Field Test: Searching Out the Best Values in the Enduro Category

Dec 18, 2020 at 12:00
by Mike Kazimer  

We didn't put a price cap on the bikes that were sent out for this round of Field Tests, which is how we ended up with several bikes that cost more than $8,000 USD, with the Rocky Mountain Altitude taking the win for the highest price tag in the enduro category at $9,099 USD. I know, you're probably all super disappointed none of the bikes broke the $10,000 mark...

Seriously, though, we realize that most people won't be shelling out eight or nine thousand dollars for their next bike, so we decided to dig a little deeper into the available configurations for each model in order to see which options offered the best value. All carbon-everything may seem appealing, but saving $2,000 or more by going the aluminum route does leave a lot more money in the bank for road trips, a bike park pass, or maybe more trivial things like food and rent...

Santa Cruz Nomad C R - $4,499 USD.

Santa Cruz Nomad

The least expensive Nomad is $4,499, with a NX Eagle drivetrain, Guide RE brakes, and a Zeb fork / Super Deluxe Select shock. The version I tested comes very well spec'd for $6,199, with a full XT drivetrain and Performance Elite 38 fork, but those Reserve carbon wheels drive the price up to $7,399. No matter how you slice it, the Nomad doesn't offer the best value, but I will say that going the C frame route is a good way to save money without a performance difference, and those carbon wheels aren't a necessary upgrade, especially if you're not someone who's going through tons of aluminum rims every year.


2021 Norco Shore
Norco Shore A2 - $3,699 USD.


Norco Shore

Let's move on to the Norco Shore, which, instead of only being available in carbon, is only available in aluminum. There are only two pedalable models, plus the park version, so that makes things easy.

The A2 is the one that stands out – it has a Deore 12-speed drivetrain and MT520 4-piston brakes. Suspension is a RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate shock, and a Zeb R fork. That has a Charger damper, but not the latest and greatest version. Still, for the price of $3,699 it's a bike that should be able to take a beating. Well, those rims are a little soft, but other than that it doesn't require any upgrades right away.


2021 Trek Slash
Trek Slash 8 - $4,000 USD.


Trek Slash

Next up is the Trek Slash. The Slash lineup runs deep, with both carbon and aluminum options and all kinds of build kits. I should mention that it's cool Trek incorporated in-frame storage in the aluminum bikes as well – they're the first company that I've seen do that. I'd skip the very cheapest model unless that's all your budget will allow – the NX drivetrain and Guide T brakes mean that you'll probably find yourself wanting to upgrade parts sooner than later. For $4,000 the Slash 8 comes with a SRAM GX drivetrain, Lyrik Select+, and Code R brakes. It's a very strong parts spec - there's not much, if anything, that would need to be changed right away.

$4,800 gets you into the carbon Slash, but I don't think spending $800 more than the 8 is worth it just for a carbon frame. Plus, you end up with an NX cassette, which means you'd need to upgrade the driver body to get something lighter on there. Out of all the carbon models, I'd say the 9.8 GX or XT offer the best value. Remember, though, value is subjective – we're still talking about $6,000 here, and there are an awful lot of house brand components for that price. You can choose either a GX or XT drivetrain, and Code or SLX brakes to go with it. Suspension is a Zeb Select + fork, which gets the Charger 2.1 damper, and a Super Deluxe Ultimate shock.


2021 Rocky Mountain Altitude
Rocky Mountain Altitude A30 - $3,499 USD


Rocky Mountain Altitude

Let's head back across the border to Canada again and take a look at the Rocky Mountain Altitude. Once again, there are aluminum and carbon models to choose from. This time, the base model is worth considering. $3,500 gets you a Deore drivetrain, Marzocchi Z1 Float GRIP fork, and a DPX2 Performance shock. It's the brakes that'll probably need upgrading – they're a step below below Deore, and the brake lever ergonomics at that level are lacking a bit. Other than that, it's a great build kit to start from.

$5,249 gets you top of the line suspension on that aluminum frame, in the form of a Fox 38 and Float X2 shock, an XT drivetrain (other than the SLX cassette) and brakes. I do wish that this build had DT's 350 hubs with their star ratchet design rather than the pawled system found in the 370's. I don't want to second guess the product manager, but I do think Rocky could have saved money by spec'ing Performance Elite suspension, which functions exactly the same as the Kashima coated stuff, and put those savings towards the hubs or cassette.

Moving up into the carbon world, things get expensive quick. The Carbon 70 model has a 36 fork, a Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes. Honestly, the carbon Altitudes don't really offer a great value at all – if you're on a budget or trying to get the most bang for your buck I'd skip right over them, since you can save nearly $2,000 by going with the Altitude Alloy 70. Sure, there's going to be a slight weight penalty, but I wouldn't stress about that too much.

Propain Spindrift AL


Propain Spindrift

Things are a little complicated when it comes to the Spindrift's pricing. In Europe, the brand offers more value because they’re direct to consumer, and the prices are quite competitive. Here in North America, there aren't as many options, and adding in a distributor erases what could potentially be a 20% cost savings from the VAT that customers pay in Europe. Propain also has an a la carte menu system that makes it a little trickier to compare apples to apples.

However, we can compare the $8,599 model that I tested to the $9,099 Rocky Mountain Altitude. Even riders that are flush with disposable income want to know what they're getting for that money. In this case, the Propain offers the better value – you get carbon wheels (Crankbrothers Synthesis) vs. the aluminum Race Face ones found on the Altitude, plus SRAM's wireless electronic drivetrain. If you're going to roll around on an extra-fancy bike, you might as well let everyone know it by having little robot noises emanate from it whenever you shift, right?

