The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?

May 26, 2020 at 11:00
by Mike Levy  
Art by Taj Mihelich


Last week's show looked at Trek's experiments with both 32" and 36" diameter hoops, a topic that was always going to rustle people's knee pads but also one that, given they're one of the largest bike companies in the world, can't be ignored. That said, how about we don't talk about wheel sizes, and especially new, weird wheel sizes, for a little while? Something else that can't be ignored is the host of all-new cross-country and short-travel shredders debuting for 2020, many spurred on by this being an Olympic year.

Or, it was an Olympic year, anyway. While Corona has postponed one of the sport's most prestigious events, British Columbia's restrictions have been relaxed enough for us to get a bunch of those new bikes sent to us for review. For the first two weeks in June, we'll be doing exactly that for our cross-country Field Test series. It includes eight of the latest and maybe-greatest full-suspension machines, four being race-focused and four being fun-focused but also race-able. All the bikes will see timed laps, (unlocked suspension) efficiency testing using power meters, and even some kind of torsional rigidity evaluation. We're still figuring that one out. You'll also get to see the Impossible Climb, of course, and don't think that cross-country bikes are going to get a free pass in the Huck to Flat video; I already feel bad for Jason Lucas' ankles.

While half of the bikes are still under pesky embargoes that keep us from talking about them, I can reveal that the Field Test fleet includes Cannondale's new Scalpel in both race and fun flavors, Trek's clever Supercaliber, and Canyon's ultra-successful Lux. You'll have to wait to see the other four. Plus, for additional perspective on the efficiency testing and round-table discussions we'll throw in a race-y hardtail and the 180mm-travel Specialized Enduro. Neither are official test bikes, but they'll let us answer a few questions. How much more efficient is a hardtail actually? Does that make it the faster machine over an entire lap? Modern long-travel bikes like the Enduro have become incredible climbers, but just how big is the difference between bikes with drastically different intentions?

Let's hear those predictions.

Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever else you get your podcasts.



THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 9 - CROSS-COUNTRY FIELD TEST!
May 27th, 2020

We'll have the race bikes, but we'll also have the race bikes that are fun.

Hosted by Mike Levy and featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike Podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?

Hit us in the comments with your suggestions: What do you want to hear us talk about? Would you be into watching a video version, or are our dulcet voices enough for you?


169 Comments

  • 50 0
 Because the Grim Donut broke in two pieces...
  • 2 0
 Comment gold.
  • 20 2
 Aha we deserve this, but it hasn't broken yet! We're not far off a follow up either. Smile
  • 10 0
 @Hamburgi - Not yet, but the day isn't over.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: For the Impossible Climb in Squamish, you should try Take the Donut

Also know as the Ricky Federau Challenge
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: 1. of April is still not over Razz
  • 6 0
 The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 10 - The Gang Breaks the Grim Donut
  • 8 0
 The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 10 - The Grim Donut Breaks the Gang
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Huck to flat? Please? If you fly me out to Canada I'll do it myself.
  • 1 0
 @taprider: great idea. You could even challenge pros to ride it kind of like top gears celebrity challenge in a reasonably priced car. Given that it's not branded there would be no sponsors arcing up over their riders participating
  • 35 4
 Episode request...dorking out on setup. Not just suspension, but little stuff, how stiff your cleats are, how far in are your levers, anything like grip tape on shifters, bite point of breaks...all that stuff AND the explanation of why...'i just like it' not flying as a reason. We all talk about clicks, and psi, etc but I see so many people with the weirdest cockpit setups as one example, or seats clearly tilted wrong. I was having hand pain when climbing, I shifted my seat forward on a buddies suggestion and it made a huge difference...also...a female voice...it is 2020 Wink
  • 11 0
 Ooooooh, I like all this @brianpark
  • 1 0
 Show some bum bikes
  • 1 0
 Between timed comparison runs you need a calibration bike to cleanse your palates
Such as use your daily ride between test bikes to give some idea of how much variability there is.
There is probably a huge +/- for all the times
  • 33 0
 Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?

