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Best of Test 2014 | The Bike Highlights of the year

Now, as we reach the end of the year, it’s time to look back. Throughout the year ENDURO brought you the most important bike reviews; testing each one thoroughly on tough trails, or against its peers in one of our group tests. It is now time for a quick summary of the bests bikes and highlights from the 2014 season. You can find all the full reviews in our magazine back issues, which you can read for free with our apps!

Our group tests were as diverse as our sport. No matter if you’re looking for a cheap entry level bike or a high-end race machine – we have you covered, testing the whole spectrum, even some bikes for cross country riding! Find all the highlights from this years group test and some of our other favourites below!

Issue #009 – Eight entry-level trailbikes

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At the beginning of the year, we tested eight entry-level trail bikes and two of them were better than the rest: The Canyon Spectral AL 8.0 and the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Evo 29.

Also in this group test: Alutech Teibun 1.0 V1 | Carver ICB 2.0 26″ | Cube Stereo 140 HPC Pro 29 | Focus SAM 3.0 | Radon Slide 150 E1 | Rose Granite Chief 2. Read the complete review in Issue #009.

Canyon Spectral AL 8.0

Das Fazit: Das leichte Spectral begeistert mit super Performance bergauf wie bergab. Wer ein verspieltes und agiles Trailbike sucht, ist mit dem Canyon bestens bedient. Wird es jedoch richtig grob, muss man einen Gang zurückschalten. Achtung bei der Größe: Das Testbike in M fällt sehr kompakt aus!
Fazit: The Spectral is light and is a delight to ride both up and downhill. The bike is perfect for those who want a playful and agile trail bike. In the rough stuff you have to drop back a gear, however. Be careful with the sizing: the M we tested is very compact.

Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Evo 29

 Das Fazit:  Auch für 2.799 Euro schafft es Specialized ein Trailbike zu bauen, das, bis auf kleine Schwächen in der Ausstattung, die Messlatte in Sachen Handling und Fahrwerk sehr hoch legt – maximaler Fahrspaß garantiert!
Fazit: Apart from one or two weaknesses in the spec, Specialized has succeeded in building a 2,799 euro trail bike which sets the bar very high in terms of handling and suspension. Maximum fun is guaranteed!

Issue #010 – 10 Enduro World Series Race Bikes

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Just one issue later, we had another highlight of this years tests: With our truck packed with 10 of the fastest bikes on the planet, we headed to Finale Ligure to test the bikes on an original race stage from the Enduro World Series, against the clock. Which one was the fastest? The result was both surprising and clear: All testers had the fastest time on the Canyon Spectral!

Other Bikes in this grouptest: BMC Trailfox 29 TF01 XTR | Commencal Meta AM Factory | Cube Stereo 160 Super HPC SLT 27,5 Action Team Edition | Focus SAM Team Edition | Norco Range Carbon LE | Scott Genius LT Tuned | Specialized S-Works Enduro 29 | Trek Slash 9 | Yeti SB66C Graves Edition. Read the complete review in ENDURO Issue #010.

Canyon Spectral AL 9.0 Team Edition

Fazit:</strong Das Canyon Spectral in der Factory Team Edition war auf unserem Test-Track das schnellste Rad, alle Tester fuhren damit ihre Best-Zeiten. Diesen Erfolg verdankt es dem Zusammenspiel zwischen der sehr ausgewogenen Geometrie, dem top Fahrwerk und den durchdachten Komponenten, ein Bike zum Siegen!
Fazit: The Canyon Spectral Factory Team Edition was the fastest bike on our test track. All the testers achieved their best times with it. This success is down to the balanced geometry, the top class suspension, and the well chosen components. A true winners’ bike!

Issue #011 – seven trailbikes for tours & adventure

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After the alps were finally snow-free, we headed to South Tyrol to test seven exciting trailbikes for tours and adventures under realistic conditions. Those bikes are build for long, physical rides and so we climbed to the summits with them. Best bike in test was the Trek Fuel EX 9 29 with its outstanding handling. The best-value award went to the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29, which pleased with a clever spec and great riding capabilities.

