Welcome to 2022 PINKBIKE x BETA
Bike Value Field Test
9 Full Comments and Hardtails Ripped and Sorted
Lyrics by Mike Levy, Photography by Tom Richards
Remember that one time we reviewed a $9,000 trail bike and were really disappointed? I want to communicate with Dr. WhatsApp. It turns out that when you throw a bunch of fancy parts into a fancy frame, the end product is also fancy and probably doesn’t suck, which sometimes leaves us with little to say beyond the pointless cliches and frivolous criticisms about cable routing or the chainstay. protection.
But dial that number down to under $3,500 for a full suspension bike, or Hardtails that come in at under $2,100, and things get a lot more interesting. This time, the crew headed south to Tucson, Arizona, for the bike’s annual field test that saw nine affordable machines face each other on rugged, rocky desert trails. After two weeks of riding, we can (almost) agree on which bike is the most impressive, which scares us the most, and how much horchata can be consumed by the human body before it needs serious medical attention.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: Steel tails can be a lot of fun, but I suspect most of us would rather ride a bike with full suspension most of the time. The drawback for some is that while they can certainly give you more comfort, traction and speed than just a front suspension, the extra moving pieces also mean more money, weight and complexity. This isn’t a concern if you’re okay with spending big bucks, but it’s a different story if your budget is $3,500 or less like we did with our five full suspension bikes. Lots to talk about in our next reviews, then.
Do you want to have a mountain bike but don’t have a lot of money to spend? While full-suspension rigs made almost entirely of carbon fiber get most of the headlines, the hardware provides a simpler, and therefore less expensive, way to get into the ride. And because you don’t pay for the extra geometry, materials and all those hubs, it often has a great spec sheet that even a similarly priced dual-suspension bike can’t get close to.
But it’s not just for budget bikers, either, because those who can’t get through a season of riding without breaking another set of struts, destroying another set of bearings, or blowing another shock may have better luck—and less time off the bike—than Hardtail selection route.
How do we choose bikes?
by “Choose,“What I really mean to say is”Please, just send us any bike you have available.“If you’ve ever tried to buy yourself a new ride in the past few years, or even just parts of a bike, you already know that you’re more likely to get stuck in the Ark of the Covenant than the 12-speed chainring and derailleur you’ve already been looking for. However In some way, Kazimer has nicely talked about his way of getting five full suspension bikes that sell for $3,500 or much less, and four hardtail bikes that come in at $2,100 or less.
Yes, it was possible to use two more bikes. Yes, some prices went up after the event. And yes, Casimir can be quite charming when he wants to be, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell him how disappointed you were that he wasn’t able to get exactly the bike you wanted—which you want—to be reviewed in this field test.
This is our 10th field test, and that doesn’t even include all the trips Casimir and I have taken over the years before we even had a name for them, so we have the testing process at this point. It’s not complicated: take a short test ride and then do another job. Then do one more thing and one more and then another set. After we’re done, we head to some test courses before heading to some test courses after we come back from doing the test courses. Then, after we’re back, we go on to a few more… Well, you get the point; Nothing beats short, repetitive laps on a track that suits any type of bike we ride.
This frequent testing is key because it allows us to compare comparable bikes much better than if we were riding them in isolation, and it highlights the notable differences in geometry, suspension performance and bike specs. Just don’t call it a shootout, okay?
All of these laps wouldn’t count as much if the tracks were more than one racket course. But by the same token, as much as we like to look like we know what we’re doing in our photos riding sketchy terrain, none of these affordable bikes are made for do-or-die lines. In fact, they need to ride on a single track that suits their intentions, which I would argue is a light to medium duty track with some pretty rough stuff thrown in for good measure.
And that is exactly what Tucson gave us; The undulating trails with a mixture of tricky, low-speed climbs and fast, jagged inclines, all studded with pointed boulders and either all or no traction to keep us sober. The sail was mostly smooth, although there were some accidents within two weeks of riding, as you might expect, and we also have some mechanical concerns that we’ll talk about in our upcoming review videos. Oh, and at the time Palmer had to hand-sew his Maxxis rear tire in order to get out of the desert before dark, but we’ll get to the behind-the-scenes stories in a future broadcast.
Our value bike field tests are a little different from regular group reviews in that we are less concerned about using control tires to balance traction and efficiency, and we focus less on timing our laps. why? Well, we suspect if you’re looking for a bike in this price bracket, you’ll probably want to know more about how it performs as it is rather than how it does after we installed $250 rubber that’s way better than any other tires that came stock on the bike.
In other words, if you’re spending all your hard-earned fun tokens on a bike that costs $3,500 or less, specs definitely matter and we don’t want to ignore this important factor.
Speaking of darkening things, the timing of our laps is always going to matter in these get-togethers because it gives us another yardstick to compare and talk about, but we also know that a two-second gap between two priced bikes definitely isn’t. t means that one is better than the other. After all, maybe our legs felt better in the morning, or maybe it was all the horchata that made me run so fast and drop Casimir?
However, since our nine test bikes differ so much in geometry, suspension performance and specs, don’t be surprised to see some notable differences in the timing sheet. However, how much inventory you put into these numbers is up to you.
Impossible Climb, (No) Aptitude Test, and Huck to Flat
Although the stopwatch doesn’t lie, it’s really the Impossible Climb and Huck to Flat that we base our purchasing decisions on, isn’t it? I mean, it wouldn’t be a field test without some nonsensical climbing before hitting the bottom of a flat pancake descent, so you can expect the series to end with Matt Beer riding all nine of those bikes up something very steep and then off of something silly.
What we don’t do this time is an aptitude test. I know, I know, you might be as upset about it as I am, but hear me out; With the value of bikes having different tires, and four of them solid tires, we thought our time could be better spent doing something else, which is why the extra climb has been replaced with a video that breaks down every component across all the bikes that impressed us the most. In it, we’ll talk about budget forks, drives, brakes, dropper shaft, and other parts that worked best, along with a few things that definitely didn’t.
As usual, testing tasks were split up among several riders to give us some perspective on how each bike would perform; We agree on most things but not everything, and this allows us to discuss our different opinions as calmly as well-adjusted adults. Yes, that’s how it went…
While we’re Ryan, Casimir, Matt, Alicia, and myself on camera for these field test projects, the five of us don’t even know any way to draw focus or where to install the film. We’d be totally lost without our exhausted video and photo crew – Max Barron, Tom Richards, Lear Miller – who not only make sure we’re mostly in focus but also manage to make us look a lot better than we actually are. And then, after we’ve been filming for two weeks, we lock them away inside the Pinkbike Liberation Cave and just feed them Timbits through a little hole in the wall until they come out the other side pale, fat, and with a final video series on.
Speaking of the final videos, which bike review do you look forward to the most? Which bike looks the least promising?