Video: Welcome to the 2022 Value Bike Field Test – Reasonably Priced Full-Suspension and Hardtails – Pinkbike



9 Full-Suspension and Hardtails Ridden and Rated

Words by Mike Levy, photograph by Tom Richards

Do you remember that we once reviewed a trail bike for $ 9,000 and it really disappointed us? Yes, not me either. It turns out that when you throw a lot of smart parts after a fancy frame, the finished product is also fancy and is probably not smelly, which sometimes leaves us with not much to say beyond outdated jargon and trivial criticisms about cabling or chain stays protection.

But call that number down to less than $ 3,500 for a full-featured bike or hardtails that come under $ 2,100 USD, and things get a lot more interesting. This time, the crew headed south to Tucson, Arizona, for our annual Value Bike Field Test, where nine reasonably priced machines faced each other on the rugged, rocky desert trails. Two weeks of riding later, and we can (almost) agree on which bike is the most impressive, which one scared us the most, and how much horchata the human body can consume before it needs serious medical attention.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: Hardtails can be a lot of fun, but I suppose most of us would prefer to ride a full-featured bike most of the time. The downside for some is that while they can certainly give you more comfort, traction and speed compared to just having front-wheel suspension, the extra moving bits also mean more money, weight and complexity. They’re less worrying if you’re okay with spending big bucks, but that’s another story if your budget peaks at $ 3,500 USD or less, as ours did with our five fully sprung trail bikes. There is so much to talk about in our upcoming reviews.

Want a mountain bike, but do not have a lot of money to spend? While rigs with full suspension made almost entirely of carbon fiber get the most headlines, hardtails offer a simpler and therefore cheaper way to get started riding. And because you do not pay for the extra technology, the material and all these pivots, they often have an impressive spec sheet that a similarly priced double-suspension bike can not even come close to.

But they are also not just for budget cyclists, as those who can not get through a season of driving without breaking another set of chain stays, destroying another set of bearings or blowing another shock may have better luck – and less time off from cycling – by choosing a hardtail.

How do we choose the bikes?

By “choose,“what I really mean to say is,”Please send us any bike you have in stock.“If you’ve been trying to buy yourself a new ride at any time over the last few years, or even just parts of a bike, you already know that you’re more likely to stumble into the Ark of the Covenant than 12-gears. the chain and shifter you were actually looking for.Still, Kazimer was somehow sweet to get five full-featured bikes that sell for $ 3,500 USD or well below, and four hardtails that come in at $ 2,100 USD or less.

Yes, a few more bikes would have been nice. Yes, some of the prices have gone up afterwards. And yes, Kazimer can be downright enchanting when he wants to be, but that does not mean you should not tell him how disappointed you are that he was not able to get exactly the bike you wanted – needed – to see notified at. this field test.

This is our tenth field test and it does not even include all the trips Kazimer and I made over the years before we had a name for them so we have got the testing process locked at this point. It’s not complicated: Take out a short test lap and then run another. Then one more, and another, and then a lot more. Once we have done that, we go out on some test laps before heading out on some test laps after we have returned from doing test laps. So, after we’re back, we’re going for a few la … Okay, you get the point; nothing beats short, repetitive laps on a track that suits the kind of bikes we ride.

The back-to-back test is key because it lets us compare, uh, comparable bikes far better than if we rode them in isolation, and it highlights striking differences in geometry, suspension performance, and bike specifications. Just do not call it a shootout, okay?

All those laps would not count too much if the trails were more pump track than single track. But on the same page, as much as we like to look like we know what we’re doing in pictures of us riding in sketchy terrain, none of these reasonably priced bikes were made for do-or-die lines. In reality, they have to be driven on singletrack that matches their intentions, which I would argue is easy to medium busy ride with some tough stuff thrown in for the sake of good order.

