Short or Long-Travel: Which Is The Best All-Round MTB?

Nov 11, 2022 at 5:19
by Seb Stott  

If you want one bike to do everything, how much travel should it have? All bikes have to find a compromise between climbing and descending performance, and suspension travel is usually seen as a good indicator of where a bike sits on that spectrum.

But recently, short-travel trail bikes have become a lot more capable, while long-travel bikes have got much better at climbing. So how much slower is a modern long-travel bike uphill? And what are the differences downhill?

Caught up in all this is the question of tire choice. How much of the difference in climbing speed between an enduro bike and a trail bike is down to the tires? Can fast-rolling tires close the gap? And can sticky tires make a short-travel bike descend as well as a long-travel one? Let's find out.




Nukeproof Reactor
• 130 / 150 mm travel
• Weight as tested: 14.4 Kg / 31.7 lbs ("trail" tires, 200 mm rotors)
• Size tested: XL
• Price: £5,999.99

Nukeproof Giga
• 170 / 180 mm travel
• Weight as tested: 15.2 Kg / 33.5 lbs ("trail" tires, air shock)
• Size tested: XXL
• Price: £6,299.99

The bikes

To make things as comparable as possible, I got hold of a Nukeprof Reactor RS and a Nukeproof Giga RS. The Reactor has 130 mm of rear travel and 150 mm up front, while Giga serves up 170 mm (rear) and 180 mm (front). These models have identical brakes, drivetrains, and cockpits. With the same wheels and tires fitted, only the frame and fork are different. Both use full-carbon frames and RockShox Ultimate-level suspension. The Reactor has a Lyrik fork to the Giga's Zeb, but the difference in chassis diameter is appropriate to the travel offered in each case.

Although the photos used here were taken with a coil shock fitted to the Giga, the testing was carried out with a RockShox Super Deluxe air shock to match the shock on the Reactor. I upgraded the rear rotor size on the Reactor to 200 mm so both bikes could accept the same wheels for comparative testing.

I set both bikes up with 30% shock sag and suspension settings as I would normally have them.

For the most part, I used the wheels that came stock on the Reactor for both bikes to remove the variable of tire choice. These tires were a Maxxis Dissector, EXO+ casing, MaxTerrra compound (rear) with a Maxxis Assegai, EXO casing, MaxxTerra compound (front). For brevity, I'll call these the "trail" tires from now on. Fitting these tires and the air shock to the Giga dropped its weight to a respectable 15.2 Kg - only 800 g (1.8 lbs) more than the Reactor with the same wheels.

I tested with lighter and faster-rolling "trail" tires (left) and stickier "enduro" tires (right).

I also tested with a stickier pair of tires (fitted to another alloy wheelset for easier wheel swaps). These were a Maxxis Assegai in DoubleDown casing, MaxxGrip compound on the rear, with a Schwalbe Magic Mary, SuperGravity casing, Soft compound, on the front. We'll call these the "enduro" tires. These wheels/tires weighed 600g more than the trail wheels/tires.




Climbing

For the climbing test, I used a pair of SRM power meter pedals to control my effort, which I kept at a steady 250 W. I rode both bikes up the same gentle and smooth fire road climb. I used a short climb so I could do five laps on each bike in quick succession and take an average. If I only did one or two longer climbs on each bike, there would be no way of knowing if any difference in times was down to the bike or just a fluke.

I did this first with the trail tires at my usual riding pressures (23 and 26 psi) then I re-tested the Reactor with the enduro tires. Here are the times:


As you might expect, the Giga was slower on average than the Reactor, but the average time was only 0.8% slower. Because the Reactor wasn't consistently quicker, and the average difference between the bikes was so small, we can't be sure from these numbers if the difference between the bikes is real or just a fluke. In science terms, the difference wasn't statistically significant.

But even if we take the 0.8% difference at face value, that's about what we'd expect from the weight difference between the two bikes alone, suggesting the travel per se (i.e the pedalling efficiency) wasn't having any effect.

In contrast, with the enduro tires fitted, the Reactor went 4.1% slower, or 3.4% slower than the Giga with the trail tires. In both cases, these are statistically significant differences, because the Reactor with Enduro tires was consistently slowest. To give that some context, over a half-hour climb, the enduro tires would add about one minute and fourteen seconds to the Reactor's time. Or to go at the same pace, you'd need to produce about 260 W instead of 250 W; if you're already working hard, that could be very noticeable.

The added weight of the heavier tires would only be expected to slow things down by at most 0.6%, so most of that difference is down to rolling resistance. This added drag will make covering ground slower on the flat and even downhills too (so long as traction and braking aren't what's limiting speed).

Subjectively, you can feel a little pedal bob from either bike, but there isn't dramatically more with the Giga. The position is quite different due to the Reactor's lower stack height and slacker seat tube angle (74.5° vs. 78°); this stretches out the spine which feels much less comfortable to me, especially on long climbs. Doing timed testing over technical climbs is virtually impossible because the time can vary so much from one run to the next depending on line choice, technique and luck, but when riding over bumpy terrain the Giga is noticeably smoother. The softer suspension obviously helps here but having your weight further in front of the rear axle also reduces how much your weight lifts when the rear wheel moves over a bump. Though I can't put a number on it, I much preferred the Giga for technical climbs.




Descending

To see how they compare for descending, I chose a short local trail I know well with a good mix of roots, rocks, steep twisty sections and flat fast sections. It's not the most technical trail in the world and it's definitely not the roughest, but on the day of testing (which was a couple of days before taking these photographs), it was wet and slippery, making it a good challenge. To level the playing field and keep things simple, I stuck with the trail tires on the Giga and the enduro tires on the Reactor.


The Giga went first, and despite doing two laps to get up to speed on the course before getting the timer out, I shaved 2-3 seconds off my time from one run to the next. This is always a problem with timed testing. My first time on the Reactor (my fourth timed run of the day) matched the first run on the Giga. It improved from there but levelled out at one minute and sixteen seconds.

I did one more run on the reactor with the trail tires and matched my fastest times on the Reactor, suggesting the stickier tires weren't much of an advantage on this course anyway. I'm sure that on a more treacherous course - or in the hands of a rider who is better at finding the limit of grip - the enduro tires would become a significant advantage.


Subjectively, the enduro tires felt much more damped and surefooted and I was locking up less on the steep sections, but this didn't seem to translate into more speed for me. Even with the sticky tires on the Reactor, the Giga felt much smoother, calmer and more stable. The higher bar and slacker head angle combined with suspension that feels more settled "in the travel" makes going faster feel more within my comfort zone. I also felt like there was more time left on the table with the Giga, whereas the last two runs on the Reactor would be hard for me to improve on.

Because there are so many variables at play when descending, I wouldn't read much into the times themselves. But they reveal that, although I felt closer to the edge on the Reactor, I was in fact going slower.




Closing thoughts and opinions

The biggest takeaway for me is just how much difference tire choice makes for climbing speed. Sure, the enduro tires I tested are pretty draggy, but they're not DH tires or mud spikes, and the trail tires (with an Assegai up front) are far from the fastest you can get. In fact, they held their own even on slippery descents.

I'm sure plenty of people don't care about going slightly faster or feeling more comfortable on steep descents; in fact, I often hear people say they find it more fun to have a sketchier ride at slower speeds. But if that's the case, why not fit slicker tires which will offer a real boost in climbing speed as a bonus? You could always use the lockout or run 10% sag if you want your enduro bike to feel sketchier! Personally, I have more fun on a long travel bike as it gives me the confidence to try new lines or ride them with more commitment.

The other surprise was that the Giga was barely slower uphill than the reactor with the same tires, and if you want to close the efficiency gap even more you could always use the lockout.

One caveat here is that a power meter may not be the best way to measure and control effort in an efficiency test when comparing suspension efficiency. I discuss this with Mike Levy in this episode of the Pinkbike Podcast, but the bottom line is that I think the power meter method is valid for measuring efficiency when pedalling sitting down (as in this test), but it doesn't work for out-of-the-saddle sprinting, and that's where the extra travel is more likely to be a disadvantage.

It's also fair to say the Reactor isn't the fastest-climbing short-travel bike out there. But the Giga probably isn't the most efficient among 170 mm+ bikes either. It's based on a downhill bike and it's designed to be even more gravity-focussed than Nukeproof's Mega enduro bike. More to the point, it doesn't have a huge amount of anti-squat, and higher anti-squat levels would probably make it climb even better. In one of Levy's efficiency tests, the 170 mm-travel Santa Cruz Nomad (which has quite a lot of anti-squat) was faster than the 130 mm-travel Ibis Mojo (despite having slower tires), suggesting a long-travel bike with generous anti-squat can be as just as efficient as a shorter travel one.

The bottom line is that ample suspension travel needn't be a hindrance uphill, but grippy tires will slow you down a lot. So if you want one bike to do everything, it might make sense to pick a long-travel bike with a spare set of fast-rolling tires for mellower rides.







