WELCOME TO THE 2022 PINKBIKE
ENDURO BIKE FIELD TEST
7 New Enduro Bikes
Words by Mike Levy, photography by Dave Trumpore
We've done a lot of Field Tests by this point, and while all of them are interesting in their own way, from value performance to short-travel trail bikes, it's the enduro edition that usually garners the most interest. That makes all the sense in the world when you consider how capable and well-rounded these long-travel bikes have become, but also because it's often where we see some exciting out-of-the-box thinking. Sure, they need to descend well, of course, but as our test fleet proves, there are a whole bunch of different ways to get that job done.
This time around we've got seven of the latest and most interesting examples, from ultra-rare steel that's welded in the US to all the carbon fiber to an aluminum bike that punches well above its price tag.
While the short-travel and value-minded Field Tests we do are great and all, can we agree that it's the enduro bike episodes that are the most interesting? Modern enduro bikes are wildly capable machines that seem too long, too slack, and too soft to ever impress us on a climb but, as these seven examples showed us, that's far from the case. Instead, most offer impressively well-rounded performance that won't drain your soul over a 4,000ft climb but also all the downhill performance you could ever ask for on the way back down.
But each of these seven bikes does that a little differently, from the terrain-leveling Contra to the do-it-all La Sal Peak.
How Do We Choose the Bikes?
Unlike some of our other Field Tests where the categories can be a bit hazy, it's pretty straightforward when it comes to the criteria for this round: they just need to be enduro bikes. But beyond that, we always want to be testing the newest and most interesting machines, and I think that Kazimer has done a good job on that front.
The new Megatower, Meta SX, Fezzari, and Patrol Carbon are safe bets if you're looking for a new bike that's sure to check all the enduro boxes, but what if you want something a bit more exotic and a lot less common?
Intense's very red Tracer might be just the ticket, while Contra's wild-looking MC, a steel virtual high-pivot bike with all the chain and the best rootbeer paint job ever, is sure to turn some heads. And if you want your high-pivot idler bike in carbon fiber, we've also got the new Deviate Claymore to compare to the US-made Contra; which one would you choose?
Yes, these bikes are really expensive, but that's why we also do our Value Bike Field Tests that see us focus on bang for your buck.
I bet you already know how these Field Tests go by now: laps, laps, and more back-to-back laps on our test bikes. Matt Beer, Alicia Leggett, and Mike Kazimer did exactly that for two weeks in Bellingham, interrupted only by burritos and swapping bikes to go do some more laps. Unlike our standard long-form written reviews, Field Tests are all about comparing the bikes to each other on the same terrain and trails, on the same day, and in the same conditions.
Staying on the 'same' theme, all of the bikes have been fitted with matching Continental Kryptotal tires front and back so that none are at an advantage just because it comes with stickier rubber. This way, we're thinking about handling and suspension performance rather than worrying about how a tire we don't have confidence in will handle that nasty section of wet off-camber roots.
And speaking of roots, big bikes deserve big terrain and that's exactly what they saw while being tested in Bellingham, Washington. While there was definitely some climbing to do, our focus was to point these bikes down terrain worthy of their suspension and geometry, so they saw plenty of steep lines, rough trails, and questionable decisions.
Enduro bikes are (mostly) designed for enduro racing, and even if the large majority of them never see a start line we still wanted to know which of our seven test rigs was the quickest when the clock was running. I'll always put more weight on subjective feedback if I'm honest, but a bike that feels fast isn't always fast, which is why we end up timing a whole bunch of our riding as well.
Impossible Climb, (No) Efficiency Test, & Huck to Flat
Let's be honest: we're all here to watch the Huck to Flat video. Sadly, you'll have to wait until we get through all the reviews to see Matt Beer bottom-out all these bikes in mega-slow-mo on a pancake-flat landing. In the meantime, we skipped the Efficiency Test this time around due to time constraints, and while I assume a lot of people will be sad to not have a riveting ten-minute video about pedaling efficiency to watch, you'll still get to see how these enduro machines fared on a wet and tricky Impossible Climb.
There are also the roundtable videos, of course, that see Kazimer, Matt, and Alicia answer some tough questions about which bikes they liked the most and which ones they liked the least.
Mike Kazimer, Alicia Leggett, and Matt Beer spent two weeks testing our seven enduro bikes in ideal PNW conditions: rain, mud, and plenty of wet rocks and roots to keep everyone on their toes. As always, testing was spread between all three of them so that we have different perspectives on how the bikes performed.
And while there's definitely some agreement about many things, the team also has differing takes on what they're looking for from an enduro bike and why (or why not) some make more sense than others for how they ride.
5'10" / 178 cmWeight:
170 lb / 77 kgNotes:
Tech editor, allergic to everything
5'11" / 180cmWeight:
160 lbs / 72.6 kgNotes:
Managing tech editor, noted alien skeptic
5'10" / 178 cmWeight:
148 lb / 67 kgNotes:
News / tech / whatever editor
While this may come as a surprise to you, the truth is that I don't know how to use a video camera or iMovie. Thankfully, Satchel Cronk, Max Baron, Lear Miller, and Dave Trumpore not only know how to do that stuff, they know how to do it really well because we wouldn't have any of these videos or photos without them working roughly ten-times as hard as the people in front of the camera.
A Field Test series takes two to three weeks to film, but that's only half the battle - the videos still need to be edited, including removing all the gaffs and wrong things that I said, which takes weeks of work in a small dungeon lit by a single lightbulb at PB HQ.
Which bikes are you most interested in?
The 2022 Enduro Bike Field Test was made possible thanks to Rapha and POC, and thanks to Continental for supplying control tires for all the bikes.