Budget Bike Comparison - Four $3,000 Direct-to-Consumer Enduro Bikes 36

YT Capra AL vs. Intense Tracer vs. Commencal Meta AM V4.2 vs. Transition Patrol

Budget Bike Comparison - Four $3,000 Direct-to-Consumer Enduro Bikes

Looking at the stats on paper, there is no doubt that you can have some serious fun on some seriously inexpensive enduro bikes. If you are a mountain biker looking for something in the $3,000 range, you're in heaven right now. Frames, designs and components on many bikes in this range are capable and ready to perform. The devil, however, is in the details if you want to maximize your budget-based purchase.

While there are bikes in this price range that you can get from your local dealer, direct-to-consumer bikes generally offer better bang for your buck. These four bikes can be shipped straight to your door when you buy them online.

2017 YT Capra AL Comp
2018 Intense Tracer Foundation
2018 Commencal Meta v4.2 Essential
2018 Transition Patrol NX

Our comparison is based on the $3,000 price point of 27.5-inch-wheeled mountain bikes with close to 160mm of travel. YT and Commencal have less-expensive builds available while Intense and Transition start their lineups with the models below.



2017 YT Capra
AL Comp

2018 Intense Tracer
Foundation

2018 Commencal Meta
AM V4.2 Essential

2018 Transition
Patrol NX

Price (USD)

$2,999

$3,299

$2,999

$2,999

Weight
(Claimed)

30.6 pounds (13.9kg)

31.3 pounds (14.2kg)

31.5 pounds (14.3kg)

33.2 pounds (15.1kg)

Frame
Material

Aluminum

Carbon

Aluminum

Aluminum

Front / Rear
Travel

170mm / 165mm

160mm / 165mm

170mm / 160mm

170mm  / 160mm

Suspension
Design

Virtual 4-Link
(Horst Link)

JS-Tuned
(Virtual Pivot Point)

V4 Contact System
(Single Pivot)

GiddyUp 2.Ohh
(Horst Link)

Head Angle

65-deg

65.5-deg

65.5-deg

64-deg

Seat Tube
Angle (Eff)

74.8-deg

75.0-deg

74.0-deg

76.6-deg (L)

Bottom Bracket

4mm drop

343mm

12mm drop

340mm

Reach
(Size Large)

443mm

460mm

458mm

475mm

Chainstay
Length

430mm

432mm

437mm

430mm

Water Bottle
Mount

No

No

Yes

Yes

Shock

RockShox Monarch Plus RC3

RockShox Monarch Plus R

FOX Float DPX2 Performance

RockShox Deluxe RT

Fork

RockShox Lyrik RC

RockShox Yari RC

FOX 36 Performance Float

RockShox Yari RC

Tires

Maxxis High Roller II EXO
(2.4")

Maxxis High Roller II
(2.3") 

Maxxis Minion DHF (2.5" WT)
/ DHRII EXO (2.4" WT)

Maxxis Minion DHF /
DHR II EXO (2.35")

Rear Derailleur

SRAM X1 11-speed

SRAM GX 11-speed

SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed

SRAM NX 11-speed

Cassette

SRAM XG1150 10-42t

SRAM PG1130 11-42t

SRAM XG1275 Eagle 10-50t

SRAM PG1130 11-42t

Cranks

Race Face Turbine

Race Face Aeffect

Truvativ Descendant Eagle 6k

Race Face Aeffect

Bottom Bracket

Race Face PressFit 30

Race Face PressFit BB92

SRAM PressFit GXP BB92

73mm Threaded

Seatpost

e*thirteen Dropper Post
(S 125mm, M/L/XL 150mm)

Race Face Aeffect Dropper
(150mm)

KS Lev Integra
(S 100mm, M 125mm, L/XL 150mm)

Race Face Aeffect Dropper
(XS/S 125mm, M/L/XL 150mm)

Wheels

DT Swiss E1900 Spline
(non-Boost)

Race Face AR30 Rims /
Intense Hubs (Boost)

e*thirteen TRS Rims / Formula Hubs
(Boost)

WTB STP i29 / Novatec Hubs
(Boost)

Bars

Race Face Turbine 35 (770mm)

Intense Recon Alloy (780mm)

Ride Alpha Alloy (780mm)

Race Face Chester 35 (780mm)

Stem

Race Face Atlas (50mm)

Intense Recon Elite (40mm)

Ride Alpha (40mm)

Race Face Aeffect R (40mm)

Brakes

SRAM GUIDE RS

Shimano M500

Shimano SLX

SRAM Level T

Frame Warranty

3 years

3 years

5 years

3 years

 

yt-industries.com

intensecycles.com

commencalusa.com

transitionbikes.com


Vital's Observations

Vital's testers have had ride time on more expensive builds of the bikes above and know the frames and suspension designs are trail-worthy. The difference in what we rode versus what's published here is based on build specifications. Thankfully our testers get around and have had time on many of the key components shown here, giving us the ability to make some solid conclusions about what each brand is offering in their $3,000 builds.

