This year I was grateful for the opportunity to own four of the most talked about and ridiculously specced Endur-bro bikes in the industry. Sure has been an incredible year shredding the trails throughout Utah enjoying each one! To pay homage to all those who’ve asked for reviews and the MTB community in general I thought I’d give you all the low down on how each sled compares.
Before diving in too deep, you’ll notice each build was pretty top shelf with only subtle differences in components. Parts from ENVE Composites, SRAM, All Mountain Style, ERGON Bike, Deity, Raceface, Hubsessed, Fox, EastForkBikes, Backcountry.com Rockshox, Derby, Industry Nine, DtSwiss, Onyx, Chris King, Maxxis & Schwalbe, will be found spread fairly evenly through each bike-a mix of components that I’ve been extremely happy with. Enjoy!
Introducing The Steeds in no Particular Order:
By The Numbers:
It’s completely natural to want to get nerdy and compare numbers when considering bikes and it can certainly be informative. I don’t think I ever realized just how dramatic a millimeter here and a degree there can change things up. Guarantee you if you show any average joe that chart they’ll laugh and say they’re pretty much the same bike – wrong!
Takeaway number 1: size ‘Large’ is not created equal. For example the Large Bronson 2 felt quite a bit larger than the Nomad, while the Capra felt the smallest and the Insurgent is no question the largest in the squad. That said, all of these bikes fit me and I’m ~5’10” — so they’re all in the same ballpark.
I found a few things were really game changers when it came to the numbers. The wheelbase is a real kicker, both the Nomad & Insurgent are easily the strongest straight line chargers and what do you know, both have the most stretched out wheelbase. The chain-stay is another element where I noticed significant differences. While the Insurgent feels like a monster truck in the chunk, it sure is fun, playful in corners and manuals with the best of them. The YT also shined here. What do you know – both the shortest chain-stays. Braap! To be fair, the Bronson 2 was pretty poppy and fun as well.
A question I hear often is, “Which one climb’s better, bro?” It’s an easy answer: The Capra. The day I got the Capra I still had mismatched orange ENVE decals, but honey badger doesn’t give a…, I wanted to shred on it. Bad. I woke up a
t 4am the next morning and shuttled up the Wasatch Crest Trail so I could be to work by 8, which is utter desperation and quite possibly the best morning I could personally ask for. I couldn’t believe how well it climbed up Puke Hill. The Capra charges climbs – I’m a Strava-tard and beat my best time on the Nomad by over a minute. Not bad! Not only does it charge, it is just a comfortable climber as well.
Going back to the number game for a moment, you’ll notice the seat tube angle on the Capra is a whole degree steeper than the next steed, coincidence it’s the stronger climber? I think not. The Bronson was interesting uphill, it was the lightest bike in the lineup and I’d argue the best suited geometry for climbing, just under 28lbs with pedals, but when it came to steep sketchy climbs it wallowed and that bothered me. Even with that I’d still put it in the second position to the Capra when it comes to climbing. The Insurgent and Nomad are what they are, gravity defying, face melting beasts that prefer descending to climbing, but still get the job done. I was worried about the Insurgent. It’s 71.9 degree seat tube angle had me questioning what I had done because I do climb quite a bit, but I was pleasantly surprised with how it performed. I’d put the Insurgent & Nomad as a pretty even wash when it comes to climbing.
This is going to be a challenge. All of these bikes will have you grinning from ear-to-ear on any descent, but this is a comparison so here I go making some tough choices. If you are a numbers guy or gal you’d probably tell me the Insurgent or Nomad is the best descender of the bunch and you would be absolutely… right. But which one is better?
The Nomad was fun and in certain situations, straight line, technical and steeps, it was just bombproof and would charge any line. I felt so comfortable on it and looking back definitely miss the confidence inspiring feeling it gave. Where I would say I was less than enthused was that plush feeling you’d hope for in 165mm of rear travel. It came specced with the Rockshox Monarch Debonair, which I felt was harsh and pretty quickly jumped to the Fox Float X. That got me by, but until I sprung for the Float X2 I wasn’t completely satisfied. The Float X2 is a modern marvel and brought that Nomad to life. Such an incredible piece of machinery.