And that’s exactly what Tucson served us; undulating paths with a mixture of difficult climbs at low speeds and fast, rugged descents, all of which were paved in pointed cliffs and either all the traction or none of the traction to keep us on our toes. It was mostly hassle free, although there were a few crashes during our two weeks of riding that you would expect, and we also had some mechanical concerns that we will talk about in the upcoming review videos. Oh, and back then, Palmer had to hand-sew his Maxxis rear tire to get out of the desert before dark, but we get to those stories behind the scenes in a future podcast.

Our Value Bike Field Tests differ slightly from normal group reviews, as we are less concerned about using control tires to balance traction and efficiency, and we place far less emphasis on the timing of our laps. Why? Well, we assume that if you’re looking for a bike in this price range, you’ll probably want to know more about how it works the way it is, rather than how it works after we install $ 250 in rubber that is much better than all tires. came stock on the bike.

In other words, if you spend all your hard-earned fun tokens on a bike that costs $ 3,500 or less, the specs definitely matter, and we did not want to obliterate such an important factor.

When we talk about overseeing things, then the timing of our laps will always be a thing at these gatherings, as it gives us a different metric to compare and talk about, but we also know that a few seconds apart between two affordable bikes is certain not This does not mean that one is better than the other. After all, maybe our legs felt better in the morning, or maybe it was all that horchata that made me go so fast and drop Kazimer?

That said, given that our nine test cycles vary so much in geometry, suspension performance, and specifications, you should not be surprised to see some notable differences on the time sheet. However, how many shares you put in these numbers is up to you.

Impossible climbing, (no) efficiency test & Huck to Flat

Even if the stopwatch does not lie, it is in fact Impossible Climb and Huck to Flat that we all base our purchasing decisions on, right? I mean, it would not be a field test without some pointless climbing before it reached the bottom of a pancake-flat landing, so you can expect the series to end with Matt Beer riding all nine of these bikes up something steep and then of something silly.

What we are not doing this time is the efficiency test. I know, I know, you’re probably just as angry about it as I am, but listen to me; with the value bikes with different tires, and four of them are hardtails, we thought our time could be better spent doing something else, which is why the extra climbing has been replaced with a video that breaks down each of the components across all the bikes, who impressed us the most. In it, we’ll talk about which budget forks, drivelines, brakes, dropper post, and other parts worked best, along with a few things that certainly did not.

Mike Kazimer, Alicia Leggett, myself, and Beta’s Ryan Palmer spent two weeks in Tucson, Arizona, evaluating and comparing our nine test bikes while eating Mexican food for each meal each day, including lunch before lunch, second dinner, and hot midnat churros.

As usual, test tasks were shared between several riders to give us a few perspectives on how each of the bikes performed; we agree on most things, but not all, and that leaves us calmly discussing our different opinions as well-adjusted adults. Yes, that’s how it went …

Value Bike Field Test photo by Tom Richards
Matt beer
Height: 5’10 “/ 178 cm
Weight: 170 lb / 77 kg
Comments: Technical editor, allergic to everything

Mike Kazimer
Height: 5’11 “/ 180 cm
Weight: 160 lbs / 72.6 kg
Comments: Chief technical editor, noted foreign skeptic
Alicia Leggett
Height: 5’10 “/ 178 cm
Weight: 148 lb / 67 kg
Comments: News editor moonlighting as technical editor

Mike Levy
Height: 5’10 “/ 178 cm
Weight: 155 lb / 70 kg
Comments: Technical editor, not sure if it’s aliens or lizard people
Ryan Palmer
Height: 6 ‘/ 183 cm
Weight: 200 lb / 90 kg
Comments: Senior Tech Editor at Beta, too bad to be so snobby

Although Ryan, Kazimer, Matt, Alicia and I are in front of the camera for these field test projects, the five of us do not even know which way to focus or where to install the film. We would be completely lost without our overworked video and photo teams – Max Baron, Tom Richards and Lear Miller – who not only make us focus the most, but also manage to make us look far better than we are. actually is. And then, after filming for two weeks, we lock them inside the Pinkbike editing cave and feed them only Timbits through a small hole in the wall until they come out on the other side pale, fat, and with a finished video series.

Speaking of finished videos, which bike review are you most looking forward to? Which bike looks least promising?