At the less expensive side of things, for riders that have access to Propain's full lineup there are deals to be had, and it's possible to customize the bike exactly how you want, component by component. I do wish there were some Shimano drivetrain options, but other than that I'd say Propain's overall value is certainly higher than the non-direct-to-consumer brands.


What would I pick?

If I was dead set on choosing from this batch of brand new 2021 models I'd probably either go with base model Altitude and upgrade, or figure out a way to get a Propain configured the way I want it here in the States. I'd skip the carbon version for all models, simply because it doesn't make sense if you're on a budget. That's not to say I don't appreciate the weight savings, but it's not enough to make me want to cough up an extra $1-2,000 dollars.





Hopefully you've found this deeper dive into these five models helpful - we'll also be doing another value-oriented Field Test in 2021, along with setting some price limits for the 'regular' field tests in the future.


173 Comments

  • 89 0
 Cheapest CF Spindrift is 3200 here in the EU with taxes ...
RockShox ZEB R 180mm
RockShox Super Deluxe Select R Coil 180mm
SRAM GX Eagle (1×12)
SRAM G2 R 203/203
PROPAIN ZTR FLOW S1
Cheapest AL Spindrift is 2599 , same specs
  • 21 2
 thats not bad money. actually its really good. And you get whats basically the coolest endurobike you can buy.
  • 5 0
 Damn, that's pretty compelling!
  • 2 1
 In the same category as YT capra alloy: www.yt-industries.com/en/detail/index/sArticle/1944

Or the Commencal AM29: www.commencal-store.com/meta-am-29-origin-graphite-2021-c2x31641379

And yours to the list...
  • 15 0
 It's a bike that has 180mm of travel and pedals more efficiently than EWS-winning machines (on a coil shock too, no less). And as a bonus, it is hot AF at a relatively bargain price in Europe.

The drawback is that non-europeans would need to figure out how to bring one to your continent without spending a bundle.
  • 4 0
 This is what really sold Propain for me. Great value components with the opportunity to pick what you want then upgrade the cheaper parts yourself.
  • 7 0
 Spindrift is a hell of a deal. Still waiting for it to be available in the US so Propain can take my money.
  • 4 0
 @gurnzilla: I was quite amazed when i saw Propains build options.

As i commented on another article, the option to upgrade certain items at a relatively smaller cost increase is a really attractive prospect.

You might be happy with everything on the base spec but really just want to upgrade the brakes. You can do that for a small price increase here, wheras you would otherwise have to pay a large increase to pay for upgraded everything in the spec-level that has the brakes you want in a traditional spec tier system.

Would love to see more brands offering this. For myself personally, i'd probably never exceed the capabilites of a fork such as the Yari (which is spec'd on a lot low/entry tier builds). But having a bike with Code RSC brakes, i'd very much like something similar on any new bike i was considering - but i don't want to upgrade to that level and pay a premium for all the other upgrades i don't need.

