Field Test: Searching Out the Best Values in the Trail Bike Category

Dec 20, 2020
by Mike Levy  


Without a budget cap for this Field Test, it's no surprise that most brands opted to ship us their high-end models to review rather than more money-minded bikes. Can you blame them? If your company had a new machine, would you risk the focus of its first review being on a cut-rate fork or wheelset that let us down? Of course not, which is why we often end up with bikes in the $8,000 to $10,000 USD range. But while some of us are just fine with spending that much on a bicycle, whether it took years of saving or that's just spare change, I'd wager that most either can't or won't be okay with those kinds of numbers.

That's why we made this video looking at our five Field Test trail bikes to see which model gives you the most bike for your buck in each range.




Of the six Stumpys, I like the look of the $3,200 USD Comp Alloy.

Specialized Stumpjumper

There are six Stumpys to choose from, with the other three carbon models costing $7,000 for the Pro, $4,700 Expert, and $4,000 for the Comp. It’s important to note that all use Fox forks with the GRIP or GRIP2 damper, all have 4-piston brakes, and all have the exact same geometry as they’re all the same carbon frame. The biggest difference is the alloy wheels on the Expert and Comp - the others have carbon hoops.

Geo and suspension are everything, so if you really want a carbon frame, it’s hard to ignore that $4,000 Comp model that comes with SLX - a favorable spec compared to many others at this same price. Don’t care about carbon frames? While there is a $2,300 Stumpy, I like the look of the $3,200 Comp Alloy that comes with more capable suspension, as well as an NX drivetrain instead of SX. One note here: the alloy bikes actually still use Horst Link suspension whereas the carbon ones are now linkage-driven single pivot. I’m sure they act a bit differently on the trail, but I haven’t ridden the alloy bike yet so….



The $3,200 USD Trance X 29 2 looks like it offers the most bike for your money of them all.

Giant Trance X

If you want to keep it to carbon with the Trance X, there are three versions to choose from: The expensive ‘0’ that we reviewed, the $5,500 ‘1’ model, or the $4,500 ‘2’ - all of which see their parts hanging off the same carbon frame. They all have carbon wheels, too, although the ‘0’ gets a lighter version. The 1 comes with Fox’s high-end fork and shock, whereas the 2 gets a less expensive Pike Select with the Charger RC damper, and it’s GX versus NX as well.

But it’s the alloy models that stand out most to me. If you’re okay with ditching the ‘Advanced’ tag in favor of aluminum, have a look at the $3,200 USD Trance X 29 ‘2’ that gets a Fox 36 with a GRIP damper and an SLX drivetrain. That is absolutely bang for your buck, especially compared to most others at this price point.



I'll take my fun-loving Mojo with Deore, please.

Ibis Mojo

The $6,267 USD Mojo we reviewed is the least expensive trail bike of the bunch, but does the SLX and carbon wheel’d bike offer the most performance for your bucks of the five versions?

If it were my pennies, I’d have a real hard time looking past the Deore-sped Mojo that costs $4,500 USD. We’ve been super impressed with that drivetrain, and that money also gets you a Fox 34 with the GRIP2 damper. If I had somehow scraped together another $800 to burn, I’d spring for the wide carbon rim upgrade option as Ibis’ wheels have been some of my favorites in the past. But only if that was literally spare money.



Tom Richards photo
An AXS drivetrain, Factory-level suspension, and carbon wheels don't make any sense if you're on a budget.

Actofive P-Train

Am I really supposed to talk about value in the same sentence as a high-end, handmade exotic that's manufactured in very small numbers? Er, I guess so…

The frame on its own is somewhere around $4,000 USD without a shock, depending on exchange rates, duties, and the mood of obscure shipping rules that are designed to make things as difficult as possible. And if you want your exotica with a shock, that’ll be more Deutschmarks, please; around $4,666 USD with an EXT Storia, because you’re not gonna put something boring on it, are you? No, I hope not.

Actofive doesn’t sell complete bikes, but I don’t think anyone is going to be hanging an inexpensive drivetrain or a cheap fork on this thing. The question is: If I wanted a P-Train but needed to build it up without going crazy, what parts would I choose? For a fork, I might get something like a Pike Select with the Charger RC damper, and it’s hard to overlook a Deore drivetrain, isn’t it? The P-Train was made to descend, so four-piston brakes are a must as well; SRAM, TRP, and Hayes all offer good stuff. Wheels would be aluminum, of course, and either Stan’s or Spank. But not those godawful colorful rims. Just some nice black ones. My cockpit and everything else would be aluminum as well.



I'd prefer an alloy Blackthorn with this bike's Lyrik fork, but the $4,900 USD Carbon SLX is the best option in lieu of that.

Salsa Blackthorn

Onto Salsa’s 140mm-travel Blackthorn. There are three carbon bikes, two aluminum bikes, and I should point out that they also sell not only a carbon frame for the usual carbon price but also an aluminum frame/shock for $2,100 USD. That’s notable as very few other brands offer a relatively inexpensive alloy frame on its own, worth keeping in mind if you already have some decent suspension and parts to throw at it.

