We’re all different. We drive different cars, we like different music and we fall for different people. Why then, do we all ride the same bikes? If you want your bike to be as unique as you, you need to go custom.
This summer, we gave our editors the chance to build their perfect bikes from the ground up and their choices and ideas were as different as their riding styles. Heated debates ensued, notes were scribbled, emails were sent and slowly ideas and dreams became reality in the workshop. Finally, we had four unique dream bikes that were built and not bought.
Canyon Strive CFR
Bike park, alpine tours and after-work laps – I wanted my Strive to be a true all-rounder!
Even with the opportunity to test several bikes at the same time and many others during the course of the season, I’m a huge fan of having that one perfect bike to do everything. I don’t want to worry if it’s the right bike for a day in the bike park one day and for riding easy flow trails the next. It has to be light and efficient enough for long days in the saddle but capable and robust enough for the roughest descents. I like to have balanced geometry and progressive suspension with lots of support but also enough small bump sensitivity. It’s more important to me how well the travel works instead of having just tons of it, as otherwise, bikes often feel sluggish. The bike has to be stable on high-speed straights with tons of roots but agile enough to make quick direction changes and go for the high line.
Why I choose the Canyon Strive CFR:
Isn’t it interesting that I have the opportunity to choose any bike on the planet I want and I go for a Canyon? The times where direct sales brands are only known for their good value for money are over. The Canyon Strive CFR convinced me and our whole test crew during our last two group tests. The bike combines so many normally contrary riding characteristics. It’s agile and stable, fast and nimble, efficient and confidence-inspiring. To make this great bike even better, I decided to go for the new SRAM AXS group set, high-end carbon wheels, Michelin tires with Rimpact inserts and huge 220 mm rotors. I’m also a very design-driven guy which is why I wanted to make the bike as clean and minimal as possible.
NICOLAI G1 29
Except for downhill racers, no one really needs a DH bike these days. Long travel 29ers, like the G1, happily take anything you throw at them.
Have you ever heard about the roadie trend of ‘Everesting’, where the Lycra dudes cumulatively ascend and descent the same mountain until they’ve climbed 8848 vertical meters? On the weekends I love to do the exact same thing, except with one tiny difference: I take the cable car! The rougher the trails flowing down, the better the ride. Downhill World Cup tracks and EWS stages are my cup of tea. However, taking a downhill rig is not an option since the hidden trail treasures are usually found a short ride and climb from the lift station. Have I mentioned my riding style yet? Holding on for dear life and ploughing through the rough stuff probably describes it best. That means that my dream build is as reliable as a Toyota Hilux, offers traction like a tractor and is as fast as a race car. On top of that, I prefer big wheels and lots of freedom of movement on my bike.
Why I chose the NICOLAI G1 29:
Long, low and slack – every marketing department proudly proclaims these three magic words. However, a deeper dive into the geometry charts reveals most of it as marketing-bullshit. In contrast, NICOLAI are pioneers for the entire industry with their radical Geolution concept. The 62.5° head tube angle and whopping 515 mm reach in Size L, combined with 170 mm travel front and rear are made to go fast. The suspension consists of a Manitou Mezzer fork and an EXT Storia LOK coil shock. To go fast, you have to be able to slow down even faster – the Trickstuff Maxima brakes are the most powerful stoppers I have ever ridden. With their € 1,100 price tag, thankfully the machined parts match the Nicolai frame perfectly. To boost my confidence launching down steep chutes, I fitted the 210 mm drop version of the OneUp Dropper V2 for maximum clearance.
When the wilderness calls… the Nordest answers
For me, bikes aren’t just for thrashing down trails and having fun on built tracks. I also like to strap some gear on and explore remote places. That means I need space on the bike to fit luggage and also want something reliable and easy to maintain. A tough 29” hardtail is the obvious choice. But I also want to be able to ride any trail that appears in front of me wheels, whether it be loaded or unloaded, so a balanced, dual-purpose geometry is key. Not too extreme in order to pedal all day long comfortably, yet still capable on the downhills. I also want modern features such as wide bars, a short stem, a dropper post and a decent suspension fork. Having the possibility to choose whatever bike and material I wanted and with titanium at the top of my wishlist, you’ll find plenty of it on my bike. In contrast, there’s not a bit of carbon to be found on the entire bike.
Why I choose the Nordest Britango:
The Nordest Britango ticks all the boxes. It’s titanium, rolls on 29” wheels, has plenty of mounting points, the main triangle has enough space for a decently sized frame bag and most importantly it has a nicely balanced geometry. The steep seat tube angle complements the comfortable reach during long climbs, while the compact rear end and slack head angle ensure unloaded trail fun. With the self-imposed handicap of not using any carbon whatsoever, the cranks and handlebars simply had to be titanium ;). Suspension duties are handled by a 130 mm coil fork for maximum reliability. The rest of the build is a mix of proven and comfortable parts, although the drivetrain is an interesting combination of brands you won’t commonly see – more lightweight and compact and with a bigger range than your typical Eagle groupset. Tricked out luggage by Bedrock Bags that is specifically designed for trail-oriented bikes completes the build.
Specialized Stumpjumper EVO
Harmony is good. If you want to win a race, harmony is brilliant. But for wild riding… for having riotous fun… harmony isn’t a necessity!
Choosing a bike that suited my riding style was not as easy as I first thought. I ride in the Tweed Valley, Scotland, the home of plentiful super-steep technical trails full of roots and gnarly chutes. With no huge rocks, monster drops or big bike park booters, a trail bike with aggressive geometry and mid amounts of travel for pumping rollers makes the most of the free speed available. Living in a valley it’s straight up then straight down, 25 km rides with 1400 metres and more of ascending and descending are standard after-work missions. Sturdy trees sit just centimetres from the trails so a bad line choice often means hitting them, hard. Crashes are common so super expensive carbon fibre frames or components are of no interest to me. I prefer riding slack and long bikes to deal with the 50° descents I often find myself on and I don’t mind carrying a few extra kgs up the hill to benefit from the increased stability on the way down. Finally, I’m not flash, so want something subtle and low-key. Affordable and reliable is more important to me than bling-bling Insta-fodder.
Why I chose the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO
When it comes to bonkers geometry trail bikes, nothing can touch the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO. Everyone knows you can’t have a 63.5° head angle on a 140 mm trail bike, but apparently nobody told Specialized when they sat down to design the Stumpjumper EVO. I also love that the minimalist design which is low key and subtle making it perfect for a ‘sleeper’ build. I wanted my bike to look standard, but to have many secrets hidden within to help provide more grip and control. Every component has been hand picked for a purpose. Reliability and performance were the main criteria, with no excess frivolities for incremental gains. It’s proven to be a hard bike to love, but man it’s a beast.
So that’s it, four very different bikes for four very different riders. A reliable titanium bikepacking mule, a wireless direct sales champion, a bike that redefines radical and a high-performance but low-profile sleeper. If you could choose one of these bikes, which would you choose?
This article is from ENDURO issue #040
Words: Trev Worsey Photos: ENDURO-Team