Answer: Because some people don't live in BC or the PNW.
  • 8 0
 Exactly Smile
  • 6 0
 Haha; poors.

j/k Sorry for your loss.
  • 13 0
 @mikelevy: Even in BC, many of us prefer BC XC bikes to ride more.
We don't need no stinking shuttles, lifts of EEE-bikes. We can ride to the ride and avoid busy trail heads.
  • 1 0
 @taprider: Why would you ride dirt sidewalks and hard climbs when you literally have the world's best DH and free ride. We should switch places lmao.
  • 1 0
 @DaFreerider44: When Taprider rides BC XC he does it on the same trails that would be double black in your neck of the woods, and probably covers big distance too. All on an 'xc' bike. He'd probably die of boredom in Cheesecountry. I'm just joking about the xc diss. Downspeccing travel and riding longer means you can hit more trails. I'm looking forward to the field test, given I just dropped down to a Fuel EX from a Slash, maybe in a couple of years I'll have the balls to choose a Top Fuel and ride the same trails.
  • 1 0
 @DaFreerider44: this is what I mean by "ride more"
www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/8554687

and if you want to include observed trials scoring, I didn't have many "fives" (including ups)
  • 1 0
 @taprider: Nice ride - I rode all the legal trails on Burke a couple of years ago in a single ride. Definitely going to add your Fromme ride to the future bucket list. A bit more of a pleasant climb than the Burke fireroad.
  • 1 0
 @nouseforaname: Yeah Wisco sucks. And honestly there wouldn't be much I wouldn't do to get out of here and ride BC, no matter what it is. I just tend to drift towards the DH and free ride stuff because there's none of it here.
  • 1 0
 @DaFreerider44: Just got back from a ride and was thinking what type of bike would it take to clean all sanctioned Fromme trails (trials rules)
Enduro would clean nearly 100% of the down (some trail erosion is why I don't say all), but would clean less up and wouldn't get as much total vertical.
Plus an Enduro would be overbiked for 99%
A different route with more easier climbs to do some doubleblacks down rather than up would result in 100% riding and no pushing, but that would be 700 m more vertical.
I don’t really need a different bike, I just need more balls
  • 2 0
 @nouseforaname: *cries in Ontario*
  • 25 4
 "Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?" - why is that a question? I mean this is an MTB site, might as well ask "why write about bikes?"
  • 10 0
 I agree, but we generally don't do a ton of cross-country stuff.
  • 6 0
 @mikelevy: But what you do, you're doing it right.
Not long ago,you would get a XC race bike and the first thing you would do was swapping bar/stem/tires/fork and make it a trail (now downcountry) bike.
Thank you for testing the bikes stock,flimsy tires,long stem and all.
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy: I am really happy you are doing this test. Thank you.
  • 1 0
 Ya there is really nothing to complain about regarding their coverage of this year's XCO circuit.
  • 1 0
 Oh yeah I'm looking forward to this test and pinkbike is providing great content, just thought it was slightly strange phrasing to announce a new field test Smile
  • 1 0
 You should do cross-country stuff and DH stuff....
  • 15 1
 For proper XC testing, the impossible climb must have a section of at least 15% gradient up a fall line (old school climbing), at least one log over (awkwardly spaced after another obstacle) and a washout full of sand/gravel, XC riders seem to love that sh!t... and maybe an e-bike with a dead battery to keep it modern.
  • 5 0
 Sounds like every Impossible Climb so far, but this one will need to be more difficult.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: fair point!
  • 13 0
 Cool stuff, I enjoy every episode! You should do a Podcast on the average day in the life of Levy (or Kazimer, or whoever). Also, potentially with a bit of substance on the inner workings of Pinkbike and all the things that go into making it a great and successful place to be.
  • 5 0
 I also like this idea @brianpark
  • 13 2
 Saying that the Specialized Enduro is an ‘incredible climber’ is like saying that a modern XC race bike is an ‘incredible descender.’