384 Comments

  • 553 16
 The best bike is the bike you have.
  • 52 2
 Yours is the best ever
  • 16 2
 Didn’t mean that as a reply
  • 31 0
 100% - I wanted to get the Tallboy for frame storage, but I got a frame bag for my Gen 2Bronson instead and I fell in love with it all over again. The bike you have is the best bike.
  • 9 1
 N+1 bikes, that I have... and ready at the trail, to have a choice.
  • 13 41
flag seraph (Nov 11, 2022 at 10:04) (Below Threshold)
 All bikes ride the same.
  • 2 0
 But mines broken :'(
  • 10 0
 @deaf-shredder: love the one you're with
  • 9 2
 But I really want that new Specialized Enduro. lol
  • 11 0
 or the bike that you can afford
  • 2 0
 Thank you. I like it a lot too.
  • 1 1
 Medim travel? Course that's what trail bikes should be so no brainer there... Wink
  • 25 2
 @Confidently-Incorrect: I hope you put you're tire on backwards with cushcore and have to redo it!
  • 10 23
flag kingbike2 (Nov 11, 2022 at 17:29) (Below Threshold)
 Ebike is better
  • 2 0
 @cxfahrer: Sadly I am at N-1 right now. Need to get rid of one.
  • 5 0
 The contentment mentality sounds noble but doesn't always apply. Many people have bikes that don't fit properly and aren't built up for what they typically ride. A few seasons ago I was just getting back into trail riding and had an entry level bike. I didn't really know what I needed. The bike weighed 36 pounds and was too small. The bike I have now is 100x better. It's 31lbs and has a reach that is perfect for me. Night and day difference.
  • 2 0
 no its the bike you have
  • 2 0
 when has more ever been a bad thing
  • 1 0
 I’ve been battling this for a year. Sold some stuff and decided to upgrade my frame (it had old stuff on it). So glad I kept it and beefed it up.
  • 2 0
 @nickfranko: I'll sell you mine. I want that new SB160
  • 1 0
 They‘re all good bikes, bront!
  • 2 0
 Only if isn't internal cable's headset Wink
  • 8 0
 Since when is 130/150 a short travel bike? That is medium travel right there...
  • 6 0
 I've been saying this for years. Over-bike and choose tire accordingly.
  • 1 0
 @Ensminger: Well, including the next upgrade…
  • 1 0
 Because the bike you don't have you have to pay for.
  • 218 3
 I outright reject the premise of only being allowed to own one bike
  • 156 0
 Is it ok to look at younger hotter bikes but still ride old faithfull? Asking for a friend.
  • 20 12
 Seriously. If I could only own 1 bike it would be a dh bike. Luckily I own about 10 bikes. 3 of them are DH bikes. The one that gets used most has 160mm of travel...But I'd give it up before the best dh rig without a seconds hesitation.
  • 31 1
 @pink505: Of course! It’s even ok taking the younger, hotter models for a test ride sometimes…just don’t fall in love, and wear protection. (Because these new bikes are easier to get up to dangerous speeds ya know.)
  • 6 0
 give that man a beer, a hug and a cookie!
  • 5 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Interesting, why is that? Especially based in the UK where downhill opportunities aren’t particularly extensive?
  • 13 4
 @BarneyStinson: Because dh is the fundamental reason I ride mtbs. Choices are limited in the UK yes, but there is good riding to be had in the UK for sure. What british tracks lack in elevation, they tend to make up for by being very steep. And also every summer I go to the alps for a few weeks to give the bike a real workout.
I ride the 160 the most, cos I take it out on xc rides in the evening near my house. But I'm dreaming of riding the dh rig down vertical walls while I do it. I don't give the 160 a second thought when I'm on the dh bike.
  • 5 0
 Whatever floats your boat man. Up until recently I had a 120 bike and a 170. One day realized I was trying to both push towards the middle with tires/etc — so I sold them (well, one of the two so far) and bought a switchblade with middle of the road (grip) tires. It will do pretty much whatever I personally want it to do and that’s pretty nice.
  • 2 0
 @gabriel-mission9: what's your fave bike big lad?
  • 1 0
 Absolutely, I have a downcountry bike and a 150mm 29er for bike parks/DH trails (aren’t many near me hence not having a pure enduro bike)
  • 5 0
 @gabriel-mission9: absolutely second this- a day off work is a day at the DH trails for me, even if my closest ones (Midlands) aren't the biggest and I'm not the fastest/most capable. Just love the gravity sensation. Also, as regards DH In the UK, when you add torrential rain most tracks become pretty fun.
  • 3 0
 @pink505: it doesn't matter where you get your appetite, as long as you eat at home.
  • 3 0
 @pink505: You know Utah has a lot of good mountain biking.......
  • 2 1
 @pink505: doesn’t matter where you get your appetite from as long as you eat at home
  • 11 0
 @pink505: some younger, hotter bikes are drawn to older riders... could be their experience, their wallet, or something else altogether. all i can say for certain is that biking is fun, and any bike can be a sh!t load of fun if you ride it right.
  • 2 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Interesting. I ride a 150mm/160mm travel bike for my the same reason. Most of my friends ride hardtails and prefer XC type riding, whereas I like enduro style trails. When I’m riding with my friends I’m dreaming of enduro trails, when I’m riding enduro trails I don’t think of the XC trails at all.
  • 1 0
 @peterman1234: ha ha, I found with my 140mm old bike, I was gradually building it up burlier and burlier.
  • 4 0
 @BarneyStinson: Every single bike park in the UK is an opportunity to ride a DH bike...

So is going to the shops for Rizla...
  • 1 0
 @deadmeat25: This guy gets it
  • 119 7
 Personal preference:
Longer distance = my bike
Shorter distance = my bike
Technical climbing = my bike
fire road climbing = my bike
Hauling a trailer = my bike
Jumps = my bike
Steeps = my bike
Thinking about = my bike
Talking about = my bike
I want to ride = my bike
  • 10 0
 I like my bike too
  • 2 2
 This is a winning comment.
  • 1 0
 oh man, mine is the best! for years now
  • 5 0
 BICYCLE BICYCLE
  • 2 0
 Stuck in the office = I want to ride my bike
  • 105 0
 With the title saying "Short or Long travel" I was expecting like 120-130 up front. I think I should redefine my definition of short.
  • 28 10
 Glad I'm not the only one wondering why 150 up front was short. Sure, it's rear travel I guess, but a 150mm hardtail sure as hell isn't for "trail" riding.
  • 65 1
 @intelligent-goldfish: Weird. I ride my 150 mm hardtail on trails all the time.
  • 22 2
 @ZanielGa this 100%.

Also, bimbling your way up a few climbs is by no means a real world test, take these 2 bikes out for a 20 mile loop and then tell me the enduro bike is best.
  • 3 0
 @intelligent-goldfish: what's it for then?
  • 4 4
 @MrBaldwig: 20 mile loop with a lot of altitude and technical lines (up and down) the sweet spot is 150mm or so of rear travel.
  • 5 0
 @wyorider: indeed, it does depend on the type of riding that you’re doing though.

150mm is fine for “winch & plummet” type riding, however if it’s more rolling and traversing (as a lot of the riding in the UK can be) then it’s tiring and not a lot of fun.
  • 2 0
 @MrBaldwig: I took my overbuilt coil sprung 140mm bike on a couple of 100km loops over summer taking in some of the best local climbs and descents. Then did the SDW100 on it. Light tyres made it fine.
  • 2 0
 @BarneyStinson: it depends on your local riding. Our local trails have sections where 150ish travel is the sweet spot. Sure I can ride them on my HT but having rear travel is better.
  • 6 3
 ^^^ This. Should have been 120 vs. 180 mm in the travel department and 25 vs 35 lbs in the weight dept. And, the tires should have been consistent throughout. Do a tire comparison in a different test…
  • 3 0
 So is a Tallboy an XC bike now? It's pretty clear that while you can ride trails on a 150mm trail bike, that doesn't make it short travel by any means.
  • 3 0
 @pmhobson: touche, but if we're mincing words, all bikes are trail bikes.

@DCF mountain biking? Jokes aside, my point was that 150mm seems (at least to me) to cross the line into enduro, especially as I think (don't quote me) that there's usually also a jump in stanchion thickness to provide extra stiffness that frankly isn't needed in the "trail" category.

End of the day yes, it's a bike, ride wherever the hell you want. My point was simply that 150mm is only "short" if you're a 170-190mm enduro-bro.
  • 2 1
 @intelligent-goldfish: IMO a 36 or Lyrik (or my Öhlins 36) are "trail" forks (aggressive trail that you can ride DH trails on, bit still a trail fork. They're at the beefier end of the scale.

Zeb / 38s are Enduro. Even if I could I wouldn't want to run a 36 diameter fork bigger than 160mm.

I agree that 150mm is the upper limit of aggressive trail/ all mountain / whateveryawannacallitthatsnotEnduro.
  • 1 0
 @MrBaldwig: You mean like an Enduro Stage race weekend? Saving 2.5% energy up an hour and a half long climb isn't very helpful when you bin it in the first gnarly tech section, of a 10-20 minute downhill, resulting in a mechanical or an injury, because you opted for lighter or less draggy (grippy) tyres.

There are also tyres with incredible grip that don't roll like a boat anchor like the Ass-guy does (it was designed as a DH World up winning tyre after all - don't think Greg GOAT was worried about pedalling it for more than a 30 second print when he was asking Maxxis to make it for him).

Nothing is perfect but priorities surely focus on thrill rather than grinding up the hill once one is in the 150-150+ category of bike.?

I have a 2020 Optic (130/150 Lyrik) and 2020 Sight (155/ 170 Zeb), with very similar builds, and I would choose the Sight almost every day over the Optic due to the 2º steeper STA and the 5 mm longer chain stay. More centred wins the choice every time.
The Optic basically stays in my quiver so I have something almost as good to ride when the Sight needs something serviced that means it is not available to ride (and when I want something with a little lighter/ faster rolling tyres - still grippier than a Maxx Terrifying Dissector).
  • 1 0
 " I think I should redefine my definition of short."
-Thats what she said.
  • 76 0
 Me holding a sign on the street corner: "130/150 is not short travel."
  • 46 0
 Tires are definitely the key, but when you start getting into that 5+lb weight difference, then it starts adding up beyond tires. I used to ride my enduro with a set of carbon wheels and xc tires for long rides on mellow trails, and that was a MASSIVE difference than using the DH wheels/tires. However, I recently got a YT Izzo and with the same xc tires, it is significantly faster in mellow settings to the point where I can't say "it doesn't matter it's all wheels and tires." That weight really adds up over climb after climb
  • 63 0
 I switched my minions out for some narrower continentals on my ripmo and it felt like a new bike on the climb. I was really surprised. So new in fact I bailed on a gravelly spot which I guess the minions could handle better, haha. Moral of the story, put up with as much tire as you can cause falling hurts more than slower climbs.
  • 8 26
flag gnarlysipes (Nov 11, 2022 at 9:41) (Below Threshold)
 After a year of switching between my regular bike and my ebike, weight is even less of a concern for me than it was before. A 5lb difference may mean a lot to a pro but for me, my body weight sometimes fluctuates 5lbs in a month! Extra weight down low on the bike does wonders for some aspects of downhill riding (like feeling planted).
  • 4 5
 The Dissector and Rekon 2.6 that came Genius made it feel like a dead heavy slow turd. I swapped in Rekon Race front and back and it felt like that bike woke up and came alive, was awesome. Even with the Rekon Race in back and Dissector up front it still felt like it was dragging the bike down in rolling speed and steering inputs. I've been running the reg Rekon up front which has been a lot better but lately I've wanted to swap it out for Rekon Race again. Trying to follow my buddy on Race Kings was lol on climbs.
  • 5 5
 @gnarlysipes: dude, a 5lbs fluctuation for me sometimes happens in 48 hours! Up if i eat too much, down if i make an entire-day-ride and then play some football the next days.
  • 18 0
 @hitarpotar: I've often though it funny the stress on frame weight, yet have never heard anyone remark on how much faster their bike felt once they drank all the water from their bottle. 2.2lbs on the frame seems to have zero impact on most people.
  • 23 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: "Falling hurts more than slower climbs" - words to live by
  • 1 0
 @gnarlysipes: I have an XC, trail and Enduro bike and I do have to say that a heavier bike feels more stable at high speeds on chunky/rocky terrain.
  • 3 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: This comment is the winner.
  • 7 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: amen. I put on ultrasoft Magic Mary supergravitys for a rain race and was so blown away by the traction that I haven't removed them since. They are unbelievably slow and heavy, but I'm also slow and heavy, so this is kind of a good thing from a training perspective. When and if I put my EXO Minion MaxxTerras back on, it's gonna feel like a space shuttle.
  • 10 0
 What I like to do is run an aggressive tire (Assegai, Shorty, Magic Mary, etc.) on the front of my bike since that’s most of my braking, and a semi-slick (rock razor, Minion SS, etc.) on the back for more efficiency. Worked pretty well for me on a large road trip this summer. Lots of different conditions and dirt types.

