Pinkbike Poll: How Much Does a Bike's Climbing Performance Matter to You?

Nov 30, 2018 at 13:35
by Mike Kazimer  
The champ on home soil. Practically his home town. There was no other outcome really. This crowd carried him.

For some riders, climbing is a necessary evil, something that's endured only to reap the reward of a long descent, while others have a more masochistic take, and find enjoyment in the challenge and suffering that accompany a grueling climb.

I'll admit, as much as I like bombing downhill, there's also a twisted part of me that doesn't mind grinding uphill for hours at a time, or trying to figure out how to get through a steep puzzling section of trail that's full of slippery roots and rocks. Some of that may be due to my East Coast upbringing – the trails I cut my teeth on were full of punchy ascents, often with a downed log or two to make things even more challenging. Of course, back then I was riding a hardtail with three chainrings up front, a seven or eight-speed cassette in the back, and some sweet Onza bar ends.

It's a different world now, one where cassettes are bigger than brake rotors, with enough gear range to get up just about anything. Geometry and suspension designs have evolved as well, and there's no shortage of bikes out there that climb and descend remarkably well. But that doesn't mean that all bikes are alike when it comes to climbing performance – head tube angle, seat tube angle, chainstay length, and the suspension layout of a bike are just a few of the factors that make a difference in how a bike handles.


There's more than one way to get to the top.


There's no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes a good climber either – a super steep head angle may make the front end of a bike handle very quickly, giving the bike a more energetic feel, but does that mean it's a better climber than something slacker with more subdued manners? Not necessarily. The truth is, a lot of it comes down to personal preference.

Take that little lever that's found on most air shocks these days, the one that's used to firm up the rear suspension in order to reduce any energy-sapping motion. Mike Levy, my fellow tech editor and downcountry specialist, likes to call it a 'cheater switch,' and prefers bikes that perform best with it left open all the time. As for myself, I don't mind making use of the lever every so often – I'm more concerned with how the rear suspension feels on the descents. Not needing to use it is a nice bonus feature, since it's one less thing to think about out on a ride, but a more active suspension platform isn't necessarily a deal breaker for me.

Which camp do you fall into? Is climbing a crucial point of consideration when choosing a bike, or does downhill performance weigh more heavily? Cast your vote below.


How much does a bike's climbing performance matter to you?