Sure, it climbs well for what it is... but it’s still a 32lb+ tank bike with tractor tires and a 50”+ wheelbase.
  • 7 1
 more cushion for the pushin
  • 5 0
 Relatively speaking, of course. For what it is, it's an amazing climber. Compared to something more well-rounded, not so much.
  • 11 1
 @Kazimer, as far as Lycra in the woods goes, it's not about aerodynamics. If your an XC racer you're putting in many hundreds of hard sweaty pedaly miles a month, the last thing you want is folds of cloths up in your business, doubles layers of liners plus baggies, and things flopping around all day. You want simple pockets in your jersey vs backpacks. You want to be able to unzip when you're dying hot on a hill. Granted, lycra looks un-cool, and has no place outside of XC training in the woods, but it's more practical than just aero gains on race day.
  • 5 0
 Also better for stowing, if you are planning on altering layers throughout the day, or bikepacking. Yeah, I also really hate folds harassing my junk. Plus, I wear lycra to be a rebel against the Fashion Police
  • 11 1
 @between, believe me, I spent plenty of years clad in the full sausage casing. These days I think it's pretty silly to go full spando in the woods if you're not racing, but to each their own.
  • 2 1
 Aero does matter in XC. There is a trainer roads episode with Keegan Swainson talks about wearing skinsuits and aero kits in races (Bonelli short track in this example)
  • 3 0
 @clink83: I matters in terms of seconds, which might be the difference between 1st and 3rd in an XCO race.

It's not much, but it's an extra 100 grams going up, and downhill speeds exceed 25 mph, and at that point aero actually matters.

Those two things combined aren't going to account for much more than 5 seconds in a 90 minute WC race, but races are won by less pretty often.
  • 2 0
 you really seem to not know the rules!; this very bad, please go ahead and check rule no. 18; also rule no.1 and rule no. 2; also and always rule no. 5!
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: aero matters on pretty much anytime you are going over 13mph. Also, XCO is not the only XC racing event.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: Dang. You're even more correct than me,

How proud are you?
  • 1 0
 There are good reasons why cycling clothing has evolved over the last 100 years to bibs and jerseys with pockets in the back. Function over form, I don't think anyone wears that stuff to look good. Though I do remember standing next to Susan Demattai in a skinsuit once. I would not mind doing that again.

Baggies are about style and vanity....but I still wear them when I'm hitting the brewery after the ride. Like I said. Vanity.

But seriously, what's with all the jerseys with no or unuseable pockets?
  • 1 1
 @rollingdip:
Whatever floats your boat man; I have castelli lycra everything..but, in the second I'm off my road bike or not racing a local amateur cross-country/marathon event, I don't wear them anymore. On my gravel, I use baggies and sometimes a lycra jersey..but on my mtbs, never(with the exception previosly mentioned..which does not really apply anymore as I have put the (amateur) xc races behind me and even sold my sub 10 kgs xc bike); it is a matter of respect and comfort not to ride like I'm ready to participate to a bdsm-latex-orgy. So, instead of my castellis, I use my trusted sombrio, endura, TLD and vaude. Any decent human should do the same.
  • 4 1
 The girls won't wear lycra if the boys don't.

I’ll take one for the team ;-)
  • 1 0
 @taprider:
I think they will wear lycra no matter what. My gf has baggies as well but she does not want to wear anything else. 99% of women are in lycra. I think they feel sexy wearing tight bycle clothing, especially since the models in the last years look really nice.
  • 7 0
 I'll just say the speed at which the top 10 WC XC riders climb, when seen up close and in person, is shocking.

Levy/Kaz would need every bit of the ebike to keep up and still be in tatters after race distance of a modern WC course.
  • 3 1
 I don't think it'd be easy, but an extra 250-watts would help. Wouldn't 500-watts for an hour and a half be enough, or nah? I hope so...
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy: probably yes, but don't forget your 500w will be pushing a 40 lbs. bike, and his 500w will be pushing a 20 lbs. bike. And you will also be expending more energy descending on that heavy bike, even if it has more travel...

That being said, I'd love to see it!
  • 1 0
 @krka73: And you will also be expending more energy descending on that heavy bike, even if it has more travel...

You say 'even if it has more travel' like bikes with more travel don't already expend more energy
  • 7 0
 I'd love to see a discussion on trail management and design and what changes as bikes become more and more capable. How much do trail builders need to consider future proofing when designing trails? Should old classics be updated with new challenges as bike technology and skills progress?

Most places have a limited budget and space for trail building and maintenance. If bikes keep becoming more and more capable, stuff that used to be pretty interesting is suddenly less so. How do we avoid "wasting" resources on something that might not be relevant in a few years?
  • 8 1
 We need a podcast, discussing the recent changes to STRAVA.