Hear me out when I tell you that the Insurgent has a leg up when it comes to DH. Maybe its Dave Weagle’s Delta Suspension System or maybe it’s the perfect balance of wheelbase, headtube angle combined with a rather short chain-stay length that makes this such a fun yet completely insane descender. Regardles, this is a very forward thinking setup and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how well this charges in the chunk, but still pops off drops, jumps, berms and owns the ridiculously steep tech terrain that you will find peppered throughout Utah. I was more comfortable in the rocky steep terrain on the Insurgent than I am right now on my couch with a warm fire burning. What a bike!
I can’t overlook the Capra. It’s a serious good time. If you asked me to decide between the Nomad & Capra as the better descender I
will only say the Nomad due to the utter speed and confidence the Nomad gives in any terrain, but is utter speed what you want in every situation? The Capra offered a balance between face melting DH and that fun park bike that you can whip through corners and have an incredible time in any situation. I miss that goat pretty often I must say – incredible bike!
The Bronson 2 was not bad at all. Maybe it was because it was the lightest of the four bikes or ‘steep’ 66 degree head angle, but when it came to steep tech stuff I found myself longing for the Capra or Nomad. I also noticed on flat peddaly sections that I often felt an odd lag and found I was peddling harder than I would have on the other sleds. That said, the Bronson was a blast, especially when it came to small kickers and features, it was extremely poppy and playful.
If you’re a perfectionist like myself you will tend to notice any design flaws the second you take the bike off the showroom floor or unbox it. The sure winner when it comes to quality has got to be both Santa Cruz bikes. I chose the CC model in both the Nomad 3 and Bronson 2 and could not be more happy with the finish quality of each one. The finish was impeccable and I think you’d have a challenging time finding any bike of better craftsmanship – the attention to detail is unparalleled.
The Capra is certainly a beautiful frame – both engineering and geometry are truly incredible. The second I unboxed it I have to say I noticed some inconsistency in the carbon, almost a ripple through some of the top tube. I wish I had a picture to show it. Granted, this is all external and completely superficial stuff to nit pick on, but when you’re dropping hard earned coin on a frame it’s something I personally consider. Not only that, but it was definitely the easiest to chip paint, nor did it come with a chain-stay guard like the Evil & both Santa Cruz bikes so gracefully do.
I have to say the Insurgent’s quality is amazing. After owning the Capra you can guarantee I inspected it and found nothing but sheer perfection. The Delta System is ridiculous and such an incredible Engineering feat that puts this near the top of my list when it comes to quality. The only things that truly bothered me, although superficial, the logo’s are vinyl. Again, nit picking, but seriously, vinyl? This is one of the more expensive frames of the bunch, paint it for goodness sakes. Outside of the vinyl, the chain rides wildly close to the chain-stay’s, but the rubber wrapped around them make up for it. It’s a tad loud with the chain slapping the stays, but whatever.
The Bottom Line
No doubt all four bikes are certainly a home run and should make any owner proud. If you’re anything like me and don’t mind the grind to the top for the payoff of a rowdy good DH session then I’d spring for the Insurgent or Nomad. My personal preference – I’ll take the best DH capable machine over climbing capability all day long. The Capra will do both extremely well and I’d argue is the most well rounded in most any situation, the only thing that worried me was the warranty and lack of support locally. Although the Quality was that of rich mahogany with the Bronson 2, because the wandering climbs and puckering moments on DH sections I’d call it the caboose in this comparison.
Overall I’m very happy with the bike choices I made this year and am incredibly impressed with the direction the industry is headed. Looking forward for only good things to come! Shred on.
Would love to interact in comments below!