260 Comments

  • + 765
 There should be a “I ride an E-bike so it doesn’t matter” option and when you select it it automatically deletes your Pinkbike account.
  • + 18
 This one wins.
  • - 179
flag wittereus (Nov 30, 2018 at 18:48) (Below Threshold)
 That's a bit childisch. Don't you think?
  • + 121
 @wittereus: ^ ebike owner
  • - 76
flag wittereus (Nov 30, 2018 at 18:55) (Below Threshold)
 @Beez177: nope
  • + 31
 I exhaled so forcefully through my nose that I snotted on my desk. This comment was just what I needed after a long, wet week and no trail time on my foresee-able schedule. Cheers.
  • + 13
 @wittereus: ^ public answer ( we all know the truth )
  • + 4
 Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaahahaha!
  • - 63
flag Purpledragonslayer (Dec 1, 2018 at 0:50) (Below Threshold)
 Half of pb readers will be on ebikes in 5 years. They are rad.
  • - 14
flag Kalsonic12 (Dec 1, 2018 at 1:52) (Below Threshold)
 @wittereus: the entirety of Pink bike is childish in this matter.
  • + 6
 @bridgermurray winner of the comment of the year award
  • + 5
 What about a "it doesnt matter as long as it climbs up the chairlift ramp"?
  • + 2
 Oh wait, they do have that option. Commenting before reading the whole article? Guilty, again.
  • - 27
flag wittereus (Dec 1, 2018 at 4:44) (Below Threshold)
 @Beez177: hahahahaha. Not so bright right?
Just look at my pictures here at pinkbike: not one of them even E-bike related......
  • - 24
flag wittereus (Dec 1, 2018 at 4:45) (Below Threshold)
 @Purpledragonslayer: yeah and I will laugh at them!
  • + 4
 If you run for public office I will vote for you!!
  • + 0
 @wittereus: that because you're too embarrassed to post one lol!
  • + 2
 Amazing! Comment of the year!
  • - 18
flag wittereus (Dec 1, 2018 at 10:26) (Below Threshold)
 @Beez177: wahahaha, you're to stupid to come up with that good of a Joke!
  • - 11
flag wittereus (Dec 1, 2018 at 10:26) (Below Threshold)
 @konrad1972: you have al ready voted my boy.........
  • - 11
flag Beez177 (Dec 1, 2018 at 11:05) (Below Threshold)
 @wittereus: stupid is as stupid does!
  • + 3
 Funny... thx for the chuckles!
  • - 3
 @Kalsonic12: thanks. I thought I was allone hereWink
  • + 5
 Dear Pinkbike,
I wish to consign every future upvote that I will ever make to instead be re-assigned to this comment... Deal?
  • + 1
 @wittereus: being a grown-up in this matter is fot sissies ????
  • + 152
 I don't care about climbing, I just slog through it. However, I also don't switch modes on my suspension, because I'll forget to put them back when I'm ready to descend.
  • + 105
 Shocks should have a ‘blow-open’ valve or something so if a rider forgets to flip the switch back, the first high-speed compression (one that would not occur on normal ascents) re-opens the shock.
  • + 11
 @cwatt: Like a Specialized inertia valve equipped Epic.
  • + 69
 You should care about climbing! Yeah its hard and not fun like DH, but with few exceptions you'll spend most of your ride doing it. Clearing a technical obstacle the first time can be the highlight of a ride so if you find some stoke along the uphill it will seem like you get to the top sooner. If you approach the climb as chance for improvement instead of a slog it will make your whole ride better!
  • - 6
flag Trouterspace (Nov 30, 2018 at 15:22) (Below Threshold)
 You sound like an idiot stoner like me!!! I won't touch a switch for this reason. I'll notice the next time I ride that it's been locked out.
  • + 21
 Let’s face it everyone really wants a bike that climbs like an XC race bike but goes down like a WC DH bike. It’s the reason Enduro bikes exist & can get so stratosphericly priced the extra money for high end is paying for weight loss.
  • + 5
 this proves a point I tried to make in that Bronson test where pinkbike was moaning about bikes needing to pedall well uphill wihtout the lever... while I understand where they come from, I think most people seem to agree that a lock out makes sense to still have a bike that really perfoms in the downhills!
  • + 12
 @StevieJB: I would rather have one that climbs like an e bike and descends like a world cup downhill bike.
  • + 1
 exactly
  • + 0
 @jaame: Pretty sure you can buy one of those can't you? Personally I want one that climbs like an e bike and is light and poppy on the descent like a good 140/150mm trail bike.
  • + 1
 @cwatt: my old Pike 426 had that,
  • + 2
 @cwatt: I have an old (~2011) Reba (which is obviously not a rear shock) that kinda does that. The Reba RLT, which, If I remember correctly, stands for Rebound Lockout Threshold. You set you positive/negative pressures, compression, and rebound, but then there was the floodgate setting (threshold). The floodgate/threshold setting would allow you to dial in a threshold pressure where your fork would "blow off" and move through its travel. It allowed you to ride it basically locked out, but then still use the travel if you plowed into rough stuff or dropped off something without having turned your compression back to open. I still have the fork on an old hardtail. I serviced it a few weeks ago. Still works.
  • + 2
 @cwatt: Canyon Strive...I wasn’t a massive fan but you’re describing “Shapeshifter” tech...
  • + 2
 I think he means, it's locked out but when you hit a bump it goes to open and stays there.
  • + 0
 @Sardine:
I love my SRAM 50 ring in back with a 30 up front because I care that my pedals are turning.
  • + 3
 They don't make a ton of sense in desert mesa riding where you go from short super steep descents right into a steep climb from a blind turn. Also, maybe I'm a spas but I think a locked out fork makes tech climbing harder w.out rebound.
  • + 1
 @matttauszik: I'll do you one better... when I switched to a coil spring in my fork it made steep techy climbing easier, despite the increase in weight.
  • + 2
 @cwatt: Trek - Re Aktive rear shocks.
You still have a 3 way switch on them but they also have the valve which does what you request.
  • + 1
 @velocitajano: just slightly expensive. Just a little.
  • + 1
 Dangle a small sign from your helmet visor?
  • + 55
 For me, it's more about climbing comfort vs. climbing speed or efficiency. I don't really care how fast I get to the top, I just want to be comfortable. Steep seat tubes are the best.
  • + 17
 Yup. Speed doesn't matter but at the end of the day we spend the vast majority of the total ride time climbing. And arriving at the top feeling fresh makes the down more fun!
  • + 14
 Slack HTA steep STA all the way, thanks Transition
  • + 4
 For the most part a steep seat angle is all I need. I can winch anything up with a steep enough seat angle. I hate the feeling of pushing the pedals forward, feels much more efficient use of my power to push backward. I dip the nose of the saddle a bit too and things get even better, effectively steepening the seat angle further as well as stopping me slide off the back.
Dgaf about suspension design, the way I pedal it doesn’t seem to matter. I prefer the shock wide open all the time, I find it hilarious pedalling into rocks to pass the time climbing.
  • + 3
 @DrPete: Exactly. I used to not care at all about pedalling or climbing efficiency until i realized how much more fun the downs are when you have some gas left in your legs after the climb.
  • + 0
 @caltife: absolutely, also a saddle position straight above the BB would help but most Enduro Bikes have a real hard saddle setback. Makes no fun when your 30cm away from the BB. Ultra blob even with some shocks.
I can not believe that you could create good kinematics for descending and also have a good climbing , pedal efficient bike. The shock must be f*cking rock solid if you close it. That's it to create the perfect Enduro Bike for me.
  • + 47
 I live for the climbs. I try to spend as little time as possible, on descending.
  • + 42
 Ewwwwww
  • - 11
flag JohanG (Nov 30, 2018 at 14:55) (Below Threshold)
 Agreed. Descending is unsatisfying.
  • + 15
 I don't mind the climbs and earning my downhill. I also try to spend as little time as possible on the downhill but only because I let off the brakes and bomb down as fast as I can. Puts a smile on my face every time!
  • + 2
 @cmanser: I like it, "earning my downhill."
  • + 0
 @bart882: pretty good return on investment when all you have to do is spend six minutes to be able to enjoy the next 42!
  • + 9
 I think he means he rips on the descents.
  • - 2
 I love climbing too. Thought it was just me. Do you ever walk down? Admittedly I will walk down half my rides. Gotta save those brakes!
  • + 12
 We all spend as little time as possible descending lol
  • + 6
 Shuttle pickup at the top of the mountain. More legroom on the way down
  • + 1
 I prefer neither. Flats rule!
  • + 3
 What climbs? You live in the Netherlands lol!
  • + 2
 When I was younger, after each climb my mother would shuttle me down the mountain. But as I got faster and faster, there came a point where taking the bike for the descents was faster. That was the glorious day I became a real mountainbiker.
  • + 1
 Quite funny, I must admit.
  • + 1
 @bart882: I earn my downhill. I work all week. Not wasting any of my hard earned dh time pedalling up hills!
  • + 41
 I bought a 2018 YT capra pro race (180mm travel) this year. Its was the best descending bike I have ever had. So plush and controlled. However it was an absolute dog on the climbs. Way worse than the. 2015 capra cf it replaced. I ended only using it for uplift/shutted days, and so I sold the frame and bought a frame that was 80-90% as good on the downs but twice as good on the ups.