Other bikes in this grouptest: Cube Stereo 120 HPC Race 29 | Giant Trance Advanced | Mondraker Factor 29 XR | Rocky Mountain Instinct 970 MSL | Scott Genius 910. Find the full grouptest in ENDURO issue #011.

The winner – Trek Fuel EX 9 29

 Fazit:  Trek gelingt es, mit dem Fuel EX 9 29 ein extrem vielseitges Bike auf 29"-Laufräder zu stellen. Eine echte Rakete bergauf und gleichzeitig sehr präzise und souverän bergab. Egal was kommt, dieses Bike ist dafür bereit. Der klare Testsieger!
Conclusion: with the Fuel EX 9 29, Trek have managed to create an incredibly versatile 29er. A real rocket on the climbs and yet precise and confident when descending, whatever the trail throws at you this bike is ready. The clear test-winner.

Best value – Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29

 Fazit  Aufsteigen und wohlfühlen: Das Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 ist ein Rad für alle Fälle. Dank gutmütigen Handling , einer weitestgehend stimmigen Ausstattung und dem attraktiven Preis sichert sich das Rad den begehrten Kauftipp.
Conclusion Get on and feel at home: the Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Elite 29 is a bike for every eventuality. Sweet handling, a mostly coherent spec, and an attractive price secure the bike our converted ‘best-buy’ nod.

Issue #012 – six cross country trailbikes

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Modern cross country bikes are the perfect proof that a fun bike doesn’t need lot’s of travel. Once you get on one of the bikes from this grouptest, you immediately fall for the speed rush. Best Bike in this group test was the GT Heliun CRB Team, with its great speed and agile handling. The Canyon Lux CF 9.9 is the best-value though, combining great performance with a superb spec.

Other bikes in this group test: Ghost AMR Lector 2990 E:I | Rose Thrill Hill 3 | Scott Spark 900 RC | Specialized Epic FSR Elite Carbon. Read the full reviews in ENDURO Issue #012 von ENDURO.

The Winner – GT Helion CRB Team

Mit dem Helion CRB Team ist GT für die kommende Saison ein ganz großer Wurf gelungen. Mit diesem Bike kommen wahre Trailfreuden auf. Egal, ob es steil bergauf oder anspruchsvoll technisch bergab geht, das vielseitige GT macht überall Spaß. Dieses superbe Handling sichert dem Rad den Testsieg!
Conclusion: with the new Helion CRB Team, GT has landed a winner for the new season. This bike is simply plain fun on the trails. Steep climbs or demanding downhills, the versatile GT performs everywhere. This superb-handling bike is a worthy test winner!

Best-value – Canyon Lux CF 9.9 SL

Fazit: Das hochwertige Canyon Lux CF 9.9 SL überzeugt mit einer astreinen, leichten wie funktionalen Ausstattung und cleanem Design. Auffällig unauffällig gibt es sich in jeglichem Terrain und zeigt keine Schwächen. Dadurch verdient sich das 4.499€ teure Bike unseren Kauftipp!
Conclusion: the high-end Canyon Lux CF 9.9 SL won hearts with a sound, light, and functional spec and clean design. Noticeably un-noticeable in all terrain with no obvious weaknesses — that’s why the € 4,499 bike is the test group best buy!

In addition to the group test, we tested many bikes by their own and found some highlights among them too. Here are some of the bikes, we would have kept in our office´if we could!

Specialized Rumor – Ladybike

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The Rumor, the first Specialized female-specific full suss 29-er, is inconspicuous and elegant in appearance. According to the Californians, it will provide “unimaginable trail and adventure fun”…. just for ladies. We decided to look at the Rumor Expert a bit more closely for our female readers and see if the bike lives up to its promises.

