Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five of the Best Long-Travel Enduro 29ers Raced and Reviewed 163

Multiple back-to-back tests of the Evil Wreckoning, Orbea Rallon, Specialized Enduro, Transition Sentinel, and Trek Slash revealed their strengths and weaknesses, and then we raced them against the clock!

Vital MTB Test Sessions: Five of the Best Long-Travel Enduro 29ers Raced and Reviewed

For six years a dedicated crew of Vital MTB testers have been bringing you some of the most honest, detailed mountain bike reviews you'll find anywhere through our Test Sessions. So why change things up? Because we knew we could do better. New for 2018, we're providing a much more comparative look at specific types of bikes. Five leading long-travel enduro 29ers are the first to take the stage:

 

We know how difficult it can be to pick your next bike. Fact is, they're all pretty rad these days. With a myriad of kick ass options to choose from, how do you sift through all the noise and find the perfect +1 to add to your stable? We aim to break down some of those barriers and make things more clear with our new approach to Test Sessions. Through a series of back-to-back tests of the same type of bike during same day, on the same trail, and in the same conditions, we're able to better evaluate and compare bikes.

For this first go, it only seemed fitting that we head to a trail often used by many of the world's top enduro and downhill racers as they prepare to do battle each season.

Our thoughtfully selected five-bike lineup includes some of the best in the long-travel 29er world, including a few that set benchmarks as big-wheeled bikes with lots of travel evolved to become a thing.

This was a massive undertaking, and we encourage you to dig deeper into the links and race results below. We think you'll find the individual reviews very informative and worthwhile. Each review features a video with a concise summary of our thoughts specific to that ride, more clips of the bike in action, more comparisons, plainly stated strengths and weaknesses, a detailed suspension analysis, and a summary of who we think it's best for. DIG IN!


Evil Wreckoning

Read the Evil Wreckoning review

  • Travel: 161mm (6.3-inches) rear // 160mm (6.3-inches) front
  • Suspension Design: Single-pivot with DELTA link
  • Frame Material: Uni-directional carbon
  • Measured Weight: 31.5-pounds (14.3kg, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: Medium
  • Model Tested: The Wreckoning X01 Eagle with PUSH shock upgrade
  • MSRP: $6,899 USD base price, $7,799 as shown
  • More Info: www.evil-bikes.com

Orbea Rallon

Read the Orbea Rallon review

  • Travel: 150mm (5.9-inches) rear // 160mm (6.3-inches) front
  • Suspension Design: Advanced Dynamics with concentric rear axle/pivot
  • Frame Material: Orbea Monocoque Race carbon
  • Measured Weight: 31.4-pounds (14.3kg, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: Large
  • Model Tested: Rallon M10 with MyO customization
  • MSRP: $4,999 USD base price, $6,890 as shown
  • More Info: www.orbea.com

Specialized Enduro 29

Read the Specialized Enduro 29 review

  • Travel: 160mm (6.3-inches) rear // 160mm (6.3-inches) front
  • Suspension Design: FSR (Horst link)
  • Frame Material: FACT IS-X 11m carbon
  • Measured Weight: 32.9-pounds (14.9kg, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: Medium
  • Model Tested: Enduro Coil 29
  • MSRP: $5,200 USD
  • More Info: www.specialized.com

Transition Sentinel

Read the Transition Sentinel review

  • Travel: 140mm (5.5-inches) rear // 160mm (6.3-inches) front
  • Suspension Design: GiddyUp 2.0hh (Horst link)
  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Measured Weight: 32.4-pounds (14.7kg, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: Medium
  • Model Tested: Sentinel X01
  • MSRP: $5,000 USD
  • More Info: www.transitionbikes.com

Trek Slash

Read the Trek Slash review

  • Travel: 150mm (5.9-inches) rear // 160mm (6.3-inches) front
  • Suspension Design: EVO link suspension with ABP (Active Braking Pivot)
  • Frame Material: OCLV Mountain carbon main frame and seatstays, alloy chainstays
  • Measured Weight: 29.7-pounds (13.5kg, without pedals)
  • Size Tested: 17.5
  • Model Tested: Slash 9.8
  • MSRP: $5,500 USD
  • More Info: www.trekbikes.com

Comparative Suspension Analysis

Using the bike industry's leading linkage analysis software, André Santos was able to determine a close approximation of each bike's kinematics for the purpose of this comparison. Though they don't always tell the full story, these charts provide great insight into several key factors that impact how the bikes ride. 

André's Observations:

  • The Rallon, Enduro, and Sentinel have a slightly progressive suspension designs with around 10% progressivity, meaning that it’s relatively easy to use all the travel with a more aggressive riding style. On the other hand, The Wreckoning and Slash are more progressive at around 30%, which is an average value for an enduro bike.
  • Most of the bikes tested use near 100% anti-squat to prevent pedal bob. Interestingly, the Rallon uses significantly more anti-squat that nears 140% on middle cogs.
  • With the exception of The Wreckoning, all of them have relatively low anti-rise at approximately 50%. This means that the rear suspension is relatively independent from rear braking forces. The Wreckoning uses a single-pivot design and has an anti-rise of 90%, meaning that the braking forces counteract the extension of the rear suspension and reduce forward pitching of the bike.

Which Long-Travel 29er Is the Fastest? Timed Results

For race-ready bikes like these, there's nothing more telling than the clock. Following two days of riding and filming our testers were able to get intimately familiar with the trail and dial in each bike's suspension settings. Then, using the same state-of-the-art LITPro device and analysis software used by Supercross racers and World Cup downhill teams alike, we were able to accurately time the bikes during a mock race.

Prior to the race we determined segments that showcased bike performance in specific types of situations. Here's the breakdown:

  • Segment 1 - Big compressions
  • Segment 2 - Fast corners and jumps
  • Segment 3 - Tight turns and steeps
  • Segment 4 - Rough terrain

Steve's Results

Steve's fastest times were posted on the Orbea Rallon through the segments filled with big compressions, fast corners, and jumps; and the Evil Wreckoning when the trail got steep and rough.

Brandon's Results

Brandon's results showed a different story, with the Specialized Enduro taking top honors through the big compressions, tight turns, and steeps. The Trek Slash showed lots of promise through the fast corners, jumps, and rough terrain.

Averaged Results

The individual results clearly show that different bikes may work better for different riders – what one person is most comfortable or quickest on doesn't always work for another. By averaging the results, we're able to get a more clear overall picture. In this instance, the Orbea Rallon was the most consistent bike across both riders. Prior to learning the results, it was also rated highly by both riders as being one they felt very comfortable on.

If anything, the results show just how competitive this genre is. Those are some close times!

Relative Performance Ratings

With a wide variety of trail features and pitches under our tires, the areas where each bike excelled or struggled really came to light. Considering both the timed results and how things felt on the trail, we rated each of the bikes on various performance metrics relevant to the long-travel 29er category. We encourage you to dive into the reviews linked above for much more detail.

Evil Wreckoning - Average Rating: 3.4 out of 5
Orbea Rallon - Average Rating: 4.1 out of 5
Specialized Enduro - Average Rating: 3.8 out of 5
Transition Sentinel - Average Rating: 4.1 out of 5
Trek Slash - Average Rating: 3.8 out of 5

Which type of bike should we test next? Are there any models that really interest you? What test location would be best? Leave your suggestions in the comments. We look forward to your feedback.

Photos by Luca Cometti // Video by gordo with assistance from Suspended Productions

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