

So... if you were 6'4" / 200" lbs and had a choice between the (XL):

1) Rocky Mountain Element 90

2) Trek 9.9 XTR - the build with the 130mm Fox 34 - at a claimed 25.9lbs

3) Trance Advanced 29 Pro 0 (without the LiveValve)

Now tell me how would these first 3 bikes would stack up against a super high end Ibis Ripley V4 build?

4) I could take the budget and buy a lightly used Ibis Ripley V4, take the savings and put some of it towards a Gucci set of wheels (Roval Control SL or?), keeping whatever stock wheels for regular days of abuse.

What would you do?

Then adding in factor of... none of the first 3 bikes above will be available anytime soon. Could be 6 months or more.

I can wait, if the wait is worthwhile.

Has anyone gotten a semi accurate ETA on these bikes recently?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy, @mikekazimer, @henryquinney
Pinkbike does articles all year long that conclude 'weight doesn't matter', 'Deore is just as good as XT', etc. But inevitably, a $10k bike always seems to 'win' the field test. Why not do a test taking the 'winners' of this field test and pit them against a cheaper version of themselves? For instance, compare the Top Fuel in this field test to the Top Fuel 9.7 ($4300 US) or the Top Fuel 8 (alum. version). Compare the RM Element to the Element Carbon 30 ($4300 US) or the Element 50 (alum. version). Give us timed ups and downs, the efficiency test, and the impossible climb. It would be nice to see how much of a difference the top level spec really makes.
  • 1 1
 @sjc115 Hello there - I mean, I think context is important in terms of weight. On anything but short travel bikes, the bikes we spend most of our time riding, then yeah, weight doesn't matter. However, I would contend on something with as little travel as 120mm it starts to become more important. For me, anyway. It's not that weight isn't always a metric of performance, but rather on a bike that's made for thrashing downhill, it's just far lower on my priorities.

In terms of how much bikes cost - yes, this is a very fair point. I'm not going to say it doesn't make our job easier as everything just works so well that it means you can isolate the frame characteristics easier. That said, if I have decent suspension, brakes and wheels then I couldn't give a monkeys what drivetrain is on there.

I wouldn't imagine much would change, but it's certainly not a bad idea! I'll have a think over it. I think it would be a forgone concusion though - probably not much slower but just a little less luxurious. I think sometimes the difference in components is like the interior of a car. It's not going to drastically change the experience of driving, and all interiors normally comprise of the same thing (a dashboard, a wheel, a few seats etc.) however, we all know the large difference in feel between an expensive interior over a cheaper one. It's not the end of the world at all, and won't get your from A to B quicker, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't nice.