Of course, we can all just buy the required upgrades ourselves. But i'd much rather a brand use their buying power to offer the upgrade at a much lower price (i think when i looked at propain last year they had a sale where you could upgrade to Magura brakes for £15 and a Fox Factory fork upgrade was around £200. Good luck finding those prices anywhere else).
  • 2 0
 Here in Europe Spindrift AL starts at 2599€ VAT included:
www.propain-bikes.com/en/bikes/freeride/spindrift-al
But you should consider that it lacks a dropper post, so you're obliged to add a 200€ to the cheapest model giving 2850€ at least with shipping included.
Anyway, configuring the bike starting from the cheapest model again, I'd find my way to have my personal best comps choices under 4K€, always with AL frame. Pity only we can't chose Shimano drivetrains: I agree with Kaz that's limiting to have only Sram options, only with 10-52 cassettes (I really don't like them for the huge 42-52 jump)...
Propain guys if you're reading, please add the Shimano option for all of us pls Wink
Regards,
MM
  • 2 0
 @DidNotSendIt: Here in Europe the first brand which proposed this actractive selling model was Rose Bikes... I've build my previous bike from their website for 2K€, 5 years ago, with XT drivetrain and other good stuff... www.rosebikes.it I find the new website is quite limiting compared to the past, but anyway here we can't complain with our german friends Smile That sayd, actually the best brand with the best configurator is surely Propain. I would see more brands doing this! Hope also to see other good-price-point US brands like Marin here in Europe, but that's not the case now.
  • 4 0
 @Verbl-Kint: dont forget and they totally overlooked it in their review - DC
The Spindrift can fit a dual crown fork without loosing warranty ..
  • 2 0
 @MarcoM85BG: agree...had a Rose Uncle Jimbo in the past, not only was it one of the best enduro bikes ive ever had (at least back then) but it went for less than 2K euros with a very decent spec...very overlooked brand imo..
  • 2 0
 I’m intrigued by this bike. I hope they make it available in Canada one day. The ability to pick and choose individual parts is incredible. Only downside is no shimano drivetrain options.
  • 1 0
 For any Americans, the value is the in the U.S is much worse than in the EU, because there are now distributors.
  • 1 0
 @pperini: An UJ also for me! Great bike Smile
  • 66 1
 $4500 and NX?. Get bent. SC (and several other brands) have lost their damn mind.
  • 6 1
 Yeah man that kit with Diore would have been a winner.
  • 43 1
 ironically, "getting bent" is whats going to happen to your largest NX cog after a few rides.
  • 8 3
 That's standard for a $4500 carbon bike from a non-direct to consumer brand.
  • 4 1
 @jeremy3220: well deore like others said would be enough but NX is craptastic...
NX cost 20 bugs more then the SLX group set what is really bad, here in the EU.
NX is totally not good enough, SLX is more capable then the GX or at least on the same level.
  • 5 2
 @jeremy3220: This. You'll find NX put on a fair few bikes in this price category, and none of them have the same no questions asked warranty as SC.
  • 5 6
 @sherbet: the warranty is on SC frames, not the pile of trash (at the $4000+ level at least) NX is. Astounded people pay that much for that junk regardless of the frame brand
  • 5 2
 @bman33: I've yet to have our Sram distributor deny a single nx/sx warranty claim. Go on.
  • 4 0
 @jeremy3220: Stumpjumper Evo Comp Carbon - Shimano SLX is $4,100 and SJ Evo Expert is XO1 Der/Shifter, 36 Grip2 and Code RS for $4899. Specialized pricing is finally the best available.
  • 2 7
flag bman33 (Dec 21, 2020 at 15:47) (Below Threshold)
 @sherbet: so Santa Cruz has a "lifetime" warranty for Sram parts? Interesting. I worked in the industry for about l10+ years
Until not long ago. I'll ask my two friends who are still ship owners how Santa Cruz warranties all Sram/non- SC components for lifetime.
  • 12 3
 Stop, we both know this isn't an honest line of questioning. We both know Sram's warranty is aside from SC. We both know many bikes in this bracket come with these parts. We both know SC has a great warranty that adds a bit of price to the figure. We both know what you're paying for. Asking me disingenuous questions does not change that. The facts remain. SC isn't overpriced for brands that aren't direct to consumer in North America. SC's warranty is very very very good, and remains the best of any brand I've worked with. Sram does a good job of warrantying issues that fall under that clause, to the point where myself and a fair few other mechanics that use the same channels have found it's all covered. You still haven't made a compelling argument as to how SC is overpriced. If it doesn't appeal to you, that's fine, but is another can of beans.
  • 2 5
 @sherbet: I mean you're the one that said you've yet to have distributor deny a warranty for Sam products after I made the statement that the lifetime warranty is only Santa Cruz bikes. How else is that supposed to be translated?
  • 6 1
 @sherbet: my general statement is any manufacturer insulting us with NX products on bikes over $4,000 is just annoying. Does it happen? Yes do people buy it? Yes not me
  • 5 0
 You brought up Sram parts, I noted my distributor hasn't denied a claim. I'm unsure where you were headed with the comment, so I said something relevant. Were you expecting me to say "Oh damn you're right Santa Cruz doesn't warranty parts they're trash value" or something? Other bikes in this price bracket come with these parts, as you've just noted. It's pretty par for the course, and before you ask, no, Trek also will not warranty your NX derailleur.
  • 3 1
 @sherbet: I can see this is lost in translation. I commented earlier that NX are garbage. Someone else noted the lifetime warranty from Santa cruz. I then clarified that the lifetime warranty is only on the Santa Cruz frames. Then you noted whatever distributor you have in your area has never turned down a warranty for Sram products. That comment came immediately after my point about the lifetime only regarding the frame, therefore it sounded like you're saying Sram components are also covered under that lifetime warranty. If that's not what you mean my apologies, but I'm not the one being all aggressive about it
  • 6 0
 My take on it is instead of spec'ing an expensive drivetrain like in the past, your getting a better damper, hubs, rims, tires and/or brakes. You know the things that matter for controlling the bike when things are roudy instead of the thing your likely to shear off on a rock while getting so.

When I'm buying my new derailleur after destroying the stock one two weeks in, I'll upgrade a bit maybe and maybe throw on that better shifter since it's cheaper than upgrading to four pistons and tires that actually have grip.

