Welcome to the 2020 Pinkbike Field Test - Cross-Country Bike Edition

Jul 23, 2020 at 11:41
by Mike Levy  


WELCOME TO THE 2020
PINKBIKE XC FIELD TEST
9 cross-country and down-country bikes ridden and rated


Words by Mike Levy, photography by Margus Riga


There are days when, if your only view of mountain biking was through Pinkbike, you might think that no one has less than 160mm of travel or ever hits the trails without kneepads. We all know that's not the case, though, and the truth is that cross-country bikes vastly out-sell all other types, despite what it might look like around these parts. And if you're thinking, ''But Levy, why would I buy a bike that tries to kill me on the downhills just because it's faster on the uphills,'' I'm right there with you. Thing is, the latest generation of cross-country bikes aren't anything like the old skittery flyweights synonymous with the fitness-focused slice of our sport.

No, these are entirely new animals that, thanks to ever-evolving geometry, components, and materials, are far more capable than some of us might expect. And we're here to review nine of the latest and most interesting examples of the breed; four are made to be as light, efficient, and as fast as possible for the racecourse, while the other five are what certain people might refer to as "down-country" bikes.


Cross-country Field Test
The latest generation of cross-country bikes are still all about crushing the climbs, but they should also be far more capable on the way back down. We tested nine examples to find out if that's true.


The race-focused rigs have only 100mm of travel (or less, in the case of the 60mm Supercaliber), and because cross-country racers spend more time going up than down, you'll find things like suspension lock-outs that turn off both the fork and shock, steeper geometry, and only the lightest of components grace their spec sheets. The heaviest race rig on test, Canyon's aging Lux, weighed just 22.5lb. Downright chunky, I know.

On the fun-focused side of the mountain, we have five bikes with a bit more travel and a lot more capability that, truth be told, has next to nothing to do with an extra 10 or 20mm of suspension. Instead, it's coming from brands combining (mostly) progressive geometry with newly capable suspension and a clever parts spec that keeps aggressive types happy (wide handlebars, short stems, powerful brakes, etc.) without adding too much heft. And talk about different perspectives; while the race bikes are straight forward in their approach, every brand seems to have a different idea of what down-country means. The results are wildly dissimilar on the trail.


Cross-country Field Test
There was a lot of this...
Cross-country Field Test
But plenty of this as well.


Those nine cross-country and down-country bikes, along with a couple of guest appearances by the Grim Donut and a race-y hardtail for some perspective, saw endless miles of testing over the last month here in Squamish, BC, and below is how we did it.


4 Cross-Country Race Bikes

Cross-country Field Test 2020
Trek Supercaliber 9.9
• Travel: 60mm rear, 100mm front
• 29" wheels
• 69° head-tube angle
• Reach: 440mm (medium)
• Weight: 21.5lb
• $9,499 USD
Cross-country Field Test 2020
Canyon Lux CF SLX 9.0 Team
• Travel: 100mm rear, 100mm front
• 29" wheels
• 70° head-tube angle
• Reach: 435mm (medium)
• Weight: 22.5lb
• $6,999 USD

Cross-country Field Test 2020
Specialized Epic S-Works
• Travel: 100mm rear, 100mm front
• 29" wheels
• 67.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 445mm (medium)
• Weight: 21.21lb
• $11,525 USD
Cross-country Field Test 2020
Cannondale Scalpel Hi-MOD Ultimate
• Travel: 100mm rear, 100mm front
• 29" wheels
• 68° head-tube angle
• Reach: 435mm (medium)
• Weight: 21.97lb
• $12,000 USD



5 Down-Country Bikes

Cross-country Field Test 2020
Specialized Epic EVO S-Works
• Travel: 110mm rear, 120mm front
• 29" wheels
• 66.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 460mm (large)
• Weight: 21.88lb
• $11,525 USD
Cross-country Field Test 2020
Transition Spur X01
• Travel: 120mm rear, 120mm front
• 29" wheels
• 66° head-tube angle
• Reach: 480mm (large)
• Weight: 24.74lb
• $5,999 USD

Cross-country Field Test 2020
Yeti SB115 T2
• Travel: 115mm rear, 130mm front
• 29" wheels
• 67.6° head-tube angle
• Reach: 450mm (large)
• Weight: 27.17lb
• $6,900 USD
Cross-country Field Test 2020
Revel Ranger X01
• Travel: 115mm rear, 120mm front
• 29" wheels
• 67.5° head-tube angle
• Reach: 473mm (large)
• Weight: 26.23lb
• $7,199 USD USD

Cross-country Field Test 2020
Cannondale Scalpel SE1
• Travel: 120mm rear, 120mm front
• 29" wheels
• 67° head-tube angle
• Reach: 450mm (large)
• Weight: 25.27lb
• $5,500 USD


How We Tested



Evaluating different mountain bikes properly calls for a ton of back-to-back riding, and that's especially true if we're going to compare them against each other, which is exactly what the Field Test series is all about. So that's how we did it, with each bike facing the same 20-minute-ish course over and over again during the last four weeks, a course that was carefully selected to tell us as much as possible about how the bikes perform.

While the lap is relatively short for testing purposes, the climbing added up after a month of doing it over and over again.




The bottom of our test lap was wider, smoother singletrack climbing that put a focus on speed and efficiency, but that transitioned to steep, tighter trail about halfway up the mountain that, with our near non-stop rain, challenged both the bikes and ourselves. The climb took up about three-quarters of our 20-minute lap, followed by a descent that, while not overstepping what these cross-country bikes are capable of, definitely taxed their suspension and handling.

Subjective feel will always be the biggest factor in our reviews, but we also had the clock running each and every time we went out; timed sections were split into the bottom half of the climb, the more technical upper half of the climb, and the descent.


Cross-country Field Test
You know, just your average cross-country terrain here in southwestern BC.


A lot of our testing is (and always will be) us simply riding the hell out of the bikes and then telling you all about it, but it never hurts to sprinkle in a bit of science to the process. Actually, calling it bro-science is probably more accurate. And yes, it turns out that it does hurt - our Efficiency Test required me to do countless laps up a steep gravel road while holding a steady 300-watts on all nine test bikes (as well as a hardtail and the Grim Donut for some perspective) to see which suspension design stole the fewest of my meager ponies over a timed course. There was a clear winner and a very, very clear loser; any guesses?

The Impossible Climb is back, of course, partly because I obviously didn't get enough climbing when I did that godforsaken Efficiency Test, but also because these are cross-country bikes and, well, tricky uphills are precisely what they should excel at. That's why this episode of the Impossible Climb was the most difficult I've ever faced, even if there were no cactus for me to fall into.


Cross-country Field Test
Which way to the start line?!


And speaking of falling, their cross-country focus doesn't give these bikes a free pass on the Huck to Flat, either, although we did down-size our take-off ramp slightly. No, we're certainly not aiming to break any of them (despite what it might have looked like in the past), but we do want to show you what's happening to the bikes when they use all of their suspension travel. To do that, we brought out the Phantom camera for those ultra-slow-mo glory shots that I know you want to see.

As you might imagine, watching a 21lb cross-country machine use up what little cushioning it offers and then a whole bunch more at 1,000 frames-per-second is quite revealing and, depending on your armchair opinion, maybe a bit worrying. Speaking of being worried, we also included the Grim Donut in the slow-motion smorgasbord, and while it survived, the footage is a bit unnerving.


Photo by Trevor Lyden
Sarah Moore
Height: 5'7" / 170cm
Weight: 160 lbs / 72.6 kg
Notes: Content manager, too fast to be so nice
Photo by Trevor Lyden
Mike Levy
Height: 5'10" / 178 cm
Weight: 155 lb / 70.3 kg
Notes: Tech editor, gas station snack connoisseur


All nine of our review bikes were equipped with identical sets of control tires - a Schwalbe Racing Ralph out back and a Racing Ray on the front - so we could eliminate a variable that has a massive effect on performance. Tire pressures were consistent, too, which allowed us to focus on the handling and suspension, and to compare the bikes on more equal footing. Aside from that, they were kept completely stock, including handlebars, stems, seat posts (whether they drop or not), and everything else.

Oh, and one last thing to note: While I did grow to love the sausage suit, I'd like to personally apologize for the amount of Lycra you're about to be subjected to in the coming videos.




The 2020 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with clothing, protection, and support from Giro. Control tires provided by Schwalbe, and power meters provided by SRM. Filming took place at The Backyard pub in Squamish.





575 Comments

  • 194 7
 Some real bargains in there...
  • 147 5
 The Lux is only $7k! Basically free Smile
  • 24 1
 @mikelevy: at that point its like they are paying you to take it - what a steal!
  • 12 3
 @mikelevy: Free like the nipples!
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: even if I got a 'lux' discount code on that dale...5k still make my eyes bleed
  • 43 1
 @pbuser2299: I knew I should have worn my pasties... Ugh.
  • 3 1
 @mikelevy: Never leave home without them.
  • 7 8
 how can you even compare a $11.5k bike to a $6k bike?? Pinkbike with the even comparisons....
  • 59 2
 Of course if these were all bottom-level "bargain" builds the the top comment would be "no XC race bike can weigh this much, these are basically enduro bikes, PB hates XC!"

Light weight is a key aspect of these designs. Light is expensive. I say let the whippets be whippets.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: How about tire patches?
  • 2 1
 @avg-roadie: geometry testing
  • 3 1
 @mikelevy: next time go full bedazzler. own it!
  • 17 1
 Sadly, when you start seeing shops offering financing over 3 years you know a lot of bikes are out of people's budget. Frown
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: I would never combine chamois cream and pasties, just my thoughts.
Sharp trough Mikey you look fast standing still.
  • 39 1
 @mikelevy: i'm not reading through 348 comments to see if some one else already said this:
Pinkbike needs an XC/DC t-shirt
  • 21 4
 When the Yeti looks cheap you know things are crazy. Big Grin
  • 1 0
 *&
  • 2 0
 @avg-roadie: easy, you just eliminate the distributors
  • 6 0
 When did they say this was a test of bargain bikes?
  • 6 3
 @avg-roadie: How can a bicycle even cost $11.5k??
  • 2 25
flag carlosldegonzalez (Jul 27, 2020 at 18:01) (Below Threshold)
 Exactly! I will consider reading PB articles when I see a 3k bike comparison...
  • 2 3
 @sospeedy: because it costs money to develop them, make them, and market them?
  • 12 1
 @sospeedy: maybe because they're cross country race bikes? Look at the price difference between your car and a F1 race car
  • 25 0
 @brianpark: Hey! Loving the content. You guys are the Radness.

I do have one request though. Please, in the name of love and everything that is good, sensible and base-10, please, please, please list bike weights in both pounds and kgs. You have for the riders, but not the bikes. It does my weak little head in.

Yours in expectant admiration.
  • 2 0
 @sospeedy: It's a lot, could argue that it's unproportionaly too much compared to lower models or compared to a MX or Enduro motorbike that you can buy. But it's race spec and an MX race bike is 3 or even more times the price of an off the shelf not to even compare to the price difference of a street superbike or MotoGP bike (plus you can't buy it anyways).
  • 3 0
 @vid1998:
I was under the impression that a real racing mx is from 50k to 100k per pcs.
  • 3 0
 @eugenux: You start throwing high end carbon and titanium parts at anything, and it get's pricey real quick.
  • 2 0
 @pbuser2299: Meet the Parents: "I have nipples. Can you milk me?"
  • 1 0
 @sospeedy:
Marginal gains all over the bike. They can add up to a big difference overall, but your wallet might not agree.
  • 2 1
 @chris-brown225: Or say these bikes and a moto, oops the motos are less in some cases, and they had to do R@D on an engine, so not buying that argument,

Marketing marketing and marketing.

