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Budget Bike Comparison - Four $3,000 Direct-to-Consumer Enduro Bikes 37

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

2018 Commencal Meta
AM V4.2 Essential

2018 Transition
Patrol NX

Price (USD)






30.6 pounds (13.9kg)

31.3 pounds (14.2kg)

31.5 pounds (14.3kg)

33.2 pounds (15.1kg)






Front / Rear

170mm / 165mm

160mm / 165mm

170mm / 160mm

170mm  / 160mm


Virtual 4-Link
(Horst Link)

(Virtual Pivot Point)

V4 Contact System
(Single Pivot)

GiddyUp 2.Ohh
(Horst Link)

Head Angle





Seat Tube
Angle (Eff)




76.6-deg (L)

Bottom Bracket

4mm drop


12mm drop


(Size Large)










Water Bottle






RockShox Monarch Plus RC3

RockShox Monarch Plus R

FOX Float DPX2 Performance

RockShox Deluxe RT


RockShox Lyrik RC

RockShox Yari RC

FOX 36 Performance Float

RockShox Yari RC


Maxxis High Roller II EXO

Maxxis High Roller II

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


SRAM XG1150 10-42t

SRAM PG1130 11-42t

SRAM XG1275 Eagle 10-50t

SRAM PG1130 11-42t


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


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

Race Face Aeffect Dropper

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

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


DT Swiss E1900 Spline

Race Face AR30 Rims /
Intense Hubs (Boost)

e*thirteen TRS Rims / Formula Hubs

WTB STP i29 / Novatec Hubs


Race Face Turbine 35 (770mm)

Intense Recon Alloy (780mm)

Ride Alpha Alloy (780mm)

Race Face Chester 35 (780mm)


Race Face Atlas (50mm)

Intense Recon Elite (40mm)

Ride Alpha (40mm)

Race Face Aeffect R (40mm)



Shimano M500

Shimano SLX

SRAM Level T

Frame Warranty

3 years

3 years

5 years

3 years

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.

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sspomer sspomer 12/8/2017 7:46 AM

37 comments newest first

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

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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.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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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

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Ok, I checked with Commecal. It’s the Grip damper. A bit too bad, considering the even cheaper “Ride” version has a Lyrik RC, which I would consider to be a higher-end fork.

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.

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."

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.

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

But on the Fox website the 36 only comes in the Factory or Performance Elite version.
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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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correct, but as of a few weeks ago, you can also buy them online, shipped to your home in the US.

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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.

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@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.

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.

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.

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

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? :/

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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 $$...

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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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