Except for SX, that's the turdist turd that's ever turded. I'd rather have a front derailleur.
  • 1 0
 @TheBrosCloset: I've been riding/racing MTB since 93 or so. Some of that at semi-pro level (never was fast enough to make a full living)....only have ever smashed one rear derailleur and that was one a bad crash. Not saying it doesn't happen, just never experienced it enough myself to give it a second though nor anyone of my close riding buddies either.
I agree that breaks, tires and suspension matter more. However, the biggest irk with me on garbage components at that price level is the boat anchor of a rear cassette
  • 1 0
 @TheBrosCloset: apologies for the weird grammar, voice to text. Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @bman33: I've smashed probably 5 in the last 12 years of riding....
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: How and why? I started out in metro ATL and the southeast, Austin Texas, Lived in Colorado for 10 + years, yearly Moab and Whistler trips, few Arizona trips, etc. Technique? Terrain? Fully curious
  • 2 0
 @bman33: I was going to say, it's probably the terrain, but I ride mostly in Utah, Idaho and wyoming, which is just like Colorado riding. Probably just crap technique.
  • 1 0
 @bman33: then again, I had two Shimano derailleurs fly into the spokes and rip apart my entire drivetrain just from heavy landings.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: Haha. Well, all good. I know everyone's experience is different. Cheers.
  • 48 1
 I didn't know that I absolutely needed a norco shore in my life, until I saw that paint job!
  • 23 0
 ...And viper shades
  • 23 0
 @kanasasa: And a mullet
  • 5 0
 and that high pivot.. what a looker
  • 17 0
 @kanasasa: Don't forget jean shorts and sleeveless flannel shirt
  • 3 0
 The paintjob is the bees knees, but the shape of downtube gives me the creeps. I will never get used to these pot-bellied pigs.
  • 6 0
 @LoganH: does Tippie know that you've been looking in his closet?
  • 1 0
 @amanite55: Yea, that Norco just looks "off" to me. Front of the frame is Ginormous, rear triangle is tiny... Just looks weird to me...?
  • 2 0
 @craigcanucks: Let's just say my Alberta roots run deep.
  • 1 0
 Mullet Shore with a 1.5 degree works headset to offset the higher front end, total park sled.
  • 33 1
 Rm pricing sucks in europe
  • 65 0
 Also sucks in North America
  • 27 0
 @onlyDH: sucks everywhere lol
  • 11 4
 Like someone already wrote, prices sucks everywhere. Top spec alu bike should be around 3500 USD/EUR and top carbon around 5500 EUR/USD. I don't care what someone says about R&D and new technologies...
Problem is that bike manufacturers noticed that there are people who dont have problem to spend 8-9 or 10000 EUR/USD on the bikes and those top prices pull lover prices up...
Similar case is with cars, not that long ago you could buy stupid WV Golf for around 14-15000 now that car starts around 20000 EUR.
  • 8 0
 RM prices went through the roof, absolutely insane
  • 5 0
 Seems like Vitus might be the best deal in Europe.
  • 5 7
 @Brdjanin: It's the other way around to me. A 3k "entry level" bike these days is a way radder ride than a 10k bike 10 years ago. Everyone keeps holding onto needing the top end of everything, but the middle level stuff is so fantastic that it's beyond the needs of most riders.

If you're arsed about price, stop looking at top tier full carbon specced bikes as if they should be sold with you in mind.
  • 3 1
 @sherbet: It's true, as much as it looks like prices have hiked, performance has too, most bikes just don't need upgrading straight away now. A $3,500 bike 5 years ago would have had any or all of the following: a long stem, narrow bars, 2 x 10 drivetrain, narrow rims, no dropper post, 32mm stanchions and stock tyres with tissue paper thin sidewalls...

New bikes all have wide rims, short stem and bars, wide range gearing, 35mm stanchions and decent tyres, most have droppers too unless you're sub $2k. Its a fact that any 2020 model bike is better than something 5+ years old.
  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: That's kind of academic though isn't it
  • 2 0
 @sherbet: That would be fine if the middle of the road stuff was actually affordable. But some bikes aren't even sold with alu frames anymore and even bog standard SLX builds with the obligatory shit wheels are insanely expensive.
  • 3 0
 I demod this bike early in the season. I liked it a lot. It was the build with xt/fox performance elite. It had a 370 rear hub. Dude said it was a 7k bike . I laughed, hard.

My 2020 altitude BC is good enough. It cost like 3k less.

I don't think I'll be buying any more RMs in the foreseeable future. I don't care for the build kits and the prices are terrible.

If anything I'll buy an Sworks frame and move stuff over
  • 1 0
 @onlyDH: I know right? I don't get it because USD is always stronger than CAD. Why are the Canadian bikes so expensive?!
  • 18 1
 But you really can't put a price on that Norco's paintjob.
  • 12 0
 Something I wish SC would have been doing with the models that have both Carbon and Aluminum versions. Is to not tie the build kit to the frame material. Maybe I want an XO1 build with an aluminum frame or a CC frame with a GX build. It would cool to see a comparison of like frames of different material for both weight and performance. CC frame with a GX build vs the Alu. frame with XO1 build for example.
  • 2 0
 I 100% agree, but they do it to drive carbon sales. There’s better profit margins on carbon and if there were high spec AL models for less they’d sell far fewer carbon models.
  • 1 0
 @WY228: Damn, that's some bullsh!t
  • 12 4
 The Slash 9.8 XT is the best value by far. It doesn't give you one reason to spend a cent more let alone $3000 for the Slash 9.9 or that Altitude. I'm bias because I have one and I like Shimano brakes, so @ blatant hatred for them doesn't affect my opinion.
  • 4 3
 I'm seriously considering that Slash 9.8 XT. Excellent build for the price. It seems the Slash is decently well rounded for what it is. Many of my rides involve long steep climbs to the gnar and I think the Slash will get me there with enough energy reserves for the descents. I just need to demo one to be sure.
  • 5 1
 The 9.8 XT is a fantastic bike and ready for anything right out of the box. I got the chance to demo one for the day and did a review on my youtube channel comparing it to the Enduro and the SB150. As someone that does custom builds every year, the 9.8 XT blew me away and I was trying to find things I didn't like about it for the review, but I didn't think of many.
  • 1 19
flag garneau565 (Dec 21, 2020 at 7:52) (Below Threshold)
 Fantastic bike except it's made with Trek carbon that will fail if you look at it the wrong way.
  • 8 1
 @garneau565: I've seen every bike brands carbon fail... and even slot of aluminum in my 25+ years of riding, it's how the company handles it after that happens that matters the most.
  • 3 1
 @projectnortheast: Absolutely, and I've broken my share of frames in my time as well. All told, mine and my network's experience with Trek warranty has been subpar. Far better experience with smaller brands like Commencal, Transition and even bigger fish like Rocky. In my experience, Trek/Bontrager and Cannondale have the two worst customer service and warranty experiences in the industry.
  • 2 1
 Not even close. Only way I buy a 9.8 is if I want to go full in and project one it. 6500 to 7500 for a semi custom bike is pretty damn cool.

