DW LINK SHOOTOUT! (Very Long)
I did some big shootouts comparing the Ellsworth Epiphany, Mojo SL, Turner TNT 5-Spot, new Yeti 575, Specialized S-works Stumpjumper, Titus Motolite, and the Pivot Mach 5 over the last year. You can find these (long) reviews below:
How I finally picked a 5"-6" bike (with reviews)
Epi v. Mojo v. Mach5 Review (Long)
Overall, I ranked the Ibis as the best of all, with the Epiphany second.
Now its time for DW 5-Spot vs. Mojo SL vs. Mach 5 vs. Epiphany!!
Since that time, the Turner DW spot has been released. I figured that I would do a DW link shootout (with my Epiphany included for comparison). I’m thinking about a new ride so this would be helpful. I included the Pivot again as people complained that I tested a Mach 5 with the small air can Fox RP23 last year.
Each bike was demo’d over the course of about a week with a buddy. We each typically ride “medium frames” and weigh about 170lbs. We ride aggressive cross-country. That means we will do 30+ mile rides occasionally and like to get air but limit ourselves to about 4 foot drops. We are in the Rockies with frequent Moab/Fruita/Arizona trips for desert riding. The weather has been great, allowing this shootout to happen. My buddy owns a Mojo SL and I own an Ellsworth Epiphany. We were able to grab a new production Turner DW-Spot (someone’s personal ride) and a Pivot Mach 5. The Mojo has the DT Swiss carbon shock, Epiphany has the normal ’09 Fox RP23 shock, while the Spot and Mach 5 have the large air can ’09 Fox RP23 shocks (all with the lowest rebound/compression tune settings). Propedal was not used at all during riding (DW link bikes allegedly don’t need Propedal, and I never use Propedal on my Epiphany). All bikes were setup with a minimum of “XT level” componentry. All have Fox 32 140mm qr15 thru-axle forks except for my Epiphany that runs the ‘09 20mm Maxle 140mm Revelation. The weights were quite varied. Mojo SL=25.2 lbs, Epiphany=26.5 lbs, Mach 5=28.1 lbs, DW Spot=28.1 lbs. Note that the Mojo SL has the “Lopes Link” installed. We swapped stems, adjusted seats, and changed suspension pressures (per manufacturer’s recs) in attempt to equalize setup between the bikes.
We tore through crazy downhills, drops (some accidentally over 4 feet), jumps, and long (sometimes very technical) climbs.
We both agreed that the Ibis Mojo SL is hands down the best-looking mountain bike in the group. Rubberized paint that is almost impossible to screw up with underlying carbon weave is amazing—you must see it to understand. The custom look of the Epiphany’s “smoke” anodization, laser graphics, and machined rocker arms took second place. The Pivot also has beautiful anodization and finishing (especially the curved BB thing) but not quite as “custom” as the Epiphany’s finish. They say Dave Turner does not care about aesthetics and it shows (form over function). The Spot has perfect welds, brake bosses, and the color and graphics are well done. The bike looks industrial in the sense that it looks like it was made to do exactly one thing: ride great (but does not look as pretty sitting in the corner). It is clearly very well made—just a little clunky looking. This is clearly subjective, so your opinion is probably very different.
Last year the Epiphany was the most expensive frame on test (compared to the Yeti, TNT Turner, Titus Motolite). Unfortunately, all the top end frames are now very expensive--now the Turner is the most expensive, with the Epiphany close behind. The Mojo SL (with the Fox shock) looks like a steal now at only(!) $2300. I don’t know how much the Mach 5 frame alone costs these days, but I suspect it’s in the same ballpark.
