What price is biking fun? If you look at the glossy catalogues of famous bike manufacturers or swipe through past issues of our mag on your iPad, the answer seems to be: “It ain’t cheap”!
But this isn’t entirely true. On the one hand, not every bank account can provide the Lamborghini of bikes one might desire. On the other hand, less expensive bikes often have the potential to deliver a whole lot of riding fun. The aim of our benchmark test was to tease out as much fun and performance as possible from our eight candidates.
The most important thing for each bike to display is a consistent, balanced, and well-conceived overall concept. One thing we can reveal straight away: the bikes on test could hardly have been more different! We wanted to know: what can one expect from a trail bike under 3000 euros?
The benchmark data of the bikes make it clear that the focus of the bikes is quite varied. The weights of the bikes vary by as much as 3kg, and the ride characteristics and type of trails they are suited for are also very different. They range from the mini-freerider that wouldn’t be out of place at the Megavalanche to the lively trail bike: everything is there. The Carver ICB and the Canyon Spectral are worlds apart. The Carver totally flattens everything with its 170mm of travel and heavy Schwalbe Magic Mary tires, whereas the Canyon encourages the rider to take off and jump over obstacles. There is no good or bad here; only personal preference counts.
The Alutech Teibun, with its stiff rear, or the well-balanced Radon Slide 150 are also fun bikes to ride. Both bikes react eagerly to changes of direction and hug the trail well. Wheel size only plays an incidental role in this respect. The comfortable Cube Stereo and the fast-accelerating Rose Granite Chief display top trailbike qualities and should be the first choice for longer rides.
The Focus SAM stood out as the fastest bike on test. Thanks to its aggressive geometry and potent rear suspension, it leaves the competition trailing in its wake and performed superbly on the descents.
It is difficult to pick one clear winner from so many different bikes. In the end, the Specialized Stumpjumper (despite some weaknesses in the spec) and the Canyon Spectral were most successful in bringing together all the important attributes of an outstanding trail bike. They inspired us with fantastic handling and great agility independent of wheel size. When all’s said and done, it’s the overall concept which must add up.
You can read an in-depth feature about the group test and our conclusions in the actual ENDURO issue #009! As usual it’s free & only digital for iPad, Android-Tablets and Online-Viewer: Issue #009.
Text & Pictures: Christoph Bayer