This is on a 165/170mm enduro bike btw.
  • 1 0
 @MrShreddypants: I did this same combo for a long time. Works very well in dry conditions for sure. I moved to a place where the trails are often wet though, and the SS is sketchy AF. Kinda fun. But I think that the combo is a really good compromise.
  • 1 7
flag lkubica (Nov 12, 2022 at 6:29) (Below Threshold)
 If you weigh 70kg and your bike weights 15kg, you need at least 3kg (6,6lb) heavier bike to even match this 4% difference made by tires. So yeah, bike weight matters if you compare XC bike to an enduro bike. The problem is bike weight is kind of religion, somehow it is the most important factor, especially for dads who never compete but love to buy themselves advantage. This is a bit funny cause most of them will end on an ebike enyway.
  • 2 0
 @lkubica: yeah i basically went with the lightest bike I could afford that I also didn't believe I would break if I decided to do a few silly things with it. I actually added weight with heavier cranks that I got for free but were shorter. But I was snagging it before a 52.5 mi race and it made a world of difference while still being a fun bike.
  • 2 0
 @lkubica: rotational weight is not the same as body weight. i know a guy who though like you, his bike is only 3kg heavier than most of us and we wait for him 5 to 10 min on every single climb. dh wheels tires and cush core, added to an already heavy enduro bike will do that. and yep if we swap bikes hes fine.

hes been enduring this for 2y and today as i write this we're going to test some bike because he finally wants a lighter one lol
  • 7 0
 MaxxGrip Assegai out back is just masochism. No need for it.
  • 1 0
 @ryetoast: Except you'll probably bin it on the first damp root as the grip level will be nothing compared to what you are now used to expecting from your tyres.
  • 4 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: I agree. Best advice I ever got when asked the local legend, "Tires for the climb or the descent?" "Descent. I never broke my collarbone washing out climbing"
  • 2 0
 @zephxiii: On Genius i swappped the Rekons for a Magic Mary and Big Betty and it makes the bike so much better for my local conditions and the park
  • 46 0
 I always appreciate the thoroughness of Seb's articles. Just for my own curiosity, is a steady fire road climb what people are thinking of when shopping for an efficient suspension platform? I'm sure this is very dependent on location, but I kinda assume every bike pedals great on a fire road.
  • 23 10
 A steady fireroad climb is the best way to put down consistent runs, and then that way (hopefully) any difference in efficiency will show up in the times. An efficient bike on a fireroad will still be an efficient bike on more technical singletrack.
  • 22 2
 @mikekazimer: I disagree for the same reason that 60+PSI in your tires is faster on tarmac, but 15PSI is more efficient on a world cup XC course. Same thing for a hardtail vs a full suspension on a technical trail. A more compliant suspension system will be more efficient than a super stiff one on technical terrain.

That being said, testing on a fire road makes all the sense in the world. too many variables on singletrack.
  • 15 1
 @plustiresaintdead, by efficient I mean how much energy is being lost by the suspension movement. Traction and comfort are different metrics, and a lot harder to quantify. You're right, though, that the most efficient suspension design (or a hardtail) likely won't be as easy to ride on a really rough climb.
  • 8 1
 I think it's a valid test. Most riders I know do the uphills on fire roads or similar. Doesn't matter if they are riding trail or enduro bikes. Probably depends on you local trailsystem though.
  • 2 2
 @plustiresaintdead:
So the difference in times on the fire road was just enough to account for the weight difference of the bikes?
Then why does Nukeproof even sell the Reactor?
  • 10 4
 @mikekazimer: A power meter doesn't allow for measurement of losses due to suspension movement. There's little loss due to the suspension moving when measuring at the cranks. You'd have to somehow measure energy expenditure of the rider to include suspension movement.
  • 23 0
 @mikekazimer: I agree that it's much harder to quantify, but it's also arguably more important. My feeling is that different terrain is going to really bring out pros and cons more. On Fromme, where you ride up the gravel road and then primarily descend, a longer travel bike will shine. Where I live it's all technical single track with very short punchy climbs, up and down, and constant severe gradient changes. I predict that on this kind of terrain a short travel bike will beat a long travel sled quite handily because of the constant sudden severe accelerations/ surges in power. Having had a power meter on a previous MTB I would have repeated short surges in the 500 - 700 watt range. It's very different from spinning at a constant wattage, much more energy sapping, and will cause more unwanted suspension cycling. Even moving from a Yeti SB 4.5 to a Forbidden Druid which is only a 15 mm travel difference, I was overall faster on the Yeti comparing times on trail I Habs ridden on both dozens of times. I respect the attempt to test the theory objectively in this article, but I do think if you are trying to decide what the best all around bike is then testing them on a multitude of terrain types becomes very important.
  • 7 0
 Yeah, I'm thinking of rolling terrain and short, punchy uphills rather than steady and consistent efforts. There's a lot of people out there who's local trail systems don't have long, steady climbs, but are in rolling terrain that calls for 15-30sec climbs. I'd be curious to see the advantage there, as I feel like weight and travel would make a large difference in that scenario.
  • 2 0
 @fango925:
Back I’m the day I was riding my Gary Fisher hardtail racer with a guy on a full suspension K2. I rode that K2 the week prior and couldn’t believe the loss on the road. But, then we got to this 3 mile rock ledge climb and I couldn’t hang. I watched that old school rear suspension soak up what was killing my forward momentum!
The right travel for the trail?
  • 1 1
 @Untgrad: travel preferences. I’m sure sprinting across a flat or technical climbs would feel pretty different between the two bikes
  • 1 1
 @peterman1234:
..so am I
  • 6 2
 @jeremy3220: I’m not a physics expert, but I think you nailed the flaw in this test. As a way of example, imagine you were standing and wasting a huge amount of rider energy bouncing into the the suspension. The cranks couldn’t measure this, it just reads the net power reaching them, not how efficiently the power is being produced by the rider, or what the suspension is absorbing resulting in more rider effort to produce same watts at the cranks.
  • 4 1
 @jeremy3220: The Giant Trance Live Valve climbed faster at the same pedal watts when in climb mode vs. open mode.

That suggests to me that even putting the same watts into the pedals the time does in fact reflect chassis differences.

www.pinkbike.com/news/field-test-12-trail-and-downcountry-bikes-face-the-efficiency-test.html
  • 7 0
 @SunsPSD:
I was going to say, time and heart rate as factors on top of a power meter should show expose the energy lost to suspension movement.
  • 3 1
 @SunsPSD: Yeah there may be some small drivetrain losses caused by suspension movement but it doesn't measure the direct losses that the rider experiences. Suspension movement is caused by rider movement. If there were a motor with a throttle there wouldn't be any suspension bob. The rider waste energy bobbing the suspension while they pedal. The power meter at the cranks only knows how much energy reaches the cranks, not how much you wasted bobbing around.
  • 2 3
 @plustiresaintdead: you are partially wrong. A stiffer suspension has been proven to gain you A LOT of time. Same for more tire pressure. Assuming you can hang on but there is a reason why top pros try to run as stiff susp and tires as possible. Sure some of it is stability but losing less energy for rolling and bumps means a LOT on a course.
  • 1 0
 @Untgrad: Because for mellower tracks a lighter, shorter travel bike is more fun
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer: Granted this is terrain dependent, but the vast majority of my riding is on trails with constant elevation changes and very short punchy climbs. The difference between pedaling my enduro and my ripley on those trails is dramatic. Now, I've never timed them back to back, but I for sure know which one feels like a lot more work, and the ripley is the heavier of the two. I guess what I'm saying is that it'd be interesting to see what the difference is between the two on what I would consider the average riders trail network.

Anyhow, an interesting article none the less.
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: I find fire roads showcase a bigger gap between big and small bikes than tech climbs do. You sit there bobbing for hours thinking about it. As Seb mentioned, steep tech climbs are way easier on a big travel bike with a long rear centre. You can crawl up anything and never lose traction. As he also mentioned, the position is much nicer for your back. And that’s the real answer, what bike geo allows you to bike all day and ride the trails you want, how you want.

I’d rather pedal my HP Range for thousands of meters, never lose traction, not get a sore back, and have confidence to send any trail how I want to.

1% more climbing efficiency doesn’t mean shit if you spin out on a wet root.

But @sebstott the real difference between big and small bikes is the pop. 30% sag of 180mm is way more than 130mm and that is going to affect how playful the bike feels. Like you said, set it stiffer if you want, but then you are messing with the kinematics.
  • 2 0
 @Betacygni: But wouldn't you have the power plus the time for the climb? Multiply them and you have the enrgy required for the climb. Even if the times were the same if one had more power that measn it was less efficient.
  • 6 0
 @Untgrad: This. Maintaining consistent power across tests doesn't tell you much if the effort required to achieve that power differs dramatically. Including heart rate would help.
  • 4 0
 @Betacygni: Well, I think the pedals are measuring the power going into them, and the speed of the bike is essentially measuring the power with the suspension loss. If the some of the power going into the pedals is lost to the suspension, then the bike will go slower. The force you're exerting on the pedals will be measured by the pedal power meter though, regardless of what the suspension is doing.
  • 5 0
 @TucsonDon: As I see it, the power meter is used to keep power output consistent, and the timing is the measured variable.
  • 4 1
 @rcrocha: ideally yes, but the problem is we don’t have a direct measurement of the power the rider is having to output to create the 250w at the cranks. The power loss of the suspension is sucking watts before the cranks measure it, so while the net effect is 250w at the cranks, the rider is expending more energy than 250w to produce it where it’s measured.

Think of this example, imagine you dropped a 50 pound weight on the pedal. With a fully rigid bike we can assume 50 pounds of force to the cranks (not exact obviously but for sake of simplicity). Now drop 50 pounds on a long travel full suspension bike, the suspension is going to absorb a chunk of that, cranks will see less than 50 pounds.

Now add a rider pushing down along with the weight. They can make it equal 50 pounds of force in the full suspension example, but they have to exert extra force to create that. The rigid example would not. In both cases the cranks see same power input, but the suspension bike requires more energy from the rider.