That slash 8 is a killer deal. Or buying the aluminum frame and building up a sweet whip with your choice of parts. I’d buy a slash 8 and a decent hardtail/dj bike before going to 9.8 and I’m a shimano pref guy.
  • 2 1
 @garneau565: In my experience Trek warranty is great. Cracked a carbon Remedy a couple years back. No questions asked. Got a new frame incl. full service of bike. Picked the bike up two days later.
  • 2 1
 @garneau565: You sound like you're holding a grudge against those companies because maybe they didn't approve your warranty because it was not a manufacturing defect.

Trek has a solid customer service team which is one of their best qualities as a company which is why they earn my business and loyalty. I've heard good things from Cannondale as well, but more positive vibes from Trek which is full of real bike enthusiasts - just call them and be nice and you'd find the same experience.
  • 2 0
 @eastsideride: Most recently, we had a 130lbs 15 year old kid have a 2-month-old, never crashed Slash crack on landing of a 6 foot drop and Trek refused to warranty it. Cannondale - I had a month-old Flash 1 carbon crack when my rear wheel drifted and smacked a tree (wheel was still true) and the best they would offer me was a frame at MSRP. This is just my personal experience and I have many anecdotes from friends and friends of friends. Perhaps the customer service and warranty in the US is better than what we get in Canada, but either way what we get here is despicable enough to lose me as a repeat customer.
  • 1 0
 @garneau565: bummer on your experience with Trek. My first full sus was a Trek Fuel. After doing terrible things to it for 7 years my wife abused it for another 5. Noticed a crack in the chainstay when getting ready to sell and the shop got me a replacement within a couple weeks. I was impressed that they even had that ancient shit in inventory.
  • 10 0
 Stumpjumper evo at $4100 with the same frame as sworks, slx, and fox rhythm suspension w/dhx2. If you want grip2, spend an extra $800 and also get x01 and better wheels.
  • 10 1
 Just put all your other bikes not in the test comments here. Especially if it’s the bike you bought already.
  • 5 0
 How is Santa Cruz Reserve a good thing, Yet when commenting on the Trek house brand is a negative. I have both Line Pro 30s and Reserve wheels. Both Great. House brand does not always mean inferior.
  • 5 0
 AL frame, pretty dang good parts spec, at a reasonable price point-2021 Commencal Meta AM 29 Essential. I would’ve liked to see this bike in the test
  • 6 3
 Best value? £2,399.99 ... €2729.99
Carbon Vitus Sommet 29 or 27
will get the job done for me IMO

Rockshox Yari RC 170mm/Rockshox Super Deluxe R Suspension
Shimano 1x12spd M6100 Deore Drivetrain
WTB KOM Trail Rims
Maxxis Assegai/Minion DHR II Tyres

Unfortunately not in the test.
  • 5 1
 And unfortunately not available
  • 1 1
 I agree Sommets have a really good quality/price ratio, BUT you're not getting also the wonderful suspe platform of Propains...
  • 3 0
 It's weird how the base models have the freshest paintjobs. Appealing to the youths?

That said, the Rocky Mountain Alloy 30 is super tempting. Not sure I'd want to huff around a 35 pound bike as my daily rider, but damn that's good spec for a modern big mountain bike with all the good things.
  • 1 0
 A30 all day if it were me. I think I love upgrading bikes as much as riding them, and that’s a great base to start from. Just wish the paint jobs weren’t so blah. (Not into purple and black/orange is meh)
  • 1 0
 If I were a park rat college kid still I’d be way into that bike when it’s on clearance
  • 3 0
 I went with the A50 and couldn't be happier.
Haven't noticed the weight (but most of my bikes have been on the heavy side), the parts spec seems to work well (including the DPX2 feeling better than the X2 on my Capra) and it's just stupidly fun and confidence inspiring
  • 3 0
 I think of Rocky mountain as on the expensive side. Now I have to change my mind. Altitude with a Z one ,which is a Fox 36, DP2 rear shock and Shimano drive train! Glad Shimano is being specd more. I have the brakes one level down from Deor. Same braking power no servo wave . They work great! The only upgrade I would consider is a grip 2 damper which is an affordable and easy upgrade.
  • 3 0
 Now that I see that Norco Shore paintjob, I would never go for the A1 version, but instead buy the A2 and use the spare grand for an anodized version of an eeWing crankset.

Who needs top of the line components when you can color match a Miami Vice themed bike ?
  • 8 4
 What's wrong with the Lyric RC fork? Honestly it seems like the reviewers only consider suspension "top of the line" if it says Fox on it.
  • 5 1
 i assume they were saying it should have a Zeb instead.
  • 2 7
flag Dogl0rd (Dec 21, 2020 at 8:55) (Below Threshold)
 I just took apart my 160mm Lyrik RC for the first time ever to put in the new 2021 debonair spring. I pulled out of it some piece of crap air spring that said 150mm pike on the shaft and all the parts except the shaft were made out of plastic. Wtf. I never knew why my OEM Lyrik never felt good. Really disappointed with Rockshox. But the fork does feel great now with the new spring
  • 1 0
 Every Rock Shox with a Charger damper offers the same performance. It may lack the dials, but you can tune everything internally. It's just more work.
  • 1 0
 The RC damper is solid, if somewhat proprietary. It'll get you through a long day of riding but it's pretty easy to justify the upgrade to a higher RS damper.
  • 3 0
 @Dogl0rd: kind of a bummer but most mid level to cheaper rs forks need a rebuild right out of the box. They work fine after tho.
  • 1 0
 @JockoJones: Yeah, at least the upgrade was cheap and pretty easy to do myself. I did have to buy some tools and oil i didn't have, but it's okay.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer why the hate on the house brand components? If they work well, why not? Do you think it costs Trek less to make a carbon bar than Race Face?