If I don’t want to take the bike out because it peddles sh1t, then I will hardly use it...
  • + 9
 what frame did you replace it with?
  • + 11
 Yea this was my issue wiht the Capra as well. I had a DH bike and a Capra...sold the Capra as it was basically a DH bike that was trying to pedal.
  • + 1
 @MikeyMT: injust boyght a hardly used capra cf 2016... I knew it was a plow machine.. but it pedals fantastic. I read the linkagedesign blog on newer capra and its expexted to be a park bike.. technical crawler, no enduro race bike....
  • + 0
 I think a lot of how a bike pedals is getting used to it, as well. Timing your pedal strokes with the suspension, and fast vs slow cadence, etc.
  • + 6
 @skelldify: Exactly! Get used to the bike you have. Ride it more. Get yourself to the level of fitness/ability wherein the bike's lack of capability IS holding you back. The problem with a many/most modern bicycles is...............you. Improve yourself, then get a better bike. May not apply to deep-pockets dentists, by the way.
  • + 1
 Hmmm...I have a 2018 Capra, it pedals very well. Must be because it is the 29er Race with only 170mm.
  • + 3
 @santacruz-ing:
I demoed many bikes to find the replacement. It was a tie between a pivot firebird and an s-works enduro. Both climbed way better than the capra 2018, and both were nearly as plush on the downs. I ended up with the enduro purely because it fitted me better, even though geo is almost identical it felt a bit bigger. Now I ride this bike 1-2 times a week instead of once a month
  • + 3
 @Lagr1980:
Yes the mark 1 capra was a much better climber. If it works for you keep it!!!
  • + 1
 @bart882:
I ride 3-5 times a week, covering 50+ miles off road and 5000-10000ft climbing, even through the winter...

I don’t have time to get my legs any stronger!
  • + 2
 I had a Commencal Supreme SX. Jesus. Before that thing I’d have sworn I don’t mind how heavy a bike is to climb. But it was heavier than my dh bike. Not very good seat angle either. Awful climbing, and so heavy it wasn’t even that fun to rip either. I just have the DH bike now.
  • + 2
 shit i do most climbs on my supreme sx hpp. Really love the mountains. Innerleithen or rev park is where it shines. So much better with a coil.
  • + 0
 @700Pirate: mine was just a dh bike with a dropper post and heavy ass cassette on if. Didn’t enjoy myself going uphill at all. Didn’t say I couldn’t do it, just that
It was the worst climber I’d had for some time (ever?)
  • + 0
 @Richt2000: @Richt2000: But...but...who keeps a bike for more than one whole season?? Everyone knows an incrementally better bike is worth 4k every year ya drangus.
  • + 1
 @700Pirate: come to think of it that’s the main reason I got rid of it. Albeit indirectly. (To bring it back to the spirit of the poll a little, which I didn’t answer as none of the selections seemed to fit). Just like @Richt2000
I realised there was no point having a bike I never wanted to climb. It was meant to be a DH bike for my local hills but with DH parts on it and a crap pedalling position (good luck getting a dropper to the right height in the tiny seat tube on the mediums) I felt I’d never want to take it out unless to the bikepark. In which case why not take DH bike. Probably the exact reason Commencal stopped selling them. It’s a bit of a half assed conversion from Supreme DH imo, it doesn’t quite work as an all mtn machine, at least not the way I wanted with DH tyres etc.
Glad you seem to be liking yours but I’m much happier with a trail bike/ dh bike combo than what I felt was quite a compromised combo of the two.
  • + 1
 PS I just discovered you can now buy Commencal Meta skis? In the same sense I thought the idea behind the Supreme SX was whimsical he’s decided he gonna make skis now? Calm it down Max lad.
  • + 1
 @iqbal-achieve:

Thanks for the info mate. I see where you are coming from. Well said. The seat tube on the L works out ok with a reverb.
  • + 1
 @700Pirate: was jealous seeing builds of the large frames where they could actually get their seat posts in the right place lol
  • + 1
 Made the same mistake! replaced my Trance X 29er with a Reign X. Was going to sell the Trance but with the way the Reign climbs the Trance is staying put for anything but uplift days.
  • + 2
 @iqbal-achieve: I may go down the same route as you. My reverb just quit so the thompson dh post goes in Razz
  • + 1
 @iqbal-achieve: I had a Focus SAM mod2015 with a factory Fox suspension setup. I did choose this because it was the only way to have a stiff suspension for pedaling. All other fork's and shocks at this time where just to plush when closed and also not that plush fully opened. The bike it self with Horst link, 430mm chainstay and a reach of 435mm , STA 75 and HTA 65,8 would be today average. Because the shock was in the main frame easy to reach. Was absolutely awesome if you blaze down a hill on a rough trail and then the trail changes to still steep but almost no real obstacles the shock get locked. Could pedal like hell that thing , even up with a total of 38 lbs. Also 10 -42t with a 32t chainring . Now I have a blob VPP bike with 440mm chainstay , 450mm reach, longer wheelbase then most DHs, 65,5 STA and 64 HTA. Fitted with a eagle + 32t and ultra lightweight wheels I got it down to 29 lbs. Not bad for an AL 180 travel rig. Climbing was worse, could not reach the same times with ease. I needed to go full into the red zone to get a fast uplift. I guess I am stronger now due to the fact that it absolutely shit uphill.
I hate those PB reviews and other media reviews where they say they don't even flip the lever. I see the reviews for my frame and can not understand what the idiots writing about it. Looks like they say the same shit to every bike more or less. Doesn't make any sense. The only people I know who don't use the shock lockout and fork are people who don't climb regular and even then they are way worse with a better climbing geo bike with a shock who can lockout better then I am...
  • + 1
 @Serpentras: now you know one who climbs a lot (when I’m trail riding) and never touches the lockouts. If I do use em it’s when I go to the dirt jumps. But I’m not some beast XC whippet, just everyone’s different. I prefer a plush and grippy bike for going up to a stiff and locked out one that’s all. I’m a bit odd compared to most, 5’6” 65Kg, use a 34t chainring and 36t cog for most ascents, 165mm cranks. I don’t know what pedal bob feels like, I’ve never experienced it. Before this gets into some kind of contest or slagging match about the ‘tiny hills’ in the UK - Last time Mr Molehills gave me his stats from “real mountains” they were directly comparable to my last Strava ride about 3 years ago.
I don’t think anyone should feel bad and certainly not feel good depending on whether they use a pedal function on their shock or not. I was just trying to explain that the suspension is not my concern when going uphill that’s all.
  • + 1
 @iqbal-achieve: well it really doesn't matter to me if someone else use the switch. Whatever suits you but if someone wrote a review the thing should be different. I read also about how much the guys weight and how he ride the bike to understand how this can be useful to choose a new bike. However most bike's I had and they tested where total different if I look into the reviews. They said every time the shock was wide open and the bob was minimal. My bike was the same and if you really dig into suspension design you could see the pedal efficiency was worse then 8 year's old DH rigs. This is the thing why I can not trust reviews anymore. Also if you stand up and go into the sprint it will dive and eat up to much of your power. They don't talk about that. No chance with open suspension for a good sprint.