I’m sure this is overly simplistic, but seems to me measuring watts at the crank isn’t accurately measuring energy efficiency transfer, which would determine which bike is actually faster. all it shows is one can pedal harder to compensate, and the efficiency of the tires/parts down stream of the cranks.
  • 6 1
 @mhaager2: agreed.
I mainly ride a 180mm bike, and it's such a good climber (traction, anti squat...), ON STEEP STUFF. Last August I rode the Les Gets WC XCO track the evening before pros, and I suddenly hated it! Accelerating before a punchy technical bit? Forget it... Then stalling in that techy uphill? Enjoy your 70mm rear sag slamming that top tube in the crotch when unweighting the bike at a bad moment...
Etc.
There is so much more downsides to "more travel" than just the extra bob. This article is interesting but really not exhaustive
  • 4 1
 @TucsonDon: yes, the cranks are measuring the power going into them, but the problem is this is assumed to be 100% accurate if the rider output, it’s not. For example someone could pull up on my leg as I try to push it down. I could push harder to overcome this, but in both cases the cranks see the same power. But when someone’s pulling up against my leg, I’m having to exert way more watts to create the same power at the crank. I’m seeing the suspension the same, it’s countering rider power before it’s measured at the cranks. Only reason it measures the same is because we have to pedal harder to counter the suspension’s power drain.
  • 2 0
 @fango925: You forget though that Pinkbike users only live in Squamish, BC or Bellingham, WA.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: I get the thought process, but I don't necessarily think that the result would follow. I think with a properly technical ascent the extra weight and length of the Giga results in more fatigue, slower reactions, dabs, etc. A fireroad is nice and consistent, but it really is only valuable as a control situation.
  • 1 0
 @plustiresaintdead: Not necessarily. I ride a lot of tech singletrack, lots of punch, not a ton of elevation gain or lost all at once, and by FAR my fastest bike overall on that stuff is my hardtail. It's lighter and more maneuverable up and over moves, and pumps every microscopic bump. Granted, I know a lot of the moves blindfolded at this point, because I ride them all the damn time. I also ride my Stumpy Evo more than my hardtail because it's more fun and more forgiving and I'm not (always) a masochist. But when I want to go fast, I put on my stretchy suit, bust out the Fuse, and never sit down.
  • 1 0
 @fango925: Agreed. My local has no climbs over 8 minutes, and no descents over 3, but ride for 1.5 hours and you'll cover 12 miles and put in 2k+ feet of climbing. You better be on something that's built around going uphill with some pep, or you'll be wallowing.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: will it though? My very anecdotal experience suggests otherwise.
  • 2 0
 @SunsPSD: sorry, accidental downvote. That's an interesting data point.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: Would the 66 second fire road climb get you all the way to the top of the 76 second descent?
  • 26 1
 You can't say whether something is statistically significant or not unless you do the math to find the significance level, that's misleading. Lets do the math.

You really need to decide and specify the confidence level first, so lets start with an industry standard 95%.

A quick student's t-test yields a mean of 66.38 and 67.02 and a variance of 0.622 and 0.210, respectively. Put this together and we have a t-value of 1.57. Given the total of 8 degrees of freedom, this gives a p-value of ~15%, which means we are ~85% sure the mean test times of the bikes are different. This however is not enough to meet our confidence level so we can now say that the difference is statistically insignificant.
  • 20 0
 Somewhere there's a proud stats or econ teacher who felt in their heart that, somewhere in the universe, one of their students was actually listening.
  • 4 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: Except that p = 0.15 does not mean "we are ~85% sure the mean test times of the bikes are different." It means that there's a 15% chance of observing a difference at least this big IF the null hypothesis (the bike test times are NOT different) is true.

source: I look at a lot of p-values
  • 7 0
 @bncuthbert: you are technically correct. The best kind of correct
  • 1 1
 Don't ask Seb to ever actually do the math--because he will readily omit things because 'the math is complicated'. He writes the sorta science articles for Pinkbike, and though I have no intimate knowledge of his education, I suspect he's fine with bumbling his way through a 'tech review' not because it's actually accurate, but because it generates clicks. Thank you for bringing some semblance of actual scientific methods to this article!
  • 2 1
 @mikealive: I believe Seb has a degree in experimental physics.
  • 1 0
 @mikealive: This is not complicated math. Anyone with even a slight bit of interest in science and access to the internet can easily find out how to do a T-test. I don't know if Seb has a formal education on the subject but from his earlier articles (also for Bikeradar) i suspect he does.
  • 1 1
 @Ttimer: This is not complicated math, I agree. The bit I was referencing was from a previous article of his where someone asked about centrifugal force of the wheels being absent in Seb's calculations to which he responded that 'the math gets complicated'--which in fairness may be true, but something being deemed complicated does not grant carte blanche to just leave it out all together.

I suspect if he excelled in his field then he wouldn't be half-assing articles for Pinkbike and Bikeradar, but that's just me.
  • 16 0
 I have a 140/130 trail bike and a 170/160 enduro bike and the biggest difference is not travel, but wheels and tires. You need heavy duty wheel and tire setup for enduro riding, and that’s what makes them feel like a pig, not the extra travel. If you put 1200 gram tires and enduro wheels on a short travel trail bike it’ll feel just as slow on the flats and climbs as the enduro bike.
  • 5 0
 Agreed. And if you put lightweight tyres and rims on the enduro bike, you’ll pinch flat and ruin your rims at some point when you forget that you’ve got the lightweight set up on.
  • 2 0
 I have a 150 mm hardtail that I swap between Michelin Wild Enduro, Continental Mud King, and Schwalbe Hurricane depending on what I am riding (winter, summer, or gravel) and the tires make a WORLD of difference. Mud King vs Enduro is like a 25% in climbing.
  • 15 0
 For my fellow flatlanders, I've slowly learned that what many in the mtb world discuss as climbing efficiency is irrelevant to our riding conditions. I'm in the minority of riders on this website but with popularity booming in the flat wasteland I call home and elsewhere I think its relevant to share. While I appreciate this analysis and think it provides useful insight what I have learned constitutes as a good climbing bike vs a boring and dull bike can't be summarized in just efficiency. My local riding is short downhills and punchy climbs with many of the features requiring sprinting to get the adequate speed to clear (sounds fun eh). In this type of riding the difference between these types of bikes is incredibly noticeable. Even compared to mid-travel trail bikes that already flirt with being overbiked, the enduro bikes I've ridden are a slog and flat out boring on these types of trails. For me the sweet spot is something with 140-150 of rear travel so I have enough for trips to riding destinations while still maintaining a fun ride on flat local trails. And even this is likely overbiked for most riders and shorter travel trail bikes would be a noticeable improvement in the fun factor.

Like I said, I'm probably in the minority of readers and point this out as an additional consideration for riders in similar areas. People love long travel rigs and you wouldnt believe how many enduro bikes are pedaled around my local trails.
  • 3 0
 Flatlander here... 140/135 with Minions/EXO/3CMT. It's all sprinting, and great single speed terrain. Bigger bikes feel wasted and sluggish, 'faster' tires reduce confidence and keep me reigned in on corners, vs going flat out all the time. Purposefully underbiking I actually think is a lot of fun, but I've got enough features and shitty conditions that a true XC whip feels scary... And I'm a 200 pound BMX guy, so I just don't gel with them.
  • 2 0
 Well said. I ride a 150 front/140 rear bike. It's funny that it was a great all arounder for most of the stuff I rode living in Utah, but moving back to the Midwest (Duluth) my favorite chonky trails actually have me wanting a bit more travel. I think a lot of it comes down to minimizing pedal bob in the Midwest, and anywhere else you're trying to carry speed without much vert. In addition to finding something that pedals high in the travel, shorter wheelbase makes more sense for the tight trees than what people find optimal in the mountain west.
  • 2 0
 ugh.. so glad I don't live there.. lol..
  • 2 0
 @dwbaillar: Hell yeah, I'm in the cities and Duluth is my "destination" that I get to around 10 times a year. It may not have 1000+ ft descents but the terrain is certainly not flat or smooth. With Duluth being my favorite place to ride it makes it tough for me to find a sweet spot with one bike. I have slowly built up a heavier bike (heavy duty wheels, heavy casing tires, cushcore) to withstand Spirit and Piedmont but this has made my bike less ideal for my local trails. Of course two bikes would be the perfect solution because like you said the Duluth chunk definitely warrants more than the 160 front/145 rear I have if you really want to open it up in the chunk. That said for one bike the mid-travel trail bike with burlier components does the best at balancing these extremes out for me and my riding style.
  • 1 0
 @billybobzia: Haha, yeah I'm in the wrong place for this sport no doubt. We have our hidden gems (Duluth, Copper Harbor, Marquette) and a pretty sick riding community that's growing but nothing like legit riding locations. Don't take it for granted!
  • 3 0
 @dwbaillar: 100% Agree- Seb’s article is well written and interesting, but it’s clearly the perspective of a rider with a very specific style and preferences cultivated over years of riding a particular type of terrain.

I live in NW Arkansas, where most of the trails have 300-500ft elevation change from top to bottom. It’s rocky, there is a lot of technical climbing, and there is a broad mix of old and new school trails.

I’m lucky enough to have multiple bikes these days, so I think a lot about the differences between each. It’s still amazing how different a trail can feel depending on whether you bring a long-travel trail bike vs a progressive SS hardtail.

One VERY significant point I’d like to make in contrast to Seb’s article here is how much easier a lighter, shorter travel bike is to manage on the terrain I ride. My short travel bike leaves SO much more energy in the tank to attack technical challenges like step-ups and rocky technical climbs- especially once you begin to get tired.

Also, as someone who spends about 60% of my time on shorter travel bikes, I’ve noticed the exact opposite of Seb’s findings on the descents. I’ve been getting a lot of PRs on my shorter travel bike with lighter tires. I think this is because I can accelerate faster, and much of the descents here have tight rocky corners that scrub speed. While I feel more composed on my Ripmo, it’s only faster when the trails allow me to carry speed through the chunk that I just couldn’t on the shorter travel bike.

