The Pinkbike Podcast - The Field Test Roundtable

Nov 1, 2023 at 15:12
by Henry Quinney  
photo
Art by Taj Mihelich

The field test is over, and what a field test it has been. The eight bikes, each bringing something very different to the table, represent some of the modern of modern enduro geometry, technology, and frame design. However, that's not to say we didn't have our favorites. Listen to us rank them and explain our reasoning.

For a written breakdown of the rankings (spoilers beware) please click here.


Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

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


Author Info:
henryquinney avatar

Member since Jun 3, 2014
336 articles

112 Comments
  • 14 1
 My favorite finding on the ranking chart: 33.4 to 39.8 lbs bike weights. Doesn't scare me at all.

Never thought my 38lb Capra would feel like a toy until breaking a knee, having to ride a 52lb ebike (that or nothing - sitll can't pedal uphill w/o major pain). The Capra now feels like a sweet little spinner. Catastrophe can change your views.
  • 14 2
 Enjoyed the discussion. 1. Surprised with the issue on the Trek it scored so well. 2. I don't get why low stack height is an issue, personally it gives you more flexibility, to go low, or higher with spaces/stem/handle bar rise.
  • 2 0
 Exactly my thoughts. It's much easier to go higher then lower regarding stack. You can go up with spacers, bars, stems. No prob. Lower it's almost impossible if you have a short stem and want negative rise bars.
  • 2 0
 the only you will lose some of the advertised reach... so actually the ibis is not a 48 reach so shorter with a more regular stack height
  • 37 2
 I don’t think it’s as simple as that, and am scripting something that will enrage some of you, entertain the others and make some people turn off pinkbike forever. Stay tuned.
  • 2 3
 This flexibity is not really needed for an L size Enduro bike with ~170 fork. A typical 5'10 man will already have some spacers with 640 stack. You only need it to ride flat trails. Not to mention changes in stack and the stupid looks of a spacer tower.
  • 9 0
 @henryquinney: That's exactly what I came here for. No honestly, I can't thank you enough for your work at Pinkbike. It's hard not to get a mood lift from your humor and the enthusiasm you bring to the table!
  • 14 0
 @henryquinney: bit early in life to publish your memoirs?!
  • 4 1
 I was kind of surprised at the stack that kept being mentionned about the chromag. I doubled check the picture and the handlebar hadn't even been setup in its highest position with spacer lefts on top of it. Also at 6k€ it is nearly half the price of the Trek so I would have expected thorough testers to actually swap the handlebar with a +60mm riser and figure out if their opinion change on it.

All that field test discussion ended up being a fit me / not fit me / I don't like the color of this frame sort of discussion. Obviously with 4 to 5 different riders testing the bikes it was hard to have a bike that fit them all equally.
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: I love it when you make me angry, never stop.
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: intrigued and angry all at once. Sintilating…
  • 6 3
 Because you have to make a shout out to one of your sponsors. Nearing 40 lbs with a high pivot, idler, consistent dropped chains. Good luck with that
  • 1 0
 @henryquinney: A high stack will make you feel more secure, but isn't it actually quite the opposite?
With a low stack you automatically stand lower. And also the lever to pivot over the front wheel is shorter. Plus, you can charge into corners harder and it leans easier!
Isn't it?
  • 10 1
 The only downside of this review is that there remains a ton of bikes that I'd like to have seen compared. Specialized Enduro, Orbea Rallon, Canyon Strive, Pivot Firebird, Lapierre Spicy... the list goes on. It would be great if there was a Top Gear type leaderboard with impressions of each bike (as they come up) so that we can see how they stack up. Could be a combined score of the key attributes that you have discussed in this field test.
Obviously several leaderboards would be needed for the different categories of mountain bikes.
Worth the effort I think and would help settle the ongoing debate of how bikes stack up against the Enduro/Spire.
  • 1 1
 Absolutely! I currently own a Specialized Enduro, and love it. They said something in one of the reviews about how the Enduro was way ahead of the game when it came out, but now everyone has caught up (or something like that, I’m paraphrasing). Has everyone caught up? Have they surpassed it? In what ways? I currently have my Enduro set up with a 180 Fox front, and a DHX coil rear. I can pedal it up all the trails around me, and take it to the bike parks and have fun with it. Other than the lack of UDH, the geometry looks very comparable to this crop of bikes (reach, headtube angle, wheelbase, etc.), so what has improved over the past few years? I just need a reason to justify that I need a new bike.