Its how the world works
  • 1 1
 @clink83:
They will also need to replace quite a few of these frames under warranty, so that's also part of the equation.
  • 2 0
 @lake-st: don't know a lot about motos but it seems like they go from like $3000 to about $10000 depending upon the components which is roughly the same as mountain bikes. I don't know if MX bikes are made out of carbon but I imagine not and carbon is expensive. MX bikes have up to 450cc so weight isn't really an issue, really light components are expensive to make. Not saying 10000 is cheap and I definitely wouldn't spend that much on a bike but I can totally see where the number comes from and if you're winning an hour and a half long XC race by a handful of seconds 100g weight saving makes the difference
  • 2 0
 @chris-brown225: Sorry this comment will be marked as inappropriate. Way too reasonable.
  • 147 3
 When the Yeti is one of the lower priced bikes, something is wrong.
  • 13 2
 Yay time to look at bikes i'll never buy
  • 33 3
 For all the Yeti hate, they’re “entry level” builds are better specced than a lot of bigger brands at around $5k. That’s not cheap, but you get a good build down to Ergon grips, Maxxis tires and a Fox dropper.
  • 5 3
 @peleton7: if you want to go full dentist you can get a live valve equipped pivot mach 4 sl...i think they are what 12-15k? Yikes.
  • 3 0
 @DaFreerider44: Welcome to My Pinkbike Life. Big Grin
  • 4 5
 @clink83: Yeah, but dentists usually self identify as XC riders and roll on Niners. Not sure where the "dentist bro" with a Pivot or a Yeti thing came from, but living a couple hours from the HQ for Yeti, Niner, GG (and some other Front Range brands) the actual dentists I see on the trails are most often on Niners. And every brand has a 10k+ build these days.....I guess it's awesome if you want a barely used 2 year old 10k bike for 3-4k off Boulder CraigsList.
  • 4 2
 Because everybody is afraid to go to a Dentist during Covid so they are low on budged at the moment
  • 2 7
flag nfontanella (Jul 27, 2020 at 17:01) (Below Threshold)
 @peleton7: where I live, it's always dentist's on an sb150 or a nomad getting off their bikes and walking around a 2 foot drop
  • 2 6
flag MikeAzBS (Jul 27, 2020 at 17:15) (Below Threshold)
 The dentist's will be so upset when they lose the max price category
  • 17 0
 @nfontanella: Who cares man, they are out on their bikes having fun. If they want to spend their hard earned cash on nice things then kudos to them.
  • 1 0
 @peleton7: their build under 5000 are embarassing. i love how they look but really overpriced with no reason. dozens of brands out there with par or better quality but much more price effective specs.
  • 98 5
 If the grim donut survives the huck to flat, that’s even more embarrassing for Pole.
  • 84 5
 Appreciate the XC content! Count me amongst the minority of devoted readers who are much more interested in the lycra side of MTB.
  • 2 11
flag lake-st (Jul 28, 2020 at 4:31) (Below Threshold)
 My bet is Mike can do equally well on the impossible climb in Lycra as in Baggies, its whats between your legs that counts, both bike and balls.
  • 3 0
 @lake-st: Well yah. It's a 30-60 second climb that he's trying to get to the top of once. You'll see an actual difference if you put him in a 90min XC race.
  • 6 1
 You definitely are in the minority here. Not because of XC, but you can actually read. Wink
  • 5 0
 @lake-st: I can fall over regardless of what I'm wearing haha
  • 47 0
 Epic Evo looks so hot, sub 22lb with dropper, 66.5 head angle, two bottle cages, looks like an all-day ripper, can't wait to see the reviews.

The biggest problem I've had demoing "downcountry" bikes is balancing tire weight. Too light and you puncture and can't utilize the modern geo to it's full extent, too heavy and they loose the XC agility and feel too much like a trail bike.
  • 36 1
 That's exactly what I found with the Spur and Ranger. Their geo overpowers the Schwalbe XC rubber we used.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Guess time will tell, but did you in those cases test the bikes with rubber that made the bikes justice?
  • 12 0
 @henrik-k: Yup, for sure. The Schwalbe XC tires weren't totally out of line, but they are for that bike here in Squamish. I rode the bike with those and its stock tires, a set of more aggressive Maxxis rubber.
  • 8 1
 @mikelevy: the flip side of aggressive rubber is that having grip when hard braking exposes all the frame/fork flex of super light bikes. I have a Trance 29 w/ Fox 34 and with Magic Mary/HD the bike encourages fast riding, but too much grip overwhelms the rest of the bike. And it’s too easy to run out of travel. I also found that the slow rolling tires didn’t make pedaling much better than the same tires on a Stumpjumper Evo.
It seems to me that it’s most important to match tires to terrain and riding style first, and then match bike to tires.
  • 12 0
 @Swervsroundsquirrels: ugh, that sounds way too hard. how about I just buy a bike I like the colour of?
  • 1 17
flag jclnv (Jul 27, 2020 at 17:42) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: Maybe You just aren’t skilled enough to ride those tires fast.

Nino seems to cope just fine with 17psi and 2.4” slicks (more or less).
  • 5 0
 @jclnv: douchery aside, the Rocket Rons are kind of a sketchy tire
  • 2 0
 I’m also really struggling to find “downcountry” compatible tires. There’s myriads of XC race tires out there, and then there is an equally wide range of “Enduro” tires, but not much in between.

Of course you can ride what would be considered a typical rear tire on an Enduro with a lighter casing in the front, and an XC tire in the rear, but so far, I’ve been less than impressed with these combinations.
  • 1 0
 @FuzzyL: I am thinking about mounting a Maxxis Dissector in the front and a Maxxis Rekon on the back, both in Exo.

I normally run Assegai and DHR2.
  • 1 0
 @FuzzyL: check out the new hutchinson Kraken.
  • 2 0
 @mtb-journal: dissector rolls great and has awesome cornering grip but just about zero braking traction. Big lugs with huge ramps.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: Nino isn’t paying for his rims, he can afford to just smash them around whenever and wherever he likes. You want to pay for a new pair of rims every ride?
  • 4 0
 @FuzzyL: I went for Forekaster front, Ardent Race rear,both 2.35 and ~ 730gr.
Great combo so far.
  • 2 0
 @nozes: I’ve been thinking about the Forecaster, too. I know people riding it in rather harsh terrain in the alps, and it seems to work well for them. Maybe it’s partly just getting used to the looks of these tires, next to the Assegai, it seems like a semi-slick Wink
  • 3 0
 @nozes: I vote for ardent race too, very good tyre.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: have used rocket rons, can confirm!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: How was the Dissector on the front of the bike? Tons of reviews when its on the back, but not much on the front.
  • 2 0
 @mtb-journal: I tried the Rekon rear for this exact purpose. Worked great until I promptly puntured in between lugs 3x on the first ride in real rocks. I wish Maxxis made the exo+ in the 2.4 width instead of just 2.6. A dual compound exo+ 2.4 Rekon would be great. On a agarro now.
  • 2 0
 I like Rekon front, Rekon Race rear for downcountry setups, but you still risk puncturing with exo casing in the back unless you're really careful.
  • 1 0
 I've been running Bontrager XR4/XR3 in 2.4 and they've been fast with pretty acceptable levels of traction.
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: it's less about the grip and more about the puncture protection for me. I can handle some drifting, but one mistake hit a rock and you've flatted out on XC tires.
  • 4 3
 @MaplePanda: You think that guy is smashing rims? You might wanna go back and count how many flats that guy has had in the last three years?

Bottom line is there’s a thing called talent to tire ratio. The more of the former you have, the less of the latter you need.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325:

They make the SE version of both tires which have burliest sidewalls. I never cut tires though, so I go with the lighter versions.
  • 2 0
 @jclnv: is that your issue? You just have no talent so you make up for it by being a troll?
  • 1 2
 @clink83: I’m just explaining how it isn’t a tire issue as Nino runs 2.4” Aspens at 17psi.

But if you can’t handle that fact and want to get personal no worries. I couldn’t care less.
  • 3 0
 @jclnv: Unless he isn't running tubeless, I don't see how he could puncture from smashing his rims. It's not like he's literally exploding his rim from harsh impacts mid-race.

I've tried running under 20psi myself. Performance was great, but I bottomed out my rim on every big hit. Skill can't save a tire from your body weight and gravity.
  • 5 0
 @jclnv: the whole "nino does it so it must be the best" Schick gets pretty old.
  • 1 2
 @MaplePanda: Smashing your rims is the most common way to destroy a tire.
  • 1 2
 @clink83: Who would you use as an example? Some Pinkbike chump?
  • 2 0
 @jclnv: Funny how MDVP has beaten Nino, and PVP has done exceptionally well for having some health issues on a 70* HTA Lux that according to the pinkbike experts should blow up on every downhill. As much as you worship Ninos aspens, his own olympic national team tested most of the big name tires on the market and determined the conti race kings are actually faster. Funny how Absalon, who is Ninos equal in every respect, raced on those and frequently beat him.
  • 1 0
 @FuzzyL: Bontragers XR series is probably one of the best options. I also really like vittorias mezcal, i bought it for cheap as commutingtire, turns out it rolls as fast as a rr and grips better than an aggressor (despite looking like a slick). They also dont fold when aired up to 2 bars -unlike any other xc tire i know. I am really picky with tires but the mezcal is a hiddden gem of a tire.
  • 1 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: Sounds good, I was interested in trying that "graphene" stuff anyways, so I might give the Mezcal a chance.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: Nino just has to make sure the tire lasts until the end of the race.
  • 43 0
 @mikelevy @Brianpark @sarahmoore
Just wanted to say you guys have done a great job at respectfully and kindly responding to so many hot trash comments in one day.
~~
Cheers to you three, the field test looks like it gonna be great to watch while I sip some coffee before the wife wakes up.
Go have a beer or two! You worked hard today.
  • 35 0
 Eager to see this complete review. Particularly interested in the efficiency tests and thanks for using control tires. Got to say that Spur is calling my name a bit.
  • 30 1
 It's quite the thing. Review next week!
  • 4 0
 The spur is HOT, I got to check one out in person. If I had a Spur it's all I'd ever ride...
  • 11 0
 @mikelevy: I cant wait to listen to the associated Podcast (assuming there will be one). The PB podcast is awesome.
  • 8 0
 @Mermar: Yup, I think #17 (next week) will be mostly about the XCFT.
  • 2 0
 The Spur looks like it could hold its own in the local Wednesday night series (with lighter wheels and tires) and be pretty close to ideal for Epic Rides-type events. At least for me- I‘all concede a bit of fire road climbing ability for more help on the technical parts and especially descents.
  • 3 4
 @SangamonTaylor: I raced my spur in a pro XC race Saturday, and all my times were faster than my laps last year on my Element. It's the fastest XC type bike ive ever ridden, and I've ridden or owned all of them the past few years. The weight is an obvious thing that can't be overcome. I just ran a little less sag, and used more power on the climbs. I saved so much speed and time in the corners, DH, and flat bumpy it made up for the extra watts on the climb. The Spur is not as twitchy and quick to respond as my Element, but it's faster.
  • 1 0
 @DetroitCity: What wheels and tires are you running?
  • 2 2
 @mtb-journal: Kovee XXX with XR3 2.4. I will put a picture on my profile. My SID Ultimate comes tmrw, I also have a Cane Creek Helm works for it for smashing rocks in Colorado. It has XTR 12, one-up 150mm dropper, kovee xxx, Sid ultimate or helm.
  • 4 0
 I thought I heard the Spur calling my name but it was just a goddamned owl.
  • 1 1
 @DetroitCity: nice, thank you!
  • 1 0
 @DetroitCity: that’s awesome. I’m deciding between the 2021 Top Fuel 9.8 and the mid-spec Spur. The Trek is a bit heavier, but I could stop eating cookies and lose a pound or two as well.
  • 30 1
 I picked a bike to win. When do I get to be a dick about it?
  • 5 2
 I have a race winning bike. I'm fully prepared to be a dick. But my race results *checks notes, sees near last place* don't justify it. So, I'm waiting for my moment to shine.
  • 8 0
 Hang on I'm still working on my excuses as to why my bike didn't win. Then we can compare dickishness
  • 3 0
 @sjma: hanger bent
didnt take a dump
ate too much
not enough beer
no graphen lube
  • 20 0
 I feel sorry for Mike and Sarah here, they've ridden countless miles, set KOMs and blown heart rates out of the window then all we see is "why haven't you tested XYZ, it's pointless". They can't test every bike ever made by man just so everyone can compare anything they may have considered buying in the last decade.
It's a great line up of bikes and information.

Thanks lots guys, keep it up.
  • 4 0
 There is no winning! That's part of the fun, though Smile
  • 17 0
 Sarah is a great presenter. More please.
  • 12 0
 Thank you!!! Smile
  • 3 0
 more like "moore please" haha
  • 12 0
 Man I really want to try an XC race bike and see how big the climbing and downhill difference is, have only ridden 30lb+ 130-150mm bikes so far.
  • 21 2
 Careful, before you know it you'll be strapping on a heart rate monitor and shopping for lycra... Seriously though, try one if you get a chance - they're so much fun.
  • 1 0
 DH becomes actual work. While it feels rewarding to have a clean run on any sort of technical DH trail, it is still work. But the climbing. Oh, many, makes you feel like a hero. Leap tall buildings type of thing. Also means you get more laps in if you like to earn your DH.
  • 6 0
 I had the opportunity to demo a pretty nice Orbea Oiz last year. It felt stiff and a little bit twitchy at first but I got used to it. It didn’t feel that fast when I was on the bike, likely because I never felt totally comfortable, but then I checked my Strava after and holy shit. So fast.
  • 18 0
 It is a whole different world. Climbs that are absolutely brutal on your big bike are pretty comfortable spin on the XC bike. The best thing about XC bikes is you spend less time climbing and more time descending.
  • 18 0
 @kclw: Exactly! The climbs take less time and the descents take longer - what's now to love about XC bikes? Big Grin
  • 2 0
 A little bike history first, to put it into perspective:
2015-2017 - 4*XC HTs, between 23 and 21.2 lbs
2018 Oiz - 21.5 lbs(~9.8-9 kgs)
2019 Oiz XC - 21.3 lbs(~9.6-7 kgs)
2016 sanction team - 34.7 lbs(15.7-8 kgs)
2019 sanction custom(full gravity oriented; dh casting tires, 180mm fork, etc) - 36.4 lbs(~16.5 kgs)
Sold them all.
Currently owning a 33.1 lbs nukeproof reactor 290(130-150mm bike)