E-bikes kinda killed STRAVA for me. But the companies recent move to put its "segments, leader board" behind a pay wall. Really is the last nail in the coffin, as casual users will be exiting big time.
  • 9 0
 I’m hoping it will help locally with all the trail braids that these dorks going for PR’s and KOM’s keep creating.
  • 2 0
 Agree about Ebikes. I don't think Strava has the people power to address it though.
  • 6 0
 These have been fun to listen to. I have a follow up question I've been wondering about since the wheel size episode: In discussions of ideal wheel size, how come the "geometry" of the trail is so rarely mentioned as a deciding factor?

I see the rationale in choosing a wheel size relative to body size, but it seems to me body size is only part of the equation. The other factor is the trail. Particularly on trails with lots of jumps and berms, those features are built to specific "specs" and while wheel and bike size increase, the tightness or shortness of berms and lips decreases relative to the bike. An extreme example would be a large rider on a 26" DJ bike. A bigger bike would make sense relative to rider size, but not to the terrain. So they ride the 26". Seems like the nature of the trail and the way you want it to feel when you ride should be paramount, maybe even more important to choosing bike and wheels size than what's fastest or "fits" best. (If you argue that bike and wheel size increases are small enough that it's not a significant factor on most trails then the whole "bigger is better" sales pitch becomes a sham.) In my experience, bike and wheel size is best discussed in terms of characteristics and trade-offs, not in terms of better/worse or right/wrong. Lastly, are we seeing trail building evolve in the wake of bigger, longer bikes?

Disclaimer, this is not a veiled "26 for life" argument. I'm on an 2021 XL Sentinel and I love it. But dang it does feel really big and long sometimes.
  • 2 0
 100% agree. I'm on the "wheel size should be proportional to rider size" soapbox, but the second half of that equation is definitely "with the intended use and terrain in mind." If your intended use is moving the bike around an extreme amount (slopestyle), then having less wheel to move around makes more sense.

One interesting example of wheel size differences is watching 26" vs 20" wheels on concrete pumptracks, a fairly apples-to-apples comparison. The bigger wheels seem to hold their speed a lot better in the corners, while the 20s allow riders to push harder on the straights. (*not scientific, just what I have observed and what pumptrack racers have told me)
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: its angle of attack or whatever its called.

20” has much better angle of attack, so you can get more out of backside.

Cant girl pump rhythm on a 26 like you can on a 20.

Same reason theres less pop on bigger wheels. They flatten the angle changes (the derivative of the curve??) have to ask an engineer. But in a nutshell.
  • 1 0
 If "wheelsize was relative to the rider" then shouldn't 29ers have similar BB drop to a 27.5? That way everything would be to scale. But instead they have way bigger BB drop that puts the BB in the same height range as a 27.5, because the current brand of 29ers are at least being designed for everyone.
  • 7 0
 What obstacles should I put in for Levy to fail at the Impossible Climb this time around?
  • 3 0
 uphill, slimy skinny.
  • 28 0
 A rider who fell over on the trail. Nothing more XC-racing than that.
  • 5 0
 Donuts and cans of Monster. There’s no way he is passing that.
  • 5 0
 A couple small flat rocks, as in Switzerland on Humbled
  • 6 0
 @marc-c: To be fair, that bike was a sketchy thing with a 90mm stem and a 700mm wide handlebar. And I was with Nino, so cut me some slack, dawg Wink
  • 8 0
 @mikelevy: plot twist...the impossible climb for XC bikes is actually a descent...
  • 3 0
 @MikeyMT: They've all been descents that I climb up Wink
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: we're gonna need a judges ruling on that...lol.
  • 2 0
 @KeeganPelton: Oh man, yes. Also, random people screaming at the tester, "On your right!".
  • 4 0
 Large roots (or logs/branches) that just happen to be exactly one wheelbase apart. Seems like I always find those Wink
  • 2 0
 Bring him to Chilliwack and make him climb up tower road from the yarrow side. He will hate you for life!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: The best climbs are normally descents.
  • 1 0
 someone coming downhill on the climb yelling, "STRAVA!"
  • 1 0
 Poison Ivy, we have lots here and I'm always willing to share.
  • 8 0
 Grim donut huck to flat
  • 2 1
 No thanks.
  • 3 0
 Thanks for answering all my questions @mikelevy and Team =D

