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Quick or Lengthy Journey: Which Is the Greatest All-Round Mountain Bike?

Quick or Lengthy Journey: Which Is the Greatest All-Round Mountain Bike?

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If you would like one bike to do every thing, how a lot journey ought to it have? All bikes must discover a compromise between climbing and descending efficiency, and suspension journey is often seen as a great indicator of the place a motorcycle sits on that spectrum.

However lately, short-travel path bikes are much more succesful, whereas long-travel bikes are a lot better at climbing. So how a lot slower is a contemporary long-travel bike uphill? And what are the variations downhill?

Caught up in all that is the query of tire alternative. How a lot of the distinction in climbing pace between an enduro bike and a path bike comes all the way down to the tires? Can fast-rolling tires shut the hole? And may sticky tires make a short-travel bike descend in addition to a long-travel one? Let’s discover out.

The Bikes

Nukeproof Reactor

• 130 / 150 mm journey
• Weight as examined: 14.4 Kg / 31.7 lbs (“path” tires, 200 mm rotors)
• Dimension examined: XL
• Value: $7,062


Nukeproof Giga

• 170 / 180 mm journey
• Weight as examined: 15.2 Kg / 33.5 lbs (“path” tires, air shock)
• Dimension examined: XXL
• Value: $7,415

To make issues as comparable as attainable, I bought maintain of a Nukeprof Reactor RS and a Nukeproof Giga RS. The Reactor has 130 millimeters of rear journey and 150 millimeters up entrance, whereas Giga serves up 170 millimeters (rear) and 180 millimeters (entrance). These fashions have equivalent brakes, drivetrains, and cockpits. With the identical wheels and tires fitted, solely the body and fork are totally different. Each use full-carbon frames and RockShox Final-level suspension. The Reactor has a Lyrik fork to the Giga’s Zeb, however the distinction in chassis diameter is acceptable to the journey provided in every case.

Though the pictures used right here had been taken with a coil shock fitted to the Giga, the testing was carried out with a RockShox Tremendous Deluxe air shock to match the shock on the Reactor. I upgraded the rear rotor measurement on the Reactor to 200 millimeters so each bikes might settle for the identical wheels for comparative testing.

I set each bikes up with 30 p.c shock sag and suspension settings as I’d usually have them.

For essentially the most half, I used the wheels that got here inventory on the Reactor for each bikes to take away the variable of tire alternative. These tires had been a Maxxis Dissector, EXO+ casing, MaxTerrra compound (rear) with a Maxxis Assegai, EXO casing, MaxxTerra compound (entrance). For brevity, I’ll name these the “path” tires any further. Becoming these tires and the air shock to the Giga dropped its weight to a decent 15.2 kilograms – solely 800 grams (1.8 kilos) greater than the Reactor with the identical wheels.

I additionally examined with a stickier pair of tires (fitted to a different alloy wheelset for simpler wheel swaps). These had been a Maxxis Assegai in DoubleDown casing, MaxxGrip compound on the rear, with a Schwalbe Magic Mary, SuperGravity casing, Delicate compound, on the entrance. We’ll name these the “enduro” tires. These wheels/tires weighed 600 grams greater than the path wheels/tires.



For the climbing take a look at, I used a pair of SRM energy meter pedals to regulate my effort, which I saved at a gentle 250 watts. I rode each bikes up the identical mild and clean hearth highway climb. I used a brief climb so I might do 5 laps on every bike in fast succession and take a mean. If I solely did one or two longer climbs on every bike, there can be no manner of understanding if any distinction in occasions was all the way down to the bike or only a fluke.

I did this primary with the path tires at my traditional using pressures (23 and 26 psi) then I re-tested the Reactor with the enduro tires. Listed below are the occasions:

Quick or Lengthy Journey: Which Is the Greatest All-Round Mountain Bike?

As you would possibly anticipate, the Giga was slower on common than the Reactor, however the common time was solely 0.8 p.c slower. As a result of the Reactor wasn’t persistently faster, and the typical distinction between the bikes was so small, we are able to’t make sure from these numbers if the distinction between the bikes is actual or only a fluke. In science phrases, the distinction wasn’t statistically vital.

However even when we take the 0.8 p.c distinction at face worth, that’s about what we’d anticipate from the burden distinction between the 2 bikes alone, suggesting the journey per se (i.e. the pedaling effectivity) wasn’t having any impact.

In distinction, with the enduro tires fitted, the Reactor went 4.1 p.c slower, or 3.4 p.c slower than the Giga with the path tires. In each circumstances, these are statistically vital variations, as a result of the Reactor with Enduro tires was persistently slowest. To present that some context, over a half-hour climb, the enduro tires would add about one minute and fourteen seconds to the Reactor’s time. Or to go on the identical tempo, you’d want to provide about 260 watts as a substitute of 250 watts; for those who’re already working exhausting, that may very well be very noticeable.

The added weight of the heavier tires would solely be anticipated to sluggish issues down by at most 0.6 p.c, so most of that distinction is all the way down to rolling resistance. This added drag will make masking floor slower on the flat and even downhills too (as long as traction and braking aren’t what’s limiting pace).