Lastly, I’ll address your main point, which is that the longer travel bike is just LESS FUN for 80% of my riding because they feel muted / dead. I know this is personal preference - and one that I’ve come to after a decade of riding hilly vs. truly steep terrain. But the same is true for Seth’s preferences for a longer travel bike… its the product of much more than tires / weight / travel numbers. I’d love to see a similar article written from the perspective of someone who lives in the middle of the USA and has different innate biases.
  • 2 0
 @basic-ti-hardtail: I think you hit the nail on the head. Longer travel will help you carry speed better, but shorter travel helps you accelerate faster. For an extreme example, what would you rather have on a pumptrack- six inches of travel or zero? Zero, because it helps you pump to accelerate. If you're living somewhere with low rolling hills like NW Arkansas, or somewhere flat like Indiana, you're going to be accelerating ALL THE TIME. Contrast that with a winch and plummet type of bike ride in the mountains, where the only significant acceleration is at the top of the trail. It's not really about "climbing" or "descending," because as the article confirms, when you're doing the same thing for a long time, the travel amount doesn't matter that much.
  • 17 2
 Absolutely Love Seb's methodical and scientific approach. Thank you for producing high quality content worth reading and learning from!
  • 23 6
 Hardtail...
  • 6 1
 Yes, where was the hardtail in this..?
And, if most of the climbing was done in the saddle, then I can’t see this being a scientific experiment.
This is a cool concept though.. Pinkbike, give this guy the support to do this right the second time! More bikes, more riders, more time.
  • 13 0
 Its amazing how well long travel bikes pedal these days. Gone are the days of monster truck enduro bikes that wallow and fight you all the way up to the top. Anti-squat is a hell of a drug.
  • 16 2
 Geometry over travel everytime! Convince me I'm wrong...
  • 9 0
 Hmmm…super slacked out rigid vs 2010 dh bike!!!
  • 3 0
 @wobblegoblin: that would be a good video idea
  • 2 0
 Agreed. Two hard tails here.
Trail use is 64HT/Short Chainstay 27.5
Big bike is 62HT/Long Chainstay 29
Both 160mm up front.
Both Enduro tires.
Fun Fun
  • 10 0
 Geometry determines what you can ride, and suspension determines how fast you can ride it.

Typically, they go together: more travel and more slack. If a person only rides steep, slow terrain - like a DH trials course - the ideal bike might have slack geometry and minimal travel. If the terrain is rough and fast, but not very steep, travel is valuable, but not slack geometry.

Few people ride to the limits of their travel, so I agree with you that geometry benefits more people, more of the time, than travel.
  • 3 2
 Hit a bunch of 6 foot drops with rock landings. Your ankles and knees will tell you about the importance of travel. That said, I'd take a slacker short travel bike over an OG North Shore freeride bike with a lot of travel and steep angles anyday.
  • 12 2
 Well done, well written, interesting - but completely misses the point...

An enduro-oriented 160mm long travel bike needs some serious speed and slope to come alive. When it does, if you have the skills and like that kind of riding, it's an absolute hoot. If you mostly ride trails that don't allow that sort of speed, or you're a more conservative rider (perhaps because you're getting into middle age and don't want to deal with the consequences of crashing at higher speeds), then you'll probably have more fun on a shorter travel bike.
  • 7 1
 Not exactly. He touches on it a little. Its an air shock...add more LSC and reduce the Sag from 30 to 25% (or less) and that bike will have some pop and ride higher in the travel. You can also add some PSI (less travel in your tires) too or go with a non-Minion style tire too. Its not exactly perfect like a dialed 130mm bike but it'll be close enough, be able to ride anything well be quick even on the mellow stuff if you tune it for that. When its times for that bro trip, you adjust your sag/tune and go. Rocky bikes are kind of nice for this because you can significantly change the HTA (1 d at least) but also the progressive vs linear suspension in about 10 minutes. AND, you can go from short stays (XC/backcountry/Flow lines stuff) and then go to long stays for Enduro-y trips. That's where things start to get real interesting. You not only have two (written down) shock setups but also geometry changes in front and back. Boom. One bike to rule them all.
  • 4 0
 @Svinyard: The RM model of lots of adjustability is neat for that sort of thing. For daily riding, not sure I'd want to futz with it, but for trips or park/shuttle days, sure. Only issue with that is that I like being dialed on my bike - so I'd probably prefer to stick with my geometry/setup and deal with less-than-optimal performance on those days when I take the bike out of its comfort zone. But that's probably because I'm an old fart and stuck in my ways...

Thing is - taking a big bike (like the Giga) and turning it into a mid-sized bike for daily use means I would compromise most of my riding. My bike does very well all the stuff I ask of it on a daily basis. So I'd rather optimize for that. If you're at heart a big bike rider who only needs a bit of pop when they're "stuck" on tamer terrain, your approach makes sense. But if that terrain and that style of riding is what you'd most like to do, then the tradeoff doesn't make a lot of sense.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: With you on the firmed up big bike thing. When shopping for a new rig this year I was torn between a trail or enduro bike. I do very mixed rides, everything from road through trail to DH days. The weight difference was minimal, the cost difference was minimal.
I went for the big-rig and just run it at 25% sag and in the steep/high flipchip setting. It's plenty poppy and nimble on the local trails and I know I can rip it round the DH park no problem, but I can't imagine ~20 fewer mm would make a vast difference on a road loop.
  • 10 0
 I'll tell you what, the swap to a 1400gram or so wheel set ( rovals ) and lighter rubber ( agassai to terevail honcho light sidewalls ) made an amazing difference to my 145/160mm travel trail bike. Like night and day. Not only does it climb better (meaning faster but also more confidently, with moving traction) , rolling speed is better, less "engine braking", but more then that it makes the bike change direction quicker, turn later and generally changed the personality of the bike. I like it so much, even on lift access days I tried keeping the "xc" setup wheelset. I 100% agree rubber makes a massive difference, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how moving to a lighter wheelset changed the characteristics of the bike. "turns like the head angle is 2 degrees steeper" is what comes to mind. Cool article.
  • 18 5
 Question: what kind of bear is best?
  • 10 0
 That's a ridiculous question.
  • 45 3
 Gummy.
  • 12 0
 False. Black bear.
  • 4 0
 Well, that's debatable. There are basically two schools of thought.
  • 4 2
 Polar, obviously.
  • 10 0
 @warmerdamj: FACT: Bears eat beets.
  • 14 1
 Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica.
  • 10 2
 Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.
  • 2 0
 Well, there are basically two schools of thought ...
  • 7 3
 The one named Mike
  • 7 0
 @warmerdamj: bear beats battle star Galactica
  • 1 0
 "Bouncing here and there and everywhere" at least that's how i feel when I'm a bear on a bike, eating candied beet flavored gummies.
  • 5 0
 Mike Bear.
  • 3 1
 One with a BMX background
  • 7 0
 I think the tires make a bigger difference than weight and travel for climbing in my own personal opinion. On the descent, a well sorted mid travel bikes tends to be better for my on the Colorado Front Range, but when I get out to the PNW, the big bike normally is better in every instance.
  • 4 3
 There's enough variety in the PNW though that I'm not sure what you mean. Plenty of stuff where a 170 bike is a bit much
  • 3 0
 I live and ride in the PNW. Yes, my enduro bike makes all the sense here.
  • 3 0
 @peterman1234: Plenty of stuff everywhere like that, a bit of a null point man. The difference is, in Colorado, you never find challenging freeride-style features on your local, but you might in Washington/Oregon. They won't let us have that kind of stuff locally here. Luckily, CO has a lot of really quality Summer bike parks, which WA/OR somewhat lack.
  • 1 0
 @ryanandrewrogers: yeah it's there, just sucks you have to pay and drive further for it. I just found a magical free ride segment only 20min from my house, couldn't be happier
  • 1 0
 @peterman1234: For me, the motivation to trek up to the PNW is hitting locations like Tiger Mountain & such in Washington, then North Shore, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton in BC, where I am going to ride an enduro. Not that I can't enjoy my enduro bike around the front range outside Denver, but most of the trails are more fun on a mid travel trail bike, both up and down. I bet there is a bunch of fun stuff on a trail bike in the PNW as well, just haven't ridden them yet!
  • 8 1
 “The position is quite different due to the Reactor's lower stack height and slacker seat tube angle (74.5° vs. 78°); this stretches out the spine which feels much less comfortable to me, especially on long climbs”
Is he saying that an XC style bike is hindering his climbing abilities?
Maybe he should have found an XC racer to do the actual test while he crunches the numbers.
  • 27 1
 I'm with Seb on this one - I much prefer the more upright position of the Giga to the Reactor. For me, it's more comfortable and certainly doesn't hurt the bike's climbing abilities. I'm not convinced that being hunched over and stretched out is the best way to climb, despite what you see in the XC world.
  • 6 0
 @mikekazimer:
I’m kinda with you on this- it doesn’t really work for me either. But it does beg the question of, with all of these geo advances in biking, why are XC racers still running low travel, low stack bikes?
That’s the kind of do-over I think this article deserves. Let’s get a broader range of bikes and riders, and see what’s actually happening on the trail!
  • 7 1
 @Untgrad: I think that the low position does have aerodynamic advantages, which do start to matter at world cup xc speeds. At the rate I climb a hill on my trail bike, I'm nowhere close to going fast enough for aero to matter, and I think I can generate a bit more power from the comfortable position.
  • 2 0
 modern XC frames have a 75-77 saddle angle and less suspension sag in uphill
  • 1 0
 @alanbonk:
I’m actually with you on this- I have horrible flexibility, and I can’t stay low for long.
But I do have core strength, so I find myself cranking out of the saddle more often than anyone around me. That being said, I have to be on low travel bikes because standing with “real” travel doesn’t last long..
This is a topic I’ve long pondered. And again, would love to see a full test of multiple bikes and some UCI pros in there. Nino?
  • 4 1
 @Untgrad: low travel because xc courses aren't mega rough and they don't want a wallowy feel and wasted power. Also aero makes a difference at xc speeds so a low stack is good.
  • 2 5
 @littleskull99:
What wasted power? This article just showed us there is no wasted power. At least between these two bikes..
  • 6 0
 Thank you for raising this point. Trail / AM / enduro categories have undergone dramatic changes in fit and handling geometry over the past decade, but XC has been resistant.

When the first dedicated mountain bikes were being developed in the 1980s, they simply adopted the traditional 71° head-tube angle and 73° seat-tube angle from road touring bikes. Those angles barely changed for decades - some XC race bikes are still in the range of 70° and 73°. The change is starting to happen, though: plot a chart of head-tube angles, seat-tube angles, and normalized reach values for XC bikes launched in the past few years and it's clear what's coming.

It's even more interesting if we consider dynamic geometry (ex. head-tube angle on a steep descent or seat-tube angle on a steep climb). Mid-travel bikes often have slacker dynamic head-tube angles and steeper dynamic seat-tube angles than long-travel models. XC bikes will never need the dramatic static geometry of a long-travel bike, but the dynamic geometries for all categories are starting to converge - and the companies on the leading edge of this trend in the XC category will gain market share over their more conservative peers.
  • 3 0
 Plenty of pro roadies climb with hands on top of their bars to give a more upright position.
  • 1 0
 @kevinturner12:
Good point!
Makes me feel a little better about me.
  • 5 0
 Worth noting that the position that feels most comfortable for sit-and-spin fire road climbs isn't necessarily the position that feels most comfortable in mellow/rolling terrain. An XC style bike is probably design more with the latter terrain in mind.
  • 1 0
 The problem is the slacker seat tube angle is worse for climbing, not the lower stack or being stretched out, by having less of your weight over the pedals you get less of the benefit of gravity pushing your legs straight down on the pedals, like climbing on a recumbent bike compared to a traditional bike (for the extreme example.)
  • 1 0
 @Untgrad: I'm built like you, keep working on the flexibility and staying seated as much as possible. It's huge.