The 2018 Oiz felt like a whip; the 2019 Oiz XC less so but was faster; the two sanctions were a drag, especially the '19 one and getting now to the 130mm, 33 lbs reactor. The reallity is that it is a good pedaling bike. I could keep with xc guys on 22-23 lbs bikes for 20-25 miles courses on flat-lands but, as soon as the gradient started to show up, it was game over. Also, the legs start to protest a little more after 30 miles; the DD casting minions for sure helped with that. On tech climbs, with full strength, I don't feel that much slower than on the Oiz-es(actually I do, when comparing it with the '18 one); but, the reality(time) is very different. On fire roads, it is game over. Much more faster than my former big bikes though.
With a carbon frame, lower weight wheels and tires, the diff in climbing should be even smaller, comparing it with my former xc bikes.
But, as I'm using the Reactor as a downsized enduro bike and not like an up-graded xc bike so, I have no interest in making it lower weight.
Bottom line is, they rocket up-hill, feel twitchy on the downs and generally prefer smoother courses, at least with a person like me on them.
I do like to mention one more thing. In my favourite race, 50 miles of (90%) trails in the big hills with over 6000 ft of total climbing, the '18 Oiz felt faster but, the overal time was 18 minutes slower than on the '19 Oiz - and I was less fit in 2019 than in 201Cool -; goes to show that even if the bikes does not feel like an electric whip, it can still be deceptively fast.
  • 13 0
 Props to your props to your film crew.
  • 12 1
 Props to your props to his props to his film crew
  • 2 0
 They really did an excellent job on the intro video!
  • 3 0
 Jason, Max, and Cole are absolutely killing it. Margus on the snaps, and the Anthill folks with the Phantom cam as well.
  • 12 0
 So psyched! Thanks @mikelevy, Sarah, and team!
  • 5 0
 I'm psyched you're psyched!
  • 19 11
 Makes me question why 'XC' bikes even exist anymore when the 'DC' bikes weigh slightly more if not the same, climb very similarly and are 100% more fun...
  • 8 11
 Ahhhhh the reason is money my friend
  • 98 2
 DC bikes climbing nothing like a real XC race bike, though. That said, they climb well enough for the large majority of cross-country riders. Racing? No thanks. Fun-ing? For sure.
  • 8 5
 @mikelevy: Racing what? BCBR I'd take any of those DC bikes....
  • 48 2
 Down country bikes are to XC bikes are like Enduro bikes are to DH bikes. When you really open the throttle there is nothing like a pure race bike.
  • 26 1
 Similar weights? most of the DC bikes are like 2-3lbs heavier. The Yeti is 27lbs, that's almost 5lbs heavier than some of the XC bikes. Most people buy an XC bike because they race XC. I would not want to race a 25lb+ bike.
  • 16 1
 @RadBartTaylor: I've raced the BCBR a lot and I think I'd still want a pure race bike, but I'd put on a shorter stem and wider handlebar. And a dropper. It's the DC bikes' handling; not a deal-break for normal riding, but it is if you're taking racing seriously.
  • 31 1
 @creativefletch: For me, it's the handling more than the weight. But yeah, if I'm buying a bike to race on, I do want it light AF. That Epic EVO - HOLY SHIT BALLS.
  • 2 1
 @creativefletch: most guys around here and up in CAN are racing with droppers these days....you throw a dropper on those XC bikes like the DC bikes have...
  • 6 1
 And if you can only have one $6000 bike (or >Wink , you're likely better off with a DC. Would like to see more DC bikes: Hei Hei, TF, and Revolver120.
  • 3 1
 @mikelevy: I raced it last year and think I'd be fastest on a bike like the Epic Evo. Cmon Mike, once you throw on a shorter stem and wider bar and maybe a 120 fork (like Felix had) you are basically in the DC category....
  • 14 1
 Racing BCBR can't be compared to racing a traditional two hour rip-you-legs-off on a weekend event. Vastly different experiences and demands, and thus machines.
  • 7 1
 @gdharries: Agreed, one is balls-out for 1.5 hours, whereas the other is a long game. Very different things, but I'd still grab that race bike for the BCBR.
  • 4 1
 @RadBartTaylor: I've got a 125mm dropper on my Sniper XC and it is 22.4lbs and is still an absolute blast to ride with the geo.
  • 10 0
 But Nino is running the 35" SID with 110mm and a dropper now... so basically a DC bike then no?
  • 6 0
 XC bikes exist because what folks call "Downcountry" is still Cross-Country. Just with a slightly different focus in the design. Have you ever ridden a proper XC bike? Honestly asking since it is worth taking one for a spin. But they are a very different breed.

And seriously, do we need another classification/designation for an ever narrower classification of bike? "Downcountry" bikes are still Trail bikes (remember that classification?). Trail bikes, the group of bikes that were relaxed from XC bikes but weren't Downhill bikes that then broke down into Enduro, Super Enduro, Aggressive Trail, Downcountry, and of course, Trail bikes. Adding another classification to break apart XC doesn't make sense as it downplays that XC bikes have been evolving with the modern geo trends (which is very much a good thing for nearly all riders) and that already, they have become far more capable than the XC bikes of even the early 2000's.
  • 2 2
 @mikelevy: Definitely some impressive weight on that bike and I've heard good things, but holy $12k price tag! I've found a good mix of lightweight and great handling in the Sniper XC. Got it to just just over 22lbs with a 125mm dropper.
  • 4 1
 @kclw: The difference between a DH bike and Enduro bike is much larger than the difference between the xc and Down country bike. DH is only for downhill whereas I've seen people race Enduro bikes in xc races.
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy: Seen 'em, read 'em...now: compare 'em!!!! These DC bikes just all look great (Hei Hei, Spur, Ryve 115)...seems like it's splitting hairs and I should just buy on looks and $$$$.

(Note: not criticizing this review. This obviously took a huge amount of time and effort. I, for one, appreciate it and: Thanks!)
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: I can't even conceptualize what a 22 lbs mountain bike would feel like to ride. Every now and then I'll move a bike around mid-build when it's only the bare minimum (frame, wheels, fork, stem, and bars) and think to myself, "Dear lord, this is like lifting a piece of paper." But to actually ride something that light on the trails? No, my mind simply boggles.
  • 13 1
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Obviously, I don't agree with you. By your handle I am guessing that your background is on the gravity side. Someone who has spent a lot of time on DH bikes is very aware of limits of an Enduro bike. Whereas someone like myself both DH bikes and Enduro bikes are similar in that they have a limit that I am no where reaching.

But I have spent a ton of time on XC and DC bikes and I am very aware of limits of a DC bike. And racing a DC bike in an XC race is like racing an Enduro bike in a DH race. You can do it, and the right rider on the right course might even come out on top, but for most they are significantly slower.
  • 3 5
 @kclw: That Spec Epic EVO is 98% of a true XC bike and won't hold anybody back in any meaningful way in a XC race. There is a bigger difference between something like the Trek and the Transition, sure, but still nothing close to what we see with a DH and EN bike. I'd argue most guys would still be quicker in a XC race on trails besides gravel roads on the Transition with the added 20mm of sus, burlier tires and a dropper....
  • 2 2
 @creativefletch: with a 120mm fork on that sucker I think that classifies as a DC bike (personally). That bike has always been on my shortlist....
  • 1 2
 @SonofBovril: Exactly...burly forks, more than 100mm travel and a dropper....I think well on way to DC category....

DC vs XC is just as much about the sum of parts vs geometry.
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: except the people who race for a living don't do that.
  • 3 4
 I'm pretty much an enduro rider who enjoys the occasional XC race now (used to be the other way). Even the 23 pound Epic I raced last year felt like a pig compared to the HT I'm racing this year. The Evo version would be WAY worse feeling.

Like others have said though, my E29 is pretty damn good even on full DH trails. But it's not a DH bike. And anyone who has experience on a wide range of bikes wouldn't confuse their performance.

A DC bike would be worthless to me. Too slow on an XC race, not capable enough for my general riding.
  • 4 2
 @clink83: depends on the race! With that said several pros are going 100mm+ front travel, short stems, dropper and up to 2.4 tires....

XC bikes at the WC level now were "Downcountry" bikes 2-3 years ago....go figure.
  • 4 3
 @JSTootell: if you think the Epic EVO will slow you down I'd argue you are over-estimating how fast you think you are on a XC course. A fast local guy is still going to crush it on any of those DC bikes.....I've seen it multiple times....
  • 12 0
 @RadBartTaylor: a "fast local guy" here is able to put out 400w sustained on climbs, which is world cup level power. The simple fact is what you're saying is just wrong. XC racers know what's fast, and it's not a downcountry bike. The fast local guy here races most of the races on a dropperless scott scale.
  • 3 4
 There is always a core of customers that doesn’t want to change their setups. When the first Klunker style bikes were built using old Schwinn geometry-these people freaked out that mountain bikes looked like what their parents rode. Fast forward a few decades and it turns out that the original geometry was pretty much spot-on. A modern enduro rig has geometry awfully close to the OG mountain bikes. Having raced road and XC for a lot of years, I wouldn’t want less than a 65 head angle, even on an XC race bike. “Modern” geometry allows for more aggressive cornering in the downs, works just fine even on tight, stacked uphill switchbacks, and (most importantly) is more forgiving of inputs if you’re tired. Like, you’ve been pushing 300-500 watts for a couple of hours tired. So.......eff all you 71 head angle buttholes. You ruined mountain bike geometry for DECADES!! It’s never faster. It never works better.......except on a gravel bike.
  • 6 1
 @RadBartTaylor: My performances at multiple ProXCT races give me a pretty good idea of just how fast I am. I am far from the fastest guy out there (race results confirm). But I still had to earn that pro license. Which, I suppose, does make me one of those "fast local guys".
  • 2 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Also XC, DC, and Enduro bikes aren't going extinct in the wild
  • 3 1
 @clink83: give that dude a EVO...guess who still wins? I remember racing a XC hardtail with slack STA and steep HTA back in the probably 2015, local pro shows up on 120/120 bike w/dropper which was surprising (at the time) and killed everybody on a technical course, like he always does. Watts / Kg is what you mean....power in and of itself is largely meaningless....

None of us are racing XCO, 1-2 lbs isn't going to make or break a race for the majority of us...that is the reality. Maybe your local guy knows something Nino doesn't...since Nino is on a FS bike with a dropper? Or maybe just really easy courses there?
  • 4 7
 @kclw: When some xc race bikes have slacker head angles than downcountry bikes and some downcountry are lighter than xc bikes it really is just company's creating marketing niches for attention. The differences are so negligible that it doesn't justify the dumb downcountry name. And it is absolutely the dumbest niche name ever in cycling history because it's vague and confusing... and just dumb sounding. People have no shame these days.
  • 4 2
 @RadBartTaylor: he will win against slower pros, but in a WC race the difference between an EVO and the full race bike very well could be the difference between standing on the podium or not. I race on a pivot 429 sl, which is heavy for an elite race bike. Since I'm just a cat 2 racer it doesn't matter, but I'm not silly enough to say if I wanted to step my game up it wouldn't slow me down.
  • 4 1
 @clink83: Except for Nino Schurter and some others, of course 120R/110F AXS dropper, 2.4 tires on 30mm rims.

It's the new XC, even amongst those who get paid to ride.
  • 8 0
 @hllclmbr: his bike is still only 22lbs or so. The new 120mm 35mm SID is as light as my 2017 SID WC.
Jeff Kabush races and developed the sb100/115 and even he admits it wouldn't be a competitive XCO bike due to its weight and geometry. Do you think he's clueless?
  • 5 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: that is not true. Pure xc race bikes and down country bikes are as different as dh bikes vs enduro bikes.
  • 2 1
 @Rider-TJones: yeah it is, particularly when we can't define what "PURE XC" is nor what "DOWN COUNTRY" is.....there is a lot of overlap, unlike DH and EN....
  • 1 1
 @clink83: depends on the race, per my original point....he raced the BCBR on one and it didn't seem to slow him down.
  • 2 1
 @Rider-TJones: a spark has a 73.8 STA and the spur has a 76. One of those bikes is going to piss off your bike fitter
  • 2 0
 DC bikes are definitely a better choice for most riders, but my rides often include somewhere between 4000' and 10000' of climbing, and I my XC bike for marathon and technical "gravel" races. I'm willing to trade a little bit of descending prowess for climbing efficiency.
  • 4 1
 @RadBartTaylor: There is a bit of a difference between short 1-2hr XC races and marathon/stage races. The bikes that win those races are often not the same bikes that you see on the podiums of XCO races.
  • 1 8
flag DoubleCrownAddict (Jul 27, 2020 at 14:00) (Below Threshold)
 @Rider-TJones: No they aren't, that's an obvious lie. You can compare freeride and DH bikes but Enduro and DH bikes are meant for completely different things. Let me list some of the differences between the 2 and see your big differences between xc and the stupidly named downcountry bikes:
1. DH bikes can't climb because you can't raise the low 'for DH only' seat. Enduro seat goes up and down all day long.
2. 27 tooth big cog vs 50 tooth big cog.
3. On average an almost 5 pounds weight difference.
4. As much as 50 mm travel difference.
5. Completely different design of forks and stems between DH and Enduro bikes.
6. Limited turning ability on DH bikes make some tight corners impossible to ride.
7. DH specific tires vs Enduro specific tires on most bikes.
8. The variety between clipless and flat pedals in DH/ Enduro vs xc and stupidly name downcountry bikes being virtually 100% clipless.
9. Different axle sizes and hub sizes for most DH and Enduro bikes vs xc and 'downcountry' standards being all pretty similar.
10. Water bottles on most Enduro bikes, water bottles NEVER on DH bike.