For the record, we don't request the expensive bikes, but that's just what we're sent. Currently, with shortages just getting these bikes was hard enough. If I had my own bike, I would go Rockshox or Fox Elite suspension, good brakes, and then SLX. That would be great for me. Thanks for the suggestion.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy I would be curious to know how they compare to the 2019 Bike of the Year : Norco Optics.
The numbers look quite similar to the Rocky Mountain Element. Here is the data for the Large:
- Head Tube Angle of 65°
- Seat Tube Angle of 76°
- Reach 480 mm (versus 475 mm for the Element)
- Chain Stay 435 mm (versus 436 mm for the Element)
- Wheel Base 1235 (versus 1231 mm for the Element)
  • 4 0
 All bikes I will never be able to afford...
  • 6 1
 Ripley
  • 1 0
 Ripley
  • 5 0
 Banshee Phantom
  • 2 0
 Too heavy. I love Banshee's. I had a Rune and a V3 Paradox, but the frame weight pushes it out of the category.
  • 3 1
 Love these field tests, and all the bike reviews you guys do! I would be really interested to hear how the Element compares to the Spur.
  • 3 3
 I have to laugh @mikelevy you guys labeled this as "downcountry" field test but yet your picking the more XC oriented bike and the other bike that descends the best. Instead of choosing one that's in the middle. Let's be honest here, none of these bikes are XC race bikes unless your only going to race marathons then maybe a couple of these bikes might be contenders, but NONE are xc race bikes. When I think Downcountry I think which bike could I ride on my local enduro track if my enduro bike is down or I want to just pedal all day and still have fun on the descents. Having raced quite a bit of xc and won quite alot if I said that the bike I needed to be competitive with would be any fun on the trails I'd be lying to myself. These reviews like anything are just so subjective it ALWAYS comes down to the fact that which bike you get should be solely based on what you want to do with it.
  • 3 0
 Is it me or doesn't it seem like the Trek would be perfect with a 130mm Pike or 34 on it for the PNW?
  • 3 0
 Agreed, and Trek does sell a spec with a 130mm.
  • 3 0
 Levy, Kaz and Quinny are the exact Canadian, American and British version of each other
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy you mention how it would be easy to "over-tire" something like the Rocky. What would be the ideal tire combo for that bike in your area? @mikekazimer what are you running for tires on your Spur?
  • 1 1
 anyone notice, how you can read the first paragraph of this article and know immidiately, that its @henryquinney who wrote it? Big Grin in fact, it was even in his voice in my head...I think he should rpelace the Samuel L Jackson or morgan Freeman meme now
  • 8 5
 When is the Fatbike field test? Give the people what they really want see!
  • 2 1
 Fat bikes are RAD!
  • 2 0
 Hahaha, we need to take a stand against seriousness. Make mtb great again.
  • 1 0
 I love Henry being utterly incapable of maintaining a straight face when nothing actually funny is happening. Was this the morning after the psilocybin misadventure?
  • 1 2
 I have a 2022 Blur Trail 'S' build. It's a fast bike and I set a few PRs already. The weakest link on this model is the Maxxis Rekon Race tires which are fine and grippy for summer racing on not-so-technical singletrack. I ripped a sidewall on some chunky terrain so replaced them with Maxxis Ardents so much better grip and toughness without much loss in rolling speed and weight gain. When I'm going to ride somewhere more technical, I bring out the 2022 Ibis Ripmo V2 with the Fox Float X2/Fox 38 fork. The IBIS is a slower bike even with I9 Carbon Wheels. The Maxxis Assegai tires front and rear really slow it up.
  • 2 0
 I love how there's an almost $4,000 price difference between the high and low options
  • 2 0
 Would be interesting to see how much extra $$$ buys you in the timed tests.

I think the availability issues are the biggest problem though, so many bikes that would be interesting to compare that aren't here, Scalpel SE, Scott Spark etc etc
  • 1 0
 Great reviews and super produced content. Would you still Pick the element if you lived in a more flat country with mostly flow trails with lots of small ups and downs?
  • 3 0
 Where are the timing results for climbs, descents, and efficiency?
  • 1 0
 Common Mike's... Tell us what we really want to hear, how does the Element compare to the Spur???
(Henry has said he has not spent any time on a Spur)
  • 10 11
 I'm quite disappointed by this whole thing. The premise of the field test seem to be comparative, objective testing, but most of what I've read are highly subjective experiences of how a particular bike feels to the reviewer. Anyone remotely interested in comparative research should be acquainted with cognitive biases and how it effects appraisal of whatever is the subject at hand. Kahneman and Tverskys work popularized in the book thinking fast and slow illustrates the point I'm making and also makes for way more useful infotainement than this series of articles. Punditry really is an uncertain endeavor, and from where I'm sitting this brand of journalism really doesn't extend beyond that. Add to that the obvious conflict of interest that the bike industry generates the revenue that keeps this triumvirate employed. I'm not saying there's cash delivered in envelopes, but it doesn't really work that way either. Maybe the rep from SC or Rocky is a really nice guy that throws a great party once in a while. That kind of influence matters. The industry knows that stuff like this field test is the holy grail of marketing. It's naive to not think there will be made attempts to influence the results. I'm a continent removed from all of this, but let's say i maintain a healthy skepticism.

I can't help but feel that this whole thing is nothing more than consumerism. We express ourselves no longer by our behaviour, but how we spend our money. The message that comes across is that it's clearly more about the bike, than the rider. Once upon a time MTBs was perhaps a rebellious counterculture to traditional biking, but judging from the commentaries here i would say conformity is rampant. 1 degree angle off whatever trend these days and the bike is absolute rubbish. I especially found the hatchet job on the lux distateful. It obviously doesn't jive with whatever the reviewer regards a bike at all. The carbon that went into the frame would be better spent making pencil points. Really?

Yes, I have the lux and I like it. The sentiment I'm expressing here goes beyond simply being indignant or having my feelings hurt. I've felt this way about the bike industry for some time. Your biased review of the lux simply made me wish to articulate it. You can look at this whole rant as an expression of sunk cost fallacy if you wish, or you might introspect somewhat and perhaps realize I'm right about a thing or two. It really doesn't matter, the world keeps turning. At least it felt good to speak my mind. So it goes. Cheers.
  • 13 2
 I think the worst thing about delivering the Lux review was how much I like everyone I've ever crossed paths with at Canyon. Honestly, that f*cking sucked.