Re the low stack, at XC speed, aero matters even on the descents. Lower CoG, maximize front wheel traction, athletes are flexible, etc etc.
  • 2 0
 @ultimatist:
Thanks Bro! Bicycles and I never really got along, I’m a motorcycle racer.
But, it’s a challenge, and modern geo has made it a better experience all around.
  • 4 0
 @Untgrad: Yeah no wasted power on a fire track at what, 6mph? Very different to an xc race.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer: 1000% I’ve been doing and saying this for years. It just makes sense, more comfort, more control. It’s just way better.
  • 7 0
 I discovered the same thing for myself this riding season. Overall trail speed really comes down to the tires. While Maxxis DHF/Dissectors in EXO+ feel really grippy, I couldn't set PRs on anything I rode that involved climbing or extended time on flat ground. When I put Vittoria Mezcals on, I was beating PRs I'd previously set on a bike that had 10mm less travel, weighed 4 pounds less, and had Maxxis Rekon Races on it.

It's been a really satisfying discovery. I no longer feel like I'm missing out on significant speed on the buffed out stuff I ride often, and I feel a lot more confident charging rough sections. I've gone as far as to set up two sets of wheels. The "XC" set with the Mezcals, and the "Enduro" set with the DHF/Dissectors and ridiculously overbuilt wheels.
  • 3 0
 I’m on two wheel sets with my megatower and it’s perfect. A full on XC set (2.3” hard compound HR2 and an Ikon in the back with light wheels) and a full on DH set (Assegai DH, Minion DH with cushcore and heavy wheels) and I never feel outbiked with my riding friends on any ride anywhere. My bike build is heavy, but with light wheels and tires and a couple extra PSI in the shock who cares?
  • 1 2
 @TEAM-ROBOT: "I never feel outbiked with my riding friends on any ride anywhere" You are riding with the wrong folks. Come visit Utah again.
  • 1 0
 @hevi: Caveat: I do feel outbiked when I enter downhill races on that bike, and I probably would if I were to enter a cross country race on that bike. Otherwise so far, so good.
  • 9 0
 That Giga frame is a thing of beauty.
  • 7 2
 Thanks for doing this Seb.

I found the same in my own testing: putting my Enduro drivetrain on my Spur essentially made my 2 bikes complete a 45-minute loop at nearly identical times. With XC rear/ DC front tires on 1150-gram Berd wheels on the Spur instead, it's much faster on this particular route.

This is why it makes no sense to put big grippy tires on a short travel bike, you've negated all of the speed advantage and now you just have a 2012 enduro bike.
  • 1 0
 Interesting... I just set up my Spur as more of a trail bike (suspension, tires, breaks, drivetrain) and I'm really enjoying the grip and composure. Sure, Im not setting PRs anymore, but the confidence and dampened feel are making up for it.
  • 8 0
 If 150/130 is short travel? What's anything less? Super-short travel?

150/130 is squarely in the "mid-travel" range.
  • 7 0
 Was, this is inflation times
  • 7 0
 There is no way on gods green earth that xxl Giga weighs 15.2kg - show me a scale photo I had an XL one with a 38 and it was over 16 without pedals
  • 1 0
 The pic is with a coil, but the weight is with and air shock. Would that be the reason for the difference?
  • 1 0
 My xl giga 297 is 15.4kg, with an ext coil shock and race face atlas pedals.
  • 5 0
 Seems like most mtb reviews this days (and certainly this one) is weighting speed a lot. For most of us, the feeling of the bike is what matters. Yes, you can put quick tires on a 170 bike and it will be almost as fast uphill as a shorter travel bike with the same tires, but the feel of a quicker bike with short travel is different.
  • 5 0
 Climbing a gravel road as a comparison means nothing with a mountain bike, which is why the difference could be accounted for in the weight difference.

I can’t remember the last time my climb included a road, all my climbs are single track, much of them are technical.

This ^ would be a much better test bed for comparing climbing.

Comparing bikes based on gravel road climbing is no different than comparing bikes based on gravel road descending.
  • 2 1
 You'll be amazed to find that much of America climbs fire roads to ride.
  • 2 1
 @ultimatist: amazed or is it kinda sad?

I’ve actually ridden in every state except Hawaii … but the only place I routinely used fire roads to access trails was WA.

Regardless, comparing bikes by climbing up a fire road is dumb.
  • 1 0
 @sanchofula: both, but that's the reality of most trail systems in CA also. And it matters practically, when I have 90min to ride and most of that is spent climbing, and dictates which loops will get me back home in time for meetings.

I care about efficiency almost as much as DH fun, and lots of others on tight schedules do too.
  • 6 0
 "I shaved 2-3 seconds off my time from one run to the next. This is always a problem with timed testing. "

You need an identical twin Seb
  • 2 1
 they use a power meter and runs are set at 300 watts power
  • 2 0
 @jaydawg69: He was talking about the descent. No power meter there.
  • 2 0
 If he could just stare at his power metrics and hold a constant 300W on the downs, the results for each run would be identical.
  • 6 0
 Buy shorter if you're a stronger descender.
Buy longer if you're a stronger climber.

You'll be a better "All-Mountain" rider in the end.
  • 4 0
 Sorry, but this “test” is largely meaningless for the large majority of riders. It’s designed to play to the longer travel bike’s strengths and, perhaps, to confirm peoples’ or the author’s bias for long travel bikes. Only climbed mellow fire roads? Ok, then have downhill part be mellow with lots of little rocks and other features to pop off and play around with. The test should have been on the sorts of varied trails most people ride. Don’t tell me that’s too subjective. 90% or more of these tests are subjective
  • 3 2
 It depends where you live. Here in the south of France more than 90% of our climbs are fireroads. The single tracks are too steep and too technical to be able to climb them.
And honestly, most of the people prefer to climb on mellow fireroads where they can talks to each others and dont burn their legs climbing up.
  • 5 1
 "Let's compare long travel vs.short travel bikes for people who could only have one bike."
"Ok, cool. So we have to pick two bikes that really exemplify the benefits of what each category has to offer and compare them in a series of legitimate and varied terrains, features, and timed segments."
"Nah. We'll just grab two Nukeproofs and see what happens."
"?"
"!"
"*sigh*...ok."
  • 4 0
 Oh shorter travel bike wins hands down!

At one point I had both a 130mm bike and a 165mm. Both were great but I ended up selling the 165mm one as I found I could do just about everything I needed on the shorter travel one.

Trials
XC
Bike Packing
Enduro Races
Alps
Bike Parks
Street

Whereas the bigger bike was only better at chunkier/faster DH
  • 1 1
 Totally agree, what is missing in article is the average BB height, the more the travel the more the BB height has to be, higher BBs are more unstable in the air, ie jumps. Lower BB excel in cornering which is why hardtails are so fun.....but painfull
  • 3 0
 I remember many years ago (over 20) doing a similar tyre test between light Tioga DH tyres and heavier and grippier Michelin DH tyres and finding that the lighter tyres were faster but had me much closer to crashing - it really seemed to come down to how quickl I could accelerate the wheels (rotational weight being the key).

The test ended when the Tioga tyres slipped on a root and nearly spat me into an oak tree - as I was riding with recently cracked ribs that rather biased me toward the slower but safer Michelins...
  • 5 2
 I thought this was going to be a downcountry vs enduro thing, but it's an overforked trail bike vs a very long travel enduro. in the case of downcountry vs enduro, i'd say the best single bike depends on what you ride most, but for me, I find a short travel bike to be more fun on more trails. in the test case given in this article, the 130/150 bike for sure. no thanks to riding a 170/180 travel bike on anything but DH/bike park trails.
  • 4 0
 You're a great rider according to others and want the efficiency or challenge: short travel
You're a mediocre rider that can use all the help he/she can get: long travel

Yes, I ride a 160mm full susser
  • 3 0
 @seb Stott, by keeping the measured power the same across both bikes you ignore any suspension ineffencies and likely make the Giga look better than it really is ad you are likely having to work harder to generate the same 250W at the cranks on the giga as it suspension moves around more. You would be better off keeping your heart rate same rather than the power as that would give a better idea if how much effort it actually was to pedal the bike
  • 2 0
 I once had an Ellsworth Rogue. 200mm rear / 160mm front. Loved that bike but I sold to move with the times (i.e. I got a 650b trail bike). Despite having all that travel it never felt oversprung when climbing or riding easy trails. I keep checking ebay to see if another one pops up...
  • 2 0
 Seb, I've got another test for you to try, but you might be too large to pull this one off: Get an S4 SJ Evo that comes with the short chainstays. Gather up the long chainstays from the S5-S6 SJEvo.

Then test the S4 with both the long and short chainstays. I suggest a something with many flat constant radii turns.
  • 5 3
 Measuring power with a power meter only measures the power that gets to the ground, NOT the power you are putting out. The difference your seeing is only the weight and tires, not the real difference in climbing speed based on the riders actual output. Of course this it is not possible to measure rider output without a lab setup.
  • 3 1
 I just bought a Giga and it is the best one-bike-to-do-all I’ve ever owned for PNW riding. Very capable down and surprisingly efficient riding up. As an average Joey with no racing aspirations for winter I’ve mounted dual MaxxGrip DH Assegai for maximum descending confidence.
  • 6 2
 A mellow fire road climb doesn't seem like much of a real-world climbing test to me. Consistent? OK, consistently misleading as a comparison
  • 2 0
 I have one bike- Guerilla Gravity MegaSmash (or whatever it's called in mullet configuration 165mm f/r,) but because my rides are almost all winch and plummet with limited flat and rolling bits I go with Magic Mary soft front, Rock Razor rear. It rolls fast, and if I run out of traction on the back it's cause it's too wet for me to be riding these trails (clay/easily rutted) so it's a perfect barometer for if I should or shouldn't be out there.

If I lived someplace like north Shore where the trails can handle wet weather riding it'd be a different story, and I'd probably have to push dual Marys uphill- but thankfully I can get all the benefits of low rolling resistance without too much worry of sketchiness of the semi-slick.