I could probably go on, but I'll just end things by reminding you that downcountry is absolutely the dumbest niche name ever in cycling history. Good luck with your list, and I look forward to comparing my list to Levy's "massive" list of differences between xc and downcountry bikes in one of his future videos.
  • 8 0
 @RadBartTaylor: People are trying to define a bike by head-angle and travel. There is a lot more to an XC bike than that.

An XC bike race bike has four distinguishing factors.
1. The position is long and low.
2. Fast rolling tires
3. Agressive suspension tune.
4. Low weight

DC bikes are usually off all of those marks just a bit.

One of the biggest challenge is the 120mm forks. That extra 20mm travel lifts everything up making it harder to achieve a position that is good for XC racing. For a tall rider this is a non-issue but for a short rider this is particularly challenging.
  • 3 1
 @kclw: Define "XC Race".....marathon events, stage races and super technical courses I'd argue those things you have there don't matter much. Purely XCO at the world class level, yeah, but that is changing quick. The XCO bikes today were crazy DC bikes just a couple years ago...
  • 4 1
 @RadBartTaylor. Don't forget about short track. Downcountry sounds more like a new, extra depressing genre of country music than it does a short- travel bike niche.
  • 4 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: I agree with you regarding “downcountry” being a dumb category. It should simply be “trail”, or the even older category of “all-mountain”. There are way too many categories today. @radbarttaylor pure xc can be defined. Just as dh does, the uci and national governing bodies all have very specific qualifications for what categorizes as a xc. While that can vary (sea otter vs xc world cup not similar in technicality), they still follow the same course rules by definition. BCBR used to be considered more of an all-mountain or adventure race. I don’t remember it ever being categorized as an XC when I was younger. It was just an amazing mountain bikers race, for shredders. No category. Now the winners race on xc race bikes with a dropper, but most people are much better off on a “downcountry bike”. I think the important thing beyond all these categories is, what is your goal at the end of the day? A race bike, regardless of enduro, dh, road, xc, etc is what it is for a reason. It’s a one dimensional tool for a single job.

And to DoubleCrownAddict, did you see the waterbottle mount on the new Norco DH bike featured this week? There goes point #10?
Theres a 5lb difference between some of the bikes above... and suspension is different between the bikes too. I could go more into the comparisons between your points if you’d like.
  • 2 1
 @Rider-TJones: The UCI doesn't define "XC" which is why they have multiple sub-categories like XCO, XCM and XCE, there are various forms of it. That's why when folks say "XC" it is largely meaningless.....the BCBR is certain a XC race by definition, regardless of what anybody calls it. But further to the point, "XC" as the majority of amateurs know it and compete in is a highly variable affair....some are mostly gravel climbs (grab a hardtail) some are very techincal, some are 50 miles, some are less than 20....for those races, across a wide range of racing types, a couple pounds between friends isn't going to mean jack-all.

Jeff Kabush was on a SB100 which is not a traditional XC bike, most the guys also had 120mm forks, fat tires and droppers....well removed from the traditional XC bikes....
  • 2 0
 @kclw: The problem I have to telling the difference between cross country and down country! Is it really defined by 20mm of rear travel difference and 0.5 degrees in head angle? And why isn't the Pivot M4 S or the SC Blur part of the review? I get it old school geometry, right?
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: That is valid. For all of those elite disciplines, they still use the same kind of bike. See a lot of hardtails in eliminator, a mix in XCO(which dictates what is raced in short track otherwise you'd see more hardtails there), and a descent mix, leaning towards majority hardtails, in Marathon. At an amateur level you see every kind of bike on every kind of course. There's still too many categories of bikes.
Also regarding the earlier stuff, a better comparison is freeride vs dh. Not sure why it was enduro vs dh.
Being done with that, what do you mean by "fat tires"? Think size is becoming less of a thing and tread is becoming more of the dictator. Nino runs 2.4" tires but minimal tread and then trail bikes run 2.4" tires with more tread. 2.3" is pretty common in XC now as far as size goes, but still minimal tread. No one(elite level) is breaking out burly tires on their XC bikes(in races, with the rare exceptions like BCBR).

Also, I am coming at this conversation with the mindset/objective of XC being in the context of Elite level. Amateur racing, run what you got. The best tool, is the one you have, hopefully. DH racers, enduro racers, xc racers etc all approach their craft with an objective mindset, running what is fastest regardless of what everyone else thinks. I know we've seen remote lockouts and droppers in DH WC racing
  • 4 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Let us use BCBR as a reference. If you are interested in doing it fast then you are racing an XC bike. Up-right position, grippy but slow tires, supple suspension tunes, and a durable frame are going to slow you down. Not a lot, but enough that guy who finished a place in front of you would have been behind you if you had set your bike up different.

I am down the path of the DC bike. It is super fun but even for the marathon XC races here in BC it is slower than XC race bike.
  • 2 0
 @rivercitycycles: People try to use geometry and travel to categorize a bike bike it is easy to do but there is a lot more to it than those numbers.

As for other bikes, they can only test so many bikes.
  • 1 2
 @kclw: simply not correct, have you raced it? Have you seen what the pros are ACTUALLY riding, there are certainly some straight up XC bikes, but most were on something closer to a "DC" setup...like these slow guys:

www.singletracks.com/mtb-news/light-yet-tough-bike-checks-from-bc-bike-race

Payson McElveen:

"The new Top Fuel is not a pure XC race machine, and a pure XC race machine is not what you want at BC Bike Race. There’s 120mm in front and 115mm in the rear and slacker geometry. I knew this race was technical, but it’s actually been really eye-opening how it races. Most of the races I’ve done it plays out in the climbs, but this race is the opposite, the descents are more selective and that’s where the group is breaking up."

And Kabush, maybe you've heard of him?:

"Well, it was a good time when I came to Yeti. They launched this bike, which is sort of XC-ish or “down country,” but it’s the perfect kind of bike for these types of events. For the events I’m doing now, it’s a lot more singletrack, and a little more travel with the Stepcast 34 and a little more travel with the dropper, so it’s a lot more fun. It’s exactly the kind of bike I think I’d buy for the XC-ish set up here in BC."
  • 2 1
 @rivercitycycles: the big one is the reach and STA. If it's got a short reach and a >74 sta it's probably built to race. If it's got a trendy STA like ~76 and a long reach, it's more trail oriented.
  • 6 1
 @RadBartTaylor: you keep brining up marathon or stage races that closer to enduros than your average XC races like it somehow represents all of XC. Guess what? It doesn't.
  • 4 1
 The male winner of the BC bike race in 2019 was Felix burque on a RM element, followed by Kabush on his SB100. The Women's race was won by Katrina Nash, on an Oiz. #2 was a pivot mach 4. 4/4 of those bikes are 100mm XC frames, even if the sb100 is aa bit of an outlier.
  • 4 0
 @RadBartTaylor:

Nino almost never uses a dropper in World Cups. He used one on a hardtail in Albstadt 2018, but had the drop limited to like 80 mm. I think that’s the only World Cup in recent memory (since about 2016) where he’s used one.

He’s increasingly in the minority, though. But he doesn’t lose any time on the descents.
  • 3 0
 @hllclmbr: At the same time, WC XCO tracks are fairly gnarly. In many places, XC is still raced on flatter terrain where a hardtail or even rigid is better suited. Horses for courses I guess.
  • 1 1
 @kclw:
significantly slower..unless that bike is a spez enduro with a 180mm fox/zeb/whatever. Then, it is at the same lvl. - I should mention that, at our DH nationals, from 4 categories, 2(20-29 elite and 30-39 elite(licensed riders) were won on enduro bikes(one 180mm fork spez and one overstroked coil with a 180mm fork megatower); only the youngs(14-19) and the masters(40+) were won on DH bikes -
So, as the lines get more blurry in gravity, a similar thing happ. in cross-country/marathon races.
  • 1 1
 @SonofBovril:
And his spark has 120mm travel. Basically, his set-up is 110 in front with 120 underneath him.
  • 4 0
 @MaplePanda: Exactly. People forget that WC XCO tracks can't even compare to most local or even national level XCO tracks.
Hardtails still are faster on most tracks, that's why people still race them,and don't even think about droppers or slack HAs.
  • 2 2
 @clink83: and my girlfriend was 3rd on her element with a 120 stepcast, dropper, and regolith tires.
  • 2 2
 @clink83: you high bro? SB100 isn't a 'XC' bike, particularly not the way he has it setup, Kabush says so himself. Payson was what, top 5, you don't think that is representative enough to show that a DC bike can be competitive for all of us...not to mention all the other bikes in the top 10/15, all are a helluva lot more fun and versatile than traditional XC bikes. Not to mention, all the XC bikes had droppers, bigger tires, most had tire inserts and 120mm forks....well out of the XC norm.

McKay Venzina and enduro racer was there on a 130/115 rig, crushing it, 8th overall.....again representative of what can be done....
  • 2 1
 @clink83: you were the one that said "....use BCBR as a reference". I was trying to balance all the BS talk about XCO (which none of us do).
  • 1 2
 @nattyd: can be done for sure.....but there are other guys with them, close to Nino's speed, with a more versatile setup and more representative of what all of us nuts need....
  • 3 1
 @RadBartTaylor: and yet the race is still being won on 100mm XC bikes and not the bikes you claim are better.
  • 2 2
 @clink83:
Yeah..and the riders, if they would have not been on sponsored bikes and instead of 100mm forks, would have ride 120mm forks, 1000% sure, they would have been dead last. Last, I say, and not on the same podium finish. Yep, for sure!
  • 1 1
 @clink83: Kabush was on a proper DC bike, he got 2nd by seconds, doesn't that prove the point I originally made that all of us "AVERAGE" dudes would be better off on a DC type bike? They also ALL threw on 120mm forks, aggressive and/or larger tires and droppers, not what you see in the WC, at all, again to my point.
  • 2 0
 @eugenux: uh, they had 120mm forks. Putting 120mm forks on 100mm frames for marathon races is pretty standard.
  • 2 1
 @RadBartTaylor: nino races a 110/120 bike in the WC, so much for that argument. An sb100 isnt a "downcountry bike" dude, it's a heavy ass 100mm race bike that has suspension issues. Before Kabush was winning races on his yetis he was winning races on a spark. The dude is just fast, much like nino.
You can argue all you want, but the simple fact is that XC bikes are faster than some bullshit "downcountry" bikes, and that's true across every discipline.
  • 2 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Unfortunately I have always ended up wrenching for one of the Pro's during BCBR, which makes it hard to race. But I know the trails well, and having spent 25 years racing in BC I have pretty well raced in all various stage location at some point.

Sort of ironic that in the article you linked to there is only one rider who can easily swap their bike from 100mm to 120mm (Katerina) and she chose to race it in 100mm, because she doesn't need 120mm for BCBR.
  • 1 1
 @kclw: Irony is guys insinuating that traditional XC bikes are 'faster' when we clearly see several top riders using bikes well out of the XC norm...on non-traditional frames (like Kabush, Payson, Mckay) or with XC frames modified outside of traditional norms (most everybody else).

Of course there are exceptions, there always will be, Nash is one of them, doesn't define the rule or disprove what the rest of the field did.

I rode with Andreas for several stages and got to chat with him several times, he was on what I would consider a fairly ideal bike, 100mm/120mm, large dropper, shortish stem, burly tires and I think he had 4 pot brakes up front....

This is largely coming down to a semantics argument of what "XC" is and what "DC" is....
  • 3 0
 @RadBartTaylor: if you take Kabush out of the equation yeti bikes aren't winning very many races. Domestically the Lions share of big races are being won by Scott or Pivot. These "nontraditional" bikes you speak of aren't winning.
  • 1 1
 @clink83: comes full circle - how do you define these stupid terms we are using "XC" and "DC"?
  • 9 0
 Guesses:
Most efficient climber - Epic S-works
Least efficient - the long travel SB100
  • 2 4
 The sb100 is probably a "more efficient climber".
  • 2 5
 @clink83: the sb100 isn’t in this test.