I let the shock open if it is a more plane not so steep ascent with a lot of smaller objects. But most of the time it is steep with higher roots and rocks sometimes big enough to hit the BB. There I want a stiff rear to jump or push over them because the pedals are blocked. If I doesn't lock the rear it will sink down to 70% sag and is set to 28% with full gear.

Well the point I want to make was about geometry and the possibility of really block your shock to increase the climbing much more then pure weight can do. If the suspension kinematics on the bike are bad for pedaling there is a shock who can just be stiffed to eliminate it.
  • + 30
 Does anyone ever laugh out loud while climbing?
  • + 68
 I mostly sob softly to myself while I punish myself with stout uphills.
  • + 11
 Only if it tickles.
  • - 25
flag scoobaru (Nov 30, 2018 at 14:05) (Below Threshold)
 I recently did for the first time in 10 years, on my new eMTB Smile
  • + 12
 Most when I think I'm rounding the top only to realize there is way more to go.
  • + 2
 @slumgullion: Slide forward for tickles.
  • + 4
 Hell yeah - cleaning a nasty tech section with style ? Makes me giggle every time.
  • + 0
 @connorjuliusjohnson: sounds like me too
  • + 9
 I do LOL on climbs sometimes since I am mentally unstable and have quite vibrant internal dialogues, I even speak to myself out loud. I remember my grandma doing it, I always thought she spoke to someone on the cell phone when she was upstairs. Then many years later I realized there were no cellphones in Poland in the 1980s...
  • + 2
 No...but I'll cuss out loud...especially if I round the corner and it's another mile of switchbacks.
  • + 1
 Quite often sing to myself. Which often leads to lol.
  • + 1
 Only when I look back to see my mate blowing out of his ass! wishing he stayed at home.
  • + 1
 Always when I overtake riders on my eMTB...
  • + 26
 If someone can please explain me the trend of not hitting the climb switch for longer climbs I will be delighted... so damn elite.
  • + 10
 Honestly, a couple reasons. First, I often feel I don't need it. I'm on a 2018 stumpy and it feels great on the ups. Second, i don't often climb fire roads. I usually climb trails that have plenty of obstacles where the increased rear traction from the suspension working is helpful.
  • - 1
 I have to bend all the way down to the lever and on rougher climbs you lose suspension sensitivity and it can be faster to just leave it open
  • + 6
 I ride Vpp kind of suspensions since 2007 and the difference between open and locked is evident, especially on CCDB CS, I cannot find a tiniest reason why not to hit climb switch If I know I am off for 15min+ of constant climbing, no matter the surface. I don’t use CS in Gothenburg where terrain changes too quickly for it to make sense without a bar activates lockout and I’d rather lick donkey balls that have a bar activated lock out on enduro bike... grip wise never had an issue and my climbs are almost as slippery and steep with rocks and roots as they get.
  • + 9
 1) on bumpy and technical climbs, suspension is useful.

2) my bike is reasonably efficient, and I have no problem keeping up with the people I ride with, so extra efficiency doesn't ultimately gain me that much.

3) I always forget to unlock it before the descent.
  • + 6
 @WAKIdesigns: That shock is an exception to the rule. CC lockout is active and moves some to improve traction while climbing. Best lockout on the market. As far as a lockout that just stiffens the rear on most other shocks, I would prefer an open or trail position for climbing 90% of the time.
  • + 2
 I set up my xc bike to pedal well in the open mode so I don't have to switch back and forth between pedal and open on rolling terrain or in a race and then I can just lock out the fork when I'm out of the saddle. You then have the platform for really steep shit If a climb needs to be done locked out why not ride a hard tail in the first place?
  • + 3
 @Waki: I got myself a remote handlebar switch and I will never go back. Anyone who doesn’t switch is either a masochist or never sees an incline steeper than 1%. And that’s not just for fire roads either.. anyone who has ridden a hardtail through a technical uphill section knows what I’m talking about..
  • + 1
 @scjeremy: funny you say that because I would say the opposite. Cane Creek is so good in open mode that it is hard to motivate turning on the lever as long as I am not out for a long climb. Maybe it’s also kinematics of my Antidote, hard to tell. All the SC bikes that I owned or tried (with Bronson v2 being the last) bobbed like hell without the lock out on. You can see it by watching how much the upper link moves, depending on the setting. And I could easily discern it in a blind test. it may be about the shock as well, that they sucked in open mode, but all the spec, treks or kona I rode didn’t have such a big difference between two modes.
  • + 1
 Forget to.
  • + 1
 @toast2266: smooth extended climbs are borrrriiinnggg and latexy.
  • + 2
 I remember reading an interview with Jared Graves and he said he never touches the climb switch and has to have his bikes setup so they work ok with it always set open as he would forget to switch it for his race run if he switched it to climb. I’m very sure he’s not alone.
  • + 2
 @StevieJB: I blew up the XX damper on my SID forgetting to turn it off on a descent..
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns: my boy rides vpp and no need to lock it out stiff as f*ck
  • + 18
 Mountain biking (in its truest form) is riding up and down hills. Sure, 8" of coil-sprung squish is a good time at the park, but everywhere else a bike should be good at everything. We're at a time now when a bike that doesn't go up and down well is half-baked and a half-assed effort from the manufacturer.

The best trails have both challenging climbing and rowdy, consequential descending. Even the best shuttle runs (Ribbons to Lunch Loops trailhead via Gunny or Mag 7 to Portal come to mind) have enough technical climbing to keep you honest and descents hard enough to keep you humble. A good bike handles both tasks with aplomb.
  • + 37
 Oh this again...."it's truest form'...what a crock. The very first mountain bikers on earth were downhillers shuttling their 50+ pound klunkers on flatbed trucks up the side of Mt Tam and drifting corners all day till their hubs caught on fire. If that wasn't a total blast in and of itself, mountain biking would have never gone anywhere. To each their own and ride for the reasons you love it...but some peoples' idea of a perfect trail is one where you never have to lay down a single pedal stroke. Down-vote away.
  • + 13
 @b-mack @peleton7

You're both right.
  • + 2
 @b-mack: Amen b-mack. Do what YOU like. That's how I do it.
  • + 5
 @bart882: Those Marin County guys were Cat 2 and 1 road racers who pedaled up for their downs (and pushed if they had to) more often than they got a ride to the top. Enduro as a discipline hews much more closely to the original Mt. Tam ethic than straight downhill.

