2021 XC Bike Thread

Comment Gold from the Pinker’s!

In response to the Trek Top Fuel “Can’t wait for the UpCountry version”


I have always loved listening to your knowledge about bikes @mcneese.chad . Quick question…I currently have a 2013 Focus Raven (Carbon Hardtail) that I have been using for mountain biking. It is super fast but not the most fun to be on for extended periods. About 8 months ago, I ordered a Trek Top Fuel for more marathon style racing and general fun. I did confirm with Trek yesterday that the current Trek I am waiting on is going to be the 2021 (old model). I know not much is known about the new model, but in your opinion, should I cancel the order and switch it to the 2022 model? I would like to think I am pretty competitive but not a pro by any means. Is the new top fuel too heavy and too trail oriented? Should I stick with the 2021 model? Should I just buy a Supercaliber? I live in Missouri and we have punchy climbs but nothing sustained. A lot of our longer mountain bike races include some spicy rock gardens and other moderate technical features. I am hoping to do Leadville whenever they pick my number as well. The 2022 is how I am leaning, however, the added weight and trail orientation make me worry it is going to slow me down. Thoughts or opinions?

I don’t disagree, but it’s a bit hard to compare. Any model Evo with carbon rims is an extra $2k over an XT spec TF in Aus. No stock of the Evo either.

More information on the 2022 Giant Anthem.

Good news on the geo. Interesting changes to suspension going 110/100 but losing Maestro. Hopefully they can maintain the excellent capability with the shock tuning.
Looks like another excellent value bike. Carbon bits everywh on what appears to be the Deore build.

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I try to refrain from direct recommendations on how people should spend $$$$$. But in a general sense, I think the 2021 model is the better “racer” in terms of XC and long endurance. The new 2022 bike will be a better “trail” bike and “casual racer” by comparison, IMO. The Supercaliber is straight up “race” bike that can be trail ridden with more care and control.

They are 3 bikes in a spectrum, and a person needs to decide where they want to be in that range. For my money and preferences, between those 3 and considering this as a “one bike” option, the 2021 TF is the winner for me.

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The most controversial Dylan Johnson video ever!

As a person who hits their climb mode vs. open mode, as much as I hit my dropper, this video makes me feel uncomfortable.


It is a pretty dumb Dylan Johnson video IMO. I’m not sure the IV/lockout is at all relevant based on his methods that measure power at the crank.

As I picture it the loss with suspension is that a small percentage of your downward force of a pedal stroke goes towards compressing the suspension rather than into the pedal stroke/crank/chain/forward movement of the bike. So to put out the 250w you would need to work a little harder with the lockout. Probably not even that much from the actual pedal motion, but additional balance reactions that are triggered with the bike movement. I’m thinking trainer vs rollers or smooth vs rough roads at the same power.

The HR data seems to show a very small difference in support of the lockout. Standing is where you notice suspension the most and each open run had a higher HR for the same power. Just 3-4 BPM, but that is really more than I’d expect at such an “easy” output for Dylan. (Though he does say he did all of them together in order and these were last, essentially admitting this HR data could be worthless)

My work here is done, I’ve triggered at least 2 of you. 3 including myself… :joy:


I only watched the “bookmarked” section above, did he have the sections timed?

I think I’m faster in traction mode than locked or open, for the same Watts, but I’ve never experimented.

I’ve got riding buddies that ride everything that’s not a full on descent in locked mode and I watch them fight the bike and bang around over roots.

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I’d rather see a 0-30mph sprint time and peak power as a comparison for lockouts

250w is endurance pace and it’s not surprising to me that the times were similar on an easy climb.

The larger loss with suspension is when anti-squat values are low in the small cogs like the 16-10t and gradients are actually flat to decreasing


Well a thorough study this was not, and you’re right to consider higher power outputs (all the way up to max) and consider the dynamic nature of anti-squat throughout the cassette’s range. I’ll still be using my shock’s lock out on paved climbs, but will stress less when I forget. I have to admit that I was surprised by his results though. I suspect that higher power outputs and higher gears will have a greater effect, but still small enough to ignore (maybe, perhaps). If I find myself needing to sprint for the line any time soon, I’ll likely prefer to be locked out as well.


Haven’t watched the video yet, but did he say what his shock settings were?

If he has it setup as a “classic XC” guy, with little SAG & lots of compression damping added in. I would not expect a big difference. specially for a bike that has good AS values throughout.

Even on my Ripmo AF with coil shock, there isn’t much pedaling bob when seated, spinning smooth circles.

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He did not, I was wondering too how these results could vary from an optimized suspension system to one that needs service and not setup for the rider.

However, his test was only part of the video. He summarized some published papers researching the topic.


I was implying that he would have it setup “rock hard”, and not how it would be recommended for a comfortable ride where the suspension actually works. :wink:

There is a local, short climb (about 20 seconds at full sprint) that I set my fastest time on when I left my fork unlocked. Even though it was relatively smooth fire road, keeping the bike tracking straight was more important than efficiency.

That said, I still lock mine a lot (though, with the lesson above in mind), and mine is a hardtail.

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I agree, being able to continuously put power down despite undulations and trail noise seems much more valuable to me.

I only us lock out on the tarmac section to the trail head. Otherwise it’s open, or traction for sustained climbing.


Oof…I just hurt my brain a little. You can read into these numbers how you want and feel free to correct me, but this is what I just looked at:

I just raced Sea Otter yesterday. I compared the power/timing numbers to my 2019 race. On the Epic I averaged 218 watts, on my hardtail 209 (I was fitter in 2019, and it was hotter then too). So I averaged about 4% more power (how I managed to put down that kind of power yesterday is beyond my comprehension, If of .95 on my third day of racing!). But if you look at the segment times (corrected as the course was slightly changed, and I stopped at the aid station), I was about 4% faster on the Epic. Kinda makes sense, right? 4% more power, 4% faster, right?

But the EPic was 24 pounds, without fluids, and I at least started the race with two full bottles. So that Means I basically raced a bike that was on average 26 pounds. Both bottles bounced out of my bottle cages yesterday at the beginning of the race (weak cages), so I in essence raced a 19 pound bike. A 19 pound bike went the same speed as a 26 pound bike. Oh, I also had a GoPro on in 2019.

Sure, there are other factors like tires and such. But I think it is more like comparing different types of apples vs apples and oranges.

Now I am second guessing whether I should put the dropper back on. I will have to do more pre season testing next year. I don’t see myself spending the money on another FS XC bike.


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Same Power Meter?

Seems like a valuable anecdote for your own preferences and sensations. It sounds like there’s too much noise to draw any reliable conclusions.

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There are two many other variables to try and judge average power to time in an XC race. We paced the start of a 5 hr group as a 5 man group 3 even laps that were from 41-42 minutes. Everyone had significant fluctuations in average power from laps 1-3, same bike, weight, fitness and weather . Just learning the course and riding it more efficiently made avg power drop at the same lap time. Two years would bring significant changes in course conditions and your riding style.