Thank you for correcting me, though.
  • 5 1
 @pcledrew: well, sb100/115.. either way. A lot of the single pivot bikes climb fast locked out because they are so light...but the bikes with better suspension designs like the yeti or pivot bikes are defiantly "more efficient" pedalling when unlocked.
  • 7 12
flag pcledrew (Jul 27, 2020 at 10:44) (Below Threshold)
 @clink83: Thanks again for the education. I'm glad you feel so confident that you are more knowledgable than everyone else on the internet.
  • 7 4
 @pcledrew: you can look at the suspension curves of a VPP/SI/DW Link bike and compare them to a linkage driven single pivot just like anyone else can. They have better antirise and antisquat curves because they don't have a fixed IC. But hey, who needs science and engineering right?
  • 4 0
 Yetis climb hella well. I’d be surprised if it was the dog of the test uphill.
  • 5 9
flag pcledrew (Jul 27, 2020 at 10:57) (Below Threshold)
 @clink83: You're still assuming the position of educator here. Maybe step down off the horse if you're looking to chat.
  • 5 2
 Im guessing the Trek for most efficient climber.
  • 2 2
 @ICKYBOD: Thanks for the respectful reply. I thought that too, but then second guessed myself that its a little too obvious? maybe? We'll see, and I'm looking forward to the results either way.
  • 7 3
 @pcledrew: so you post on a mountain bike site and expect people to not talk about mountain bikes when you leave comments about an easily quantifiable subject? Sure...
  • 5 0
 @clink83: 100mm or less travel with people only running 15-20% sag and a full lockout lever on the bars and the anti-rise anti squat don't mean much. I think most of the 'winningest' full suspension bikes have been linkage driven single pivot or horst link.
  • 2 1
 @ICKYBOD:
Well yes, because the racers spend most of the climbing section of WCO races locked out. At that level power/weigh ratio trumps "efficiency". If you look at longer races the heavier 4 bar bikes that pedal well start to shine. The pivot bikes have done well domestically in marathon races, and the XCM world championship was won on a giant anthem last year.
  • 1 0
 @peleton7: Not the SB5.5! Climbing that thing was like dragging a bucket of sand.
  • 1 0
 @peleton7: I think most of you are applying the relative abilities of their trail / enduro bikes directly to their XC lineup. Just because they climb Bette than their trail competitors doesn’t mean yeti has also mastered the XC world.
  • 7 0
 So between cross country and down country I think we need some more classification. Like down down country and up down country, then maybe cross up country or cross down up down country.. oh wait, I forgot gravel!
  • 3 0
 Up-country, Flat-country, Down-country, Race-country, Gravel-country.......
  • 17 1
 @pnwpedal: donkey kong country
  • 1 0
 @eh-steve: definitely DK-country
  • 3 1
 @eh-steve: also, accidentally down-voted you and I feel like a dick. Sorry. Lol
  • 1 0
 I'm-A-Little-Bit-Country
  • 8 0
 can we have a bike with all of the SE and Evo and Hi-Mod and CFR and SB put together for the longest bike name ever
  • 3 1
 All the letters!
  • 2 0
 It's like a Karen's Starbucks order!
  • 8 0
 No Norco revolver? I'd like to see the 120fs vs the other "downcountry" bikes.
  • 6 1
 No Revolver this time around, sorry. I have spent time on that bike and was a fan, though.
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy: Cool (the downvote wasn't be btw). Norco is making some really awesome bikes now. New sight, optic, torrent hardtail, revolver (apparently). I'm sure I'd be happy on any of them, but always nice seeing them directly compared to other bikes.

Next bike is most likely optic or sight. I'm fence sitting on whether I need the extra travel of the sight. Apparently the sight climbs like a dream (according to a previous range owner.. ).
  • 8 3
 Vastly outselling trail-enduro bikes as a category; but, that's only because "cross-country" type bikes can be made cheap, as little as 400-500-600 USD. By comparison, if you really want to ride enduro type of terrain/trails, you'd better be on something north of 3k USD; and that's nothing fancy, just base requirements. If anyone could make and sell a 500 USD enduro-type bike, then that is the type of bike most of ppl choose to ride, at least IMO.
  • 11 0
 Good point, those $500-$1000 hardtails that shops sell to a beginner is nominally a "cross country" bike but realistically have very little in common with these bikes on test.
  • 3 0
 @CaMKii: Likley named XC to reduce liability for someone buying and thinking they can go race an enduro. Which you technically could, but may not be wise.
  • 1 0
 @fabwizard:
At a minimum, it wouldn't be wise. A better word would be 'safe'.
Crappy tires, brakes and fork. Those are not AM-enduro-agressive trail HTs. They are cheap-ish bikes with XC geometry and very low spec components.
  • 11 3
 Oh but you cant test a single Grim Donut?
  • 27 1
 I know, but it's been tricky with the 'rona. We're editing part two right now, so it'll be out soon Smile In the meantime, there's some Grim Donut in the Field Test series - it's in the Impossible Climb, Huck to Flat, and the Efficiency Test.
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy: Can part 2 be turned into a full feature film at least? That would be cool
  • 10 1
 @me2menow: Sure, it's a 9-minute full-feature film now!
  • 3 5
 @mikelevy: now you’re talking ! Waki would have been all over this, shame he’s gone into troll isolation
  • 9 1
 @jimoxbox: He who shall not be named
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: when you get to the final edit of GD v2 please put up a second post of all the edited-out footage. We’re hungry for doughnuts!!!
  • 3 4
 @jimoxbox: ?? He go off his meds and quit PB or something?
  • 6 1
 Why no Scott Spark?, it was the original 120 mm bike that went DownCountry from its 100mmm pure XC cousin? I know its an older frame but still more current than some of these that are being reviewed...
  • 2 0
 It is almost a 4 year old bike. If the olympics would have been held, I would have expected Nino on a new Spark this summer.
  • 2 0
 @eugenux: It's held up so well. Hard to believe they went for a 68.5° headtube angle bike when virtually every other XC bike was well over 70.

I'm sure they'll update it soon, but I'm not totally sure how they make it better. The only obvious shortcoming is just one water bottle, but Nino has a pit crew to worry about that.
  • 1 0
 @nattyd:
Maybe a little longer front triangle and shoter links to have the shock closer to the ST. I do hope that they will not place the shock horizontally, like every (almost)other cross-country bike outhere.
  • 1 0
 @eugenux: Yeah, it does seem like anchoring the shock at the BB junction is inherently a better design for pure weight and suspension performance, since the area is already reinforced. Having two bottles is important to me as an amateur, but there are already plenty of options to choose from.
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy Please make the corresponding XC/DC FT PB Podcast extra long to cover all of this test. Really looking forward to it. PB seems to be one of few truly neutral reviewers. (Wish my Ryve 115 made the comparison test. I know you already reviewed it earlier - but would be interesting to see how it compared. It is the most snappy DC bikes I have ridden).
  • 3 0
 Yup, next week's podcast will be all about the XCFT bikes and how it went. I loved that Ryve - it's not mentioned in the videos more than a few times, but my accompanying written reviews will compare it Smile
  • 6 0
 How the heck can Pinkbike have an interactive Trailforks map mid-article but cant figure out how to make those photo quizzes work???
  • 6 0
 As someone who would probably never buy a XC bike. I appreciate the field test and seeing just how freaking capable these bikes are on the climbs.
  • 8 0
 It pretty much ruins climbing on all other bikes...
  • 7 0
 The quality of your videos gets better every time. Good job!
  • 6 0
 Super excited to see watt data vs suspension design. Probably going to be super telling.
  • 1 1
 Were they all tested in the same gear and or chain line? Otherwise could be more drag from chain.

Also, what about drag in the rear derailleur? Lower model versus higher? What about clutch tension etc.....

Really just Bro science so take the test with a grain of salt.
  • 7 0
 @fabwizard: Yup, exactly Smile Bro-science for sure, but I do believe the order the bikes finished in, for the most part. It'll be an interesting comment section when that article comes out haha
  • 4 0
 @smooresmoore how many takes did you have to do walking through the puddles :-) in all seriousness though it is great to see more female reviewers - looking forward to the rest of the series
  • 4 0
 Ah, good times... It was still easier for me walking forwards than it was for @ColeNelson walking backwards trying to keep the camera level! Although it was hard for me to keep a straight face and keep talking as he splashed through it...
  • 3 0
 I'm excited about this test. I'm really interested to see how the Epic evo compares. I race XC and am currently on a now 2 generation old epic. I think the Evo would be better suited to most of my riding and is perfect as long as I'm not giving up too much when racing (mostly sub two hour local XC races). Thanks for doing this test!
  • 1 0
 The Epic has come so far since the 2014 vintage. I've owned both the 2014 and the 2018 - the 2018 was worlds better with the increased steering trail and slacker headtube. Even the regular non-Evo model will be worlds different than yours. I'm excited to try out the new one.
  • 3 0
 very excited about the up coming reviews guys. As someone that comes from XC and has gradually moved to the enduro end of the spectrum, I'm still loving the XC "thing". Bring it on giys....... and great intro. I'm hooked.

PS Most looking forward to the Specialised EVO review (my whip is a Stumpjumper Comp)
  • 1 0
 That EVO is wild. Under 22lb!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: i just bought one and its so fing good.
  • 3 0
 @sarahmoore @mikelevy @brianpark Just the intro vid and it already oozes quality content and production values!!!! It's so easy for us to sit back and soak it in but the scripting, planning, logistics etc. must be insane! For us that was a 3 minute indulgence, whilst I'm sure for the content team it would've been a massive effort to put together. Thank you to the entire team for making such quality content that will make my WFH even less productive that it already is.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the kudos!
  • 5 0
 How is Treks crazy 60mm bike heavier than the new specialized with a brain??
  • 19 1
 Epic frame is CRAZY light. And the Epic EVO frame is even light because no Brain and lighter chain/seatstays!
  • 9 2
 Its been commented before, the Trek design is kinda dumb. There are several frames, like the Epic you mentioned but also the Scott Spark that are lighter and have more travel. Probably no difference in efficiency either. I can't imagine how much more expensive that Trek design is to manufacture as well.
  • 15 1
 @hamncheez: To be fair, the Supercaliber is quite the thing in person. I was thinking, "Meh, look at this soft tail all over again..." But the Trek is crazy in person. I'm a fan.
  • 6 0
 I'll be interested to see how the Supercailber performed in the efficiency test. I could see it being a lot better on a slightly rough/loose climb where rear wheel traction would be at a premium but have a hard time believing that it would be significantly better than a Scott in the middle setting or the Brain system. Plus once you point it downhill it would still only have 60mm vs 100mm on the Epic. Not to mention the development and manufacturing costs...
  • 5 2
 All “XC race” bikes walk a tightrope of weight to durability. And under hard (but dedicated XC) use all of them crack within a season or two. If you put in big miles. And big watts. Most people do neither, and those flyweight bikes feel great to those folks on a parking lot test ride. And the riders who put in the time and put out the power to break frames get free or pro deal bikes. And often have 2 bikes built up at all times because one is always cracked and in the warranty process (again).
  • 4 0
 Yeah, the Supercaliber seems to have missed its stated target. The idea was to split the difference between full suspension and hardtail, but they didn't offer and weight savings vs the Epic or Spark. I'm sure it's still a fun bike, but it makes it a less compelling buy.
  • 1 0
 ah nevermind
  • 2 0
 @peleton7: I'm just one person, but I've raced and ridden the hell out of two generations of Epics, including dozens of falls, and some broken bones. I've never cracked one.
  • 6 0
 $12,000?! If you're ballin' enough to get one of those bike, good for you.
  • 5 0
 If you can afford the race bike, you've already won at something in life.
  • 7 5
 Some of these don't necessarily qualify as "downcountry," but there are quite a few I would have liked to see compared directly to the Spur and Ranger in a downcountry-specific battle. (while keeping pure XC rigs completely separate)

29ers with between 100-130mm at both ends:

1. GIANT Trance Advanced Pro 29
2. Yeti SB115 (upcoming release?)
3. Revel Ranger
4. Transition Spur
5. Ibis Ripley v4
6. Pivot Trail 429
7. Santa Cruz Tallboy
8. Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol
9. Orbea OIZ M10 TR
10. YT Izzo
11. Scott Spark XC/Trail
12. Banshee Phantom v3
13. Evil The Following
14. Specialized Stumpjumper ST
15. Jamis Portal
16. Canyon Neuron
17. NS synonym TR
18. Spot Ryve 115
19. Whyte S-120
20. Knolly Fugitive
21. Nukeproof Reactor 290c ST
22. Kona Hei Hei
23. Cotic FlareMax
24. Bird Aether 9C (limited info)
25. Trek Top Fuel
26. Cannondale Scalpel SE
27. Intense Sniper T
28. Norco Revolver FS 120
29. GIANT Stance 29 1

Regardless, I'm really looking forward to the DC portion of this review (and Grim Donut, of course). Thank you ahead of time for all the hard work!
  • 20 1
 I'm not a historian, but I'm 87.3% sure Mike Levy invented the term "downcountry." That makes him 98.9% qualified to apply the label to bikes. Also, "a few" has 100% never equaled 28.
  • 3 0
 holy sh*t Oliver... sounds like you need to hit Outerbike when it's back.

@mikelevy please add any of these you haven't yet reviewed to the queue and have the comparisons ready by the time your final thoughts episode hits. Brahahahaha!

@opetruzel as mentioned some of these are strict xc bikes and some downcountry, which is "aggressive xc" or "lightweight trail" or "short travel trail" or something.