Try it, if you're used to something burly out back, the Razor feels like you just dropped 10 lbs.
  • 2 0
 Question for @sebstott @mikelevy @mikekazimer - I realize this is not pure science but wouldn't data sets of at least 30 (rides up, rides down) be needed for actual statistic comparisons? I'm not at all a stats / data type, and I mostly use the results of stats vs. generating stats but for most data sets, my understanding was that 30 was the minimum (?) Surely that's not possible in all of Seb's tests, and I think these are very valuable - just curious though. Seems like higher, or at least sets of 10 would be more accurate.
  • 1 0
 Why 30? Seems like it would totally depend on the behaviour of the data.
  • 1 0
 @dirtyburger: Years ago I did data entry (for a couple years) for water / wildlife / plant data and 30 records was the minimum number of data points for stats to be analyzed with a relatively refined value (3.33% variance) I think but - I'm no statistician or data analyst. So for example, for water samples a minimum of 30 data points (collections to be analyzed) or bird survey point counts was required to make stats refined. I'd just think that with a few runs (even less than 10) there are still too many factors in play to have accurate data vs. 10 or 30 or 50 runs. I'm sure this varies pending the focus: standard deviation, correlations, trends (etc)...hence my question. Maybe for this type of testing its plenty.

Dunno what you mean about the behavior of the data...if yr a data guy, feel free to explain. It just seems that 5 climbs & 3 descents is not quite enough (esp with getting used to a bike) to really be conclusive.
  • 2 0
 Pretty reflects how I feel after swapping for a relatively heavy all mountain bike (Norco Sight A2) to a fairly light trail bike (Giant Trance X Adv Pro 1). The stability of the all mountain bike on the descents far out weighs the efficiency of the trail bike on the ascents.
Where the trail bike shines is on flatter single track. The steeper HTA and shorter wheelbase feels riding a jet ski compared to piloting a barg.
I wish I had the local trails to warrant an enduro bike, busy most of the trails are hand cut XC loops where the downs are over far too quickly.
  • 1 0
 ^ this. On average there are 2-3 points on my rides where a long, low, slack bike with big travel would be a good fit for me. So, I just ride them a little slower on a small travel bike.
  • 4 0
 When did a 130/150 trail bike become short travel?
Let’s compare some of the downcountry bikes from the test against the enduro bikes rather
  • 2 0
 This week I met a guy on my local "all-mountain" trail who was riding an Ibis Exie in jean shorts and Pit Vipers. We got to chatting at the top of the rather long descent (~12-14 minutes) and agreed to ride it out together. Despite my being on a 170mm bike, and his being on a 100mm "XC" bike, he absolutely shredded the wheels off that trail. I could hardly keep up as he slashed berms, jumped every rock and obstacle and otherwise got air born at will.

It's the rider. If you are a very skilled rider, you'll be able to shred on a hardtail, much less a bike with suspension. As for me - I'm super grateful that I have 170mm of mistake-erasing coverage at both ends of the bike. Smile
  • 1 0
 I read a super old article on the web the other day. It was about how slacker head tube angles and longer travel bikes would lower the barrier on entry for new riders. Then they could progress to steeper head angles once they have the skills. It's funny how times and attitudes change.
  • 2 0
 Every time I see someone claiming it is a good idea to test efficiency with a power meter I want to make him ride with his saddle all the way down. It even will increase his anti squat, but I am quite sure he will not feel efficient.
  • 2 0
 Has anyone done a test with a pro XC racer forced to ride squishy bikes on mixed terrain? Now I’m really interested to see what might happen! More upright riding position, fatter tires, lots of squish!
Would he/she/they fall in love, or go scrambling back to their XC bike ASAP?
  • 6 1
 better to have too much than too little....
  • 9 6
 A chromoly steel hardtail is probably the best, just one piece of suspension that you need to worry about servicing, and a steel frame that will outlast any alu/carbon frame.
  • 21 0
 You spelled Titanium wrong.
  • 3 0
 Rust kills steel frames so I disagree. (From experience)
  • 1 0
 @littleskull99: that’s what puts me off a steel frame in the UK too…
  • 1 0
 My aluminum Chameleon combined with SC's lifetime warranty will outlast me.
  • 4 2
 Ride a steel frame as hard as a f/s enduro bike and it'll break. Or your knees and ankles will break. Or both.
  • 2 0
 @littleskull99: ................So dont let it rust duhh
  • 1 1
 I have a Chromag Stylus with a 170 lyrik up front that started at 160. I've been absolutely thrashing it for 2+ years now. The Beast is absolutely bombproof, climbs great with such a steep seat tube angle, wheelies and manuals like a champ, mobs downhill and hucks to flat almost as smoothly and confidently as my Transition Scout (150/160), pumps rollers, pops jumps, and rips berms almost as nice as my dirt jumper, and is still fun enough to pedal around on brutally techy rolling xc trails.
Also about to build a ridiculous rigid mini mullet monstrosity cuz n+1.
  • 2 1
 If given those two choices, I'd definitely go for the Nukeproof Giga. Slap on an air rear shock and you instantly drop a pound. Then at 32.5lbs, it makes it very close in weight to the 31.7 lb. Plus the Giga is an XXL not XL like on the Reactor, so they may even be closer in weight. You could also ramp up the air on the Giga, so it is sprung like an XC bike. Lol.
  • 8 5
 If you have only one bike, better to have more travel than not enough. Personally, I'm not a big fan of bringing a knife to a gunfight. Cool
  • 10 1
 but gunfights are not that common over here
  • 2 2
 Then get a hard tail and learn to shred properly
  • 1 0
 Magic Mary Soft seems like a strange front tire choice for the Enduro tires. I feel like that leaves you with a sticker tire in the rear than the front, right? I feel like the Magic Mary super soft would have been more appropriate as the front tire of the Enduro tire setup, especially if it's wet. Seems to be like that tire combo would be draggy from the Maxxgrip Assegai, but the Soft Schwalbe Magic Mary is more similar to the MaxxTerra Assegai than the MaxxGrip one, leaving you potentially lacking confidence in the front end. Maybe I'm out to lunch, but I rode the Soft Magic Mary on a demo bike, and it was much scarier on wet rocks than the Michelin Wild Enduro Racing Line tires I had on my personal bike in 2 back to back runs on the same trail.
  • 2 0
 Just looked at the picture. There's a purple badge there. @sebstott I think you meant to type Supersoft in the description.
  • 1 0
 Good stuff Seb thank you, I'd like to see more like this. The tire revelation is very helpful.

Interesting comment about the difference in climbing position.

Maybe a shortish travel trail bike with a very upright seat angle would be the ultimate climber then?

More tests needed. Give this man a mountain of bikes, a clipboard and a tent.
  • 1 0
 Maybe the difference in energy loss could be measured by simply putting an electric engine with constant output on both bikes and just ride them seated without pedaling and compare times? It should show if the suspension design/travel gives an 'energy leak'
  • 1 0
 I got 2 bikes: 2019 Canyon Strive CF with 150/170mm and 2019 Scott Ransom with 170/170mm of travel. You'd think the Canyon with the shapeshifter system climbs better but you'd be wrong. Even with the TwinLoc disengaged on the Ransom, the Ransom climbs better.
  • 2 0
 I like long travel bikes. You can always pump them full of air if you want to hit the pump track. Short travel bike can be super fun, but if I could only own one, 150mm and up please.
  • 1 0
 I said 150mm is the best range of bike to have and the geometry in that field seems to be on point with my riding style. But depending on how the suspension works can have a dramatic feel ,making 130mm bikes feel more capable. Example the forbidden druid. its a 135mm trail bike but it can hang out with more capable bikes very easily!
  • 1 0
 This test is very interesting, but I like to my all around bike closer to 28-29 lbs, so I’d enjoy seeing an XL sized bike with a Fox 34 or Pike (so 140mm travel) included in the comparison. I think it’d be pretty hard to get down to 28lbs with a Fox 36 or Lyric.
  • 3 0
 ridiculous first world problems. Ride the bike that you own, enjoy yourself and don't give a shit for a few inches more or less travel.
  • 2 1
 My last 3 bikes have been in the 145-150mm rear travel bracket (previous gen Slash, Reign Advanced, now a Ripmo AF). By the time you run Cushcores, a Double Down (or equivalent rear tire) you might as well add the capability of some extra squish. Still hella efficient uphill, waaaaaay more fun and forgiving when the descents get a little sporty.
  • 4 0
 I didn't realize a bike with a 150 mm Lyrik on the front is "short travel". Is my ripley an xc bike then?
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott I think we need to stop doing this climb/descend comparisons when talking about one bike. I believe a better moniker these days, at least out east here, is its characteristics in corners and how a bike can be adapted to handle regular flat corners to steep corners.
If the stack height and reach are so high and long (and likely with short chainstays) that you can not weight the front appropriately in high speed and less than steep corners, than it may not be a good one bike fits all. But if there is room for you to adapt the front end to suit different riding places, then maybe that long travel bike could be the best one bike to rule them all. Trail bike to enduro bikes pedal, descend and climb so well no, one could easily make any of them their one bike so long as it handles your variety of cornering situations.