DH is fun and a great way to build skills, but a complete skillset also includes the ability to ride up hard stuff too. The cool thing is that a modern $3-4k bike (Giant Trance, Stumpjumper etc.) will handle anything short of the gnarliest black DH trails and still climb well enough for a beer league XC race. Riders used to have to choose a bike that rode up well or descended well, but that isn't a problem on most new trail bikes. Even if you run a shuttle, being able to ride up AND down on gnarly trails allows for more interesting and challenging riding.
  • + 11
 XCM racer here. I can descend within a few percentage points of the top finishers, but they annihilate me on the climbs by orders of magnitude. Gimme that bike that climbs better!
  • - 3
 Or just get stronger asshole
  • + 13
 What about us hardtail riders?
  • + 11
 We peasants don’t matter. Also the full squish people believe the traction makes them more efficient. But what do they know about efficiency they run 24psi
  • + 9
 IMO bike climbing ability is way overrated. I experienced it many times - more fit rider climbs much easier on worse climbing bike than less fit guy on a better climbing bike. This is a huge factor, bike factor is nearly irrelevant if You compare one enduro bike to another. Unless it matters to You if You climb 20 minutes or 20 minutes and 5 seconds. ;]
  • + 4
 If you care about climbing why would you be on an enduro bike?
  • + 6
 Yup, I have a buddy who’s faster than me by quite a bit. Broke his bike and borrowed a Specialized freeride bike (SX?) with a dual crown. Thought that day I might actually beat him to the top. Nope!
  • + 1
 This, if someone is worried about how their bike climbs they aren't riding enough. Ride more, get faster lol. At least in the context of modern trail bikes, where most are reasonably efficient.
  • + 8
 80-90% of a good all-mountain ride, measured in time, is climbing. So if that's your discipline, I think you do what you can to ensure you're enjoying it as much as possible. With all of my rides consisting of huge up then huge down, I'd go as far as to say more than half of the discretionary $$ in my setup are directed into making the climb more comfortable and efficient so I can ride more and bigger. Do I need a carbon frame and rims to descend? Not at all. But they sure help me punch out the steep climbs and have fresh legs for the spicy stuff.
  • + 2
 I'm similar - I realised I spend probably 3/4 of any ride going up or across, so wrote off anything too long, slack or over 160mm.
Then I thought about my descents and, whilst I like to think I'm relatively proficient/skilled I do it for fun rather than racing, I decided that if my buddy beats me down the hill by an extra 15secs then I'm technically spending more time having fun!

Logic.

(I've ended up with a not so slack enduro bike as I still like to hit up downhill tracks and uplifts on the rare occasions I can... Best of both worlds...)
  • + 7
 I've learned after a couple seasons of Enduro racing that while my times still aren't podium-worthy, the days I pace and arrive at the top of a stage less tired are the days I can descend faster too. I've definitely underestimated the value of a comfortable position, less bobbing, etc. on the way up.
  • + 5
 Once you get fit, climbing tech can be really fun. A sorta seperate the men from the boys type thing... women from the girls...and so on... Having a great climbing bike means you can do a longer ride, or that 3rd, 4th, 5th lap when equal riders on slugs will have to retire prematurely. Pedalling efficiency is critical IMO!
  • + 9
 There's no "it depends on the bike" option.
  • + 1
 yeah, I was thinking the answer options felt a little one sided.
  • + 1
 If you're reading an article about a bike's climbing abilities then I doubt a DH bike is your only rig, so I answered for my trail bike.
  • + 2
 @gibbon-on-an-orange: why didn't you answer for you XC bike? or your enduro race bike? I'd give a deffernt answer for all three.
  • + 5
 Slightly flawed poll. For me, it matters a lot, AND I don't mind flipping a lever for longer climbs. It's a worthwhile tradeoff to have the luscious combination of really good climbing and really plush descending. See, for reference, the Trek Slash.
  • + 2
 This, indeed.
  • + 0
 I've spent some time on the Slash... Never really felt the need to hit the climb switch... It's no XC bike, but it's not terrible...
  • + 5
 I'm actually surprised at everyone's aspiring results to this poll.
For me, Climbing Performance is for the masochist.
Give me a chairlift and some beer and I'm happy.
Whats up with that the Billion dollar ski industry? Wrong? You should have to earn your turns? Sure, good luck with that.
What is the Climbing Performance of this? lenzsport.com/ski-bikes/launch
By all means, my Darkside moves faster when I pedal.... I just prefer not having to.
For the people that think fun must come with suffering.... You go ahead and have your fun and Ill have mine. I work at work then I play at play.
  • + 3
 You sir have said everything I think....sadly, we are in some strange backward world where people like us are the minority. I totally agree with you on the skiing thing...I've never been able to reconcile the fact that people are just fine with chairlifts in the winter but in the summer it's a sign of some kind of weakness. Weirdos. I don't even consider myself a "cyclist" since that seems to be synonymous with masochism. I just ride a bike. Long live fun for fun's sake.
  • + 5
 I've never understood climb switches unless on the road or a fire road. When I'm climbing a bumpy trail I don't want to lift 80kg of me and 13kg of bike over a bump, that's what the suspension is for.
  • + 3
 When it comes to climbing I need all the help I can get, so it's becoming more important to me. I really want to test out the Scott Ransom and see how it deals with the climbs...because I still wanna monster truck the fun shit too...lol.
  • + 3
 Will never understand why spending 1 second on a lever is hard work or Complicated. You would have to be monumentally stupid and lazy to struggle with that. If it saves having to fork out on more expensive frame designs, maintenance and a Comprise to descending I don't get it. I despise the bottle mount and no lever brigade destroying bikes atm. All look the same ride the same thanks to them.
  • + 3
 I hated climbing and was solely a chairlift or shuttle DH guy for the longest time. Then i got one of these new fangled big wheel bikes. Now I hardly even complain on long climbs and it opened up a new world of trails to ride thay I couldn't before because they didnt have a road or a chair to the top. My new 29er enduro is the best damn bike ive ever ridden! Freeride lives and it has big wheels!
  • + 2
 As someone who most rides cross country on a hardtail, I really enjoy the climbing aspect of the sport. Not only is it great exercise but also the sense of accomplishment once you've finished the ascent. Sure I might not be as fast going downhill, but I feel I'm a better all-round rider than my brethren who primary stick to the downhill discipline. Plus you get more opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
  • + 2
 Oh fireroads climbing performance is not important but technical climbing which is also pretty fun a good suspension layout is key.for example Knollys 4by4.
It only really shines ob technical climbs but then you have nearely unlimited traction.