To be fair an 'ultimate downcountry shootout' would be rad if that could even be defined. Vital did a great short travel trailbike shootout and some of those were downcountry (e.g. Banshee Phantom) whilst some were clearly just trail bikes (e.g. Tallboy)..... or maybe that's not clear.
  • 5 0
 I got a Giant Trance 29 2 back in May and it's been really surprising on the downhills. I've only owned full on DH bikes and this is my first XC bike and I've gotten two park days (one in Fernie and another in Panorama) and the bike really handles itself well on the black tech runs. The rear shock is a bit worse for wear which was expected but in terms of riding it wasn't too bad overall!
  • 2 0
 @Counsel: Fair enough. However, as the term itself is pretty much just a joke that has grown legs, I'd personally love to see an explanation for how/why many of the 2020 models I listed above don't qualify as downcountry.

Are you suggesting that the 5 DC bikes included in the battle are the only 2020 models that qualify as DC? I'm fairly confident that Mike himself wouldn't even agree with that implication.

I've read the original articles where Mike coined the DC term; but, I'd still love to know what, exactly, distinguishes any short-travel 29er with modern geometry from a "DC" bike. I think it may be a bit more grey than you're letting on.

Your snarkiness is much appreciated, though!
  • 2 0
 and PB's previous DC trail test was a great start too.
  • 3 0
 @Evan-Littauer: I've demoed the Trance 29 Advance Pro on more than one occasion and was genuinely impressed with its capabilities. In fact, that's the very bike that got me interested in this category in the first place!
  • 5 0
 @opetruzel:

I think you're overthinking it bro. It doesn't matter what the exact definition of DC is.

The great news is we can now pretty much pick the geo we want on the amount of travel we want.
  • 2 1
 @WasatchEnduro: ok...great. Since the definition doesn't matter, and Mike is obviously the decider of all things DC, perhaps he could just go through my list and simply say "DC" or "not DC" so that we can begin to understand the distinction?

lol... I don't even know what's happening any more... BRING ON THE GRIM DONUT PORN!
  • 3 0
 @opetruzel: I think I misread your original post. I thought you were saying that some of the 5 DC bikes in the test "don't necessarily qualify" as DC. I was worked up thinking about how long we've been waiting for part 2 of the Grim Donut and just had to lash out. Sorry.
  • 2 0
 @Counsel: NO WORRIES, my friend.

cheers!
  • 2 0
 @Evan-Littauer: I’ve had one for a year and a half now and absolutely love it. I bumped the fork to 140mm and it helps a lot with the rough stuff.
  • 2 0
 If some you admit don't qualify as down country, why make the list? If you eliminate the non DC/CC bikes and bikes that have already been tested you'll have many but not all the bikes in test.
Bikes for test need to be 120mm or less, removing about 8-10 of your bikes. Another 8-10 already tested so that leaves ~ 10 bikes left. Sure a head to head of all DC would be ideal but their time is not unlimited and a dog fight is a bad business move.
  • 1 1
 @JE17j: 120mm or less at which end? You're only referring to the rear, correct? The reason I ask is because the Yeti SB115 that is listed in the test as "DC" ships with a 130mm front fork. That is why I limited my personal list to all bikes between 100 and 130mm at both ends. There aren't very many bikes that are 130/130, so I'm not sure which 8-10 you would remove based on travel alone.

I'm not asking for a new review, but I'd love it if @mikelevy could go through my list above and write "DC" or "not DC" next to each one so that I can begin to understand the boundaries of this unique category. Doing so would really help me figure out which bikes I should personally compare to one another versus any that are clearly in a different category altogether.

Not a big deal if it doesn't happen, obviously, but just thought I'd try...
  • 1 0
 @thomasake: I was thinking about doing that, I put a spacer into the fork which helped a lot. I was thinking about putting a volume token into the rear shock too.
  • 1 0
 @Evan-Littauer: it’s a pretty easy swap on the fox 34, not too expensive either. I’m running the second to largest volume spacer in my dpx2 and it definitely helped a lot with bottoming out.
  • 1 0
 @opetruzel: Understood but I believe the criteria was 120mm max front or rear for a DC/Xc comparison. While some bikes cross the lines there needs to be a line. I too would like to see a few in this direct calculated comparison but 120 or less as rare but not impossible to race anything more. trek top fuel should be in this test as well as orbea oiz but the list gets long. With a 130 fork, trance, ripley, 429, stump ST, Neuron, tallboy and stance are a quick 7 that exceed the 120 criteria to be removed.
  • 1 0
 @JE17j: again, the SB115 has a 130mm fork and it's considered a DC bike for the reviews; so, I still don't understand why you would include that one, while arbitrarily eliminating anything else that also has a 130 fork.

Whatever the case, it really doesn't matter at this point. I'm no closer to understanding wth qualifies as "DC" than I was when I first posted my list. Such is life. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Cheers!
  • 3 0
 "and the truth is that cross-country bikes vastly out-sell all other types"
Is this because low-end department store level hardtails are lumped together in the same "XC" category with XC race bikes?
  • 2 0
 I have a nice super light XC bike - and I have the best fitness of my life (training 17 hours a week). However, I dont have the handling skills of Levy etc... Something about getting old has made me more cautious. So consider your skills, and the untapped potential there, as you contemplate spending the $$$$ on these XC rigs.
  • 4 0
 Hey Mike, if you want to take the geekiness to a whole new level, I'm a prof here in Squamish and would be happy to do the stats on all your power and timing data.
  • 5 0
 'Several laps of a steady 300 watts.' Thats more like it! I know a few who only reach that in Boost mode. Ha!
  • 12 0
 I rode eleven different bikes multiple times in two and a half hours for that test - dead.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: That's a significant donut deficit you're running there, yikes!
  • 4 0
 Can we get the Izzo in on this? I’ve seen ur guys review. Just wanted to see it up against the rest of the down country bikes.
  • 2 0
 I used to love my Ironhorse Azure, it was a Marathon bike in its day, I guess that went out of fashion and now its down country! It was a bast around a trail center on all but the blacks, it could manage the blacks but was maybe a little delicate for the likes of Laggan black. Will be interesting to see what comes out of this study as DC is probably what most people need. Those who are not riding the local Dh tracks on their Enduro bikes flat out and doing all the jumps anyway.
  • 6 1
 Levy is wearing Lycra pants!!!
  • 10 1
 *shorts
  • 3 4
 @mikelevy: correcting me does not help. I wanted to draw more attention to your "lower body part" and distract from the top - is it cold there?
  • 25 0
 @Germanmike: No, I'm just always excited.
  • 1 0
 NEVER TO BE UNSEEN!!!!
  • 5 2
 I think we should adopt Nate Hill's Up-Duro instead of down country. Or use both interchangeably. Also, that Spur is drool worthy.
  • 9 4
 i'd like to see Mike and Sarah in a wrestling match...
  • 26 0
 It wouldn't be a fair fight.
  • 4 3
 @mikelevy:

Another bike I'm surprised to not see in this field test is the Rocky Mountain Element, basically the local legend and original BC XC rig. Its design may may not be fresh (are the others now playing catch-up?) but, because of that, it would have made a viable benchmark, especially pertinent for riders in the PNW. I know you have a metric shit tonnne of time on Elements, plus raced at least one in BCBR, having the top end 2020 version in the mix would have made for great comparisons.

Were the hometown boys invited to the party?
  • 6 0
 I liked the different Elements I've had, but we were looking to include fresher, more exciting bikes. The Lux was involved only because it's one of the winningest XC bikes over the last two years, so we wanted it here as a reference point Smile
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy:
I might be wrong but I would bet a couple of cold ones that the Lux is the red lamp of the group. It, being a podium winner was mostly a MvdP affair.
  • 5 0
 @eugenux: did you forget about PVP?Wink
  • 1 3
 @clink83:
No I didn't. I just did not know about her. I just don't have/make the time to check women's races/results. I barely make yine to watch the re-runs on men's races(usually, watch the first lap, then started to skip forward, then watch the whole final lap; what to do?!, there's little time and too many things to do).
  • 3 0
 So... we can assume the donut is not going to be out for at least another month, since it's probably not gonna interrupt with the 35 fieldtest videos
  • 4 0
 36
  • 1 0
 Having done all my research before you published this (damn) and made THE "DC" purchase i still went with my Transition ????. That said the EVO came close. EVO was only a few hundred bucks more than the Spur frame ????. You should list frame prices too. ????
  • 3 0
 This is just an overview but we do mention the frame prices (when applicable) in the individual round table videos!
  • 1 0
 I'd love to see a 1 year test of these bikes.....ridden on rough trails for 3,000-5,000 miles and 15-30 days of racing. The short duration is the problem with magazine testing protocols. Some riders flip bikes every year, but I tend to keep mine 3-5 years. Plenty of people go closer to 10. Just like car reviews never go long enough to show how (for example) FCA products shit the bed at 100k miles, these bike tests also fail to show what wear and tear occurs from more prolonged use. What frames crack? What bikes have flimsy suspension hardwear that ends up shearing/breaking/stripping? What permanent creaks manifest themselves (and just about every bike gets creaky if you ride often/hard enough)? I'll bet every bike under 24 pounds would end up with a cracked frame and/or rim(s) subjected to a longer cycle of hard use.
  • 4 0
 Just to note, many of our reviews get updated down the road if there ends up being an issue with a bike or component that didn't show itself before the review. That way, anyone who Googles a bike they're considering will see the update, even if the timing wasn't ideal.
  • 4 1
 Sarah should really wer her helmet properly.. with the strap hangin down like a lasso the nice giro hat wont help at all during her next otb
  • 6 2
 It does look a little loose doesn't it... Luckily no OTBs!
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: Glad to hear that.. Keeping my fingers crossed that you can keep the bar in front of you for a other while.
(Our helmet rule for the kids in our training group is: a max of two fingers are allowed to fit between the chin and the strap) Wink
  • 1 0
 So it's dentists for downhill and proctologists for x-country, what medical discipline is "down country" Maybe dermatologist?? (put the lotion on the skin)... Wink $12K for the "tincannondale" at $546.20 a pound (not deboned pounds mind you).
  • 5 0
 @tipsword Considering the state of affairs in the world..... Epidemiologist.
  • 2 0
 probably hair dressers, i hear they are making a fortune now lockdown has lifted
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy have you guys tried to upgrade the lesser expensive bikes with lighter parts than the default parts, to get them closer to the weight and price of the pricier bikes?

To be clear I am not an advocate of 'need to sell my kidneys' bikes, but I am curious of the impact of 2-3 lbs, at that level of weight and for the intended purpose of those bikes.
  • 5 0
 Very happy about this content. Thank you. Pinkbike is awesome.
  • 5 0
 Thx pinkbike, I've been looking forward to this.
  • 1 0
 "''But Levy, why would I buy a bike that tries to kill me on the downhills just because it's faster on the uphills,'' I'm right there with you."

Forgot to add "I prefer to get the 'tries to kill me' part by using the 'wrong' tires"
  • 1 0
 I'm as excited for this field test as anyone, having been hunting for a new XC/DC race bike for a while now, but I think what's missing is having one person ride and compare XC & DC bikes head to head. Test the Epic vs. the Epic Evo, or the Scalpel vs. the Scalpel SE. This would really answer a lot of the questions about which is really "faster", by how much, and help people who ride mostly for fun and race occasionally but are sitting on the fence about buying an XC or a DC bike figure out how much speed they might be giving up by going DC. Since the reach on the medium Epic is close-ish to the large Epic Evo and the weights are within less than a pound of each other, maybe Levy or Sarah could take both bikes out for some head to head comparisons?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy @sarahmoore I've enjoyed the tests, just got to the epic but realised there isn't a Scott spark. Particularly in its race trim it's one of the most successful bikes out there so I'm a bit disappointed not to see it, is it intentional or wasn't it avaliable? I should add I'm in the never xc camp and am just an interested observer so unlikely ever to buy one of these bikes too be fair.
  • 6 2
 levy in lycra, scary thought!
  • 6 0
 Just let yourself feel your feelings, it's ok. Levy can't hurt you.
  • 2 0
 @tempest3070: at least someone cares
  • 2 0
 Lycraphobia - it's a real disease with real doctors.
  • 4 1
 Is it still XC if you don,t wear lycra??? And bring on the Privateer 161 full review!!!!Smile
  • 11 0
 XC is a state of mind
  • 5 15
flag peleton7 (Jul 27, 2020 at 10:59) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: XC is usually an excuse for having no handling skills. Just like DH is usually an excuse for having no aerobic fitness. A good XC rider can pin it on a DH bike at the park, and a good DH racer can muster a decent result in an XC race-but those folks usually just say they’re mountain bikers. Or just bike riders.
  • 1 1
 I can't wrap my mind around the climb in the test loop. Appears to be 400ft of climbing in 0.75 miles, and you are saying that is 15 minutes?