Speaking of aluminum, I had assumed that one of the two alloy Blackthorns would make the most sense - they sport the same geo as the carbon ones, after all - but both come with value-minded forks that use second or third-tier dampers. If you’re an experienced, hard-charging rider who’s used high-end stuff before, you’ll definitely notice the difference. This is where more money can buy more performance, with the $4,900 Carbon SLX Blackthorn being the least expensive version I’d want to buy. Not exactly inexpensive, I know, but that gets you a mostly SLX drivetrain, 4-piston brakes, and a Lyrik with Rockshox’s awesome Charger 2.1 damper.




What does all that mean? I’m gonna admit that being a Pinkbike test editor for the last 12 or 13 years hasn’t exactly helped my eye for value. I'll work on that, but I think the common thread here is the same as always - if they have the identical geometry and good suspension, there’s relatively little on-trail difference between carbon and aluminum frames.

If value is the question, the real answer is an aluminum frame with a high-end suspension fork or at least one that uses the best possible air spring and damper. We don’t see enough of that. With that in mind, the bike that stands out to me is that aluminum Giant Trance X 29 2 that costs $3,200 USD. That gets you the same adjustable widely geometry as the carbon bike, a Fox 36 with the GRIP damper, and the impressive SLX drivetrain. What else do you need?

Let us know what you think in the comments - did I nail it, or am I out to lunch?


196 Comments

  • 223 1
 This is an awesome feature. Can we have this on every bike review please? Assuming most people are buying a version below the version reviewed it's good to have the differences pointed out, particularly things which might not be immediately obvious on the manufacturer's and shop's websites like the different suspension layout on the carbon and ally stumpjumpers
  • 26 0
 Agree. For all I care, I would run Deore on every bike and then have baller suspension and brakes. I'd say wheels too... but all of my bike run sub-$600 wheel sets with cushcore and they are just fine. I think Mike hit the nail on the head with the Giant build. That's the one I would buy fooooor sure.
  • 1 0
 @teethandnails:
Swap in an X-ray shifter and you’re good to go
  • 4 3
 @teethandnails: Deore are baller brakes.
  • 5 1
 @Roobar: whats an x ray shifter? google loosely came up with a grip shifter. . . are you loony
  • 14 0
 @bitterrooter: was meant to be xt but my phone hates me
  • 7 0
 I do wish they could include the weight of the downspec bikes. I have found those weights hard to find.
  • 2 0
 I look forward to a test between the alloy stumpy and carbon to hear what the differences are with that suspension layout.
  • 99 1
 This video is the most relevant piece of journalism I have seen in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching videos and about the latest tech and drooling over 10k bikes but this video is a lot more relatable to my buying decision
  • 3 38
flag enduroNZ (Dec 20, 2020 at 12:34) (Below Threshold)
 Relevant piece of journalism that 'includes paid promotion'. Normally good journalism is impartial, whilst the concept is good unfortunately at least some of the brands have paid to be on the video so it's actually more like an advert.
  • 30 0
 @enduroNZ: I think the paid promotion refers to the Dainese pads, the drink and stuff, not the bikes.
  • 7 4
 @Rickos: you might be right
  • 35 0
 @enduroNZ: yes he’s right. No bike brands can pay to play in the Field Test. The paid promotion tag is because Dainese, Smith, and Sierra Nevada help support these videos, and we want to be as transparent as possible.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: so it’s not like the Dirt100 then from a few years ago? I was shocked to find out that all of the bikes and components had to have paid advertising to be featured in that round up of ‘best’ in biking
  • 2 0
 @notphaedrus: seriously? I was always under the impression that Dirt 100 was their 100 favourite products, I feel deceived. Dirt was such a great mag thaf just died overnight
  • 1 0
 @melonhead1145: yes, I know. Over 3k to put a bike on there. I was shocked
  • 2 1
 @notphaedrus: You were shocked they forked over the money?
  • 1 0
 @rrolly: no. I was just shocked that it was paid advertising. 3k is nothing for promo
  • 8 1
 @notphaedrus: Ah, it was the advertising that made you recoil. I guess that would put a damper on things.
  • 50 5
 You nailed it. Giant Trance X is THE bike from this test. However at around the same price the Ibis Ripmo AF Deore with DVO suspension is THE BIKE to get!
  • 5 0
 Agreed. So much bike for the $.
  • 12 40
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Dec 20, 2020 at 8:21) (Below Threshold)
 @CircusMaximus: Yeah but it's a Giant and not as good as the other bikes on the fun part of the ride, downhills. I actually with Levy here:

"Giant’s decision to spec an electronically-controlled fork and shock says they put more emphasis on pedaling performance than out-right suspension performance. Let’s be honest here: None of that is going to make the Trance X the cool bike to have out of this group"

As far as the Trance X, anytime the focus of a bike is on a lockout system inside the shocks it just highlights that the suspension design isn't ideal and is lacking.
  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: sorry for confusion...I was agreeing that the Ripmo AF Deore is a killer deal.