Its ok if you ignore my questions for the next weeks, but one day I think it would be an interesting discussion whose bike-skills you would like to have, if you could choose? (Similar to the one-bike-for-the-rest-of-the-life question) I am thinking of Semunik, MacAskill, or Gwin? I hope I didn´t miss the discussion if you had it earlier.
  • 6 0
 Embargoed bikes? New Epic? What else?
  • 4 0
 new Spark maybe
  • 3 0
 Spark RC, Spark, Anthem, Element, Oiz, could all be due. Rumors of an Ibis, but that seems like a long shot.
  • 1 0
 @UtahBrent: There are pictures of the new Epic out there.
  • 2 0
 I suspect a new XC bike from Scott, maybe new Epic ... these big companies were planning big for the Olympics so seems like an ideal time for new product.
In the podcast there was mention of 'Win on Sunday equals sales on Monday'. Unfortunately - supply chain for bikes never seems to work like that. New Scott gets announced in June, orders open up in late July/August, product arrives in January when I have 2 feet of snow.... Strange but true.
  • 2 0
 @UtahBrent: Oiz was changed at the end of 2018...I should know, I had the 2018 model and then the 2019 one in pretty flowers custom colors Smile ) to make a new one after only two years would be crazy, especially since the numbers are still pretty good, looking at reach, WB and STA.
What should be looked are the models that are around 3-4 years old(like the ones from Scott and Spez) and race the XCO world cup; that means, Bianchi, Merida, BH, Focus, Ghost...BMC I think no because they changed the bike last year.., Bulls, Kross, maybe KTM..., who else?
  • 2 0
 @Augustus-G:
Yeah..found it. Looks really nice in that candy red frame with matching red SID and with the new rovals released yesterday.
  • 3 0
 In MTBR land, there's rumors of an SB115 (or whatever the SB100 will become). I also want my new diet Smuggler...that I've been requesting for about 1.5yrs.
  • 1 0
 @smartyiak: Love to see the SB100 considered in this test even if there isn't a new version, though since they did a review last year, unlikely.
  • 2 0
 For this field test, it would be interesting to include a tester who isn't an overly skilled or in shape rider, just to see how their times and impressions compare. Depending on the course, I'd expect more skilled, more fit riders to be fastest on the XC race bikes, while I doubt that would be the case for someone who doesn't pick great lines, is too tired to stay light on the saddle while climbing, etc.
  • 1 0
 Most likely you'll always be faster on an XC bike on XC trails if it's properly fitted. You spend most of your time climbing no matter what.
  • 2 1
 @clink83: I'm unsure. I find that when I'm fatigued, I can do technical climbs faster on my 160mm bike than on my hardtail. I think it's mainly because I'm riding sloppier, which is what I'd expect from a less experienced, less in-shape rider. It's easier to maintain traction on with more suspension while riding sloppy.
  • 1 0
 @DaneL: the majority of XC climbing, even at the highest level where we are seeing more aggressive courses, is still (relatively) smooth. Yes, there are technical climbs, but even on bumpier stuff you’re not going quite as fast and having the extra travel isn’t super necessary. You also have to consider the kind of XC bike. If you take a 100mm hardtail out to a chunky course with lots of techy rock climbs, then a less skilled rider may very well be faster on a big squish. Take them out on a full suspension XC bike though, whether it be 100 or 120, and the advantages over the big bike would be stark.
  • 1 0
 @DaneL: I am in terrible shape and I can go twice as long on my HT, rather than the big bike. 40 minutes, I am sucking down water and breathing hard. On the hardtail I go for lap two.
I live in flat XC country and have to drive to ride big descent.
  • 1 0
 I will be the sacrificial lamb and volunteer for this position!
  • 1 0
 @DaneL I think that if you test bikes for a living, you end up fittest and more skilled than any average joe's
  • 1 0
 @Becciu: That's my point. The more fit I get and the more I progress as a rider, the more my taste in bikes changes. It would just be interesting to have a guest reviewer who could give the perspective of a more novice rider.
  • 1 0
 @DaneL: Interesting but hardly feasable.
Pinkbike comments crowd often whine at capable testers 'cause "It's more an opinion than journalism" or "you haven't stressed that poor thing to death, so how can you dare to call it a long term review?"
How can you expect them to react to something that may go like: "yeah midway up my legs refused to turn anymore so I had to walk the bike and BTW even before i was so cooked i don't remember exactly how the bike's feel on the ascents"?
  • 2 0
 I love the podcast! I find myself looking forward to it every week. I love the chemistry you guys have! I would like to hear more from James. I do notice that it Levy seems sometime "irritate" Brian and Mike K - I'd love to hear more about your guy's history together and some anecdotes.
  • 3 0
 Thanks, @earache. Levy and I have been working together for 8 years now - at this point we're like an old married couple. We'll work on incorporating some good stories into future episodes.
  • 6 1
 No more excuses why the Grim Donut hasn't been reviewed.
  • 8 0
 Because I haven't done it yet.
  • 2 0
 If you guys have some metal, a welder, plate weights, and a caliper for measuring, you could make a rigidity tester like this: openscholarship.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1073&context=mems411
  • 2 0
 Great question, but a better question would be "why are we not doing a DH bike field test." After all, what type of bike has undergone the biggest changes in the last two years?
  • 8 1
 I'm not sure if DH bikes have seen the most changes/advancements, to be honest. I think I might give that to trail bikes, but not sure. On the other hand, there are far fewer DH bikes out there than anything else, and far fewer people who ride only DH compared to the other disciplines.