Sorry, but you're talking a load of nonsense. Where did I even say anything like "The carbon that went into the frame would be better spent making pencil points"? Honestly, what a load of absolute waffle.

I mean, we should leave it to the philosphers whether any opinion can ever be anything but subjective but here's what I think: Alot of this is subjective opinion, undoubtedly, but if you don't think any type of review is subjective then you're off your rocker. As a team, I would say we're pretty good at challenging eachother to make sure we can back any claim up. Any claim I had made at any point I could absolutely back up. And yes, I have an idea of what a downcountry or trail bike is - so do Canyon. I judge these bikes not only by what I think they should do but what the brand says they'll do. If they use words like Trail and downcountry then yes, it can't just be an XC bike. It has to actually do something different. I was equally critical of the Blur - but at least the Blur excels in other areas. If you rode them back to back you would feel it in an instant - it's not bias. The Lux is an okay bike, but if you think it doesn't have significant shortcomings, such as the ones I explained, then I don't think you can argue that you yourself aren't showing a great deal of bias by what we understand the needs of a modern mountain bike to be.

Thanks for reading all the same. Cheers.
  • 4 0
 Reading the book "The Art of Thinking Clearly" right now. Your statements ring true. I have a Blur sitting in a box waiting for me to take possession of it. I too am suffering from the Sunk Cost Fallacy as I have an urge to get a Spur or Element I am fighting but at the end of the day - I will keep the Blur. The riding around Pemberton and Squamish may be completely different from your riding.

I have a feeling that the Lux would have done really well in other riding areas. My general impression based on being a long time Pinkbike follower is that neither reviewer liked the bike - period. Heck they completely crapped on Live Valve and the Giant. Giant and Fox likely throws the best parties...

Given the terrain they are riding -I can tell you that changes in Geo will make a noticeable but maybe not a huge difference.

I feel your pain!
  • 4 2
 @AnBun I imagine you wrote this while wearing a scarf over a very high turtle neck and claiming everyone else in the Starbucks is derivative and bourgeoisie
  • 1 0
 How would you recommend they deliver the goods differently?
  • 3 0
 Don’t you hate it when your feet fall asleep from sitting on the can too long?
  • 5 3
 I guess I should say thanks for writing up a reply and not dismissing me out of hand.

You stomped on that bike pretty hard. That statement about the pencils is the sentiment you leave the readers with, at least me. There are other reviewers who also have spent some time with a bike between their legs that found plenty to like about this bike (check out nsmb and flow).

This is not a judgement of your character as such, but all of you working in pb should come to terms with the fact that you are pushing a consumer culture. The articles generating traffic on this site seem always to be about tech-reviews. You have to buy this or that to be a REAL mountainbiker. I guess most of the readers in this here joint wont share my views on this - seems if you spend your time here and dollars on 10k+ bikes you`re already drinking the kool aid. Im part of the same hypocrisy, for sure. But at least my eyes are open.

On this review of the lux I think you missed the mark. And I think you did so because of biases towards a something that in your mind is what a real bike should be.
  • 2 1
 @Cameltoby: Yeah, you can think of me like that guy, I do read a book from time to time. I also ride 6000-8000k each year, while being a dad and working fulltime with on-call 24h once a week and 72h every 4th or 5th weekend.
  • 2 1
 @dldewar: I appreciated your post, always pleasant to see a fellow thinking man. I will enjoy my bike, thank you, it just made me annoyed how one-sided and negative this review came across.
  • 2 0
 I.Can there be such a thing like "objective ride characteristic testing" when biking has a phenomenological aspect and do we want it? When reading such tests I myself am not only interested in comparing objective physical data like geometry, weight or KOMs but I am interested in the very subjective experience testers have while riding. There is a phenomenological aspect to riding bikes which numbers can’t display; it is a highly subjective experience which has to be communicated in exactly such tests, in exactly the way they did.

II.How could we know that one of the testers is cognitive biased (evidence)?

III.Speaking of Kahneman and Tverskys - Could it be that your hermeneutics of suspicion are the result of the bad lux review (it cannot be what may not be)?

IV.It would be a good thing to increase consumer maturity, maybe pb could to a podcast on that topic (manipulative marketing, biases,…)
  • 3 0
 Hey, don't sweat it, you must have done some thinking and analysis before choosing? Build a spreadsheet, work out your RAD, etc etc.