I'm no fan of electronically controlled suspension, fwiw.
  • 28 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: not really relevant to the $3200 version
  • 1 0
 100%
  • 27 1
 Yea, at that point it's just a matter of sitting back and letting your Ibis do the job.
  • 6 28
flag hi-dr-nick (Dec 20, 2020 at 10:16) (Below Threshold)
 too bad it's a giant and rides like shit. Can you say massive pedal bob?
  • 6 1
 I know this is limited to this year's field test but - Ripmo AF Deore FTW!!!
  • 9 0
 I just helped my brother buy a new bike a couple of weeks ago. His budget was $4k or less, shortlist was the Spec Stumpjumper Comp, Ripmo AF Deore, and Norco Optic C3.
Ended up getting the Optic because it was the only one in stock. Besides being a great ride, the C3 spec is bang on for the money (although I would drop the XT derailleur in favor of an upgraded shifter or brakes). Kudos to Norco for addressing the three issues I had with last year’s bike (resin only rotors, flimsy chainslap protection and garish paint jobs). Plus they seem to be doing a better job than most at keeping their supply chain running - As of today, my LBS, Fanatik and Jenson all have the Optic in stock in various specs and sizes
  • 11 1
 @hi-dr-nick: you are wrong my friend it has next to no bob and only uses the travel when needed
  • 22 2
 @hi-dr-nick:
No bike these days has " Massive Pedal Bob" unless you're pedalling a downhill bike. If you have massive pedal bob on a sub 150mm travel bike your suspension settings are way off.
  • 6 2
 Trance X is press fit BB...end of the story for me.
  • 1 1
 @Snowytrail: 100% agree! Like the Optic being mentioned above - great bike except for a press fit bb.
  • 3 0
 The Ripmo AF must be priced lower in the US and Canada, it's £3499 here in the UK with Deore spec, with DVO. The Giant Trance X 29 2 is £2999. I'd also throw the new Vitus Escarpe CRS in there too, sorted geometry, full SLX, DT wheels and Pike fork. £2699 it's a bargain.
  • 1 4
 @Snowytrail: Giant would be the last company to ever abandon press fit cause they are the classic cookie cutter frame building brand.
  • 4 1
 @Snowytrail: They have pretty good machining tolerances on the alloy frames, and using a threaded style PF BB has done a good job of keeping things tight and in line. I’m still a fan of the good old threaded BB, but there are plenty of options now that make a PF less of a PITA. Enduro is putting out some great stuff for PF frames. For a manufacturer of their size, Giant has very acceptable QC, IMO.
  • 3 0
 @OfFCourse: Seconding this. I have a couple of recent Giant's in the family, Trance and Anthem. I too have long loathed press-fit BBs, but no issues whatsoever with Giant's PF. Their tolerances are very precise and the BBs work just fine.
  • 2 0
 The solution to the press fit problem is a Wheels Manufacturing bolt together bottom bracket, solved the issues I was having with my Troy Carbon. I will replace any press fit bike I get in the future with one right away and avoid the coming issues.
  • 3 0
 Too bad Ibis Ripmo AF is ugly and is a little on the heavy side.
  • 2 0
 @OfFCourse: sorry fat fingers, I meant to agree, pinkbike should give the option to change props. You’re right, the aftermarket options for thread-together PF BBs are actually really good, wheels manufacturing was my choice for my last creaky PF
  • 39 3
 The stumpy expert seems like a good value. $4700 for performance elite, g2 rec, and x01 shifter and derailleur. That seems to be almost direct to consumer prices for a decent build kit and carbon frame
  • 5 0
 Got one (an expert) for my wife. It's been really really hard not to raise the saddle and take that bike out for a proper thrashing. The thing is nice. Sweet paint, sweet spec, sweet grips, sweet tires.
  • 5 0
 @Speeder01: Dude you gotta "test" all of the bikes in your house... it's just to make sure they are SAFE... gotta look out for your loved ones... Smile
  • 5 0
 I opted for the Expert level on the Evo and have no regrets and haven’t been left feeling like I’m missing out in any way. I personally feel the Experts are the best bang for the buck in the Stumpy and Stumpy Evo lineups
  • 3 0
 @instantbreakfast

I would agree with you on the stumpy expert , with a catch:

The Ibis mojo is the value bike for people that want 27.5 wheels. Deore, fox factory suspenison and an Ibis carbon frame for under $5k. Add carbon wheels and it’s $5300. That’s a great value.
  • 1 0
 @Rider-TJones: that new T9 compound is pretty impressive!
  • 24 5
 One that should be included in this list is Marin. I know they've made some questionable bikes in the past, but their current lineup has up-to-date geo on a standard 4 bar platform at very reasonable prices and looks pretty solid for anyone looking for a value buy.
  • 6 0
 I'm about to snatch a rift zone 27.5 once spring time comes around. I can't find anything else that comes close to bang for your buck.
  • 33 0
 This video is specific to the bikes in this year's fall field test. We'll be doing a value bike field test again this spring, and I know we are trying to arrange a Marin. Stay tuned.
  • 1 0
 @Mattcon20: I hope you're able to find one in stock
  • 4 0
 I picked up an Alpine Trail 7 for $2k at the beginning of the pandemic. Best bike purchase ever (and I've owned a string of Santa Cruzes).
  • 1 0
 @Noah353: that's true of most mountain bikes right now...
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325 They do look like fantastic value, sorted geo and builds. One thing, they're not 4 bar, they're linkage driven single pivot. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course.
  • 15 2
 Thank you for this, Pinkbike!
I believe, that manufacturers should be somehow persuaded to send mid-level models for test. It is relatively easy to create a $10k wonder bike with top suspension, but only a minority of customers will afford one. The idea is - send the bike which has the most chances to win and customers will buy cheaper model in belief that they will ride just like one in the reviews. Which may not be true, especially because of suspension. So unless there is no value limit, manufacturers will always send the most pricey model, otherwise they risk a relatively bad review.
  • 1 0
 They’ve talked about before is having a price cap on the field test so company’s will send better price spec. But I agree with you completely!
  • 3 0
 The fun thing is when a company sends a wonder bike and it doesn't get a favorable review. See: Mondraker.
  • 1 0
 Though about it for a while and obviously this cannot be that simple. You can compare by price or you can compare bike with similar level of equipment. In the first case, you rule out premium brands and simplify the idea of "value", because value is not only the price. In the latter case you have a fair comparison between bikes, but loose the primary use case for customers, which is searching for a bike from a certain price range.
  • 13 0
 Best value frame only > $2,800 for that S-Works Stumpy with Factory dps shock.

When a Pivot switchblade frame costs 4,150 (with a cheap aeffect crankset) and an SB-130 is 3,600 /// I feel obligated to applaud the big S for being one of the only brands to actually lower the cost of their frame-only option in 2020

Ibis deserves a shout-out too
  • 1 0
 Fezzari Delano Peak frame is $2300, full carbon, factory dpx2 , adjustable geo, 77 sta, 64.5 hta, contemporary reach numbers. There's a lot to like with this bike. Good price on full builds also. Pink bike, how about it for the spring field test!
  • 1 0
 $2700 is also Madonna RAAW territory (if they were in stock, alas)
  • 14 0
 Ally frame, good suspension, powerful but basic brakes and mid range everything else: Why would any company not offer that option???
  • 4 0
 so people get the carbon one
  • 4 0
 Because you would buy it instead of the bikes that are twice the money...
  • 9 1
 A link to the Giant page for that Trance is pretty much all you have to do when people complain about bikes costing too much.
  • 8 0
 It’s a shame what’s happened to prices coming into 2021. Giant pricing from last year was so good. My 2020 Trance Advanced 29-1 retailed for $5650 CAD. The 2021 Trances with similar spec (including the X model) is newly a grand more now. At that price you get a lower end rear shock and hubsthan what was on the 2020’s.. I can only assume it’s all an outcome of supply challenges/demand and poor CAD performance to an extent.
  • 4 0
 @mikedk: i see this +1000 basically across the board with Canadian pricing this year. Pretty sure its due to high demand on bikes, why would brands make it cheaper if ppl are still buying for more? Makes lots of sense. Its just not a year to buy a bike really.

Im more wondering what happened next year. Everyone should finally get their bike they waiting for last 4 months,... and will hopefully sell theirs 1-2 year old bikes,... as well, did brands ramp up their production because of high demand? If so, will they got caught with their pants down if demand will take dive if covid is over? Only time will tell,...
  • 1 0
 @mikedk: that's a bummer. that giant (insert model) advanced 1 build has been the best deal in mountain biking for a long time. I have a Trance Advanced 1 that I bought in 2017 for $3k (used from a shop employee) and I bet I could sell it for a profit at this point.
  • 2 0
 @Adamrideshisbike: sold my 2017 Reign SX late this summer for what I got it for used fall of 2017. Absolutely crazy.
  • 1 0
 @mikedk: Giants CAD pricing has taken a shit kicking the last few years. Maybe 4 years ago we could get them cheaper than the US even. They are still ok but certainly not the value they used to be.
  • 10 1
 You are a hammer man. Giant X2 delivers bang for bucks.
  • 5 1
 Hi end exotic parts are fun to drool over. Top of the line specd bikes rarely use a different frame from lower priced bikes in the same line up.
Thanks you for making some suggestions. Please test ride these bikes . A Fox fork and SLX brakes on an affordable bike? Yes please .
  • 6 2
 You know if the targets aren't just for wealthy people. The market wouldn't be flooded with top dollar bikes or parts. What about the low in come families? You know the sport would be a lot bigger if a bike isn't 5000 CAD "best value".
Yeah we're kinda in a crisis
  • 3 0
 Agreed. I am fortunate to have not been hurt financially by this pandemic and live comfortably. Yet, as I was looking for an entry-level bike to get back into this great sport (last rode a MTB 20 years ago), I was shocked at: A) the massive improvement in technology and components, and 2) the crazy high price of bikes.
I was able to locate an Stumpy Alloy for $2200 US, and that was perfect for me. I could have tolerated a higher price, but not for "first" bike. People may be critical of the components, yet this bike and its price point has enabled me to get a bike and get on the trails. That is what value represents to me.
  • 4 0
 First off, thanks! I think mike nailed it.