But we'll probably get into a DH Field Test at some point in the future Smile
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: dh ft!!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Agreed, though might be interesting to get a bunch of pro's team bikes and ride them in their preferred set up?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: That's what I like to hear! However, in defense of DH bike numbers, you see way more DH bikes than XC bikes in Southern California. On trails at least. I see XC bikes on roads, both dirt and paved, but rarely on singletrack. In fact, yesterday at my local XC trail, a truck of teenagers with DH and one enduro bike pulled up! Everyone else riding were on trail or enduro. I almost never see any lycra. The ski resort bike park is about 40% DH, 40% enduro and 20% old bikes of undetermined category (but most would probably be considered XC by modern geo standards).
  • 1 0
 have aluminum frames been getting heavier? Back in the day there were fancy tubesets with various marketing names: ZR9000, easton scandium, etc... now there are hydroformed swoopy. Are they any lighter? Stiffer?

Why do gravel bikes suck? There is one bike (Otso) that I can put 29" MTB tires on without having to have a 2nd wheelset. Optimize the geometry for the big tires, and it will still handle well in less demanding applications on narrow tires...
  • 2 1
 Hydroformed is heavier, but has fewer welds. All those BITD superlight tubesets cracked. Scandium frames had a 1 year warranty vs 5+ years that was common on aluminum.
  • 2 0
 I for one welcome more XC bike reviews. I live in Florida and spend my riding with both wheels on the ground. A 100 or 120mm XC bike is the best way to have fun here without driving an hour+ to different trails.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy I think a great way to test old school vs new school XC bikes would be to test Norco Revolver 2020 vs the previous model. The test (in my opinion) should be set up like this:

The same wheels, tires, groupset, and brakes on both bikes.
2 test loops, one that resembles more on XC courses 6-7 years ago and one that resembles on Tokio XC course.
Different bike setups:

1. Old revolver with a dropper
2. New revolver (100 mm) with a dropper
3. Old revolver without a dropper (rigid seatpost)
4. New revolver (120 mm) with a dropper
5. Old revolver without a dropper weighted to match the weight of the new revolver (100 mm) with a dropper
6. Old revolver without a dropper weighted to match the weight of the new revolver (120 mm) with a dropper
7. New revolver (100 mm) without a dropper

Obviously, powermeter and heart rate monitor would be a mast in this kind of test.
An additional layer of complexity would be two test riders:
1. One with old school XC background
2. One more orientated towards DH disciplines (DH, Enduro, etc) but still fit enough so she/he can pedal.

I totally understand the challenges of this kind of test, but I think it would shed some much-needed light on old school vs new school XC bike debate.

Stay healthy Smile
  • 3 0
 Looking forward to seeing an O.G. Process 111 in the xc field test. Wouldn't be surprised if that 8 year old design holds its own (or at least comes close).
  • 1 0
 @brianpark and @mikelevy , if your looking for somewhere to test them, I know a place here in the Fraser Valley on private land that has a hill and privately made cross country type trails. I could get permission to get in and then it would be completely private place to film/test. There is a 10 KM race track that could be used. Lots of up and down single track in the trees!!