The most similar thing I have done is Dew Drop at Jakes Rocks: www.trailforks.com/trails/dew-drop-145718

It took me an hour. Not sure that I mountain bike.
  • 4 0
 As far as I can tell, this segment maps to the route they used. www.strava.com/segments/23735352?filter=overall

So 15 minutes is very fast (KOM speed in Squamish is serious business).
  • 1 2
 @CaMKii: Try coming out west some time, I can show you some climbs.
  • 7 0
 @danprisk: hah, Sarah's actually sitting in 3rd on that Strava lap, and our other Sarah L is sitting in 2nd. Lots of very fast people here in Squamish.
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: I spotted that. And Sarah M getting that time during testing by the looks of it? More importantly, it looks like Sarah M got the QOM on the more hotly contested CrumpFlow segment. I guess those XC bikes are pretty quick!
  • 3 0
 @vapidoscar There's definitely a lot of climbing in Valleycliffe... Sometimes feels like it's uphill both ways! Great for testing XC bikes.
  • 5 0
 @danprisk: They really are quick! We didn't do that entire Farside segment (soft-pedaled the beginning since our segment started partway up, I'll have to go back to try for the QOM...) but our segment did span the entire CrumpFlow segment - it's a fun one!!
  • 2 0
 @sarahmoore: Turns out I had the wrong trail and per Strava it only took 33 minutes. Deerfoot: www.trailforks.com/trails/deerfoot

The uphill rock gardens were killer. Can't wait to go back now that I have my full suspension trail bike built now and try again.
  • 2 0
 @vapidoscar: Uphill rock gardens, ouch! There may have been a couple dabs here and there on our test lap (mostly @mikelevy of course Wink ) but the climb was entirely rideable.
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: yea go Sarah lol. Getting #3 in a bike test is pretty rad.
  • 1 0
 Hey @mikelevy how did the spur fit you? I am 183cm (6ft) and have preordered L. i also have 50mm stem and 30mm rise fatbars. (i am right in the middle of their size guide but still, its bugging me)
  • 3 1
 The 480mm (large) felt a bit long but only because I was swapping back and forth between a lot of bikes - it would have been perfect if it was a bike that I owned. But the 455 of the medium is a bit short for how I'd want to ride this bike.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: i hope itll be ok for me. i dont have enough energy to think about it anymore Big Grin
  • 2 1
 I am 186cm riding a Large spur. It's perfect. I have long torso and shorter legs for .y size.
  • 1 0
 @DetroitCity: finally some good news, calmed me down a little. i think i have longish arms thats why i was afraid. 17 stumpy with shorter stem and bars with high backsweep was definitelly a little bit shord for me
  • 5 1
 @mikelevy Grim Donut or we riot for real this time..
  • 3 1
 Good thing the Grim Donut is included in this test then eh
  • 4 1
 Man, Transition is gonna sell all the Spurs, though the 480 reach seems a bit nutty, tbh.
  • 3 0
 they already sold, i am trying to buy one in europe since reveal and nothing. my frame should come in november
  • 2 0
 @mironfs: Beat me to it...I think backlog is till November or something.
  • 3 0
 Where is the BBQ? I see Levy brought the sausage.

I did not comment on his nipples.
  • 3 0
 Instead of the most expensive XCrace bike here, I'd buy 2 e-bikes. There, I said it...
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy Was it obligatory for you to wear lycra on XC bike before they allowed you to sit on those bikes? :-) No offense, but I thought it's your parody against the XC style :-)
  • 1 0
 I'd wear some lightweight baggies given the choice, but no, I did not have a choice in the matter. I had to wear a sausage suit Smile
  • 4 0
 I was so fixated on @mikelevy's nipples that I missed the entire video!
  • 1 1
 the supercaliber with this reach correspond to a ML size which have a 18,5'' of seatube, so to be the same as the rest of the field should be the size M which have a reach of 425mm, much shorter than the rest in the same size... Curious to see the result of this test...
  • 4 0
 Id have the yeti
  • 6 1
 Definitely the most trail bike of the down-country bikes.
  • 2 1
 Only if this level of detailed analysis was used on "The Matchup"

www.pinkbike.com/news/the-match-up-norco-optic-vs-norco-sight-2020.html
  • 7 1
 'The Matchup' wasn't meant to be a review, though. That series is an overview of two comparable bikes to explain why riders might want one or the other Smile Whereas the Field Test series is a full-on review thing.
  • 3 0
 Really surprised to not see the Trek Top Fuel listed here.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: well would ya look at that!
  • 2 3
 Shouldn’t you use the same wheelset across all the bikes in a test like this? It’s great you did this with the tires but wheels in this segment could have such a massive influence on these bikes (for example the EVO’s 1250g Rovals vs the Yeti’s M1700) they should be identical to give a true comparison
  • 19 2
 Wheels certainly do have a massive difference, but they're for less likely to be changed out, especially when they're $3,000 stock wheels to begin with. We assumed that anyone buying a $10k bike would continue to use the stock, and very light, carbon wheelset. So we wanted to ride the bikes with their stock wheels.

Tires, on the other hand, are always swapped out.
  • 11 1
 I mean, you could make the same argument about any bike, really. Obviously, the wheels have a massive impact on performance and handling. You could say the same about the fork. And the shock. And the crank length. And the grips and saddle. Point is, they're reviewing the BIKE, not the frame. People don't usually swap the big pieces, so the reviews shouldn't either.
  • 6 0
 After dropping $8000, I'm just not in the mood for a $2000 wheel upgrade.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: really interested in the tyre factor , as have just ordered the new spur frame for a custom build , and want to keep the weight down but keep grip and protection , as I see the point of this sort of XC/DC bike being efficiency on the up and fun and speed on the down , not having to pray for grip and no punctures is a big thing for me , I see why you have one set of tyres for the test , but hopefully cover what could be if changed out
  • 3 0
 XC is definitely not my thing, but great to see it get some love here.
  • 3 0
 Was hoping the Mach 4 SL might make a come back for this roundup.
  • 4 0
 New orbea?????
  • 4 2
 Look forward to it! Would have been nice to see an XC hardtail in there as a control.
  • 13 0
 We did exactly that - used a hardtail for the control bike in our Efficiency Test. And the Grim Donut, although I don't know why haha
  • 2 0
 Tough times for bike industry short term..there's just no inventory for another month or two.
  • 5 2
 Kindly, WTF. 2x Specialized 2x Canondale No Scott Spark No Santa Cruz Blur
  • 10 0
 They only review new bikes in field tests. Spark and Blur have been out for several years.
  • 5 1
 @dthomp325:

Having the Canyon Lux in there kinda ruins your point.
  • 7 0
 @hllclmbr: The Lux was included because was wanted a reference point and it's been one of (or the one) winningest bikes during the last two years Smile
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: I’m not sure about that. Scott sparks have won a lot of races in the last two years too.

It'll be interesting to see how it does with its outdated geo though.
  • 4 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: Yep we thought about including a Spark as well, but we wanted to make more room for the new bikes and figured one benchmark was enough. Looking at product release cycles I'd assume that a new Spark will drop before a new Lux, so hopefully our Lux review will be more relevant for longer. I'm pretty sure I just jinxed it though, so expect a new Lux to drop next week. Smile
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: it would've been nice to see some more drastically different suspension designs though.

I have a feeling that the Lux is going to have a big change. I'm not sure about the spark though, they might up the travel to 110, and slacken, but not change the suspension design. Who knows about the lux though.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: That's just saying you chose MVDP over Nino, right? Would have been nice to see them both, these field tests are great for their 'timestamp' relative comparisons. Having a dual 'control' entries would have been nice.
Here's a hell of a stat pull if you have it: how many 1st place spots have been either Spark or Lux in Men's Elite in the last 5 years?
  • 2 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: Im not sure making the RC a 110/120 would be the best move for scott. Around here scott bikes are the dominant bikes at any race, so the RC and the 120 version cover their bases pretty well. Elite XCO doesn't really represent the bike market as a whole, even if people like to have what Nino races.
  • 1 0
 @clink83: I agree, it doesn’t seem necessary to me. 100/100 is insanely capable, who knows what they’ll do though. Probably see in a few weeks.
  • 5 0
 @henrybsick: ok, I did some research. Since 2015 the canyon Lux has won a whole 3 races, the Spark has won 18. So @mikelevy here just seems to like MVDP over Nino.
  • 2 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: Ha! Nice find. Honestly, if we're talking rider only I lean MVDP as well, cross discipline performance is so insane. However, bike for bike, I wanna see things compared against the Spark. Nino has cemented it the OG Champ bike.
  • 1 1
 Eeeeek, $12,000 for that Cannondale. That’s some serious money.

I’ll stick with my Habit SE, it’s got the geo and spec for “Up County with just enough bouncy” riding.
  • 3 2
 Levy always does a great job regardless of the genre of bike, but will somebody please wake me up when the Revel and Transition in depth reviews are posted.
  • 3 0
 Yay, Margus Riga photos!!
  • 3 2
 The Spur is the real outlier with a 66deg HTA, might have swapped in the GG Pistol for an additional data point on the trail bike end of the spectrum.
  • 2 0
 The Pistol was already in a field test. Sarah loved it and I believe she ended up buying it, which seems like a pretty ringing endorsement.
  • 4 1
 That bike would absolutely suck to ride in the way that these bikes are intended. Great for people who don't care about going uphill fast, but that's not this category.
  • 4 0
 That GG Pistol was a fun one for sure! You can see the Field Test video of it from last fall here: www.pinkbike.com/news/field-test-2020-guerrilla-gravity-trail-pistol-down-for-whatever-country.html
  • 1 3
 @LeDuke: Really? So all my 5k+’dats ate that bad, damn, thanks for telling me!

Seriously, what would suck is riding any of these bikes, other than the Transition Spur, on real single track.

I like the clip where is shows Levy careening down a root trail completely out of control. This is what happens when you take an XC bike to a trail ride.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: Have you tried increasing the stroke to make it a Pistola?
  • 3 0
 Average price, ~$8600... :/
  • 1 0
 Are you still riding the Specialized Enduro as a comparison (I believe that was mentioned in the podcast) or did that get taken off the table?
  • 3 0
 Transition wins on looks.
  • 1 0
 I was really psyched for this test! Can’t wait to get home and watch the video. @mikelevy why did you go with the medium-sized race frames vs large downcountry ones?
  • 1 0
 I went with size larges from each brand, which was the recommended size for my 5' 10" height. There were some big differences.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy , being the bike that both Men&Women XC World Cup current champions use, I think that the field test is lacking a Spark...
  • 3 0
 FINALLY
  • 2 0
 for a DC bike the Spur's Geo is pretty dang agressive.
  • 2 0
 I'd have an Orange Stage Evo
  • 11 13
 I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t take the time to talk about what it means to service and support of these bikes during the course of a race season.

There’s a lot of fantastically proprietary technology that will be an absolute nightmare to find replacement parts for while traveling for races. I would love to see that factored in to this and future tests so that people can get an understanding of what it’s like to actually live with these bikes.

Most of these get flipped by racers yearly as part of EP programs so it would be helpful to second hand buyers to know that a Yeti hardware kit is $240 or how long until things need to be serviced. Get the pressure washers out boys.
  • 6 1
 That's some truth. Yeti makes some nice bikes, but the cost of a SI unit...ugh.
  • 40 1
 This is just the intro...
  • 4 5
 @mikelevy: let me re-phrase. No one does this, here is your chance to be different and better
  • 1 2
 @clink83: Yeti must equate friction sliding surfaces to be worth more. I mean no one else can put more bushings on a bike than them.
  • 2 1
 This is only missing the new Evil Following. Especially since they got that SIDLuxe build kit for it.
  • 2 0
 Are Mike Levy's cheeks really flapping in the wind in the cover pic?
  • 3 1
 Where is the Ibis Ripley?
  • 1 0
 Let's get on with the show, you've been teasing it for over a month now on the Pinkbike Podcast!
  • 4 0
 Stay tuned for this week's episode where we hint at the XC Field Test!
  • 2 0
 Making yetis look cheap at 7k.
  • 1 0
 I rolled past a sign yesterday that read "Spandex and speed do not mix".

Today, an XC article on PB. Coincidence?
  • 1 0
 Maybe I'm an idiot, but is there some reason the SB115 is a more than a kg heavier? I mean aside from the price tag.
  • 1 0
 idk why they didn't use the sb100.
  • 3 0
 @dualcrownscottspark: Because there won't be an SB100 soon. The SB115 is the new model, and it uses the same frame with updated suspension components, along with a longer travel fork. I reviewed the SB100 back in 2018 when it debuted: www.pinkbike.com/news/review-yetis-new-sb100.html
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: totally forgot it’s the same frame!
  • 2 0
 It does seem to me like its hard to get the weight down with that suspension design. Lots of extra hardware and material to make it work, but it does seem like test riders really like the performance, so for a lot of people that extra weight is worth it.
  • 1 0
 Prob because of the complex (being generous with that descriptor) suspension design.
  • 1 0
 It has a fox 34 130mm fork, big brakes, wide handlebars...If you wanted a lighter build you could easily get the weight down without too much effort.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Would be very interesting to hear, maybe on the podcast, about Yeti, Revel, and maybe even Evil compared to simpler designs (I know Evil is single pivot). I always look at those three brands and wonder how much, if anything, you gain over less complex designs, which I assume as a general matter will be lighter, less prone to problems, and easier to service. Not trying to knock those brands. Find Revel very intriguing.
  • 2 0
 Hardtail xc is not a thing anymore?
  • 1 0
 For the most part they're not much fun around here.
  • 1 0
 When will you be testing the new fleet of Down Back All Enduro Cross Mid-fat Plus Country Mullet bikes?
  • 2 0
 The Scalpel SE has a 67 degree head angle, not 68 as stated above.
  • 1 0
 Thanks! So many numbers ooooof Smile
  • 2 0
 Where is Process 111??? !!!
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy how does your giant trance 29 custom build compare to the DC bikes in this test round?
  • 2 0
 I'd have to get back on it, but I can tell you that I'd prefer a longer bike than that Trance.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: LB is the new LT
  • 1 0
 Wish the Ripley and Spot Ryve were included. Oh well, looking forward to this anyways.
  • 2 0
 I'm pretty sure they're saving the donut part two as our Christmas gift.
  • 2 0
 Crappy geometry and lycra in spades. This one should be an easy choice.
  • 2 0
 Guess for climb winner is Epic with brain. Loser the Cannondale SE1.
  • 1 0
 Sorry, I didn’t pay attention, when will the drop-to-flat videos be available?
  • 1 0
 Weeks.
  • 2 0
 Long story shortened, When does the Spur come out in al.?
  • 1 0
 Weeks.
  • 1 3
 "and because cross-country racers spend more time going up than down, you'll find things like suspension lock-outs that turn off both the fork and shock,"

Do they though? Pretty sure most (all?) XCO course are loops. I can't recall a point to point race with a summit finish...