Time to do corner bike testing in these comparisons!! LOL
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott @brianpark: This only highlights the need for a tire field test. Doing efficiency tests on whole bikes with the same tires is pretty useless as this article clearly shows. What we mountain hikers would really like to know is which tires strike the best compromise between grip and rolling resistance.
  • 1 0
 Damn autocorrect. Bikers, not hikers Smile )
  • 1 0
 Seems like there’s a lot of ego mixed up (or covered up) in the amount of travel folks choose (or don’t choose). This puts a fork in that nicely. It also makes the shorter travel bike I just built up completely redundant. Thanks a lot Seb Wink
  • 1 0
 I'm really happy that I have a 165/170 bike with a coil shock & a Zeb and a 115/120 bike with a DPS & a 34SC. It's great to have both, but if I had to choose 1 I'd meet in the middle with a 140/150 bike. For now, as long as I can, I'll keep my 2 bikes going.
  • 1 0
 100mm for me, its the next big trend along with 26 wheels.
I recently bought a lowish end (£500) 100mm travel Hardtail with 650B wheels for when I lead rides with the Scouts, its surprisingly fun to ride, simple in design and still better than top end bikes from 15 years ago, also I don’t care if it gets trashed on the uplift trailer or crashed by one of the kids.
I also have a expensive Cotic Cascade gravel/MTB with 100mm travel Sids, it will do everything I want in a quirky and eccentric manner, though not for everyone for sure.
  • 1 0
 After playing around with my transition sentinel, I've settled on a setup of maxxis DD tires front and rear, with maxx grip assegai in the front, and maxxterra dissector in the rear with no inserts. With carbon wheels my bike is a touch over 30 lbs, pedals great, but I still have enough support and grip through the front of the bike.
  • 1 0
 So slower tires are still slower when pedalling. Was hoping for more out of this article. Should test on a fairly difficult tech climb. I think we all know a smooth climb doesn't tell much about travel efficiency since your not using very much
  • 1 0
 This is a great concept to test but I think it could have been executed way better. The reactor is well known as a baby enduro bike, it’s extremely plush and capable. They used an assegai max terra in front and a dissector in the rear, seems like a great all mountain, light enduro set up. (We all know the real grip comes on the front tire) You need to be an extremely capable rider to push the limits of that setup. I think they should have done something like a 130mm light, efficient bike running say a dissector in front and new forekaster in the rear compared to assegai front and dissector rear on a 160mm bike.
  • 1 0
 This test and others like it fail to account for acceleration. Inefficiencies in energy transfer due to acceleration are not measured with a bike at a steady speed climbing a hill of a consistent grade. Acceleration performance could be measured by timing how long it takes to accelerate hard from 3 mph to 12 mph while seated and again while standing on level ground. Heck, repeat the acceleration test on climbs of various grades. The steeper the grade, the more it should favor the lighter bike with less travel. Acceleration testing could also be preformed in rough terrain which theoretically could begin to favor the longer travel bikes, though perhaps not as much as one might think. Now multiply these time differences by the hundred or so times you might do this type of hard acceleration-type effort during a trail ride. Loss of pedaling efficiencies due to more travel, bike weight, wheel weight, and tire rolling resistance are greatest when pedaling hard during acceleration, steep climbs, and also while standing up to punch over a climb. Another consideration is the time to decelerate during hard braking which should also favor a lighter bike with lighter wheels and less travel that dives less. These types of acceleration and deceleration events during trail rides over varied terrain and cornering have the most impact on average speed.
  • 1 0
 Seb is right on here. I’ve been doing this for years with a light weight, long travel, (29lb 180/180) do it all bike. It climbs tech better and descends much better than a short travel trail bike. I’d rather be slightly slower on the climbs, but faster and in more control on the descents. And now it’s even better with my long travel ebike, 190/200 which does it all better and faster with more runs and more miles in the same amount of time.
  • 7 3
 The longer the better…duh
  • 9 4
 That's what she said!!!
  • 1 0
 A friend of mine put some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires (completely slick tires) on his enduro bike while injured to stay in shape. It as pretty surprising how much faster his climb times were, and those are heavy tires.
  • 1 0
 I have a bike with the ammount of travel that matches my ability and the terrain i ride, in my case with 140mm I can still do small drops and jumps and not bottom out, im 44 and i kinda know my limits very well so to speak!!
  • 3 1
 Watching Kade and Semenuk ride Fuel EX on parallel tracks makes me think 140mm is more than this average rider will ever need.
  • 2 2
 Yes and no...I dont know about you but I dont ride many custom built smooth as silk trails around here.
  • 2 1
 @wolftwenty1: I bet it feels smooth as silk landing jumps that big
  • 4 2
 This is like saying that after watching the World's Strongest Man competition and concluding that the average warehouse worker doesn't need a forklift. Kade and Semenuk are super human riders and what they can do on any bike shouldn't be used as indicative of what the average rider needs. And as @wolftwenty1 says, the trails they're riding don't really test suspension. It does likely feel silky smooth landing jumps that big as 1. The landings are steep and perfect 2. They are hitting them with perfect speed and angle. Notice how they barely even compress on any of the landings. Those guys could easily ride that on a dirt jump bike with no rear suspension and probably a BMX.

That being said, I do think that a bike like the Fuel and its 140mm of suspension is probably a great bike for most riders.
  • 6 2
 Levy rides 8" in the rear but is only packing 100mm up front
  • 4 1
 Hats off to Seb Stott for this article. It's relevant, informative, useful and his writing style makes for an easy read.
  • 3 1
 Great article. Love the part on how you can turn your long travel bike into a short travel bike by changing suspension setup. Lots of stuff to think about and test here...
  • 1 1
 This is great content and super useful.

Interesting to see how limited the differences in efficiency are when you can just sit and spin smoothly up a fire road. I'm curious how something like their Scout hardtail would do too.

I'd also be interested in seeing the difference in timing on some sort of timed "course" that also has some technical climb features, etc. Also maybe break it up into a blue, black and double black descent. I'd imagine pro enduro/xc riders do this type of back to back testing, but you're less likely to see it for "trail" riding.
  • 1 0
 I'd be more interested to hear if he can make the Giga feel as lively a the Reactor by increasing its suspension pressures. i.e. can you make the Giga feel like a poppy short travel bike which is fun on mellow trails?
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott "I think the power meter method is valid for measuring efficiency when pedalling sitting down (as in this test), but it doesn't work for out-of-the-saddle sprinting". Why not?
  • 1 0
 The choice of Maxx "terrifying" over the possibility of Maxx "sort of" grip in tyres can considerably skew the capability of both bikes significantly. But at least, for this test, they both had the same levels of 'grip'.
  • 6 2
 answer = 150mm
  • 3 1
 It's not about the what's best, you just pick one and be a dick about it! Hat tip IFHT
  • 4 0
 170mm
  • 2 0
 180 on ahmish, or 190/200 on e-bike.
  • 2 0
 TLDR; trail tires are generally faster uphill and downhill.

Snark aside, good write up Seb.
  • 3 0
 This would make a wild Tandem design.
  • 2 0
 That picture is tripping me out. Doesn't anybody else see that?
  • 4 1
 Hear me out on this one. A Mid-Travel bike
  • 2 0
 Am I allowed to say how after 17+ years of mtb riding I'm finally satisfied with amount of travel my bike has?
  • 1 0
 "How much of the difference in climbing speed between an enduro bike and a trail bike is down to the tires?"

tl;dr: Most of it. The rest is mindset.
  • 3 2
 Too bad you didn't include a short travel bike. I see a long travel bike, and a really long travel bike. What world do you live in where 130/150 is short travel???
  • 3 4
 Out west.
  • 2 0
 Does Nukeproof frames have slack STA's? Seb look to be fairly tall...but his saddles are slammed all the way forward.
  • 1 0
 Just the Reactor because it's a few years old now. They need to update the bike!
  • 1 0
 I have to admit I’m loving my 29” 160mm steel hardtail with trail tyres and foam inserts (and at the moment, no gears). Rarely the fastest, often the most fun.
  • 1 0
 Two observations. Neither of these bikes is short travel. Both saddles slammed fully forward on the rails even with steep seat tubes to compensate for modern geo.
  • 1 1
 Why time everything?
It's a quality article, dont get me wrong, but still- why do people insist on using time to measure what's "better". There are so many better, more relevant metrics.
  • 1 0
 Timing is convenient and repeatable, but, as you said, it's certainly not the complete picture.

What metrics do you prefer?
  • 1 0
 Have we discussed the possibility that the Reactor might be a shocking climber?

If I recall, the anti squat is pretty low on it.
  • 1 0
 Changing tires according to the terrain or weather condition is really boring especialy with tubeless. Best is to have a spare wheel set but that's expensive.
  • 1 0
 Short travel: higher SENSATION of speed (descending)
Long travel: higher ACTUAL speed (descending)

If you don't race, be sure to under-bike for best results.
  • 3 1
 150mm should be an option for the poll.
  • 4 2
 Pick a dick and be a travel about it.
  • 2 0
 I feel like someone doing the research on travel vs dick size would settle the argument for sure.
  • 2 1
 Brilliant article, something I'm sure many of us have pondered before. Thanks!
  • 1 1
 Why..... Stop.... Stop using power cranks on climbs with the same tyres. completely useless and pointless test! As proven here, yet again. Rant over.
  • 1 0
 In all fairness, the giga is kind of a unicorn in terms of a longer travel enduro bike that can climb well.
  • 2 0
 Long travel all day Every day
  • 2 0
 The answer to life, the universe, and everything is... Ripmo
  • 1 0
 I see you went for an XXL Giga there Seb. What is your height and would you say this size was best suited for you?
  • 1 0
 If you showed this chart to people without a title and asked them to guess what it was for...
  • 1 0
 23 front and 26 rear seems really firm unless you're riding at world cup DH speeds. Try bracketing PSI and get back to us.
  • 2 0
 A bikes a bikes a bike. Get after it
  • 1 0
 Dear Seb

What is your height please? I wonder about bike size when you tested Giga XXL

thanks
  • 1 0
 Why not, have 'travel adjust' suspension? 200mm, flick a swich... 100mm and everything in-between....
  • 1 0
 Tant que ca ameliore mes temps, ca me derange pas que le bike soit plate a rider
  • 1 0
 Smart guy told me long ago, "ride as much bike as you can get up the hill without killing yourself".
Works good.
  • 3 3
 Props for doing multiple replicates per test. Pinkbike needs to do more of this.
  • 2 1
 Great content, thank you.
  • 1 0
 100 for the DJ, 200 for the DH yall some pedal nerds
  • 1 0
 So the answer to ST or LT - which is better is... tires. Got it.
  • 2 5
 I thought it was understood that even though you are putting the same power through the pedals, it requires your body more energy to do so with suspension, the more suspension the more energy your body loses trying to maintain 250w, this video should help explain

www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGO2pu0JX_8
  • 1 1
 It depends on the roughness of the terrain. On smooth pavement, yes, zero suspension should be fastest. On rough terrain, suspension will typically be faster; the optimum amount of suspension will be determined by the terrain.

There can be additional considerations in mass-start races. For example, imagine a course that's mostly rough, with few opportunities to pass on rough sections, and smooth climbs that have room to pass. A chassis with little or zero suspension could be an advantage in this scenario if the unsuspended riders can pass suspended riders on the climbs and get to the front of the group before entering the rough sections, thereby blocking the potentially faster riders in the rough sections.
  • 1 0
 Only one bike I am going DH. I ride a lot of lifts and shuttles.
  • 1 0
 But what about medium travel?
  • 1 0
 Interesting that both sets of tires use an Assegai up front.
  • 2 0
 We need more travel
  • 1 0
 For my types of writing, shorter travel is all I need
  • 2 0
 *blinks in hardtail*
  • 1 0
 Come on Nukeproof time to update the Reactor! Please and thank you.
  • 1 0
 More Cushion for the Pushing always
  • 1 0
 150/130mm is short travel? WTF?
  • 1 0
 Love it @Seb stott! Thanks for checking into this stuff
  • 1 0
 Short travel bike build like a long travel bike
  • 1 0
 Pinkbike, please add a function to rate each article. This would be 11/10.
  • 1 0
 Very Very very Good Content !
  • 1 0
 Just man up and ride a hard tail.
  • 1 1
 I prefer a tank when i go get groceries
  • 5 5
 Long travel full E-MTB the one bike quiver
  • 1 0
 This is true!
  • 1 0
 My bike is for sale
  • 1 1
 Pinkbike users try not be privileged challenge (impossible)
  • 1 0
 Now we need a tire test!
  • 3 3
 Everyone knows a long travel E-MTB is the best all-round mountain bike...
  • 1 0
 Absolutely! Mine is 190 rear and 200 front and it literally does everything great! Up, down and everything in between. I love it!
  • 1 0
 The We Are One Arrival.
  • 1 0
 the boostmonster
  • 1 1
 Man… you are nuked
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