PINKBIKE FIELD TEST
Downcountry Bikes Roundtable
Predominantly French-speaking, the residents of Quebec are major recreationalists and have been hosting mountain bike events on purpose-built trails for decades. Take the notoriously demanding Mont St. Anne World Cup cross-country track, for example. Jagged bedrock, mud-covered roots, and sandy berms have claimed more than a few rims and tires from the world’s best. Quebec’s trail networks do have it all. What better of place to base ourselves for another Downcountry Field Test?
For those not in tune with the bike category inadvertently popularized
by Mike Levy, it would best be explained as building an XC race bike to have some fun with off the clock and outside the tape. There are no rules to a downcountry bike, just go out there to pedal hard and put some miles behind you.
As per usual, the bikes we’ve rallied for each have their own flavor and features that set them apart in the garage and out on the trails. From very expensive carbon component packages to affordable aluminum steeds, the rear travel ranged between a minuscule 100mm on the skinny Ibis Exie to 125-millimeter equipped RSD Wildcat.
More doesn’t always mean better though. That DW-link suspension on the Exie blew our minds when it came to keeping the rear wheel on the ground, both up and downhill. That trait had us second-guessing its true travel number.
Those two letters “DW” stand for Dave Weagle, a legendary name in the world of bicycle suspension. He’s the man behind the dual link design on Ibis bikes and the DELTA system used on Evil’s fleet, including the Following. This trail shredder isn’t afraid to lean into a corner or pop a sizeable gap. In fact, it left us pondering if the geometry was holding it back from getting wilder on the 120mm trail demon.
Both the BMC Fourstroke 01 LT One and the Lapierre XRM 8.9, the two long-shocked XC-race bikes in the test, couldn’t shake their firm pedalling platforms. We’d go on to discuss how effectively their suspension performed and how efficiently they pedalled.
Clear as day, the winner out on the trail had to be the goldilocks of the bunch, Allied’s new BC40. Not only did the build have the right ratio of travel to weight, but the geometry let us attack downhills, without getting too carried away, and still punch it uphill. Although it was the most expensive bike, it did have a few flaws when we got nit-picky.
We expected to have a couple of mechanicals and certainly a handful of flat tires, given the amount of rock rolls and dirt doubles we came across on such quality level trails, but any mishaps came from negligence and not workmanship. Come to think of it, we didn’t even experience one flat tire.
Be sure to check out all of the videos to see the torment that we pushed these short-travel bikes through and all the laughs that were had out in Quebec.