I would love to see a yearly highlight article about the best [and worst] value components of the year.

Consulting with a few big bike shops that see how these parts hold up in the real world would be a huge plus, too.



I think you *might just* be able to make a real difference in the bike industry if you call out the bad components that have a high failure rate or really poor performance... and also shower praise on the parts that work great for serious riders on a budget.

It seems like value drivetrains get all the attention... but it’s way cheaper to replace a cheap shifter or derailleur compared to buying a new rear wheel when a cheap hub fails. (usually cheap hubs are laced with spokes and rims that aren’t worth the cost to rebuild) > or replacing a fork or shock that just don’t cut it.
  • 4 0
 Since I literally just wrote up this topic for a friend just getting into MTBing, I thought I’d repaste that msg since there were some good bikes missing from PBs list:
“Following up on MTB nerdout… not sure budget, but here’s my recs:
- Ibis Ripmo AF Deore ($3.2k)
- ’21 Spec Stumpjumper Comp Carbon ($4k)
- ’21 Canyon Spectral 29 CF 8 ($4.7k)
- ’21 Commencal Meta TR 29 Essential ($3.5k)
- ’21 Nukeproof Reactor 290 Comp Alloy ($2.7k)
- ’21 Vitus Escarpe 29 CRS ($3.2k)
- ‘21 Marin Alpine Trail CR ($3.6k with unbeatable suspension)
Things to look for (without nerding out too much about suspension kinematics): ~65deg head angle, >75deg seat angle, Shimano Deore and SLX (best deals in the biz), 30mm or wider rims.
Things to avoid: SRAM SX or NX, Rockshox Gold/Sektor or other 2nd tier chassis.”
  • 1 0
 That's a pretty good set of advice. One thing I'd do is recommend a range of head angles. Like, say, 64-66* so it is clearer what is meant by "around 65*". I could totally see someone saying "well, 70* is about 65!".
I really enjoy helping friends get into riding and taking them through this. Having someone well versed on all the details of bikes and riding in general to guide them through the process can alleviate so much stress and uncertainty.
  • 4 0
 Nailed it Levy. It may not seem like it matters, but if your trusted resource for advice doesn’t even acknowledge alternatives and their merit, it’s like they don’t even exist.
  • 4 0
 This is great. Throw in the Vitus range into the mix too. Just picked up a carbon Sommet with full SLX , Super deluxe + and a Lyric Select + for $3500. Personally, I don’t need anything more.
  • 2 0
 Hard to beat that!
  • 6 0
 Are there any reviews up on the alu Stumpies yet, anyone know?
  • 2 0
 The Trance X and Stumpjumper Comp would make great additions to a budget shootout. I think the Trance X wheel set is pretty chunky and the 2020 Specialized wheels were as well, but everything else looks great. I'd also like to see a review on one of the 2 lower priced Commencal Meta TR's to see if the frame is worth the very meh spec list.
  • 5 1
 Phew, my covidpocalypse lockdown (5km limit, 1 hour exercise a day) purchase was a Giant trance x 2, I feel vindicated now Smile
  • 5 0
 I own a Trance 2 and am lusting for the X. Mike Levy thanks for your honest input as usual. Stellar revues.
  • 4 0
 Have the alu X 2, can confirm its a sweet riding bike. Get one, you won't regret it.
  • 2 0
 @WY228: nice, nice..... Mine is aluminum and Im sort of done buying carbon frames so I am looking at that one only problem is availability the stores are empty here in da 6
  • 1 0
 @WY228: theyre so sick i personally think the reign needs a massive update to make it rival the trance now
  • 1 0
 @slidingpenguinracing: yeah the Reign is a confused bike IMO. 170mm front and 146mm rear, it’s like an overforked trail bike trying to be an enduro.