I was split between the Blur and the Lux, and if they were the same price I'd pick the SC as I've brought their bikes before and have been impressed.

They're £2000 apart though, and the Blur would - maybe - have arrived in March. I've had two months already on the Lux.

There are facts you can't get around though, the geo means if you've not got gangly legs you'll have to run a short dropper.

I got mine for 90% mellow (in terrain, not heart rate) XC days, and 10% trail centres where I have to chase my buddies on 150mm+.

If Henry's reading this, don't change, is rare to see strong opinions voiced in bike reviews, I assume because some reviewers are scared of being blanked..... What did you say to Evil??!
  • 1 0
 @Cirest: Good points.
I would add:
V Location matters. A bike is a tool for a purpose and the purpose is a combination of terrain + time.

VI Body type. I wonder to what degree their body type (proportions) influence their impression. I guess that's why I like META so much, the testers/reviewers they have are very different from each other in terms of build and physique.
  • 3 0
 @Cirest: Thank you for picking up the gauntlet. Allow me to retort.

I: No, in my opinion that is a tough thing to do. My issue is that pb performs pseudoscience with efficiency testing, timed descents etc., when in reality what you are getting here is the subjective opinion of the reviewer. That opinion is shaped by external pressures, and the industry is a strong force as such. What`s on sale here is identity as a MTBer, and pb is telling you what you need in your garage to be a cool kid. The reviewer in question have legitimacy as a good judge of bike characteristics, and used that legitimacy to take a flame thrower to a perfectly fine bike. I think he`s wrong, other reviewers have different opinions as well. If you want to pick your bike by what pb says you`ll end up with bikes costing around 10k usd, and of course the stylish clothing on display. Then of course, you`ll need N+1 for those extra gnarly trails, or a dedicated race machine for the xc races and BCBR. That kind of subjective opinion doesnt do much for me.

II We are all cognitive biased. Seeing how you know your way around a dictionary I would assume you are of the same opinion. It is really hard not to be biased, nigh on impossible. In medical research this happens all the time, and the stakes there are somewhat higher than what kind of bike you buy.

III. Absolutely. I would say you are spot on, and I`m not apologetic about it either. However, this was merely the trigger. My resentments about consumerism and how the bike industry makes you buy new gizmos every year goes way deeper. Again, I dont like that reputable bike journos like pb are pushing this agenda.

IV. No doubt.
  • 4 1
 Look here, it doesnt matter. We`re all worshipping the same god here - capitalism. If we had any human decency we wouldnt spend 6k+ USD on bikes - we`d give that money to NGOs that feed starving people. The world is messed up as it is, how about we leave the hate behind. Im sorry pb didnt like the lux. I hope that some of my commentary might inspire a change of agenda, but I`m not one for optimism, really.

Cheer up. GO ride.
  • 2 1
 @AnBun: It has been shown to be linked financially and organizationally to the entities which cause the problems the NGO's are set up to solve.
One of the richest (filthy rich) people I met on a dating site was a woman who set up a charity for sick babies.

Everyone who knows her as the charity founder, thinks of her as some saint because they aren't aware the artwork in her mansion costs more than the equipment her fundraising has purchased.
  • 3 1
 @sonuvagun: Yes, there are some rotten apples, ey? There are reputable NGOs though that can document where and how the money are spent. If you have a moral-philosophical interest in this I suggest you read Peter Singers "a life you can save" (or listen, the book is a free audiobook podcast). I think Singer makes a strong case for his brand of utilitarianism. Singers problem though is ignoring peoples psychology (or biases if you`d like - ref. my previous rant). Although his arguments are strong, it doesnt always play that way in the real world.
  • 2 0
 @AnBun: Peter Singer, eh? Noted.
I think most of us have a very low level of empathy for total strangers whose existence we aren't even aware of. We know there are people in dire straits, but we don't "know" them. If we were programmed (psychologically) to seek out those who are in need then the world would never be as it is.
We're selfish, it's in our nature. We're tribal and fearful, with a bias towards the glass being half-empty. So any thrill that frees our spirit is sure to draw us in.
I mean none of this to refute anything you're saying or conclusions you may have....probably I'm saying nothing that hasn't been said before.
Cheers
  • 3 1
 @sonuvagun: I think you're onto something there. From the looks of it you seem like a good bloke to have a beer with. Cheers
  • 4 0
 @AnBun: sounds like a session
  • 1 1
 @henryquinney:
I wish to restate my position in manner-of-factly and polite prose without insulting you. Meaning I`ll avoid the argumentative hyperbole. This thread is days old now, but I`ll leave my closing remark here for posterity, as they say.