And lockouts I'm pretty sure are used way more for sprints on stupid paved start/finish sections and other flat & smooth sections, than just for climbing.
  • 1 0
 you know, you can ride and enjoy a xc bike without resorting to wearing spandex.
  • 1 0
 Great bikes, sell them fast, if e bikes are allowed on mtb trails no one will want to peddle.
  • 2 2
 Would there be any reason to not keep the bikes relatively in the same price range or at least the same component groups?
  • 14 0
 The model that we review is often out of our hands - brands want to send us the nicest bikes they can so that a sub-par component doesn't ruin the review/take the shine off their very nice, very expensive frame that's been in the works for the last two years. Makes sense.

That's why most of the reviews focus on how the bike handles rather than parsing out how the components performed, although that can't always be the case. Especially when the $10k bike comes with the best suspension. But that gives you an idea Smile
  • 1 2
 Are we going to have to wait until the end of the season for the other categories of the field test?

Also, is the Slayer going to get a round 2?
  • 4 0
 This Field Test is only on cross-country bikes, but there will be others that feature the latest enduro, trail etc...
  • 1 0
 The Slayer is the one that broke due to bad design and or bad manufacturing, right? What justifies a round 2?
  • 1 0
 @tempest3070:

I mean, every other bike site/magazine/YouTube rider seems to think it slays. Not to mention the pro riders sending huge with it. Why not have a round 2?
  • 2 0
 @kilo11: Do you work for RM? They had their shot and broke.
  • 2 0
 @tempest3070:

I wish I worked for them but no. And if any bike broke I'd like to see it get another shot because freak accidents happen
  • 2 0
 Just here for the Lycra
  • 1 0
 Is @sarahmoore Specialized biased lol Wink
  • 4 0
 It's hard to believe but it's already been over 5 years since I worked there!
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: What did you do there, i.e. what job. I think it’s great that you have inside industry experience. I suspect working at a company may make a person more cynical about that companies products. But every reviewer has biases. Levy towards weird shit for example.
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: Wow, thats crazy! I was at a few product launches when you worked there. Smile
  • 2 0
 @Bikerburt: I worked on the Marketing team at Specialized Canada for three years in Montreal and then the Marketing team at Norco for another three years in BC before starting at Pinkbike two years ago. Last raced on a Trek back in 2012, my first race bikes were all Devincis... We've all got all kinds of experiences/biases!
  • 2 0
 @bighit117: Time flies!! Those were always fun events.
  • 2 2
 I'm betting the Trek Supercaliber climbs the best, and Yeti SBwhatever climbs the worst.
  • 1 0
 Now we've all seen Levy's vinegar strokes...
  • 1 0
 YT Izzo against Evo and SE downcountry test somewhere ? please.
  • 1 0
 Exactly what I was looking for as well?
  • 2 0
 $12,000 USD. lol
  • 1 0
 that spur is a very nice looking bike
  • 1 0
 Sadly, it's impossible to buy one any time soon if you haven't already done so. I'm desperately hunting for medium X01 build, but it's looking like October or later.
  • 1 0
 @opetruzel: most bike are like that right now, this is my 3rd week waiting on a commencal meta, it is supposed to be shipped on friday, fingers crossed
  • 1 1
 Can we trade the XC field test for some videos of the grim donut instead? I'd even settle for a picture only article.
  • 6 0
 That's not how this works, sorry. But we're editing GD2 right now. It's not far off, and there's a bunch of Grim Donut in this Field Trip series. For some reason. I don't know.
  • 1 1
 pretty neat eh bud but one thing we care about at the moment is the grim donut please deliver mr levy
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy no Evil Following?
  • 4 0
 We'll be reviewing that one in the near future Wink
  • 1 1
 Did I miss something? Where's the actual test results of each bike? and the winner?
  • 3 0
 Nope, you haven't missed anything. This is the introduction - the full video reviews will be released daily starting tomorrow!
  • 3 0
 You didn't miss anything - the reviews will come out mostly daily over the next few weeks, then some roundtable discussions/comparisons about the bikes.
  • 1 0
 "Weight: 21.5lb" My CamelBak weight
  • 1 0
 Love it great article. Remember Squamish sucks don’t go!
  • 1 0
 Did @mikekazimer decline the offer? Smile
  • 1 0
 Great footage so far! Looking forward to the reviews....
  • 1 0
 Really interested to see the huck to flat on the bikes with flex stays
  • 1 0
 "Down-country".....

Oh - just do one!
  • 1 0
 where are the results? I am missing something.....
  • 2 0
 No 26er ?
  • 7 8
 Why does the word "downcountry" even exist? This word just needs to die already
  • 3 3
 Agreed. When some xc race bikes have slacker head angles than downcountry bikes and some downcountry are lighter than xc bikes it really is just company's creating marketing niches for attention. The differences are so negligible that it doesn't justify the dumb downcountry name.
  • 10 2
 @DoubleCrownAddict: "The differences are so negligible that it doesn't justify the dumb downcountry name."

LOL Having just read all these bikes back-to-back-to-back-to-back, the differences between a cross-country bike and a down-country bike are massive. But we'll chat about that in the upcoming videos Smile
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: And I suppose there is a "massive" difference between downcountry and xc trail bikes also or did you just replace xc trail with downcountry?
  • 2 1
 scalpel is better
  • 3 2
 Until it cracks. And they carry the Crackandfail torch.....HARD!!! Light, disposable race bikes. Just not cheap enough.
  • 1 1
 That main image on the video looks like he's riding his dad's bike.
  • 4 5
 Where's the Scott Spark RC??? I refuse to consider this test complete without one.
  • 1 2
 As an interesting point of reference, a used Ducati Panigale can be had for less than some of these offerings.
  • 1 1
 It's official 'downcountry' is a thing.
  • 2 1
 You'd better believe it!! Wink
  • 1 1
 no ripley, but a 27lb Yeti. OKAY
  • 3 0
 Yo, I've ridden and reviewed literally every single iteration of the Ripley. You can find them all online, but here's the most recent: www.pinkbike.com/news/review-ibis-2020-4th-generation-ripley.html

We only wanted to include newer XC bikes, and the Lux was in the test as a benchmark for comparison's sake Smile
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: How does the Ripley compare to this batch of bikes? I know it climbs well, but does it climb XC well?
  • 1 2
 Very dissapointed to not see the new Kona Hei Hei in the downcountry line up!!!
  • 1 3
 @mikelevy: Yeah ive seen that. I’m talking about in this test dog! Couldn’t have hurt to throw it in!!
  • 9 0
 @Jacobcampos: I feel sorry for Mike and Sarah here, they've ridden countless miles, set KOMs and blown heart rates out of the window then all we see is "why haven't you tested XYZ, it's pointless". They can't test every bike ever made by man just so everyone can compare anything they may have considered buying in the last decade.
It's a great line up of bikes and information.

Thanks lots guys, keep it up.
-weeksy59
  • 1 0
 Make Pink Bike RAD again
  • 1 0
 No hardtail bikes?
  • 1 0
 A carbon hardtail was included in the Efficiency Test as a reference point, but no reviews of hardtails.
  • 2 3
 Am I missing something? Where are the results?
  • 10 0
 You're only missing the results, which aren't out yet Wink
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy: What date will the results be posted? Will all bikes be tested by both you and Sarah?
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: gotcha, thanks. Very interested to see... I’ve been slogging up hills and wasting energy on the flats on a 160mm travel for about 4 years now and all I can think is how a Downcountry bike should be the only bike the everyday rider would ever need... I would wonder why everyone thinks they need an enduro bike for trail riding but then all I have to do is look at the amount of 16inch-lift full-size diesel trucks mall crawling to realize that it’s never going to be about what people need, it’s only what they think makes them look good...
  • 3 0
 @mcrowley: First video drops tomorrow! I rode the four pure XC race models while Levy rode the five downcountry models. He also rode all the bikes in the Impossible Climb and the Efficiency Test.
  • 5 0
 @TheDoctoRR: It's all about where you ride, who you ride with, what your goals are... That being said, downcountry bikes are some of the fastest and most versatile bikes you can buy!
  • 1 0
 @sarahmoore: Curious, what size Epic do you run? I'm 5'7" as well and seems like in between sizes.
  • 2 0
 @rcrot: The size Medium is a great fit for me.
  • 1 0
 Same here, I was like err, do I click to go to another page/video-oh ffs, it’s a teaser, like I want to have to wait to see what’s shite & what’s not!
  • 4 4
 All 29er
  • 15 0
 Yup, all cross-country bikes.
  • 6 1
 @mikelevy: yeah they're designed to be fast so of course they're 29
  • 4 6
 There really should be some 650b's in the fun XC category. I roll xc terrain, but am not driven enough to keep the big hoop rolling at the speed it wants.
  • 3 0
 Sometimes, the tiniest XC frames from any given manufacturer will have 27.5 wheels, but aside from that, who is making 27.5" XC bikes? The Pivot Mach 4 is all I can think of.
  • 4 1
 No one is getting my money until they make a DC mullet bike. Tires in crack aren't my jam.
  • 1 1
 It works the best. For just about everything. Except maybe slopestyle and dirt jumping.
  • 2 0
 @peleton7: Yeah I'm on 27.5 and need to catch up I guess. I just like having fun don't race bikes so the 27.5 seems good no really reason to swap over to 29er yet.
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: The new models are all 29, just checked. Cannondale is the only one I've found so far.
  • 2 0
 @rsmisko:

I'm personally offended that you're happy with your current setup and haven't bought in to the need to switch wheel size yet based on the opinions of others.

@peleton7 -> personal preference for how a rider wants their bike to handle trumps everything...... but I do think @rsmisko should demo the wagon wheel equiv of his current whip for comparison (I digress).
  • 2 1
 @rsmisko: If you like your bike, run it until it's worn out. But now that chainstay length has been decoupled from wheel size, you can get a big wheeled bike that rides however you want.
  • 2 0
 @hllclmbr: pivot isn't making the mach 4 anymore. Rockshox doesn't even make the SID in 27.5 anymore, RIP.
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: Sadly the 27.5 Pivot Mach 4 is ded. The Mach 4 is 29 only nowadays. Pivot does actually still have the 27.5 Les hardtail, and thankfully it's standard 27.5 (not plus).
  • 2 3
 I cant get over the fugly helmets
  • 5 0
 For visor-less road/XC helmets, I don't think they look half bad. But yeah, not nearly as "cool" as a trail bike lid that I usually wear Smile
  • 25 28
 Don't care about XC or DC bikes. Where is the Grim Donut content?!
  • 24 0
 We're just in the middle of editing part two, so it'll be out soon. In the meantime, there's some Grim Donut in the Field Test series - it's in the Impossible Climb, Huck to Flat, and the Efficiency Test. It did about as well as you'd expect...
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: wait, it finally fell apart? i hope that poor lyrik killed the headset...
  • 7 0
 @justgoride: You'll see soon - the ET, HTF, and IC videos will come out after the nine reviews.
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: Did it melt like frosting on donut fresh out of the lard when lycra met its saddle?
  • 3 0
 I don't care about any of these bikes either but I'm oddly excited for this content.

I want to see the efficiency test done on all future field tests, including the DH one. @mikelevy
  • 3 0
 @badbietz: Highly likely that's what we're gonna do.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: so whos volunteering for that climb on a dh bike?
  • 1 0
 @schlockinz: dammit man im already hungry
  • 2 0
 @justgoride: I've got nothing going on so I'll do it.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Regarding geometry, how are the ST° of these bikes in comparison? Does the DC bikes with some degree slacker HA° have steeper ST°? Ore shorter CS to reduce wheelbase?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: i hope you've got the next few years...
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: so we have to be subject to watching nine videos of Mike Levy lycra piercing nipples before we can see what happened with the grim donut?... :p
  • 2 0
 @MasterOfStone: Exactly. Nothing comes for free!
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