First to Last:
Mojo (cheapest w/RP23, best looking), Epiphany, Pivot, Turner (most expensive, industrial looking)
IN THE SADDLE CLIMBING:
We climb a ton in Colorado and Utah. These bikes climb very differently. Like last year, the Mojo and the Epiphany smoothly climbed almost all obstacles without making a fuss. The Turner did the same thing. Going up a small edge the suspension would almost “push you up”. I was hoping that the Pivot (with the large air can this time) would also join the crowd. It climbs much differently than the others—the suspension doesn’t suck up the bumps as well. You just push up the hill, almost skipping over the bumps. The Mach 5 climbs like a long travel race bike whereas the others ride through the bumps using the suspension. If we were timing climbs, the Pivot would probably be the fastest, yet the least comfortable and more painful on very long rides. We like the suspension working at all times and neither of us liked how the Pivot climbed as much as the others. It’s good, just not for us. We also agreed that the Ibis and Turner climbed the best. The Ibis was overall the best, mostly due the lower weight. Note that the Ibis frame weighs nearly two pounds less than the Turner frame. We agreed that both behave the same while climbing but have different weights. Note that the difference in weights is not all components as the Turner frame is nearly TWO full pounds heavier. The Epiphany climbs very well, no bob, but slightly less plush than the others. Note that all the DW frames bob when pedaling although I did not feel there was any energy loss.
First to Last:
Mojo (mainly due to weight), Turner, Epiphany, Pivot
OUT OF THE SADDLE CLIMBING:
DW bikes are better. Little bob without propedal. My Epiphany must use Propedal in these situations to stop the dreaded bob. Sitting, the Epiphany actually bobs less. Pivot was by far the best out of the seat climber.
First to Last:
Pivot, Turner/Mojo (tie), Epiphany
All the bikes were excellent descenders and all better than the bikes in my first review (Yeti 575, TNT Turner, S-works SJ, Titus Motolite). Again, the Mojo, Turner, and Ellsworth were very plush while the Pivot was nice but never felt like it got full travel (although the o-ring showed it used all its travel). We agreed that the Turner and Mojo descended slightly better than the Epiphany only because there was slightly less bob when powering out of the saddle. When not pedaling, we both felt the Epiphany was actually the plushest. We think that the Pivot was the most stiff laterally, but it could be because it was the least plush. We screwed with the air pressures, etc and just never got it to feel as “good” as the others. I think that we just don’t mesh with the Cocalis design (others love it). The Mojo SL (with the Lopes Link) had rear-end stiffness equal to the DW Spot—these both had no noticeable flex even in high speed “baby head” runs (my says the Lopes Link makes a huge difference). The Epiphany rear-end was slightly more flexy but so plush we barely noticed it. By the way, the 20mm Rock Shox Revelation is MUCH stiffer than the Fox 32 qr15 setups (or the Ellsworth head tube is much stiffer than all the other bikes which is unlikely).
First to Last:
Turner/Mojo (tie), Epiphany, Pivot
It basically comes down to the Mojo/Turner as the number one choice. We both feel that the Mojo SL is better than the Turner DW 5spot.
Why, you ask??
The Mojo SL frame is cheaper (with RP23), looks better, weighs nearly two pounds less, is a better climber (because of weight), equivalent descender, and has equivalent customer service!
Think about it--you could add a RP23/Fox 36 160mm fork/Crossmax SX all mountain wheels to an Ibis build and it would STILL weigh about the same as the Turner (and may cost nearly the same, considering the price difference). If you did this, then it would clearly be the better descender, while still climbing on par with the Turner (for essentially the same money). Note that the new Turner frame weighs nearly as much as the new Nomad but has 1 inch less travel (Turner 6.7 lbs, Nomad 6.9lbs)! I also don’t doubt the strength of the carbon frame anymore—my buddy absolutely abuses his bike. The Mojo has been out a couple of years and there are not any horror stories (plus Brian Lopes does stuff on a Mojo I would never do).
We really felt that the Mojo SL was an almost identical performing bike to the Turner except it is much lighter and a little cheaper.
Mojo SL, Turner DW Spot, Ellsworth Epiphany, Pivot Mach 5
I had high hopes for the Turner, but I’m ordering a Mojo SL (with RP23) and saving some cash.
Everyone has different opinions and yours may differ considerably.
Cross posting in other forums.
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