Climbing a steep and technical section is as good as doing the thing pointing downhill Smile
  • + 2
 Depends on the type of bike, what it's for! On an XC bike it has to pedal well, AND I want remote lockouts (or live valve) for standing and little sprints. On my long travel bike, I want it to pedal well enough that long rides aren't a chore but I don't expect as much.
  • + 3
 The only climbing I do is up the lip of jumps, fast enough to become airborne for as long as possible. Otherwise I’m pushing up the hill. That way 100% of the time spent on the bike is fun.
  • + 1
 pussy
  • + 2
 There needs to be a fit/ergonomics option. I could pedal a 45lb with soft soft suspension uphill all day if the body position was right. We've had decent pedalling suspension for years, but we're only just getting steeper seat angles now. I don't need a lockout - most of the technical climbing around here doesn't benefit from that. What we benefit from is not having a 70' actual seat tube angle that drops to like 50 on a steep incline. How about a lockout switch whose only function was to prevent the suspension from settling much past the sag point?
  • + 1
 How did that work out with Evolink 158? I'm looking at GG for a more forward, open at hips, flats pedaling position, but without the length of Pole, Rocketmax, etc. Climb switch already mostly does what yr asking for, unless you're bouldering.
  • + 1
 Not worth mentioning. Alrighty then
  • + 1
 All modern bikes sacrifice down hill plushness for that climbing advantage. My Devinci Frantic is designed to work great on DH and I don't care how it climbs. It's a single crown mini DH bike. And not one bike company makes bikes like this any more. I don't have any trouble doing tech climbs on my mini DH bike. Your skill has far more to do with success in climbing or descending.
  • + 1
 my Taniwha fits that bill pretty well. Pedals damn awesome considering how well it goes down. Just cant imagine what the hell i will replace it with when the time comes
  • + 1
 A lot of the best spots are only accessible by long techy climbs. I like my bike to get me there with enough energy to not feel smoked and be able to really enjoy the Dh sections. Plus those areas often scare away the kids on long travel enduro bikes, because of the climbs at least until the ebikes take over
  • + 1
 I flip the climb switch and leave it in until I come to a longer descent. I also dial a few clicks of LSC on the front to keep me high in the travel. I have a 2018 Rocky mountain altitude and have found its performance to be more playful that way. Sits high in the travel, haha it easy to pop up in the air on little jumps and erases the small bumps but soaks up the big and medium stuff without issue.
I have also found that different linkages favor different sags. This bike needs a 25% to ride right for me. Less sag gets rough. More sag wallows. VPP usually has me sagging at around 30% and feeling a touch rougher on small bumps.

For those who say the climb without the switch for the sake of traction, how old are your rear shocks? Locked out still gives me a bit of uninhibited travel and the valving allows for use of all six inches in case of a big bump.
  • + 1
 As a washed up downhiller I’d rather have a bike that I can use to it’s full potential on the decents. Unless I’m riding something with a lot of up and downs throughout the trail then I’d want something a little smaller on travel and better on climbs
  • + 1
 I have a 2018 YT Capra, so I DGAF giving climbing performance if I get great performance of my bike doing what I like more... shredding and going down at insane speeds (nope... wife forbid me to get a DH bike).

Climbing is overrated ever you can put feet to the ground a do a small hike if is needed.
  • + 1
 My Slash has a dual position pike, man those things are the best, the long steep climbs are a lot more comfy with that baby jacked down 30mm. I don't mind fiddling with levers and stuff, However a lever control or auto lock on occasion would be nice for trail riding stuff as its way to sloshy when out of climb mode and whipping the fork down in travel for short steep climbs is a bit annoying. the Scott Twin-loc looks cool but I"ve heard its a pain to service.
  • + 1
 more bmx geo semi plus 27.5 aggro hardtail single speed, hike and bike, climbing for miles is garbage, no matter who you are, i get the pain/reward bs, but im trying to have fun, not be a midlife crisis "Olympian" plus the hike up is a good time for a beer 140 front travel clunkers when?
  • + 2
 What about peddling performance! I want a bike that can also charge hard out of the saddle on some flatter twisty sections of trail but still react to what ever good tech and shenanigans might come my way!
  • + 5
 my nomad 3 just does fine both ways
  • + 3
 PaulLehr: still one of the best bikes out there. Better than most!
  • + 4
 Ive done just over 100,000m so far this year on my carbon patrol. Slogging it doesnt even come close!
  • + 3
 Vert or distance?
  • + 1
 Savage!
  • + 1
 @tripleultrasuperboostplusplus:
Vert, 2400m distance.
  • + 1
 Depends what I am building the bike for... sometimes it matters a lot, especially if I am living/riding in an area with lots of fun, techy climbs. Other times, not at all, so long as I can pedal comfortably up an access road. I love my Patrol on teton pass, hated it for most of my riding on a trip to Pisgah (almost brought the hardtail, but I am recovering from a knee injury, so the FS was a safer bet)
  • + 2
 I love climbing, well I love the challenge of a good climb, there is something very satisfying about getting to the top of a hill. I also race XC and loving climbing helps a lot.
  • + 1
 I'm happy to ride uphill if it's challenging singletrack, if it's boring fireroad or anything similar around some of the areas close to mountains I'd prefer a shuttle. I have a 2015 Reign with a DBA and it climbs well enough with good traction on roots and rocks and other uphill features.
  • + 1
 I put a remote on my Horst Link driven bike this season after fighting the concept for years. I love climbing; after a few go arounds with multi link bikes DW, VPP I realize that I just don’t enjoy how they felt going down. Descending and climbing should be valued equally. There’s nothing wrong with cheater switch especially one that’s at your finger tips. I prefer riding bikes with a very active suspension feel, that does seem to trade off to a bike that absolutely needs a pedal platform - my question is, why does that matter? That said, the industry needs to come up with better remote systems. Wolftooth, help...
  • + 1
 I do agree on some level about descending of my Horst link bikes vs my DW bikes, but the times are the same so its hard to say. Also, my DW bikes are bushings (Turner Sultan, Ibis Ripmo) so that could be a factor as well.
  • + 1
 The older I get, the less I care. My trail bike pedals pretty good, but it's heavy enough to be a chore on the XC style up and down trails. On a more traditional enduro type ride, I think it's pretty good. Either way, no climb switch for me.
  • + 2
 Climbing performance only matters to me in xc racing. Any other time I don’t care about climbing performance, I just want to go as fast as I can and have as much fun going down as I possibly can.
  • + 3
 Isn't part of climbing performance how efficient the bike is? Having my legs completely shot from the climb certainly has en effect on how fast and how much fun I can have on the ride down.
  • + 1
 I have a 10 year old 29er hardtail, and a Bronson. Best of both worlds in my opinion.
  • + 1
 Climbing is quite fun and challenging. It's all part of the ride. Sure it's not as fun as a great descent, but where I live currently the nearest chair lift is 12 hours away. Although we have a small bike park opening up just 90 minutes away from Austin very soon.