We, humans, are not objective. We are all biased, this is inherent in the human condition. I dont really feel the need to be argumentative here, the evidence is just overwhelming. I made the reference to Kahneman because his book was a NY times best seller, and perhaps known amongst pb journalists and readers. I`ll give you another example from pop culture; moneyball. Yes, with Brad Pitt. Like every movie, it seems, its based on a book. In this case by a journalist who`s taken an interest in biases (and also written a nice biography of Kahneman and Tversky), Michael Lewis. I encourage you read his stuff, its both engagingly fun, as well as educational.

All of the bikes in the first round of the field test are, talking ballpark here, similar. Its 29ers with droppers and some front and rear suspension. It`s not like we`re comparing hardtails to endurobikes. It is my contention that they are more or less similar in performance, but they will feel different when riding them. My stand on this is that the lux was undeservedly bashed. What got my gall flowing was the summary video where one of the Mike`s tried to be diplomatic and offer the lux as a good bike for someone not riding in your backyard in Pemberton, but you and Mike#2 shut him down hastily. You said: This bike does nothing well, it doesnt climb, its not efficient, it doesnt descend. Now, having bought this bike and taking real joy from riding it, that struck a chord. I became emotionally invested, and that engendered the angry post.

I cant say I didnt mean it though. It is a profound thing in human psychology to form an identity, and most of us have several, e.g. father, husband, employee, bike rider. Consumerism sells identity, quite successfully too, and I think reviews like this propagate consumerism. This is a powerful machine and its so easy be a little cog in the machinery without even noticing it. Really, it just happens by itself. Our psychology and the development of factory production of consumables is whats makes capitalism such an enormous engine for economic growth - its what make your line of work even possible. I`m not saying that`s inherently a bad thing.

I`ll stop here without going further into the philosophical implications of this, not to mention the sustainability problem and environmentalist perspective. I for one I`m starting to really not like what I see around me. Incidentally, one escape from this is riding bikes. And yes, I have an expensive bike (two, actually - but combined they`re still less $$$ than the most expensive DC-bike in the test). Yeah, mea culpa. I did say I was a hypocrite and I pay for that with self loathing from time to time. I try to keep it balanced though. My classic roadie is ten years old and I pedal that thing around 3000 km every year. I`ll keep doing that till the frame snaps.

Heres to a better world. Cheers.
  • 1 0
 @AnBun: Yes, so much of what you said is true and I think there's a lot of common ground between us. I think the only way to get anything close to objectivity is to accept the fact that our experiences are all subjective if that makes sense and to embrace that acknowledgment and challenge it.

I'm always happy to explain things but please just ask instead of taking what could be perceived as a slightly more damning tone. However, my small notes would be this.

Sadly, it's absolutely my job to distinguish the differences between those bikes. A lot of that means that it's in comparison to the other bikes in its genre. In that setting, if you wanted a down-country bike, and a lot of people don't, it does come off worse in some of those comparisons. But the Lux is still a 2022 mountain bike - it's not that it's going to blow up if you ride something gnarly - it just didn't come off as well in our comparison, which involved almost solely back to back testing.

As stated though, if you wanted to ride this bike on singletrack that isn't demanding loads of spring rate, you could probably make the bike far more comfortable. That's really important. Like the Blur, for 120mm, it should at least be comfortable. I never found the desired level of comfort because of the bottom outs I was experiencing on our test track.

In regards to my comments about "off road bicyclist" this comment was the product of conversations Mike Levy and I had during the week. I'm not saying it's only suitable for that but a lot of people probably just want a good value bike that they can see the countryside on. Mike took it as if I was trying to be insulting but I genuinely wasn't. Lots of people just love the great outdoors and do half mountain biking mixed with gravel biking. And that's great. More power to them. This bike isn't as slung out as a true XC race bike in terms of the cockpit and could be great for that, if that's what your after. I actually spent a reasonable amount of time on an XC Lux and, if you want to just get outside and enjoy it, then the Lux Trail is, I believe, slightly more accomodating in terms of fitment (if you can get the sizing right).