Granted, in years past house brands were usually not as good.. Hell, go back a fee short years and a Bontrager carbon bar had a totally different bend than the aluminum bar and was awful. And yes, dropper posts can be another hit or miss item..
  • 9 1
 Things are definitely way better than they used to be when it comes to house brand components, but I haven't been blown away by Bontrager's dropper posts, and while they do make some great all-round tires, on a bike like the Slash I'd rather see something a little more aggressive from the likes of Maxxis or Schwalbe.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: tires are definitely a hit or miss item depending on preference and conditions.. I hear the Bontrager tires come out of the same factory as the big M company..
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: somewhere a bike product manager is laughing at this. I don’t think Journalist opinions on consumables make their list for factors that affect cost targets.
  • 2 0
 @lumpy873: perhaps you’ve not heard of Frank Stacy or know that he helped pretty much every bike company develop their best gravity tire. Kenda, specialized, Trek, maxxis. Wonder why everything looks like a minion?
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: those wheels don’t have the best reputation either
  • 1 0
 Yes I think it costs them less to make a carbon bar because they are able to order/produce in bulk ahead of time based on how many bikes they are planning to build and that also gives them leverage in what they are paying for production. Also a carbon bar that is being marketed and sold individually on a much smaller scale has to figure all the marketing, packaging, point of purchase displays, etc. into the cost of that bar which is not really happening on a Trek Carbon bar.

Granted I think Bontrager makes some very good components and arguably better than many other house brands. And in some cases, tires, helmets, etc. they are competing directly with aftermarket and "do" have to add in/absorb those added costs. BUT for bars and stems I don't think that is the case. (maybe somewhat in XC??)
  • 4 0
 House brand has less resale value.
  • 3 1
 Thanks for pointing out the deceptive savings of NX Eagle -- I don't need bike testers to join the #resistance but I appreciate the plain talk. Like while the price of NX Eagle puts it right on to the hypothetical 'good suspension, save on drivetrain' value-oriented complete bike, you don't save that money if you find yourself staring at GX upgrades or a complete Shimano swap over every time you get back from a ride. I always imagined SX = XSeven = X7, and NX = XNine = X9, but I rode X7 and X9 and always was more satisfied with the shifting than this new NX Eagle bike.
  • 1 0
 Worth mentioning, but kind of an overblown issue at this point IMO. You have choices to upgrade the cassette without changing the freehub to a lighter cassette from other brands that work great and cost/weight comparatively the same as GX. (and also the cheaper SUN replacements "if" cost is your primary concern for a non warranty break)

IMO the biggest hit on the NX groupset is the shifter and it's more ergonomic than anything AND it's the easiest and cheapest upgrade to make. (and probably 80-90% of groupsets specced on bikes would benefit from upgrading the shifter to go with the normally higher specced rear derailleur anyway)

I'd still choose NX and better suspension over GX and lower suspension myself.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer. Here in bumpy Santa Barbara I have never had an aluminum frame last more than 2 years without cracking where I have not yet cracked a carbon frame even going back to my first-generation Nomad from 10 years ago. 3 Kona Process 153s Al frames have lasted a total of 5 years. Have I just been luckier with Carbon? I feel like weight is not the only advantage to Carbon
  • 1 0
 We're any of them G1 processes, and if so where did they fail?

What was the support like from Kona?
  • 2 0
 I am soooo happy Value is now being added to this. $10k bikes are just for such a few. I honestly wish Pinkbike would get the middle of the road bikes non dentist can afford and test them. A Sworks will always feel good why waste time testing.
  • 2 0
 That, pinkbike, is why your page stands out. Nice take on checking the line ups for good value options. Thats exactly what alot of people need that don't have a trustworthy bike shop around. Its the route we try to go with every customer in our shop. We talk to them to find out their needs and budget and check the line up to help them choose wich bike suites them best. Not which one is the most money we can squeeze out of the customer. And most ppl have a limited budget but still want to get good value. And that is possible, even with more luxurious brands like Rocky. Creates alot of happy customers and happy bikers!
  • 4 0
 Trek, just because of internal storage on alu frame, and their alu looks stunning!
  • 5 4
 Best bang for the buck that you have not even mentioned in this category is the Specialized Statas 160. Priced at $2600 usd, it is a fully capable enduro machine. Even if you wish to upgrade the suspension, you still have money in your pocket. Just my two cents. #statusmtb
  • 4 0
 Weirdest bike release ever. Barely a peep from the US press.
  • 8 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity, it took a while, but we finally got one in for review - you'll see that sometime early next year.
  • 1 0
 @withdignityifnotalacrity: Yep, but the bike sure kicks ass, regardless of how its marketed!
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Great to hear Mike! Look forward to it.
  • 1 0
 Porpain is just incredible value. But with custom fees and shipping, you have to add 1000$ on the ticket price, easy.
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 !!!
  • 3 0
 That shore A1 has my favourite spec for value. Hope to see more aluminum bikes with high end suspension, brakes, hubs and a value prices drivetrain.
  • 1 0
 If my memory serves me well, just a couple of years back PB editors were singing the praises for carbon, now all of the sudden it's not worth the cost? What happen? Did alloy frames got light and stiff enough to compete against carbon or simply pandering to the pb commentors?
  • 4 0
 Both materials have their merits, but when it comes to value the cost savings you get by going with aluminum are usually too great to ignore.
  • 1 0
 I'm rather fortunate to have ridden some amazing Enduro bikes my current bike is aluminium after owning a Carbon Nomad 3 and after watching my mates Nomad 4 get a smashed down tube on his first run I'm kinda happy with my choice. For my 2 cents worth I'd be buying an Aluminium Slash and building it up with XT/SLX. Carbon wheels though. Wink
  • 1 0
 man santa cruz pricing is crazy. I bought an alu nomad v4 frame for $2k and spent another $1500 to get top of the line components - Lyrik Ultimate 2020, magura MT7 raceline calipers/shimano levers, hope hub/headset, shimano xt/xtr/slx combo drivetrain and a vibrocore handlebar.
  • 1 0
 For europe, it's not even funny how much more value propain offers than all the others. It's probably consistently around 60% of the trek/sc pricing and that doesn't even consider the fact, that you can customize almost all build parts to your needs without paying disproportionately more, which will save anyone that is a bit picky about parts hundreds if not thousands+ more. Too bad shimano parts can't be specced, but you can get an gx eagle fox factory carbon frame build for about 4000 euros... that will not even get you the cheapest nomad build, let that sink in. fox factory (not that i care about fox but it seems to be what people expect on top shelf builds) in one hand and not even the cheapest build in the other hand.

