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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 8:05 PM
NoahColorado

It's in large part due to Maxxis EXO+ and DD tires. The Assegai 2.5WT EXO+ is 1,125 g and the Aggressor 2.3 DD is 1,115 g. That's a whopping 2,240 for the pair. Take about a pound off the bike weights for a slightly different tire spec in an EXO version (DHR or DHF front). Even more if you go with faster - but still voluminous -rear tire like a Ardent or Rekon 2.4.

And yeah, they all have pretty tank-ish wheels (except the Phantom). But light, inexpensive OE wheels are basically disposable.

But, yes, weight is not that important anyway.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 8:04 PM
grizzatom

Great comparison. These bikes all look like a bundle of fun. One suggestion would be to show the antisquat curve through the gear range rather than through the travel range. We all pedal in the 15% to 45% sag range 99.9% of the time, which gives us a pretty consistent antisquat value. Seeing how the bikes behave when pedaling at full bottom out or completely unweighted is not very useful. It would be much more significant to see what the anti squat (and associated pedal kickback) does in each gear ratio from a full sprint gear all the way to our slowest grinder gear. This is where significant differences become evident in suspension designs as well.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 8:02 PM
Mike Buell

Also, if we can get 250 people to pre-order and pay in full. I'm sure we could build a Phantom V3 frame that weighs in at only 2.5lbs including shock and axle. Same geo and everything. Only caveat is this frame will only come with a 7 day warranty, and High School NICA rules will be enforced. Both wheel's must stay on the ground at all times. If you so much as pop a wheelie you will be disqualified, and your warranty void.

On the plus side though, you could run over the frame with your enduro bike, and just like a soda can, it will get stuck between your tire and fork and make Moto noises, which is cool. So all won't be totally wasted.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 8:01 PM
Mike Buell

Very well said Noah, and fully agree. I believe it was Graves who was once quoted at an enduro race saying something along the lines of. You get to choose the parts you put on your bike, parts you trust, you don't get to choose the wight of the bike using those parts.

I can't speak for all the bikes in this test, but since I was personally responsible for picking the spec. on the Banshee Phantom, I feel relatively qualified to offer a little insight on that one. Is it all based on cost vs. weight? Not exactly. Especially if weight isn't priority #1, which for us, it definitely isn't. For example on this particular build, we could have simply changed 2 parts and shaved ~361g (.796 lbs) for the exact same price (based on published weights). Would have got the Phantom down to ~31.1 lbs for no extra money. How? Using the RideFast Livewire Wheelset, which we stock as an option, as well as using the MRP Ribbon SL instead of the RF Hotline and Ribbon Air which we chose to use.

So if all we had to do was use the lighter sibling parts, at the same cost, why did we make the choice to go with the stouter build?

Well, to Vital's credit they do a great job of making sure these tests are a very level playing field. We didn't know who the testers were going to be, we didn't know where they were testing or how they would be riding the bikes. So I chose the spec I would would want for my personal bike at the $5K price target, as simple as that. I bounced this spec off Keith, our engineer to make sure it was his choice as well, and that is what we shipped. We were less concerned with having a lower weigh in, and more concerned with providing the stoutest, and best performing package we could offer at this price. We also had a feeling the Vital testers might just push the boundaries of what a short travel 29 can comfortably do. After seeing the riding video, I’m glad we sent what we did! Steve, Brandon and Courtney all Shred, and Phoenix is rough!

Now since there are the other options, you could personally choose the lighter spec. Or go aftermarket and go crazy. Nothing wrong with that. Though if this was my personal bike, and this was my max budget, I wouldn't change a single thing. Also if I had a little extra money to spend, I still wouldn't change the parts mentioned above as they don’t get any better than that, for me. Don’t touch my satisfying high powered brakes and 180mm rotors (they’d probably be 200mm rotors on my personal ride).

I personally want those stout wheels and fork. I'm 190 lbs, and a washed up ex Pro DH racer that isn't always as smooth as I might pretend to be. Honestly the only parts I would consider changing if I had some money burning a hole in my pocket would be the Cassette and Cranks, as these are the only places I see any weight savings possible without sacrificing in areas I feel are more important. Though as Noah mentioned, would this even be noticeable? Would it make the bike any more fun?

All 5 of these bikes could be sub 30 lbs pretty easily. Lighter tires, wheel’s, drivetrain upgrades, probably in that sub 28 lbs if you really went for it, even without spending any more money if you just shopped lighter duty parts, but why? I’m sure the testers had a lot more fun confidentially riding 5 bikes for a week without catastrophic failure. Smashing gnarly rocks, hitting the fun lines etc. I want to ride my bike hard all the time, not just for a week, and I don't want failure when I'm on a riding holiday if that can be avoided. Ever. Would rather eat some taco's and drink some beers after the rad day of riding, rather than go shopping for a new rear wheel because I chose a super light XC race option, that now looks like said taco...

