How does it compare?
The Machine doesn't really have that many direct competitors, but it's worth taking a moment to compare it to a bike that's designed with the same intentions in mind – the Scott Ransom. Yes, the Ransom's made of carbon fiber, but it was designed with the same goals that fueled the creation of the Machine – to be able to handle the nastiest of trails while also remaining pedalable. Both bikes fall into the long travel 29er category, but they behave quite differently out on the trail.Climbing:
The Ransom's seat tube angle is 4-degrees slacker than the Machine's, which gives it a more 'traditional' feel when climbing; the riding position is a little less upright, which puts my weight is a little farther back towards the rear axle. In a perfect world, I'd split the difference between the two – the Ransom's seat angle is just a bit slacker, and the Machine's is a little steeper than I'd like. Of course, there's a reason seats can be slid forward or backward, and I can find a comfortable pedaling position on both bikes.
The Ransom is 2.5 pounds lighter than the Machine, which is a significant difference. I'm more likely to grab the Ransom for longer, more pedaly rides, while the Machine gets the call on days that are more strictly focused on the descents.
As far as actual pedaling performance goes, if both bikes are ridden with their suspension in the fully open setting, the Machine's higher level of anti-squat means that it has less bob and a more efficient ride feel than the Ransom. That being said, the Ransom's handlebar mounted TwinLoc remote is there for a reason, and all it takes is a push of a lever to bring its performance in line with the Machine. Descending:
The Machine takes the win when it comes to straight-line speed and stability – the long chainstays and sprawling wheelbase make it feel incredibly planted and unflappable no matter how quickly the world is rushing by. The Ransom may have 10mm more rear travel, but the Machine's handling is closer to that of a DH bike, and it has the edge as far as pure monster trucking goes.
At more reasonable speeds, the Ransom is easier to handle; it takes less effort to air over obstacles, and it's less work to navigate twistier sections of trail. Both bikes offer excellent traction in loose or wet conditions, but the Ransom's rear suspension feels slightly more supple off the top. Racing:
How about as an enduro race bike? Which bike is best? That's a tough one to call, and it'll really depend on the rider and the track. Personally, I'd be inclined to go with the Ransom, due to the fact that it's easier to handle on tighter and flatter tracks. But for somewhere like Whistler, or any of the more gravity-oriented stops on the EWS circuit, the Machine would be an excellent pick.