The YT is a nicely spec'd bike with good suspension and decent tires for the price, which is great to see as suspension and tire quality can make a world of difference on the trail. The 1x11 drivetrain is expected at this price range, but the bike is not Boost-ready, meaning upgrades to wheels or a new fork should be thought out. The Spline wheels feature an XD driver, so going to a wider range Eagle drivetrain could be in your future without a freehub swap. The 770mm-wide Race Face bars are the narrowest of the bunch but will suit most riders. We're pumped to see a chainguide/bash on there, saving you dollars after the purchase. Curious how it rides? Vital's testers put a very similar model through the wringer.

Intense pulls in the bling and likely the lightest weight of the bunch with the carbon frame, but to keep the total cost down some lower-end suspension, tires, brakes, and narrower range drivetrain are a bit of a blight on this looker. Expect to do some upgrades along the way, but rest assured that the frame is an excellent one to build around. If you're not a home mechanic and just getting into a full-suspension ride, Intense's included service program with their authorized dealers may be a selling point of interest.

Commencal's proven frame design, 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain, and excellent Maxxis Wide Trail tires highlight the build. At $2,999, this is actually a mid-level bike in their incredibly affordable lineup. They're also the only brand offering FOX suspension at this price point, though the squishy bits are of the "Performance" variety. House-brand cockpit parts may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they are capable and to be expected at this build level. Also note the shorter travel dropper posts on smaller frame sizes. We know this bike is a bit portly, so don't put much trust in the claimed weight value.

Transition's most affordable Patrol gets your foot in the door early on an interesting departure from traditional enduro bike geometry. This is the slackest bike of the bunch with the longest reach value and comes paired with a fork featuring a shorter than normal offset, albeit of the lower-end variety. It also has the steepest seat angle. The rear suspension has upper bearing mounts to keep things buttery and RockShox's new Metric-sized Deluxe RT shock, which is light on both adjustments and a piggyback reservoir. There's no XD driver on the rear hub, limiting things to a narrower range drivetrain. SRAM's Level brakes come on fast which may actually pair well with the decent tire selection when slowing this slightly hefty rig down. The threaded bottom bracket and external brake routing will be additional standouts for many.


Notes About the Comparison

  • All information taken from manufacturer websites and based on current public offerings (keep in mind, it's the end of 2017 and we generally see new bikes release between now and the spring).
  • Pricing is listed in U.S. dollars at the original MSRP. There may be sales or discounts on current stock which are not reflected here.
  • Availability of bikes is not considered.
  • Prices are based on purchase in the U.S. and may not include taxes or shipping. Pricing and warranty periods may vary among countries.
  • Items like tools, pumps and accessories included with the bike purchase differ among brands and are not factored in above.

So, which bike is best for you? Each of the models stands out in its own way, so consider your priorities, which specs matter most to you, and the likelihood of needing expensive upgrades. A successful purchase may require more research than just comparing the specs, however, which is why we suggest you read Vital's in-depth reviews linked above. As new models are unveiled we'll update this page.

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36 comments
  • b0bg

    12/13/2017 10:08 AM

    Like the format of this article, would love to see a similar trailbike version of this "entry level" comparison.

  • wes29

    12/10/2017 7:13 AM

    For what it’s worth, Commencal customer service has been unreal to me. I’ve bought two bikes recently and additional orders of goodies/parts, and everything has been seemless. Got all orders (including bikes) within 3 days or ordering. I also had some issues at a race and they had mehanics there, they replaced a few things for me off a showroom bike that was sitting there with no charge. Killer bikes and company in my opinion.

  • Startgas

    12/9/2017 9:52 AM

    A few questions regarding components.
    What is the difference between the Yari RC and the Pike RC?
    And can anyone please explain the differences between the SRAM derailleurs? Eagle seems to be 12-speed. But other than that?
    By looking at the SRAM website, things don't get more clear...