So if this confuses you, and you personally feel like you would pick a lighter package, and those lighter parts. There is noting wrong with that, your bike, your choices. I’m just going to go out on a limb and make the assumption, that even though we are both riding bikes, we’re kinda playing different sports. No one is has to be right or wrong. We just ride for different reasons and have different equipment needs.

End of the day, biggest smile while riding wins. Everyone should choose the bike that does that for them.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 7:59 PM
NoahColorado

My advice to people: do not weigh your bikes - unless you're trying to build up a hill-climb specific bike. There have been a lot of tests and studies about bike weight, and the consensus is, it doesn't matter nearly as much as people think it does. For some reason, we all still think trail bikes should be ~28lbs, it's been that number for as long as I can remember. It was that number when I worked at shops - before we had dropper posts and tire choices beyond: folding, wire bead, or DH. When forks had 30 or 32mm stanchions. When we had had two or three chainrings, but we had 11-34 cassettes. We think that just advances in materials and manufacturing can make up for all the parts we've added to our bikes, their substantially greater capability, and the required overbuilding manufacturers have to do for parts and frames because everyone is taking everything to bike parks these days and generally subjecting them to more abuse (I'm guilty).

When you weigh your bike, regardless of what the scale says, when you're suffering up a climb you'll inevitably think "it's because my bike is heavy." It's not because you've been spending too much time on the internet, are generally out of shape, or you're just having an off day, it's your bike's fault. The placebo and, more applicably, "nocebo" effect are real, and they will definitely influence your enjoyment more than a pound or two on your bike.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 7:57 PM
jeff.brines

I kind of touched on this below. I do agree the bikes are heavier than we'd like to see, but the truth is these bikes are still running the same parts as your heavier longer travel bike such as...

Tires; you could get away with EXO, but with less travel its arguable (especially in the desert) you need more tire to keep from flatting! I know I would
Rims to accommodate said tires (30mm internal width, designed to handle abuse)
Fork chassis that are 35mm(ish)
Real brakes (the Banshee had DH brakes; and why not!? You are still going fast)
Drivetrain
Handlebar
Stem
Dropper
bla bla bla

The only place these bikes will be lighter is smaller eye to eye shocks and maybe the fork. The frames have to be as strong with rally-worthy geometry simply because they are designed to be jumped, smashed and pushed. Hell, these frames are probably fatigued more than your longer travel frames in that they find shock/fork bottom more often than your standard 6" bike.

Again, I'm with you, I want these bikes to be 25-27lbs; the weight of bikes like the Mondracker downcountry bike or the Trek Top Fuel. But that's really more of a pipe dream than reality at the moment.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 7:56 PM
jeff.brines

Guessing you don't like admitting "I'm wrong". Fun fact, I do it all the time. Liberating. I also learn that way.

Yes, more aggressive riders would prefer a more progressive design. I've ridden the bike. It isn't God Awful, but I did find it to use more of the travel more often and find bottom more often. Not my favorite feeling for a sports car derived short travel bike.

Furthermore, by stating "most DW link bikes" you are implying there is a coupling of this design and the leverage rate. My point was to say you can decouple this. I think everyone but you understood this. You could say "some designers" and just leave the DW link part out of it if you are trying to argue a flat leverage rate curve is okay or good. You can make this argument so long as you do it eyes wide open. EG: For a certain type of rider, a flatter curve actually IS a benefit. But that type of rider isn't the rider who frequents Vital. (a more passive rider).

While air shocks do ramp up near the end of their travel, they also have a tendency to be a bit over zealous through the middle of their travel. This is why a good, progressive leverage rate curve has been coveted by those who ride hard regardless of what damper type you go with. The bike doesn't fall through its travel and is more supportive when being pushed.

I never implied there is one size that fits all, but I am implying for more aggressive riders, this isn't the type of design that is most beneficial.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 7:55 PM
jeff.brines

Sorry, but no.

This is the same old adage of people going "VPP has this type of leverage ratio curve (the upside down U)". As we've seen in the current crop of VPP bikes, this is not true. There is a reason the engineers at SC designed the old VPP stuff this way, just like there is a reason Ibis has gone with the leverage curve above. It really has more to do with how the curve works with an air shock paired with your average noodling dentist wink As far as Giant's DH bike, I'm not sure why they went that direction, but as I've shown you can decouple leverage ratio from everything else if you chose to.

Moreover, I'd argue having a progressive design is at least as important if not more important when you have less travel to work with. You absolutely want that shock to ramp up fast to prevent harsh bottom outs and to give you, the rider, something to push against without running crazy high pressures being the bike is going to commonly use all its travel in a normal trail riding environment.

Compare this to a longer travel bike with a flatter curve, and you can work with it, in part because you've got more tuning options (megneg for instance), and based on the fact that your average trail impact won't alone push it through all of its travel.

In a nutshell, for this type of bike to work well with a capable rider, you want the fork and shock to be more progressive than you'd perhaps need in a longer travel application...