The bit that got my back up, if I can just be very direct here, was the assertion that I give some brands a fairer shake than others. This is simply not true. That's not to say that I don't like certain products less than others but what brand they come from is of no odds to me. I obviously have no idea what you do for a living but if you're anything like me you'll find being called "bad" tolerable as it's something you are probably already aware of in lots of ways and are really motivated to improve. This is exactly how I see my presenting. However, to be called biased or disingenuous just f*cking hurts because it's more of a comment on your character than how you're performing in the role. Honestly, the day before I got called a "liar" for my review on that Canyon and it's just annoying and I think wholly unfair. At the end of the day, we're all people.

Thank you for taking the time for the comment and, yes, absolutely. Cheers.
  • 2 0
 It's about time somebody said that not all bikes need to be put it into the Enduro-Transmorgifier.
  • 1 0
 What strange times we live in that the Niner is the cheapest bike in the review (not that I can afford any of them right now).
  • 1 2
 I seem to have misunderstood what Downcountry means.. I always assumed they are slightly more aggressive trail bikes to use in the non-alpine regions... never knew it was an aggressive XC Bike with wider tires.. well, there is something I will never use then.. next....
  • 1 0
 I don’t see the Giant Trance as a DC bike, it’s a short travel trail bike. I am fortunate to own one, and it feels very different to my friend’s Epic Evo.
  • 2 0
 Starling review coming up!
  • 6 3
 SPUR
  • 4 1
 OPTIC
  • 3 0
 Hei Hei
  • 3 0
 Trail 429
  • 1 0
 I'm waiting for the uppers, downers and all arounders round table. When does that come out?
  • 1 0
 Top tier is close. It's probably a race for the availability but: Spur, Trek, Element

Then it's: No, no, no, no, no.
  • 3 0
 Ibis Ripley for me
  • 2 0
 Great stuff! This is what I come to PB for. thank you
  • 2 0
 ELEMENT vs SPUR Thats is all.
  • 1 0
 Plus TB4!
  • 2 1
 Would have been nice to see the Scott Spark 910. Its geometry and travel are close to the Rocky Mountain Element.
  • 1 0
 A lightweight climber to stave off the almost inevitable need for an eBike as long as possible.
  • 1 1
 Don't even mention the Giant in any detail until 10:40. LOL. Days of the Trance being a go-to bike are over. They have a long way to go to get back in the mix.
  • 1 0
 Great set of reviews.
Henry - couldn't you just raise the stem 15 mm with the flat bars? Problem solved.
  • 1 0
 Hello there - thanks. They were a ton of fun to make and feels great now that they're out there. I did experiment with positioning. However, with those bikes already being slightly on the shorter side it was a hard balance to get the height without eating into reach. It is a personal preference thing though undoubtedly. Thanks.
  • 2 0
 Good point. You go back about one third you go up. With risers you just go up. I will eat crow on this one. I got a XL Blur based on that shortest top tube. Santa Cruz to me is half a size down.

Keep up the great work. I really like the fact that you freely express your opinions for debate. @henryquinney:
  • 1 0
 Pivot Trail 429 V3 (non-enduro) (released in early 2021) would have been a good addition in this field test ...
  • 1 0
 blur tr owner here.... would be interesting to throw a 130-140mm fork on it and a pair of risers.
  • 1 0
 All I know is I watch these purely to see what Levy says! He's so freaking entertaining!
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer how do you think the Scott Spark 900 that you rode would place in this group of bikes?
  • 2 0
 oonga boonga
  • 1 0
 if henry's voice goes any deeper, i think he might hit the brown note
  • 2 0
 Following
  • 1 0
 Canyon Lux: Best for rock rolls
  • 2 0
 great stuff duders
  • 1 0
 You forgot the Fezzari Signal Peak
  • 1 0
 Arc and Spur. And maybe updated SB115, if they make it longer and slacker
  • 1 0
 Sounds like the Blur wins the Downcountry Downcountry section.
  • 1 0
 So the rocky is down down country?
  • 1 0
 This is no test without the Banshee Phantom.
  • 1 0
 What about the Santa Cruz tallboy?
  • 1 0
 1st rule of Down-country, it MUST weigh less than 28lbs.
  • 3 2
 SPUR !!!
  • 1 0
 Vs Spur
  • 1 1
 @notoutsideceo Outside plus sucks.
  • 1 0
 Trek has burrito box
  • 1 0
 No I'm still laughing
  • 1 0
 What is downcoutry?
Below threshold threads are hidden





Copyright © 2000 - 2022. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.029802
Mobile Version of Website