  • jaiello

    12/9/2017 7:17 PM

    The Yari uses the Motion Control damper while the older pikes have the charger damper, and the 2018 pikes/lyriks have the charger 2 damper. The charger dampers are overall better when it comes to sensitivity and support, but the motion control is still good, especially if you're just a beginner or are on a budget. When it comes to derailleurs, eagle means that it's 12 speed, and the differences in eagle (xx1, xo1, gx) is weight and smoothness essentially.

  • bturman

    12/9/2017 8:36 PM

    To add to what jaiello said, Eagle has a much wider overall gear range which allows you to actually spin climbs and have high-speed range on the other side of the cassette. SRAM's 11-speed drivetrains have 420%, while Eagle has 500%. Durability of many of the components is also better. It's a better SRAM 1X drivetrain all around.

    The Yari is a more affordable version of a Lyrik.

  • Startgas

    12/10/2017 5:41 AM

    Thanks for your answers!

  • jclimb1

    12/9/2017 7:38 AM

    How about a customer service comparison? I've had nothing but a poor experience with Intense and won't buy another bike from them.

  • bikeboardorblade

    12/9/2017 10:06 PM

    For what it's worth, I own an older Tracer 275 and haven't had the greatest luck with their CS as well. I emailed Commencal a random question a few weeks ago, and got a call back within like 2 hours. I was floored. Buddies have had good luck with Transition as well. No experience either way with YT, but because of Transition's reputation and my own experience with Commencal, I'll be buying either a Patrol or a Meta V 4.2.

  • bizutch

    12/8/2017 3:49 PM

    I want high end shocks, brakes and tires. House brand the piss out of it with external cable routing from there. I'm not a weight snob. I want performance componentry and could care less about the rest. A basic drivetrain with clutch derailleur is 10 times better than old school stuff anyway.

  • bturman

    12/9/2017 8:38 PM

    You've got your component priorities straight!

  • bizutch

    12/10/2017 9:39 AM

    I ride a shit old bike these days and my kids have $140 basketball shoes and $300 bats. Would freaking kill to have a modern rig to swing a leg over. Only time I get to ride new stuff is when demo trucks make the rounds. I get pissed because the $6k demo bikes shocks are setup like turds. I could care less that it's 28lbs.

  • D(C)

    12/8/2017 2:42 PM

    What’s the deal with the Fox Performance 36 and DPX2 on the Commencal? Is it actually of inferior performance or are the dampers the same as the top models but with less external adjustments?

  • denis0082

    12/8/2017 8:44 PM

    The Fox 36 Performance is only available with the FLOAT damper iirc, so the only difference to the Factory model is the Kashima coating.

  • Triber66

    12/8/2017 9:49 PM

    You are referring to the performance elite version I believe.

  • Tristan_Mayor

    12/9/2017 2:23 AM

    Yeah I think the Performance forks get Fit Grip damper (which is balls), whereas the Performance Elite forks get a FIT4 damper - same as the factory ones and is really good.

    Admittedly I'm only about 80% sure of this, because the Fox website is terrible for finding actually-useful information. It's not the worst though - that would be Suntour's

  • denis0082

    12/12/2017 5:45 AM

    Well spotted D(C). I think it simply is the Performance Elite. That means it's the same as the Factory model minus Kashima.
    Fox Website:
    "Performance Elite forks retain the same adjustments, dampers, weight, and 7000 series aluminum upper tubes as Factory Series, but have black anodized upper tubes instead of Genuine Kashima Coat."

  • joshparsons87

    12/12/2017 12:49 PM

    Fox does make an OEM performance 36. What's confusing here is that the upper part of the fork (the 36 sticker) is definitely the logo of the performance series (not performance elite), but it also has the FIT4 sticker at the bottom. Considering Commencal doesn't stock any other bike with lower level Fox suspension, it's an item they should definitely clarify.

  • iceman2058

    12/9/2017 7:13 AM

    You are correct. Also about finding the info LOL.

  • denis0082

    12/9/2017 9:29 AM

    But on the Fox website the 36 only comes in the Factory or Performance Elite version.
    http://www.ridefox.com/2016/family.php?m=bike&family=36
    So either they have the " performance elite" on that bike or there is a version with GRIP damper that is not sold to the consumer.

  • Startgas

    12/9/2017 9:37 AM

    @Tristan_Mayor As not being a native english speaker, do you mean the Fit Grip is good or bad?
    @denis0082 Yes, Fox has had products in thier lineup that has been specific for OEM, and i believe they still do.

  • D(C)

    12/10/2017 7:29 AM

    There is a FIT4 sticker at the bottom of the leg on the Commencal, so unless the product photos are inaccurate, that's the damper in there.

