Back Issue | Group Test: 7 Adventure Trailbikes Reviewed
To experience a real adventure – that is something that just about every biker wishes at least once. Break out of the dull, tedious routine and get out into the outdoors and feel your own body.
This is the Main Article of a Group test. Bikes in this Group test: Cube Stereo 120 HPC Race 29 | Scott Genius 910 | Rocky Mountain Instinct 950 MSL | Trek Fuel EX 9 29 | Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 | Giant Trance Advanced | Mondraker Factor XR
Crossing the Alps under your own steam has become the epitome of such adventures. Carrying everything you need in a rucksack and crossing the whole mountain range within just a few days is the credo. Whether from Garmisch Partenkirchen to Lake Garda or Oberstdorf to Como all of the routes have a common program: lots of climbing and, if you want fun, demanding trail descents.
Whilst the demands on bikes for our last group test in issue #010 of Enduro Mag were clear in finding the fastest race-bike this time it was a lot more difficult. The range of use that these bikes need for epic rides and adventure requires a gigantic balancing act between good climbing and descending ability.
In this case climbing is no longer just a means to an end, as the rider might be in the saddle for several hours at a time. At the end of the day when the rider is fatigued and energy is vanishing an efficient suspension system is an absolute must if you want to save energy and actually arrive at the next mountain hut.
For this test a well-chosen pedalling position and an efficiency-specific geometry were given more weight. But naturally we also continue to focus on bike performance heading downhill. All of the test bikes were put through their paces on the multi faceted trails of the South Tyrol. The fantastic Alpine landscape was a perfect backdrop to sound out the bikes in real-life conditions. The local guides supported us in amassing altitude riding up and downhill. We used a fixed test course to compare the bikes but also completed some demanding, epic rides.
Far away from any civilisation the fun factor is accompanied more and more by an awareness of safety. It’s no surprise then that 6 of the 7 test bikes have 29″ wheels as these bring clear advantages on steep and unfamiliar trails and are more forgiving of rider errors. With travel between 120-140mm all of the bikes were similar. Speaking of similar, even though we are completely won-over by the function of 1×11 drivetrains every one of the test group was specced with a 2×10 gear set. The reason for this is certainly the somewhat bigger range of gears that this set-up provides.
Even though the price range was admittedly a bit bigger with bikes costing from € 2.999 to € 4.299 the actual specs were much closer to each other, this made comparing the bikes much more meaningful.
In spite of many similarities in spec, weight and wheel size every bike still had its own character. This was most clear with the Mondraker Factor XR with the Forward Geometry concept familiar from other models in the range. This is made up of an extremely long top-tube combined with a super-short (30 mm) stem. It means the bike needs extreme trails and an expert rider to really gain an advantage. The seating position is compact and short, which is a disadvantage on climbs and testers found uncomfortable. The polar opposite to this was the Cube Stereo 120 HPC Race 29. The pedal-efficient chassis and stretched position made it a real weapon on the climbs; even the steepest of gradients were tackled in a flash. Heading down the long stem spoilt the fun whilst the extremely wide chainstays got on our nerves.
At the end the testers were unanimous however: the Trek Fuel EX 9 29 was the bike, which everyone liked the most on climbs and descents.
The bike doesn’t just score with a great riding position and high-value spec, but won friends with its exceptional suspension (on ups and downs), agile handling and thanks to the low stand-over fantastic feeling of confidence, even on the steepest of trails
This great overall package combined with a justifiable price tag of € 3.999 and a 13.05 kg weight secured the overall test victory for the Fuel EX 9 29.
The Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 is our “value tip” with an attractive price of € 3.699, very good-natured handling and a clever, wildly mixed Shimano SLX / XTR spec.
You can navigate to all bikes here:
Cube Stereo 120 HPC Race 29 | Scott Genius 910 | Rocky Mountain Instinct 950 MSL | Back Issue | Group Test: Trek Fuel EX 9 29 | Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 | Giant Trance Advanced | Mondraker Factor XR