As an added bonus I have tonnes of free time now in June and can be "the beginner/intermediate-ish rider perspective person" so other newbies can relate to the tests.
  • 1 0
 I should mention that I also still have my old 2000 Nukeproof XC bike with Judy Race for the fork if you feel like adding an old school bike to the test. Can you believe I rode that in the Whistler Bike Park more than once????
  • 1 0
 Very curious on choice of Trek XC whips. Why SuperCaliber over Top Fuel? Maybe I am misinterpreting Trek's marketing spiel and/or Dan Sapp's review, but the SuperCaliber seems more in line with the XC hardtail that you say will serve as a low-end outlier in the test than it does with the modern short-travel bikes (Scalpel SE, new 120/120 Epic, recently reviewed Spot Ryve 115). The Top Fuel is more in line with those bikes in terms of travel and geo numbers, and since it's historically been Trek's race platform, it's a good example of the direction that XC bikes are going.
  • 1 0
 You won’t keep up on an e-bike because...
They only put out 250W. Even an average MTBer hits peaks at more than that. It’s the peaks you can’t keep up with. Above 250W e-bikes become a 20+kg unpowered bike.
I did a long demo ride on a Gen 1 Levo a couple years back. Mate and I trying to race each other. Avg 160 HR. When you really push them you hit the stops pretty quick.
  • 1 0
 I was wondering why there are no more full carbon wheels for mountain biking. The old Tioga carbon threaded thing seems cool. Wouldn't the physics of a solid mass wheel be in favor of a rider? Faster momentum and stiffness up the wahzoo.
  • 1 0
 Finally managed to listen to the Podcast. Apologies if this has already been posited. I want to know why aren't you measuring anything on the bike when it comes to pedaling efficiency. If you really want to see whether or not the shock moves under pedaling load then you should place a potentiameter on a rocker link or a pivot point. If you don't have the means to place strain guages / load sensors on the relevant points, you can try those shock wiz shock telemetry thing-a-ma-jigs. It should be way way easy for PINKBIKE to get their hands on some type of shock telemetry tool. If you look at the shock data and your power data, the peaks in the shock movement will correlate with the peaks in the pedaling load etc...

Another idea is to mount a GoPro and have it face the shock, and place some kind of sticker on the shock body and one the stanchion and you should be able to see the distance between the two stickers change as the suspension moves. Besides these videos will make great antisquat videos to accompany huck to flat videos.

Test Procedures would be to find an asphalt road with a slight grade and make runs in the seated position and out of the saddle position. BONUS: after making a run up the slight grade, turn around and coast to a reasonable speed and try make a full stop, and voila now you have brake-dive / anti-rise data Big Grin

Just my 2 cents to take rider performance variance out of the pedaling efficiency equation.
  • 4 0
 Huck to Flat! How many bikes will break this time?
  • 4 0
 Cycling Tips should have done a huck to flat thing with the gravel bike group test.
  • 1 0
 @Ron-C: agreed. We offered the Phantom we rented while we were down there, but they ran out of time. We'll make for a less hectic schedule next time they have the gravel bikes out.
  • 1 1
 @brianpark: How about a quick and dirty review of the Phantom? I know it wasn't a proper long-term test period — or even a test period at all — but some thoughts please.
  • 4 0
 Axes (ax-ees) is the plural of axis
  • 1 0
 AXS'eses
  • 1 0
 Axesses?
  • 2 0
 Fox is killing it with their Dialed series. As a Rockshox fan, are they looking into something like that. Def would like to see what they come up with
  • 2 0
 @TheGru: Killer questions.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: wasn't this one of the downsides of the RN01 - the extra drag of the chain constantly running and getting snagged in it? I get it has some advantages but more downsides.