I’m sure it’s a good bike in its own right and the geo is nice but until they up that rear travel it’ll be tough to compete with the market.
  • 8 6
 What about Specialized 2021 Status? By far best value bike sold through brick and mortar shops by a big brand. Likely also $500-1000 less than comparable spec”d web/direct brand.
  • 22 2
 Not even remotely in the trail bike category.
  • 19 0
 What about the Commencal Supreme?
  • 3 1
 That bike is not sold through normal Specialized IBD's. There are only a few select markets that have the Status, I think it is less than 20 shops in the USA. I've seen a few roll through my shop from some of their ambassadors. Both of the builds are super awesome price points, IMO. But, with that said, I wouldn't put the Status close to the trail bike category.
  • 5 1
 @richeyrich: Theres a Status 140 though
  • 5 0
 @Upduro: yeah the status 140 is 2600$ with code brakes and fox performance suspension
  • 27 0
 Status isn't really a trail bike and we didn't have it in time for this year's Field Test... BUT we FINALLY have one now and are planning to do a real review on it as soon as the weather allows. We're leaning towards a cage match of Stumpjumper vs Stumpjumper EVO vs Status.
  • 7 0
 @brianpark: cant wait! Pls make sure the stumpy and evo are priced close to the status so its apples to apples!
  • 5 0
 @brianpark: and why not Enduro vs status vs stumpy evo?
  • 5 0
 @makripper: maybe. Gotta draw the line somewhere and we’ve already done the Enduro to death.

@Spiral23 yeah Specialized only wanted to send us a fancy build of the Status, which is a bummer but the plus side is it’ll be apples to apples on the Stumpy and Evo.
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: how about a "Jib bike" rumble between the Status vs Nukeproof Reactor vs Commencal tr. Have Yoann Barreli do the test as you don't have a rider in the editorial stuff that's capable.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: yeah fair enough.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: was there not only like one build on these? NX, Code R, roval alu wheels, Fox36?
I was thinking that is the whole marketing thing with that Status, one build, one price aaaand go!
  • 1 0
 That is awesome look forward to reading the ride review @brianpark:
  • 2 0
 Hey it would also be nice to hear a quick look back comparison with say the last two years value bikes, trail and enduro bike reviews. Ie. Where do these stack up with the sight?
  • 1 0
 So, in the Field Test review I could sense some hesitation when it comes to descending the Trance with the Live Valve. Have you had any experience on one of the models with a regular shock like a DPX2 or DPS and how does it compare?
Cheers! .
  • 2 1
 Thanks, Pinkbike, great feature.

That said, it is indeed nice, that at least one brand offers a frame only option in aluminium. Unfortunately it’s Salsa - not because their bikes aren’t great, they are, but because they’re superboost... I strongly doubt, too many people have parts lying around for that.
  • 2 0
 Also: > shout out for alloy frames with good parts!

Let’s make this happen more.

Kudos to Rocky Mountain, Ibis, Canfield, Knolly, Norco (sight A1) and others who are keeping these options alive.
  • 2 0
 I'm looking for a new set of 29" tyres. Would love to save some $$. Thanks for mentioning Specilized and Vittoria as cheaper alternatives to Maxxis. What are their equivalent to the Maxxis exo+ or DD tyre casing?
  • 3 0
 "Field Test: Searching Out the Best Values in the Trail Bike Category"

Does this mean that you're asking which bikes have the best philosophies in life?
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy you nailed it, except one thing. We don't use "deutsch marks" over here for some time now. It has been exchanged by something new we call "euro" because of the European Union you know....
But no offense, great summary and vid :-)
  • 1 0
 You nailed it, more of that please, bike we can actually afford, let's promote that and not the unobtainium stuff. Also wish SRAM and Shimano would have 2 levels of offerings only, then pass on the high volume mass production rebates to consumers. Do we really need so many offerings: Deore, SLX, XT, XTR or SX,NX,GX,X01,XX1? And was I the only one to think the Salsa in raw aluminium was cooler looking?
  • 3 0
 The test I want to see: Take a set dollar amount lets say 6K US. Compare what you can get from the big 3 vs what you can get from the smaller but well known brands.
  • 1 0
 Awesome value right now Is the top alloy builds from devinci.
www.devinci.com/en/bikes/mountain/troy-gx12s-red
www.devinci.com/en/bikes/mountain/spartan-deore-12s-charcoal7031

The Spartan: an actual North American built frame !!!
  • 1 0
 Although I agree with Levy on his choice for 2020, but would still go with last years Ripmo AF if $3K was the max budget.