That's my experience anyway.

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 7:52 PM
jeff.brines

Dude. What world are you living in where reasonably priced ($5K) enduro bikes with real tires somehow weighs less than the bikes in this test? Are you infusing your tubes with helium? Adding speed holes to your frame? Have a dentist budget (sorry dentists)?

I've raced for a long time, been a bike tester previously, too. While there are some exceptions, the average race-ready enduro bike (real tires, brakes, wheels, parts) is going to be a minimum of 33lbs. My new hawt Specialized Enduro with too-light tires (for racing) is 35. This is a $5500 bike.

As far as your expectation that a frame somehow can be crazy light merely due to 20-40mm less fork leverage, really!? You are making so many half baked assumptions.

The lever point of the fork is one stress point, but it isn't the only one. If this was honestly the determining factor then every XC bike would be 80mm so they could make it ridiculously light and axle to crown would be all the talking point in the weight weenie forums.

Again, as I mentioned, I *wished* these bikes were lighter, but for all the reasons everyone has outlined, they really need all the same engineering and parts a longer travel bike needs.

If you don't "get it". Cool, move on, go romp around on your stupid light "enduro bike" that you won't even mention here.

There are a number of people who really like the way this type of bike rides. I had a Smuggler before this type of bike was cool and to this day its still one of my most favorite rides I've ever owned. Never thought I could do so much with 115mm (that's what she said).

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Liked a comment about feature Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five Slack, Short-Travel 29er Mountain Bikes Reviewed 3/1/2020 7:52 PM
TEAMROBOT

Jeff, slow people don't need heavy tires, strong wheels, or real brakes. This, in turn, makes their bikes much lighter.

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Liked a comment about feature The Inside Line Listener Response - The Bermification of Mountain Biking? 1/31/2020 6:40 AM
StudBeefpile

Coming from the pnw flow trails were always jump trails. It wasn't until I took my bike with me on some midwest trips that I learned what a poorly designed mess some flow trails could be.

Really I think we need to change the wording when it comes to trails. Jump lines should be called just that. "Flow trails," that are simply beginner trails should be called... beginner trails. I think there is were a lot of the frustration comes from. The term "flow trail" is so ambiguous and used as a catch all. A blue flow trail could have some decent jumps, or it could just be a mess of 180 berms the entire way down the hill.

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Liked a comment about feature The Inside Line Listener Response - The Bermification of Mountain Biking? 1/31/2020 6:39 AM
C-Rad

Wow, I really just had to stop listening. I’ve never heard so much raw opinion, covered up with “just my personal opinion here”! Seriously, does nobody get that the “sport” of mountain biking is also just something people do for fun? It’s not dumbing things down, it’s building people up, letting people grow into the potential sport side of it.
I’ve run a bike park in Germany for five years now, and I’ve watched kids grow from only riding our easy flow trail, to the bigger green trail, to our enduro trail, to racing iXS Cups and doing pretty well.
And if it’s not about making money(to the last dude) then it will not be sustainable. If someone isn’t making money, they won’t invest time in it. They can’t, we all have to eat dude.
Build flow trail! Just for goodness sake, don’t only build flow trails. I’ve built four new trails in this park in five years. 2 machine built flowy ones and 2 hand build, natural trails. We went from 1800 visitors a year to 15000 a year in a tiny bike park, on a tiny hill, and most of them are achieving the most important goal of mountain biking: having fun.
Peace people, and please keep up the great work.

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Liked a comment about feature The Inside Line Listener Response - The Bermification of Mountain Biking? 1/27/2020 8:48 PM
Losifer

Sure, a machine built trail costs more than a volunteer built trail. But if you're a ski area/bike park that is trying to monetize land by getting more people riding it, than a machine built trail will generally pay for itself faster. As for equipment rentals, you're looking at around $1000/week for a mini X or skid steer, but the real expense is in the expertise to build with that equipment.

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Liked a comment about feature The Inside Line Listener Response - The Bermification of Mountain Biking? 1/27/2020 8:46 PM
sspomer

i talked with a whistler local who's built trail in the valley there for years and knows the scene and people. in ignorance, mentioned the same thing to him, "earth circus has to be way more expensive than a hand-built trail like miss fire." his response was that is not true at all. flow trails (as we're talking here) can be built quite quickly via machines with skilled operators, while hand built trails take a lot of manual time armoring and aligning sections that wouldn't last a season if not properly built. his impression was the price difference, if any, probably wasn't that great. in the long run, a natural trail may cost more b/c of maintenance and labor hours. i was really surprised to hear that but the logic made sense. i guess it depends on the trail location and terrain, but a legit, natural trail made for sustainability isn't as simple as a pick and shovel scratching in a line.

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Liked a comment about product review Amazingly quiet with instant engagement 1/8/2020 8:51 PM
nug12182

Only problem with the hubs are...if your bike is creaky you will really hear it creaking with the silent hubs.

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