Climb switches work great if you climb for long periods of time, but not everyone has terrain like that. Up-down-up in quick succession is the name of the game around here with not enough time to operate a switch. So locally I require a bike that climbs well without the use of a switch.

Most people can descend 95% as fast on a good hard trail/ light Enduro bike as they could on a full DH rig anyways. There is hardly any difference these days. But on the climbs the DH bike is useless. You give up so much and gain so little with how extreme some of these bikes have become. It's not the geometry as much as it is the rear suspension and weight, for me personally that dictates climbing performance. And as a result I ride a long HIGH bike that also climbs really well.

I see some riders that are really focused on going fast downhill, large jumps and what not, and to you guys, I say you are doing it wrong. Buy a dirt bike and head to the track, as it does all of that much better.
  • + 1
 It must be a complete different answer according the rider. Park riders who use chairlift or shuttle trucks and climb 20 minutes max in the whole day; big trail riders can climb several hours to reach the top of unaccessible summits; XC riders who are riding less rough terrain; etc... Riding style and terrain makes the search for climbing abilities completely different. There can't be any particular result to be taken into account in such a poll (just like many polls actually).
  • + 1
 Me, I'm a between 3 and 4 option guy, or was that girl, I'm so confused. Big Grin

Anyway, long climb, flip switch but it can stay there if the trail is smoothish and has lots of flow. If the climb is just a short punch climb in the midst of a rough trail, leave it open and bang the pedals. Horses for courses. A remote for the rear switch on the handlebar wouldn't go astray but not the twin loc thing "Great" Scott has going for themselves as I find it rare that one needs to deal with the front end.
  • + 1
 Climbing sucks, but having a scud missile on the downhills are what im after. so having a bike that isn't terrible uphill is pretty tight. Also, having a yuuuuuuge range on your cassette is very helpful. A combo of a bike with a good pedaling platform, good suspension and sufficient gearing all add up.
  • + 3
 Climbs, you may look more Enduro on the mountain that I do but when I blow past you on the climbs.... That's a good feeling
  • + 2
 Lol reminds me of riding my commuter bike around the city, there's a million dickheads trying to race you. I said, "enough with this man"; and built a bike to have fun on. The commuter bike was also just boring, and fragile, and the tires were constantly losing air pressure. Never really saw the draw of the Tour De France.
  • + 0
 How bout the I'll hike slope course before I pedal my ass up hill? The I'll dig dirt jumps before I pedal? I'll deal with scooter kids at the skate park before i pedal? I'll smash corners in a homeys back yard before peddling. I've been riding for nearly 10 years I ride over 100 days a year I haven't been for a true xc ride since the 90s when I stopped riding as a kid cuz spandex n peddling was f*cking lame. As an adult I just dont do it. Anyone hear who thinks it's a lazy thing I invite you to hike slope courses and dig dirt jumps and see how lazy we really are. It's just comes down to what I like to ride. Raw rowdy tech or big jumps. The majority of what I enjoy riding an xc bike wouldn't do what I want. Everyone enjoys different things and a different ride style
  • + 2
 I put it in 28x42 gear and spin it all the way to the top. A steeper seat angle would be nice, but as long as the bike can go downhill I'm happy.
  • + 3
 DH is fun Climbing is something I have to do to reward myself with the DH. You might call climbing work and DH fun.
  • + 3
 I used to think this way but the more time I spend on the trail bike the more the trials rider in me enjoys dropping into the granny ring and challenging myself to get up the steepest and most technical climb I can find.
  • + 1
 For most of the time I keep my shock wide open to get the most grip. I will flip the lever if needed on very steep or long climbs. I care more about how a bike feels going downhill then anything else
  • + 0
 My '13 Giant Trance is a good middle ground between Enduro & XC. Coming from a '10 Titus Racer-X the Trance is waaaay more comfortable & much more enjoyable to ride & it still climbs with aplomb! Since there are very few DH specific trails in the Charlotte, NC area a bike with good climbing characteristics is essential.
  • + 0
 Climbs are satisfying, especially clearing tech sections. It's also where I get my workout. Downhills are pure meh. Just a way to get down so I can get back to the car. I picked the "It's the most important factor". And no, you don't need to make me a special steep sta bike lol.
  • + 0
 It matters not because I like climbing too much, but because it means I will be able to ride more downhill and access more trails within the same amount of time. I could achieve the same by riding an ebike, but I am not giving in to that temptation. Down-Country rocks!
  • + 1
 As an owner of a Canyon Strive I am grateful for the two modes with the shape shifter plus the three modes on the shock. I'm happy to cruise up the hills on social rides and save my energy for the descents.
  • + 2
 I'm with Levy - I've forgotten to flip that climb switch back more times than I can remember.
  • + 2
 I think it can depend how many bikes you have. How much climbing matters depends on the bikes intended purpose in my stable.
  • + 1
 Where I ride isn't very steep. Its important to have a fairly zippy bike, which accelerates quickly to make the most of the terrain
  • + 2
 What a STUPID poll that is. We have reached a point where we are asked if a bike should climb well or not. WTF.
  • + 2
 You’re telling me that my mt.bike can climb? I still haven’t found the switch for that?
  • + 2