+1 for the “Top Gear” overall rating system for sure!
  • 1 0
 Steve, i couldn't agree more. By all means review different brands, then compare against the category "standard", which i'd say is currently something like an Enduro. The key is to keep the "leader board" up to date
  • 1 0
 It certainly seems they left out a lot of bikes that the vast majority of riders would actually consider an option in order to include a few fringe bikes that ended up not being very good. Go figure. As an Esker owner I clearly like supporting small brands that are doing unique things. Seems like they went 0/3 this time around.
  • 4 0
 Pitty for Commencal, cause it looks like the bike was misaligned badly. I have a single pivot Meta and it's OK, but maybe a virtual with short links require better alignment and qc control. So my take for now is that I should stay away from new Commencals cause qc and alignment is questionable on those.
  • 4 0
 I feel like this would’ve been the perfect field test to compare these bike to a proper dh bike. I understand there is never enough time but it would’ve been a great metric to have
  • 2 0
 Yah there is more difference between long legged enduro bikes and DH bikes then lots of people think. I'd say it'd be a little too apples to oranges here. On the other hand it'd make a fun same manufacturer enduro to dh bike comparison video.
  • 5 3
 What would be the point? A DH bike is much better going downhill, and much worse going uphill. The only way of making even remotely comparable would be to at least install DH forks on the enduro bikes
  • 8 0
 @jose90: sorry I think I worded that a little wrong, I meant just for the dh times testing so people could get a grasp on the speed modern enduro bikes are capable of. I don’t mean have a dh bike in the efficiency test, although it would make for good entertainment
  • 3 0
 I know you can only review a bike based on how it arrives but i do wonder if the sluggish nature of the Nicolai would change a bit if it was fitted with an air shock and a slightly lighter build. Itd never be the lightest but you could probably get it fairly easily into the 36/37lbs range.
  • 13 0
 I definitely shouldn't have specced an Onyx hub. It's pretty neat how quiet and smooth it is, but its flexibility didn't help impressions for pedalling efficiency (this bike is actually quite efficient to pedal, it's just heavy, and in this case, it has a spongy hub).
  • 2 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: I've honestly never heard such poor reviews, of the Onyx.
  • 2 0
 @SunsPSD: I've heard that said about the Onyx many times but I think everyone overlooks that part because the quietness of them wins everyone over and of course we humans ability to quickly adapt to anything and have it become the new normal.
  • 7 4
 Having not tested these bikes, but having ridden a few of them before and digesting the field test as much as anybody, here's my personal list of what I'd be most likely to buy.

8. Unno- no small bump and not bottom out resistance,
7. Nicolai- complicated and not really playful
6. Pole- too stiff and harsh
5. Nukeproof- Could be fun at the bike park, but wallows on flatter terrain and not as great pedalling standing
4. Trek- Looks like a great bike, but Dario saying he dropped his chain 4x in one day, would be so annoying to me I'd not want it.
3. Chromag- Intriguing bike- I'd like to try it, but would be hesitant to buy with out experiencing the flexy description.
2. Commencal- I've always liked Commencal bikes- Other reviews don't seem to notice the creaks, so maybe it'd be a non-issue? also the bottle cage hack is kind of funny to me. Or get a fidlock bottle cage
1. Ibis- This bike is very well rounded. I fit the description perfectly of somebody that could get by with 150mm travel most of the time, but occassionally I want more, but this will still ride like a 150 bike when I want it to.

Other bikes that intrigue me Atherton AM 170, Raaw Madonna V3 (can't wait for the release on Nov. 9th)
  • 4 1
 I find it interesting they mentioned in the slash review that the cause was the lower roller being too far of a distance from the chainstay, but in the podcast that issue hadn't been figured out yet
  • 6 0
 @KolaPanda: I figured it out after the podcast.
  • 3 0
 I'd love to see a high-end build on the Chromemag to contain the weight a bit. The guys said that it pedaled great, sucked up chatter like crazy & held its line well. Seems the only complaint was the low stack height, which I actually prefer for the front traction.
Guess I'm trying to understand that with a well selected build, are you losing anything as a result of the steel flex.

