PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
5 Enduro Bikes and 4 eMTBs
On the Impossible Climb
What comes down, must go up
If you've seen our previous Field Tests then you may have tuned in to the Impossible Climb feature to check out which bikes are handy on the uphills compared to the ones that need some encouragement. This year we added some eMTBs to the enduro class, but that didn't necessarily mean that they scaled the walls with the push of a button. We wanted to put the bikes in these two categories head to head and determine if the best descenders were the worst climbers.
With the help of the Sun Peaks Bike Park patrol, we closed off a segment of a technical blue descent trail and set out to tackle our Impossible Climb. This single track was littered with roots, covered in tree needles and a fine dust with plenty of rock steps that required an extra punch to master. All of the Maxxis control tires were set to equal pressures and the climb switch on each shock was left open for maximum traction.
Again, it was the two lighter and more conservative enduro bikes that made it closest to the top, with the We Are One Arrival actually summiting the challenge. The YT Capra was a close second, with the two high pivot idler bikes, the Norco Range and GT Force Carbon falling a little short with their extra equipment. Bridging the gap between those two pairs was the light, but aggressive stature of the Transition Spire, proving its all-around capabilities.
Now, for the eMTBs, Mike Levy, our unpaid intern, did have to alter the course by adding more features, but this was a true test of what you might encounter on the trail and we pushed them to the limit of what is capable with both on and off the ground maneuvers. For these capable ascenders, all motors were set to the "trail" mode, with the exception of the Kenevo SL, which was left in "turbo" with its smaller motor output, since these settings actually made climbing the most predictable.
It wasn't as simple as setting each bike to boost and smashing the pedals. There was still technique and timing needed to tackle these climbs. The name of the game was momentum and consistent pedal power to eliminate any spinning. At opposite ends of the spectrum, the light and low Yeti 160E showed its might early on, while the Norco Range VLT and its gobs of travel surprised us with the highest mark, barely.
From this super-non-scientific test it seems that that the overall weight of the enduro bikes plays a factor, as does drivetrain efficiency. Those idler serve a great purpose on the descents, but do sap some energy on the uphills, even on our short climb. Geometry also plays into things here, as the Range VLT proved it can overcome its weight, with a comfortable, steep-seated position. Although the Yeti did feel the easiest to manage, even over the lighter Kenevo SL, which felt more like a non-assist bike, requiring the most attention to line choice and power delivery.