Subjectively, you may really feel somewhat pedal bob from both bike, however there isn’t dramatically extra with the Giga. The place is sort of totally different as a result of Reactor’s decrease stack peak and slacker seat tube angle (74.5 levels vs. 78 levels); this stretches out the backbone which feels a lot much less snug to me, particularly on lengthy climbs. Doing timed testing over technical climbs is nearly not possible as a result of the time can fluctuate a lot from one run to the following relying on line alternative, method and luck, however when using over bumpy terrain the Giga is noticeably smoother. The softer suspension clearly helps right here however having your weight additional in entrance of the rear axle additionally reduces how a lot your weight lifts when the rear wheel strikes over a bump. Although I can’t put a quantity on it, I a lot most popular the Giga for technical climbs.



To see how they evaluate for descending, I selected a brief native path I do know properly with a great mixture of roots, rocks, steep twisty sections and flat quick sections. It’s not essentially the most technical path on this planet and it’s undoubtedly not the roughest, however on the day of testing (which was a few days earlier than taking these images), it was moist and slippery, making it a great problem. To stage the taking part in subject and maintain issues easy, I caught with the path tires on the Giga and the enduro tires on the Reactor.

The Giga went first, and regardless of doing two laps to stand up to hurry on the course earlier than getting the timer out, I shaved 2-3 seconds off my time from one run to the following. That is all the time an issue with timed testing. My first time on the Reactor (my fourth timed run of the day) matched the primary run on the Giga. It improved from there however levelled out at one minute and sixteen seconds.

I did yet one more run on the Reactor with the path tires and matched my quickest occasions, suggesting the stickier tires weren’t a lot of a bonus on this course anyway. I’m certain that on a extra treacherous course—or within the arms of a rider who is best at discovering the restrict of grip—the enduro tires would grow to be a major benefit.

Subjectively, the enduro tires felt rather more damped and surefooted and I used to be locking up much less on the steep sections, however this didn’t appear to translate into extra pace for me. Even with the sticky tires on the Reactor, the Giga felt a lot smoother, calmer, and extra steady. The upper bar and slacker head angle mixed with suspension that feels extra settled “within the journey” makes going quicker really feel extra inside my consolation zone. I additionally felt like there was extra time left on the desk with the Giga, whereas the final two runs on the Reactor can be exhausting for me to enhance on.

As a result of there are such a lot of variables at play when descending, I wouldn’t learn a lot into the occasions themselves. However they reveal that, though I felt nearer to the sting on the Reactor, I used to be in truth going slower.


Closing Ideas

The largest takeaway for me is simply how a lot distinction tire alternative makes for climbing pace. Positive, the enduro tires I examined are fairly draggy, however they’re not DH tires or mud spikes, and the path tires (with an Assegai up entrance) are removed from the quickest you may get. The truth is, they held their very own even on slippery descents.

I’m certain loads of folks don’t care about going barely quicker or feeling extra snug on steep descents; in truth, I typically hear folks say they discover it extra enjoyable to have a sketchier trip at slower speeds. But when that’s the case, why not match slicker tires which is able to provide an actual enhance in climbing pace as a bonus? You may all the time use the lockout or run 10 p.c sag if you would like your enduro bike to really feel sketchier! Personally, I’ve extra enjoyable on an extended journey bike because it offers me the arrogance to strive new traces or trip them with extra dedication.

The opposite shock was that the Giga was barely slower uphill than the Reactor with the identical tires, and if you wish to shut the effectivity hole much more you can all the time use the lockout.

One caveat right here is {that a} energy meter will not be the easiest way to measure and management effort in an effectivity take a look at when evaluating suspension effectivity. I focus on this with Mike Levy on this episode of the Pinkbike Podcast, however the backside line is that I feel the facility meter methodology is legitimate for measuring effectivity when pedalling sitting down (as on this take a look at), nevertheless it doesn’t work for out-of-the-saddle sprinting, and that’s the place the additional journey is extra prone to be an obstacle.

It’s additionally truthful to say the Reactor isn’t the fastest-climbing short-travel bike on the market. However the Giga in all probability isn’t essentially the most environment friendly amongst 170 millimeter+ bikes both. It’s primarily based on a downhill bike and it’s designed to be much more gravity-focussed than Nukeproof’s Mega enduro bike. Extra to the purpose, it doesn’t have an enormous quantity of anti-squat, and better anti-squat ranges would in all probability make it climb even higher. In considered one of Levy’s effectivity assessments, the 170 millimeter-travel Santa Cruz Nomad (which has numerous anti-squat) was quicker than the 130 millimeter Ibis Mojo (regardless of having slower tires), suggesting a long-travel bike with beneficiant anti-squat will be as simply as environment friendly as a shorter journey one.

The underside line is that ample suspension journey needn’t be a hindrance uphill, however grippy tires will sluggish you down so much. So if you would like one bike to do every thing, it would make sense to select a long-travel bike with a spare set of fast-rolling tires for mellower rides.

This text first appeared on our sister website, Pinkbike.