BTW - Neko Mullally said that the steel DH bikes that he had built for Frameworks by Cotic I believe were perfect, for your Dad to go out and ride. Well truthfully, that describes me!
  • 6 4
 I would like to request an “extremely British” Henry Quinney led podcast that doesn’t even have to focus on bikes. Just Henry being very British and the special guests would be British too. Ideally it would have a classical music, extremely civilized surface vibe(tongue in cheek) but hopefully the true tone would be the British perspective on mountain biking. It should involve tea and biscuits/digestives. I just think with Henry’s humor this could be incredible.
  • 2 0
 It should also include Marigolds!
  • 2 0
 Great podcast! How did you guys find the plushness of the HD6? It's my understanding that the DW link provides a great pedaling platform at the expense of plushness, at least that what I've read regarding reviews of the Pivot Switchblade and Firebird.

Henry, great job moderating! Your comment about Matt next to the HD6 in his 7Mesh kit made me laugh out loud!

Also, I'd love for you guys to do a "ask me anything" podcast where you respond to questions in the comments.
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the great discussion. I am surprised how you weigh the pros and cons of specific bikes. How can the noisiest bikes that constantly lose the chain or have bearing issues from day one ever make it to the top of the list just because of excellent geometry? I would never ever recommend a bike to a friend on which s/he would need to replace the bearings every month.
  • 2 1
 I have a question to @dariodigiulio: How was the test for you in terms of sizing, considering you are quite a bit taller than the other testers?
While a size large seems more or less spot on for the rest, I expect that most brands would recommend a size XL for yourself. Did you adapt the bikes in any way and do you prefer smaller bikes in general?
  • 3 0
 It was discussed in the podcast. Some/one of the bikes were/was a bit small to him.
  • 1 1
 @JAK79: Damn, I was worried that was going to happen, but going by the description alone it seemed like the topic wasn't going to come up in the podcast.
Will listen to it later.
  • 2 0
 Can the reviewers give ballpark #s on what a "high" stack is for 170-180mm bikes in sz Large (~770-790 reach), and speak to if the ideal "high" stack #s would be different for 140-150mm bikes.
  • 5 1
 YES!! Bike builders take note: The 3 weird ugly ones are the 3 least likely to be recommended to a friend.

NO SHIT! lol
  • 1 0
 On a list of bikes to recommend to friends … how good must a bike ride that you recommend it despite creaking from the first ride on?
Would annoy the s out of me! But after this podcast, I’m REALLY intrigued to try the Meta
  • 2 1
 Nicolai - Whilst I like the idea of the Supre Drive it seems to be the worst of both worlds. It's still got the unsprung weight of a standard drive train (cassette and mech) but non of the benefits of a gearbox - less unsprung weight and better suspension performance. It would be interesting to see how the Supre Drive compares to say a Pinion / Effigear equivalent.
  • 11 0
 Our derailleur is almost 300g lighter than an XO T-type derailleur. The Supre Drive doesn't remove all the unsprung weight from the rear, but it removes some of it. Gearboxes are heavier and have more drag than the Supre Drive (and regular derailleur drivetrains).
  • 4 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: fair points and I love that you are doing it different / better from the big drive train manufacturers. I guess that this is the first "production" bike with a Supre Drive and it has been compared to bikes with drivetrains that have been around for decades. Hopefully we will see a lot more adopt and develop this.

I would still love to see the "mech in a box" type gearbox (Honda / Trinity) for a mountainbike become more main stream.
  • 3 0
 @cedric-eveleigh: 300g less is actually quite an achievement and I could see that leading to better suspension performance if one is really in tune to the bike. Heck I feel like I've noticed better performance from going GX to X01 cassette.

Also the chain moved noticeably less on the huck to flat with the Supre drive and bet we all could notice that on rough fast terrain.
  • 3 0
 Watch the field test videos for the professional, restrained takes, listen to the field test podcast to find out how everyone really feels about these bikes.
  • 1 0
 Hey PB, any chance you can try to do some science and figure out whether what feels great about these steel, "well-tracking" bikes is really because of the steel or just because of the weight? Of course it will be a combination, but currently as a consumer I don't have a way of separating the alleged performance benefits of a steel bike from the weight.
  • 2 0
 @dariodigiulio It would be great to hear your comparison of the Lowdown and Steezl. It sounds like you liked them both, but I'm sure they ride quite differently. They are both bikes I'm quite interested in too.
  • 6 0
 I might do a little comparison article on the two, but essentially they are different beasts. The Steezl is more pointed, feels a bit more supportive suspension-wise. Lowdown is cushier, slightly better grip on the brakes. Frame quality points go to Steezl, as well as better mullet wheel integration. Bonus points for being made domestically. I think I'd go for the Reeb and try to swap the Lyrik for a Zeb or 38. Hard choice though, they're both excellent.
  • 1 0
 Such a great podcast! I guess all of this must have been scripted beforehand given how witty it all was, but it was pretty great how much it sounded like it was just flowing along. Also just really interesting, thoughtful comments that really helped explain the bikes.