Read the full review in ENDURO Issue #010

Fazit:   Für Skepsis gegenüber 29ern ist längst kein Platz mehr! Die Entwicklung eines speziell auf Frauen zugeschnittenen Full-Suspension-Mountainbikes mit großen Laufrädern hat sich auf jeden Fall gelohnt. Das Specialized Rumor Expert sorgt bergauf wie bergab dank der guten Sitzpostition, der ausgewogenen Geometrie, der durchdachten Ausstattung und nicht zuletzt dank der großen Laufräder für viel Fahrspaß und bringt die versprochenen Trail-Freuden. Good Job Boys!
Conclusion: There’s no more room for 29er sceptics. Developing a special, women-specific full suspension bike with big wheels has definitely paid off. Thanks to the great position, perfectly executed geometry, well- chosen parts, and of course big wheels, the Specialized Rumor Expert brings smiles going up or down and delivers the promised trail fun. Good job, boys (and girls)!

Rose Soulfire

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The new Soul Fire is Rose‘s interpretation of the ideal “Super-Enduro“ bike. In spite of the huge amount of rear travel (185 mm) the bike is suitable for epic rides and long climbs. A comfortable bike to shred, whip and generally be stoked on…. as our American colleagues would say. We gave the Soul Fire an extensive test over a six month period; read our impressions here and see whether the bike really does what it says on the tin.

Find the full review inENDURO Issue #010

 Fazit:  Für 3899€ erhält man ein sehr gut ausgestattetes, potentes Rad, das in anspruchsvollem Gelände unglaublich viel Sicherheit bietet und auch nicht vor ausgedehnten Touren zurückschreckt. Fahrer, für die der Uphill Mittel zum Zweck und Leichtfüßigkeit nicht ausschlaggebend ist, erhalten mit dem Rose Soul Fire ein tourentaugliches Baller-Bike mit superbem Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis.
Fazit: For 3899€ you get a well-specced and potent bike which offers incredible confidence in technical terrain but isn’t scared of long rides. Riders who see the climb as a means to the end and for whom light-footedness isn’t a decisive characteristic will find a superb value, trail-capable bike that can rip.

Rotwild R.X1 FS 27.5

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The R.X1 FS 27.5 PRO is Rotwild’s answer to the famous quest for one bike to do it all. With 145mm of suspension travel, 27.5″ wheels, and a short rear end it looks good on paper. We tested out the ‘pro’ spec for you.

Find the full review in ENDURO Issue #011.

Fazit:  Mit dem R.X1 FS 27,5″ hat Rotwild ein wunderbar flinkes Trailbike im Programm. Egal ob ausgedehnte Alpentouren oder knackige Trail-Abfahrten – dank gelungener Geometrie und effizientem Sportfahrwerk macht das vielseitige Rotwild überall eine gute Figur.
Conclusion: with the R.X1 FS 27.5″, Rotwild has created a wonderfully nimble trail bike in its range. All day Alpine rides or demanding trail descents — the sorted geometry and efficient, firm suspension make the versatile Rotwild a great performer everywhere.

Salsa Horsethief

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Life in the Wild West of the mid-19th century wasn’t easy. Settlers from the East who were seeking their fortunes had to deal with endless distances. Riding horses with their carriages, they crossed the prairies for weeks and months searching for lush grazing or a suitable spot for their families.
In our modern era where almost every corner of the earth is accessible, we don’t experience our adventures in the daily fight for survival against outlaws, but in our leisure pursuits.
Sport and travel are a big part of the wish to escape everyday life and seek some thrills. The American cult brand Salsa Cycles promises us that their new bike, the Horsethief, is perfect for this type of rider.

This review was in ENDURO Issue #011

Fazit:  Das Salsa Horsethief ist tatsächlich ein Bike zum Pferde stehlen. Für einen Preis von 3.399 € erhält man ein Rad, mit dem man, dank komfortabler Sitzposition und gutmütigen sowie souveränen Fahreigenschaften, für alle Situationen fernab der Zivilisation bestens gerüstet ist
Conclusion: The Salsa Horsethief really is a bike for stealing horses. For a price of € 3,399 you get a bike with a comfortable riding position and outstanding handling. At 12.8 kg it is competitive to similar bikes in this price range. It’s perfect for trail fun far away from any form of civilisation.

We tested so many more interesting bikes and products, make sure to check out our magazine. It’s free, digital and just amazing. Available for Tablets and your iPhone

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Words: Christoph Bayer | Aaron Steinke | Sebastian Gierlurski Pictures: Christoph Bayer