Twelve of the best 150-160mm long travel 29” wheel bikes in a shoot-out to find which one beats the rest. Why the hell not? Ultimately it comes down to which are the bikes that we would we put out own money down on.
Words and Images: Steve Jones
Here’s the introduction to this twelve bike shoot-out, listing the bikes we are testing and what we are looking for when evaluating them. We’ll be dropping one bike test a week onto the Dirt website over the following months, so stay tuned. There will be a verdict at the end, highlighting our favourite bikes and what makes them the best of the bunch. Also worth mentioning is the fact that some 2018 bikes in our initial wish list are not available yet (the Transition Sentinel being an example) but the results from this test will bring benchmarks for further testing as we roll into 2018. The Scott Genius had not arrived in time for our first photoshoot so it’s missing from our images here.
The bikes in test range from the £3799 Nukeproof Mega 290 to the £6200 Intense Carbine. Of note is that there were no direct sales bikes available for the test simply because nobody makes them. Not yet at least. Many people have commented that it’s not right to compare a six grand bike to a three grand one. Or a garden shed built steel bike to a carbon fibre bike. Our response to that is clear from last year’s tests of similar bikes in that if the Starling Murmur can out-pace bikes three times the value and also have a fatigue free ride then why not? The test is about learning, feeling and putting some times in. If you stick to pre-set magazine rules governed by price points then nobody really learns anything right? Is a Fox 36 at over a thousand pounds twice as good as Manitou Mattoc Pro at around £500? We certainly think not. The bottom line here is what’s the performance advantage of a super expensive bike? There’s got to be one right?
Buying a bike is a huge decision, and so therefore we have ridden in a multitude of locations and terrain. Some of the team have wondered into the hills, some have raced enduro events, others have done quick loops of the trail centres. What we have all done is try and ride a big hefty chunk of natural terrain comprising root, camber, rock on varying soil types with different average track speeds. We’ve gone up, down, along and across in this test.