 As the great American poet Coolio once said, “Gotta gotta get up to get down; Gotta gotta get up to get down.”
  • + 1
 Obviously depends on the ride. It matters quite a bit for most trail rides, but I don't care as much when riding en Enduro run and not at all when I'm at the bike park.
  • + 1
 455 Pinbike users have voted that they'd rather have a good climber then a good descender. The end is very f%&#ing nigh folks.
  • + 1
 Can only remember guys on downhill bikes pedaling up back in the day, then being dead beat. "I thought they were called, "downhill" bikes"
  • + 1
 As for this pole, I've said this before, "everybody wants to be the best at everything". This pole is like, "do you want to climb shitty, or do you want to climb well?"
  • + 0
 Enduro racing should actually have some timed (and foot dab time deduction) technical climbing sections, that would make it more like it's actual namesake. Right now it's just DH lite.
  • + 2
 You either have never raced enduro, or have very lame enduros where you live.
  • + 2
 @gnarnaimo: So....you're saying the Enduros you do have timed climbing sections that count for your placing ( I know they don't) or that the Enduro courses you race on are harder than a DH track ( I know they aren't).
  • + 2
 It matters! I want to go fast all the time up and down. An effective climber/pedaler goes more fast more often.
  • + 1
 I need a bike that climbs and desends well. My trails have nothing too epic so a good all arounder is my ticket
  • + 1
 I'm super spoiled. Give me it all. F compromises. If Fox Live Valve doesn't deliver, I'm afraid I'll never find "the one".
  • + 1
 About as much as park tool videos about hitting hub bearings with a hammer.
  • + 1
 Hmmm, Downhill bike, so im going to say, Climb like a bitch. So chair lift all day
  • + 1
 I still ride a hardtail... Downhills are always more fun, no matter what bike you're on. Even a road bike.
  • + 2
 Friends don’t let friends ride locked out !!
  • + 0
 @jehurides Friends don't let friends to wear lycra. Baggies rock!
  • + 2
 40% climb, 60% plow. 100% bike fit.
  • + 0
 New Stumpy...thing climbs like a 120mm XC bike descends like a proper Enduro bike...I do use the climb switch though...and put a 160mm fork on.
  • + 1
 Agreed!
  • + 1
 worst suspension layout tho, ya it pedals good, but knuckle boxes have garbage sensitivity
  • + 0
 So long as the bike can find traction, I don't care too much about how nimble it is, or how efficient the suspension is as I'm rarely racing to the top of hills.
  • - 1
 I care a lot about climbing performance if racing XC. If racing Enduro a care a little because there may be some pedal-y bits during a run. If racing DH I don't care. If training for XC, Enduro or DH I don't care at all.
  • + 1
 I hate to say it but I do miss my 2009 Salsa Mamasita 29er. That bike climbed like a goat. It even went downhill okay.
  • - 1
 I"m firmly in choice #1 and not ashamed to admit it. Although they should add pushing to the list of things us gravity nuts will do...my bike climbs great in 5.10 gear.
  • + 1
 Well i just bought the bike that's being hiked up the trail above soooo.
  • + 1
 No worries, the firebird climbs great IMO. I live in the Denver metro area and climb steep tech on the reg no issues.
  • + 1
 Anyone else here absolutely love the climb up Armstrong in Park City?
  • + 1
 I ride a 10 year old, 42 pound dh bike and I still make it up the hills.
  • + 1
 I have a couple bikes, some I care some I don't
  • + 1
 Gearbox, need more gearbox!
  • + 1
 A lot. At 6’6” 240 I’ll take all the help I can get.
  • + 1
 Glad I don't know anyone who would answer this with the first option.
  • + 1
 Should be a Nomad someones pushing up. That Pivot pedals up like a goat
  • + 1
 I ride a hardtail, none of these answers apply.
  • + 1
 i ride a hardtail mtb, i endeavour in the climbs!
  • + 0
 These days you can have your cake and eat it too! Yeti SB 150 Scott Ransom Lemme know if I missed one.
  • + 1
 Santa Cruz Bronson V3
  • - 1
 Cannondale Trigger & Jekyll
  • + 1
 Spot Rollik 607
  • - 1
 Pyga Slakline and Hyrax
  • - 4
flag jdsusmc (Nov 30, 2018 at 14:10) (Below Threshold)
 YT Jeffsy, 29 & 27.5. Bake and frost the cake so I can frost my wife!
  • + 1
 most modern trail bikes
  • + 1
 Sentinel
  • + 1
 Propain Tyee
  • + 0
 Yeti bends like a banana and can only fit a 2.3" tyre (apparently) so how is that having your cake and eating it ? and the scott, not sure I could live with a bike that has RANSOM plastered on the top tube and the cables are ridiculous. whatever shock it has tho more bikes need that, just without the cables.
  • + 1
 I only up to down.
  • + 1
 Bike and hike
  • + 1
 Specialized Brain FTW
  • + 0
 Dumb Poll
  • + 0
 HO_HO_NH_OH all day!
  • - 3
 Cannondale Trigger & Jekyll
  • + 1
 I got the 2018 Jekyll and the thing can pedal but it is slow like any other 170 mm bike with big tires. It is more for DH fun,not so pedal friendly than previous ones.
  • + 3
 @homerjm: I own both the 27.5 (165mm) and 29 (150mm) 2019 Jekyll and I have to disagree with you. Especially on single track climbing. To have a bike that rides this great downhill with its travel and be able to flip a button on bars and have it shorten its travel, create a smaller air volume for a more progressive stroke and keep the bike higher in its travel all at once is an exceptional attribute when on single track. Great traction, no pedal slaps, and reactive suspension that goes back to DH beast mode with the same flip of a button that if mounted correctly you can actually trigger simultaneously while hitting your dropper post. I am in no way saying it climbs like a XC bike, but it climbs as good as many trail bikes, but has Enduro bike descending prowness
  • + 1
 @H3RESQ: yep it climb good,but it is slow with big tires at least in my bike. It is easy but it is not a fast bike while climbing like an XC bike or even a trail bike. The bike just not feel dead in an easy singletrack does not mean is a fast pedaling bike.
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