As a side note a podcast on gearboxes would be good. Their development to date and where they could theoretically go and what suggestions you would make to companies looking to make a gearbox / how frame manufacturers deal with them. The alternative is something like nsmb.com/articles/dr-strange-hub-or-how-i-learned-love-gearbox
  • 2 0
 Why are the internal diameter of XC rims getting so wide? Is the rolling speed/tire shape better between e.g 25mm and 29mm? I've heard the sidewall support argument, but then Loic runs 25mm ID rims and we all now how hard and fast he pushes things. Strong work on the podcast!
  • 3 0
 So cool, can't wait for it.
  • 3 0
 Looking forward to the efficiency tests as well as the general reviews.
  • 2 0
 Fingers crossed for Evil Following, Forbidden Druid, Banshee Phantom, Knolly Fugitive.
  • 3 2
 What do those bikes have to do with this topic?
  • 2 1
 They're testing an XC group and a Downcountry group. Those are 115-120mm downcountry bikes, unfamiliar models perhaps. Druid is trail, just wanted to see it tested lol. Something more pedally then for the 4th pick then like Trance, Ripley, SynonymTR.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: Thanks Kaz, you're the man. I'll take that as the Phantom and Following are in the test hahaha
  • 4 0
 @mobiller, ha, not this time. The bikes we've got in there are so new they haven't even been released yet. Secrets. Shhhh...
  • 2 1
 @50percentsure: I don't quite understand how a 150/135mm bike like the Fugitive belongs in a category with 120/100mm bikes.
  • 2 0
 @LeDuke: Fugitive is a 120mm travel bike. You're thinking of the Fugitive LT, the one that PB tested above.
  • 2 2
 @50percentsure: Point being, that bike has nothing to do with up-forked XC race bikes with longer bars, shorter stems and a dropper. I mean, it has two wheels, and rides on dirt, but that's really about it.
  • 2 0
 @LeDuke: Confusion may be from not listening to the podcast? After discussing the XC test, they discuss the Downcountry test. "In the Downcountry category we will have the Scapel SE (120mm bike) as well as 3 or 4 others". I'm just randomly speculating on what this category will include. Excited for both categories!
  • 2 1
 @mobiller: Oh, I listened to the podcast. I just don't know what these other bikes (Fugitive, Druid, Phantom, Following) have to do with this category. They certainly aren't "downcountry" bikes, as Mike Levy has previously defined them, way back in 2018. "Picture a Specialized Epic, Trek Top Fuel, Rocky Mountain Element, or Cannondale Scalpel; all bikes would be at home toeing the line of a cross-country race. And now picture them with wide handlebars, 50mm stems, long-stroke party posts, and big rubber inflated to maybe 20psi on relatively wide rims." www.pinkbike.com/news/what-the-heck-is-a-down-country-bike-opinion.html
  • 2 0
 Levy and Kazimer - time do a proper ramp test, measure watts per KG, and then continue to talk shot in who is faster.
  • 1 0
 love the reference to the banshee morphine in the podcast...i had one set up with an adjustable boxxer. i loved that bike but it is ridiculous to think about.
  • 1 0
 Listed twice, and recognize embargoes may have something to do with this, but I didn't hear a when for when we can expect to see the Field Test?
  • 2 1
 Also do an impossible climb test and watch the enduro crush everything even if it's slower.
  • 2 0
 I'll save the Enduro for last Wink
  • 2 0
 Can't wait! New Race Bikes! Put through the PinkBike Pains.
  • 2 0
 Ya'll forgot about Box Components if you want alternate drive trains.
  • 1 0
 I’ve ridden Box One 11 speed, it’s pretty good. At least as good as Shimano SLX.
  • 2 0
 So, test results out in... November? ; )
  • 2 0
 So stoked to be chosen for PB academy!!!
  • 1 0
 I like the idea and selection of the XC bikes, you all do a nice podcast keep up the good work!
  • 2 0
 Loving these podcasts! Thanks Guys!
  • 2 0
 Next podcast: Why are we covering e-mopeds?
  • 4 6
 Hey Mike, I have a request:

I typically lose focus and/or don't have time to listen to an hour long podcast...

So how about limiting length to thirty minutes and maybe break out the segments into narrower topics?
  • 12 2
 Honestly I'm completely the other end of the spectrum, I'd be happy to push to 2 hours on a podcast. I find it easy enough to just pause it when I want to take a break and then go back 30 seconds when I click play again.
  • 3 0
 How about two 30 min podcast combined into a one hour package?
  • 1 0
 These podcasts are the absolute dream
  • 1 0
 Fellas; Show notes for all the cool stuff you talk about...
  • 1 0
 Comment Gold for me!
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