I'm not even mad anymore that brands like SC/trek/speci are ripping their customers right off, just astonished by the amount of people letting themselves be fooled it's worth it.
  • 1 0
 Great video and article, more along these lines please. How about seeing if you can get manufacturers to provide what you guys see as their best value models for testing? I would find that much more useful than comparisons of all the most blingy models. The variation in value between different models and different build kits between 3k and 5k is what I think would be most interesting.
  • 1 0
 Love these articles!
Here’s another idea @mikekazimer : have PB staff spec their own builds based on the frame only price and “street price” of parts.
This would make a really interesting comparison to the factory builds, and also it’s what a heck of a lot of people reading will be doing anyway.
  • 3 0
 I just wanna do wheelies on the Norco up and down Collins Ave in South Beach
  • 2 0
 Does anyone know the weight difference between the Rocky Altitude Carbon and Alu frame? The spec sheets on their website suggests 3lbs (eg C50 vs A50).
  • 2 0
 I don't think it's 3lbs. More than likely just around a pound difference, at most, assuming the same shock is used, of course.
  • 1 0
 RockyMountains product manager made the right move to put Kashima on that aluminium version. It's really annoying but FOX's 2021 Performance Elite X2 and DHX2 on come with low speed rebound and compression.
  • 1 1
 @mikekazimer: one could get a lighter HG compatible 12s cassette like Garbaruk's and not need to replace the freehub on the Slash or any other NX spec'd bike...

"Plus, you end up with an NX cassette, which means you'd need to upgrade the driver body to get something lighter on there."

www.garbaruk.com/12-speed-shimano-hg.html?category=2
  • 4 0
 This was super helpful!! Thank you @mikekazimer for listening to us!!
  • 1 1
 Here's a thought. I'm not a fan of the tan, retro, sidewalls some companies are offering on their tires, but it might be a different story if tires were offered with sidewalls that were blue, red, orange, yellow, green, or purple. But you could also argue why not just have colored rims at that point.
  • 1 0
 @kazimer : you re so skilled with words I love the way you write so much !

I know your other job would have been that of an English teacher and you d be so suited for that !
  • 1 0
 I’m surprised about all the “weight savings” comments from Kaz re carbon vs aluminium, carbon frames best attribute is manufactured compliance and stiffness making for a more controlled and precise ride.
  • 1 0
 I see you like yours cool aid mate...
  • 1 0
 @Mondbiker: the proof is in the riding, test them back to back
  • 2 0
 SC frame looks like it's got enough BB bulk to accept a motor. Just need to cut the opening.
  • 1 0
 Nobody’s going to mention Giant Reign SX? 4000 for performance elite 38 and DHX2 rear shock. I say it’s a pretty good deal. That said, the paint job is super ugly...
  • 1 0
 Just got a Rossignol R-Duro 2020 then winter hit. Got a few rides on it though and it felt great. Dual short link rear climes better than my xc bike. Beast downhill.
  • 4 0
 Vitus Sommet CR 2021
  • 1 1
 So now PB has confirmed that E-Thirteen rims are too soft, as have the majority of commenters on the Shore review, can E-Thirteen address this issue we all have with a poor product that is still on going to this day?
  • 1 0
 whats the deal with norco having a fox build with sram drivetrain and a rockshox build with shimano drivetrain and sram brakes??
  • 7 5
 Transition Patrol. nuff said
  • 2 0
 The shore still wins in my heart
  • 1 0
 Thank You @mikekazimer for ripping on the term "Enduro" right away in this video! You made my 2020
  • 3 1
 What's wrong with house brand components??.. nothing.
  • 2 1
 I know the best value bike in #enduro category..., it's Mega(pun intended)
  • 1 0
 Wheels look so tiny on the Nomad and Shore
  • 1 0
 What the heck is going on with that dropper cable on the Spindrift?
  • 2 5
 @pinkbike ‘s crack team of journalist again missed the mark. Cheap can be good, but which is the best investment also comes down to which holds their value the longest and can stay in the field with the best service parts support. Let’s call some companies, ask the questions. That’s worth more than a few hundred bucks between msrp. Anyone can gleam some of these insights from browsing the web and looking at exchange rates
  • 6 0
 No bike holds their value. If you don't believe me, take any 3 year old bike and sell it.