However, if you had an extra grand or maybe less, it would be extremely hard to beat the new Canfield Tilt at $4400 pre order with high end suspension, brakes, tires, etc. and updated geometry and the amazing CBF suspension. ( canfieldbikes.com/collections/tilt-trail-am-29er ) Of course, you could easily get closer to $3k if you had a few spare parts or shopped smartly (Deore/SLX/etc.) to build the frame fork combo going for $2700. Hopefully it'll be on next years PB Trail bike category to test.
  • 5 5
 I agree that for the average rider an alloy frame with a good fork and brakes is going to offer the best bang for your buck. I don't think that applies to everyone one though. Lighter less aggressive riders might benefit more from a lighter bike with less fancy suspension and brakes. On the flip side, I'm 6'5" 210 lbs and there's not many alloy frames (especially on budget bikes) that are large enough (currently on XXL Santa Cruz), rear shock tunes are also a bit of a crap shoot for my weight and riding style. So I think 'best value' is a bit more individual than we often talk about.
  • 5 0
 I feel like anything above 190 lbs requires a custom tune on suspension.
  • 4 0
 @bigogoat: I'd go further and say they need to design suspension to be more adjustable across a range of weights and styles. It was like that a few years ago.its going back the other way again.. except for fox.
  • 4 0
 More of these articles would be great! Enduro value bikes next?
  • 21 0
 Yep, that’s coming up next.
  • 1 1
 I’m thinking the Rocky Mountain and Santa Cruz are out of the value conversation (no AL version).

The shore continues to be fairly niche, even though it’s decent value.

I’d wager the AL Slash will take the value enduro bike win, but I’m rooting for the Propain.

Admittedly... partially so then I can finally find out how much it costs here in the states...

But given the pricing on the Tyee, it’s pretty competitive. It could be close.
  • 2 0
 @ocnlogan: talking about the altitude? there are 3 aluminum versions.
  • 1 0
 @savagelake:

Ahh, right you are.

I’ve been looking for a new frame to build up and the Altitude is only available as a carbon frame, even though they make AL options. Hence mis-remembering it was carbon only.

As a side note, it seems kind of odd to not sell an alloy frame, when they sell an alloy bike.
  • 2 0
 On top of the face value at MSRP, there's also one of those bikes that can almost certainly be had for well under MSRP while the others are unlikely.
  • 2 0
 This is a good selection, but still pretty expensive imo And I certainly couldn't sink that much money into a bike that I may struggle to find tires for in 5 years time
  • 2 0
 With so many budget bikes equipped with the Yari, it is worth remembering that it is just a 350 euro 15 minutes damper change from a Lyrik ultimate.
  • 1 0
 I’m tempted by the Blackthorn/Cassidy combo. You aren’t a big fan of the Yari on the aluminum SLX Blackthorn. Is the Cassidy Aluminum SLX the better entry point of the two with its Zeb fork?
  • 1 0
 Comparing bikes without any budget limitations is pretty ridiculous. I'd be very interested in the bikes in this article being rated and test ridden, competing against each other.
  • 3 0
 The stump jumper line looks great! The evo too!
  • 2 0
 I wish PB did a value frame series instead of completes. Do people not transfer components over anymore?
  • 2 0
 It's getting harder and harder to transfer parts over now. Look at all the changes -

Hubs have gone 135qr - 142x12 - 148x12 (and some to 157x12)
Bottom brackets have gone from BSA to a million different variants of press fit.
Forks have gone straight steerer to tapered.
Shocks have gone from imperial to metric.
Wheels have changed size.
Handlebars have changed size (stupidly).
Etc.

When you add it up its very difficult to see any frame or component as a lifetime investment now, and it's getting harder and harder to transfer stuff over. Yes, some stupid can be transferred, but it is a far less convenient / desirable option for many more.
Good news is that (pre Covid bike rush anyway) there was some very good deals on perfectly functional 'obsolete' standards bikes.
  • 2 0
 @slimboyjim: So dead on. I've completely shifted to "maintain a nice current setup longer and buy another complete later" rather than "get dream parts over time to use on frame after frame and ultimately end up with an amazing kit".

It's impossible to do now, and a little something died when that became evident. Oh well...
  • 1 0
 @phobospwns: Yeah - the days of buying high end stuff with the view of transferring it between bikes is sadly over. Such a shame really.
  • 2 1
 Let’s say your budget is $2000, and you’re starting with a frame and buying parts off PB buy/sell, Facebook groups and even Craigslist. What can you build...? Go!
  • 2 0
 That was my situation this year. Fitted my (*hardtail) frame with a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork, Hunt Trailwide wheels, Continental Trail King tires, SLX drivetrain (except XT shifter), Guide RE brakes (ie, older Code but with Guide levers), Spank bar + stem, plastic Deity flat pedals, PNW dropper, Ergon seat. I pretty easily stayed inside my $2000 budget, despite buying new. No doubt you could get higher spec if you take your time and buy used.
  • 2 0
 My "cheap as possible yet modern" build is sitting at around $2650 CAD or roughly $2060 USD at today's exchange rate, so far, but that cost includes the frame.

2018 RM Altitude alloy frame from Buysell. Fork is a used Suntour Durolux. Drivetrain is SLX 11 speed. Wheels, Stans rear and Fratelli front. Oneup dropper & composite pedals, WTB seat, Giant handlebar, DMR stem.

If I had to buy brakes and cranks it would have driven the price higher but I was able to reuse old ones.

