A bike test is only as good as the humans providing the feedback. Since humans are about as different as the 22 bikes at the 2013 Vital MTB Test Sessions, our test riders needed to reflect a wide variety of style, sizes and tastes with an ability to turn experiences on a bike into words that we can all find informative. Our five test riders did just that. Get to know the five test riders who climbed, hucked, carved, jumped and rallied in Utah.
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Years riding mountain bikes: Most of my life, on and off.
Riding style: Diverse. I like to dirt jump, I like to ride downhill, but I like to pedal, too. (Editor's note: This guy is fast and smooth!)
Trail style preference: Technical but fast. I like rocks and roots, but also a ton of jumps.
Accomplishments on a bike: 2011 Red Bull Final Descent Winner (12-hour DH race at Angel Fire doing 30+ laps), 2011 & 2012 2nd place Air DH at Colorado Freeride Festival.
Bikes you're looking forward to testing: I'm pretty excited to test the Intense Tracer 275, the Specialized Stumperjumper EVO looks fun and the Commencal Meta SX.
Occupation: Mechanical Engineer
Years riding mountain bikes: 10 years
Riding style: A transitioning style from no-fun-cross-country-bikes to sweet trail bikes that are very capable. (Editor's note: Joe is uber fast uphill and coming into his own on the descents. We sometimes forget he's an XCer at heart.)
Trail style preference: I like a little bit of everything. Rock smashing is definitely good, but I like the flowy, fast trails too.
Accomplishments on a bike: Collegiate National Championships Omnium podium appearances and currently racing Pro XC.
Bikes you're looking forward to testing: The Yeti SB-66c, the Trek Fuel EX and the Mondraker Foxy XR because it's so different.
Occupation: Trail Builder
Years riding mountain bikes: Nearly 20.
Riding style: I like to go fast. (Editor's note: Forum users would say he has a "plow" style.)
Trail style preference: Tight, techy, slow trails are stupid. It has to be fast.
Accomplishments on a bike: 2012 UCI Masters DH World Champion, two-time Mountain States Cup DH Champion, Pro since 2001.
Bikes you're looking forward to testing: I'm specifically looking forward to anything with some rear-end rigidity because I'm a lard ass.
Age: Though bar tenders never believe me, I'm 26.
Occupation: Vital MTB Product Dude
Years riding mountain bikes: I first started riding bikes around age 4 or 5 on a rad Kawasaki green machine. When I was a freshman in high school I was introduced to "mountain biking" (aka hucking off loading docks and stair gaps at the time). It's been a solid 13 years since.
Describe your riding style: Semi pro? Haha. I like to have fun, pop off the little bonus lines on the sides of the trail, get aggressive when I feel in tune with a bike and the terrain, and love to really mash on the pedals and open it up when pointed downhill.
Trail style preference: My perfect trail has a good mix of flow, tech, and balls-to-the-wall speed. I love little transfers, rollers, and the occasional gap that gives me that momentary stomach in my throat kind of feeling. Toss in some rocky bits with the option to double over them or risk pinch flatting, then mix all of those things together and you've got a winner in my book.
Accomplishments on a bike: Though I'd hardly call myself accomplished, I did race downhill for several years, eventually working my way up to the illustrious rank of a Pro pack filler. I had a good run in my collegiate racing days while heading up the Colorado School of Mines team (hot dog suit, anyone?). After college, my focus turned to dirt sculpting and jumping with the occasional slopestyle contest thrown in for fun. More recently I've been spreading the stoke as Vital's product editor dude. (Editor's note: Brandon can tuck-no backflip.)
Bikes you're looking forward to testing: All of them? I'm pretty pumped to try out a bunch of different platforms and price points. Rocky's new 650B Altitude looks pretty sick and the various shock mounting positions have me really curious. For all-around use, the Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc and Trek Fuel EX jump out. And then there's the burly Commencal Meta SX and Mondraker Foxy XR with its unique "forward geometry" that are also begging for a good thrashing. Should be dope!
Occupation: Trail Builder
Years riding mountain bikes: 17+ years
Riding style: I like to smooth out the trail myself. (Editor's note: Steve also likes to huck everything in site. Everything.)
Trail style preference: I want some stuff that surprises me and scares me.
Accomplishments on a bike: 2002 Collegiate National Championship Omnium winner. I won the downhill and I won the dual, so I earned enough points that I didn't even have to pedal uphill in the XC. Racing Pro DH for 10 years, including World Cups.
Bikes you're looking forward to testing: I want to try all the bikes. I'm really interested in seeing how the different suspension designs work.
So there you have it - five guys on a mission to put the hurt on 22 bikes in the Utah desert, all with various qualifications and backgrounds. Curious how they tested them? If you haven't seen this yet, you're in for a treat...