Service parts support? You mean bearings? Most everything else is not bike brand specific. What would be interesting to know is what brands actually will warranty their frames if they break (not that "manufactures defect" bs- they always claim you're the problem).
  • 1 2
 @Squeakybb: you’re advocating my point. For the most efficient form of human travel it isn’t very efficient. Frames are almost all garbage the next year. Too many continuous improvement warehouse teams found out it is cheaper to give a new frame than store chainstays. Hardware is too diverse for shops to stock. Same with dr hangers. End result is a poor shopping experience and increasing online sales to get anything done.

And yea, warranty is bs because it is a fundamental lack of understanding by consumers. Bikes tried to offset the above problems by giving stuff away, afraid to lose people. Crash your car on a jump and see what all state says.
  • 3 4
 Journalists are there to sell bikes. They are part of the bike marketing industry.
  • 1 0
 @usedbikestuff

"which is the best investment also comes down to which holds their value"

Are you buying bikes for yourself or the next guy? Mike is talking here about value in terms of riding experience per dollar spent. Bikes (ones that we ride, not some collectors' items) are never an investment but an expense anyway as they always lose value over time. They are the cost of our fun in the woods alongside fuel, car park fees etc. If you would choose a worse-performing (for you) bike just because of resale value, fair play but I would never do that.

"the best service parts support"

do you mean the bearings you can buy in any hardware store or derailleur hangers that are made for most frames by a thousand aftermarket companies in addition to the manufacturers themselves? Neither is an issue unless you're going for some total exotica.

"Crash your car on a jump and see what all state says"

Is that specific car designed, marketed and sold with jumping and off-road racing in mind? If yes and it broke a swingarm on a landing, it should absolutely fall under warranty.
  • 1 0
 @bananowy:

You’re missing the point. Having available parts for a bike may be a deciding factor between two different finalist. I haven’t spent the time but Nicolai used to have a page on their website stating they would make replacement parts for the original owner for a decade after date of purchase. That I think is the benchmark for after purchase support and I would say that’s a great investment.

Secondly there aren’t 1000 companies making derailer hanger’s for other brands. There’s a handful and for the most part they make it for a few years until it isn’t commercially viable. Trying to find a derailer hanger for a bike from a few years ago is near impossible despite the fact you can see it on the website. Pictures on websites don’t guarantee inventory.

And your last point about insurance, it’s a false equivalency. Subaru isn’t showing videos of Travis Pastrana and Ken block jumping Impreza’s and customers expect those vehicles to handle that sort of use.

The ASTM standards classify a category four as speeds less than 25 miles an hour and jumps no higher than 48 inches. Category five has even less definition just that it goes over 25 miles an hour but makes no qualification on what rough terrain or jumps mean.

I still think that there’s too much faith being placed in manufacturers warranty‘s. They’re there for manufacturers defect not as a coverall for something expensive breaking. I watch the Friday fails and seeing how much bikes go through, those little events are what add up to big failures and often times it’s a little thing that breaks the camels back and customers don’t understand how such a minor event could result in something breaking and it was the 1000 little things before that that did your frame in.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer make sure editing don't use that annoying song anymore.
  • 1 0
 Those subtitles tho; ‘Guide tea breaks’
  • 1 0
 Why didn’t Pinkbike include the specialized enduro in this field test?
  • 1 2
 Big S Enduro is not on that list?!
  • 1 3
 Trek slash guarantee is only 2 years.. Santa Cruz life time.
  • 3 0
 Lifetime warranty on the frame.
  • 2 1
 As of 2020 Trek's warranty is lifetime on all of their bikes. That said, they don't cover bearings. My experience with Trek aluminum frames is that the small bearings fail quickly from the extra side loading they experience. Not as frequent a problem on their carbon bikes. Santa Cruz wins in my book for offering lifetime bearing replacement, especially if you are buying aluminum!
  • 2 1
 @xBLASTOFFx: I've yet to see any frame have a significant advantage in bearing life.. Bearings on suspension pivots are not meant to rock back and forth, they are meant to spin..

Yes, it's nice Santa Cruz will give free ones out.. But, there's a good amount of involved in changing them all..
  • 1 0
 @lumpy873: SCB’s free bearings is the mail-in rebate of the bike world.

Now if they could find a way to indicate to customers WHEN they needed new bearings then they’re on to something. I do miss the days of customers using grease guns and destroying bearings.
  • 1 0
 @ringdinho7: just had a mate get exceptional warranty service from trek here in NZ, replaced a 3 year old cracked frame with an upgrade to 2021 model and higher spec shock.
  • 1 0
 @mrfish: Good to know, I have the Slash 8 2021 and love it. Also have a Trek dealer nearby so hopefully the service here is just as good.
  • 1 0
 @ringdinho7: trek slash guarantee is only 2 years. I've had issues with my rear slash triangle, after one year, they dont want to replace it for free. Wont go back to trek anymore.
  • 1 0
 @Joeysolo: 2 years on linkage parts, lifetime on the frame: www.trekbikes.com/gb/en_GB/warranty_policy
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