Instagram @cheapondirt
  • 2 0
 let's get real, the best value is a frameset, wheel stand, ebay account, and a handful of tools.
  • 1 0
 +1 on the Occam and don't forget the Kona Process 134, which blows most of those bikes out of the water spec-wise for the price.
  • 1 0
 The Trance X2 looked interesting for sure, but it looked like it only had 2 piston brakes, at least from the pics. Those would have to come off immediately for me!
  • 3 0
 I have the alu Trance X 2. Comes with 4 piston Shimanos, and they work great. They're the non-series (MT-520) but have similar power to the 4 piston series models (SLX, XT, etc).
  • 1 0
 @WY228: Good to know. Cheers!
  • 1 0
 out for lunch when it comes to fork choice for the P-train @mikelevy: Pike select when the same money would get you a Mattoc Pro?
  • 2 0
 100%. “Sweet spot” models are much more interesting to compare than “dentist spec”. Please keep doing this.
  • 1 0
 Not mentioned here and hard to find, but for $2500, the Status 160 is hard to beat! Great riding bike, solid! Change to better tires and let’r rip!
  • 2 0
 Does the Trance come in a carbon frame/shock only option?
  • 2 0
 Yes it does and freaking beautiful. And comes without Live Valve thank goodness.
  • 4 2
 You can't put a price on SWAT box
  • 4 4
 The best value bikes are always the ones made of metal. Great prices, great specs and will last longer than the black plasticy over rated stuff.
  • 1 0
 if you're in europe the radon bikes are hard to beat. much higher value than ones listed here
  • 2 0
 Not a value brand but have you guys every reviewed a Nicolai/Geometron?
  • 5 0
 Not for a few years but we were trying to organize a review this year. I'll have to follow up.
  • 2 0
 I've just demo'd and ordered one, so it's a given that I liked it...

It's along the lines of what was recommended here - metal frame and top end suspension (Ext). If you are interested I'd recommend getting in touch - they're a really good bunch of guys and I'm sure they'll chat through the bike/options if you're interested (or I can give you a half baked opinion!). The one thing I would say is that you don't ride them off the back - the demo guy was saying that was where sone people struggle. I'll add that the weight on them is super low, the suspension is incredible, and that they're a lot of fun.

I imagine it would get a reaction a bit like the Actofive did - super capable, good at efficiently tractoring up a climb, but not 'fun' on the ups like a xc bike.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Yes please!! I remember you guys mentioning that earlier in 2020. Would LOVE a Geometron review!! Thanks!
  • 1 0
 I would go for carbon frame, best suspension and whatever was left for the rest.
  • 1 0
 So I feel personally attacked by Levy's disgust of elox-ed spank wheels.

For the rest it's killer content ^^
  • 1 0
 “Searching” is accurate. I’m hearing from dealers, bike stock will be very low in 2021.
  • 1 0
 as an added bonus, the actofivia reduces abdominal bloating and constipation...
  • 1 0
 We are cyclists we don’t know of this thing called value only World Cup level special exotic carbon build
  • 1 0
 At least they’re telling us about the bikes most of us are going to buy...
  • 1 0
 Was giving the Stumpjumper comp alloy serious consideration before I found an Optic. It looks like a decent trail bike.
  • 1 0
 Might be weird to mention here: but I wish this some content was available on cycling tips with other genres of bikes.
  • 1 0
 Do we really have to spend more than $3K to get a half decent bike these days?
  • 1 0
 Well done, a true Christmas Selection.. Lets think what will be the best Gift Wink
  • 2 1
 Polygon d7 for the ultra budget guy like me...
  • 2 0
 Great article!
  • 1 0
 How about Marin Alpine Trail? It has it all and price is good.
  • 2 4
 Fantastic! Great choice for the giant but damn is it ugly as sin. It looks cheap and nasty. Why is it so hard for some of these manufacturers to make great looking alloy frames?
  • 1 0
 Would be nice to see all of your picks in a shoot out.
  • 1 0
 Where is Marin’s alpine trail in there ?
  • 1 0
 I would throw in the Orbea Occam H30 or H20 into the mix.
  • 1 0
 @AndrewHornor: Base spec looks excellent, with the possible exception of the rims?
  • 1 0
 Seems the comment system glitched on the tag there^
  • 1 0
 Screw that!! I am waiting on the Grim Donut!!
  • 1 0
 Out to lunch, Mike? Is that a herbal lunch?
  • 1 0
 Now this is what the people want.
  • 1 0
 Canfield Tilt should be #1 on this list
  • 1 0
 I'm gona say it, speccy have the ugliest coloured bikes.
  • 1 1
 Nice bikes but don't think any of those bikes represent the best value for money bikes available right now.
  • 1 0
 Read the article. Its best values out of the bikes in this year's field test. Not out of all bikes on the market.
  • 1 0
 Give me that Stumpy Comp carbon!
  • 1 2
 Selected from a selection of Christmas cracker jokes.
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