Such a great crew and dynamic that it gives me an idea: you guys should do a PODCAST!
  • 2 0
 To me a new bike which has a chain drop issue is unacceptable. Nearly as bad is a creaking issue. The Unno is unacceptably expensive for what it offers. The Ibis sounds like the best of the bunch to me.
  • 2 0
 mostly agreed - but the lowdown sounds like the best of the bunch, to me
  • 1 0
 @qbensis: Fair, it's probably a tricky choice between those 2.
  • 1 0
 Even tho I really enjoy the podcast, I’d like to mention that the sound quality was really bad. Sometimes you guys are recording in a van and it somewhat sounds okay but the voice of Henry was hard to ear.
  • 3 1
 1. Chromag Lowdown 2. Chromag Lowdown 3. Chromag Lowdown 4. Chromag Lowdown 5. Chromag Lowdown 6, Chromag Lowdown 7. Chromag Lowdown 8. The rest of em
  • 3 0
 Surprised with the result of the Slash obviously a good bike but the chain issue surely would drive you nuts long term
  • 3 0
 Why are long dropper posts so important to these guys? DH riders don‘t drop their posts that low.
  • 1 0
 Would love if you guys had a bit of a scorecard for each bike to compare them. Ease of setup, likelihood to recommend, fun, maneuverability, etc. would just be cool to make some bro science that was comparable. @henryquinny
  • 1 0
 So 11mm lower stack height of the Ibis HD6 compared with the Trek Slash is far too low and the Slash felt fine? IS that really the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
  • 2 0
 What I got out of this is I want the Cromag or the Trek ..
  • 1 0
 If you want to be first, lowdown
  • 2 0
 Next time just test the normie bikes with maybe one outlier.
  • 4 7
 3 out of 4 chose the Trek #1. Why did it feel so good? Because it's a high pivot. There are others out there too. If you know, you know...
  • 4 0
 And the Nicolai (the other high pivot bike on test) was last for some of them. Clearly high pivot isn't a silver bullet.
  • 3 1
 The main sponsor of the page gets extra credit points.
  • 3 6
 Are there any other noteworthy Canadian bands besides Nickelback?
  • 5 0
 Avril.
  • 3 5
 U2
  • 4 0
 Rush
  • 5 0
 @Monkeyass: Troll?
  • 2 0
 Elvis
  • 3 0
 Neil Young
  • 2 0
 Rainbow Butt Monkeys
  • 3 0
 Tragically Hip
  • 5 0
 The Band

(OK, only 4/5 of them.)
  • 1 0
 Our Lady Peace Feist The Guess Who Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • 5 0
 Fucked Up
  • 4 1
 Seems like a great question for Google...
  • 1 0
 @ModularSynth: Oh yeah I've heard of those dudes before
  • 3 0
 Voivod
  • 3 1
 Alexisonfire, Moneen and Billy Talent.
  • 2 0
 Maybe. But Nickelback rules them all.
  • 2 0
 Cryptosy.
  • 2 0
 Crash Test Dummies. Arcade Fire.
  • 1 0
 @heatproofgenie: Superman never made any money.
  • 2 0
 Can’t forget drizzy drake
  • 7 1
 Celine the f*****g Queen Dion. Thread closed ya bunch of tasteless hooligans.
  • 3 0
 @tomfoolerybackground: Anne F'n Murray. Is Celine Dion Canada's Songbird? Answer: no.
  • 1 0
 @Skooks: f*ck yeah beat band ever. Gord forever.
  • 1 0
 *best* band ever
  • 1 0
 @Lunk57: OMG Forgot about Gordon Lightfoot (I know that isn't what you meant btw)
  • 1 0
 Cleopatrick
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