    My guess is that the fork just has the 3 modes but no open adjust, and the rear shock also lacks the open adjust, but otherwise are there any appreciable differences with how the suspension behaves compared to top versions? If not, the Commencal could pack a lot of value.

  • Salespunk

    12/8/2017 11:00 AM

    We need real back to back riding comparisons with the benefits of each bike, same trails, same days, same riders. Some will be stronger climbers and some will be better descenders, what we need is the nuanced differences between them. Don't get much out of the grouping exercises of separate tests.

  • Mjohnston66

    12/8/2017 8:21 PM

    100% agree. Just watched a great head to head from MBR for best 2017 bikes on YouTube. Great info and they actually pick their winner. Sure, everyone has their criteria but refreshing to actually see them choose one and justify why.

  • SaddleRags

    12/8/2017 8:31 PM

    Hang tight. Shreddies are coming soon.

  • bturman

    12/9/2017 8:28 PM

    No doubt! We've got something good in the pipeline... Remember that we have no qualms about picking the best goodies following back-to-back tests.

    This piece is more of an "on paper" analysis and side-by-side spec comparison than anything else. We realized that many people compare bikes in Excel spreadsheets just like this on a daily basis, so why not help them do a bit of that work with some of our knowledge mixed in?

    And yes, Shreddies are coming soon! Cheers for commenting, guys.

  • gtbikes

    12/8/2017 10:15 AM

    I never thought of Transition as a consumer direct brand. You can still buy through a bike shop at the same price and without building the bike.

  • sspomer

    12/8/2017 10:34 AM

    correct, but as of a few weeks ago, you can also buy them online, shipped to your home in the US. https://transitionbikes.com/Store_Category.cfm?C=Bikes

  • gtbikes

    12/8/2017 10:42 AM

    I knew that but I figured there is no benefit from buying online like the other companies listed. They are still a bike shop focused brand. I guess it would be different if it was a few hundred cheaper buying direct. Plus they ship their bikes completely disassembled so buying it direct only makes sense if you don't have a local bike shop close that carries them.

  • B_Rupp

    12/8/2017 11:12 AM

    The NX model is actually shipped almost completely assembled, unlike the higher models. But you’re right that the “direct to consumer” discount isn’t really there.

  • gtbikes

    12/8/2017 12:00 PM

    That is interesting that they ship that one complete. I wonder why they can't do that for all the builds.

  • kwapik

    12/8/2017 12:54 PM

    By going direct, you would save sales tax in most states. Here in California, that would be close to 9-10%

  • gtbikes

    12/8/2017 4:16 PM

    Thats a decent point. I just wonder if that 9% is worth not having a good relationship with the local bike shop. I know my shop will take care of any issue but I have to wonder if it would be different had I not bought from them.

  • bizutch

    12/8/2017 8:06 PM

    @gtbikes I think he has a point that "ill will" toward the consumer, who really is in absolute control of all exchanges of money, for buying online will always LOSE money for a store. But a positive service experience for online shoppers in a physical store can multiply earnings IF...and only if, the store realizes they need to "take care" of anyone walking in the door looking for a service.

    I know of a few major bike brand dealers who have created their own online store that ties directly to products from their vendors so the browsing consumer can look at a product, click it, buy it and get it in their living room or the fuzzy confines of the shop. So they're meeting the consumer halfway.

  • denis0082

    12/8/2017 8:26 AM

    In Europe (or Germany at least) the Capra AL is currently € 1,999 while the Tracer Foundation ships for € 3,398.

    For € 2,999 you get the same, entry-level Capra as above but with carbon frame and for € 3,599 you get the "upgrade-proof" CF Pro.

    So, it seems to heavily depend on location what choice is best for you. That said, I'm kind of leaning towards the Intense, still. Why spec an NX cassette though? :/

  • Lukas

    12/8/2017 9:02 AM

    Looking at YT website I see Capra AL Comp normally 2.799€ now 2.499€.

    NX Cassette allows them to use cheaper Shimano HG free wheel body instead of more expensive SRAM XD Driver, also the price is way lower on the cassette itself. Sadly that also means that if you want to upgrade to some lighter 10-42 SRAM cassette, you have to buy the XD driver $$...

  • denis0082

    12/8/2017 9:31 AM

    Yeah you are right, the AL Comp is € 2,499, I was looking at the AL by mistake.

    I know the NX allows for a cheaper drivetrain overall, but it's one of those upgrades that almost anyone will do and that is considerably more expensive with retail-priced components.

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