Santa Cruz Megatower vs Transition Spire vs Orbea Rallon vs Rocky Mountain Altitude vs Revel Rail 29
Better late than never, the 2022 Enduro Bike Showdown is here. Welcome to the battle of the big rigs! Today, we’ve got five of the best enduro bikes for you. We’re comparing the Transition Spire, Rocky Mountain Altitude, Orbea Rallon, Revel Rail 29, and the Santa Cruz Megatower. They’re all brawlers with an appetite for rocks, roots, jumps, drops, compressions, and all things fun. They each go about attacking the trail in a different way. Stick around to see which is best for you.
2022 Enduro Bike Showdown: The Contenders
I’m not going to cover many details on each of these bikes as I’ve already done that in their individual reviews. Let this geometry comparison suffice or go read the individual reviews first and then come back here. Each review is linked below.
2022 Enduro Bike Showdown: Comparisons
All of these bikes have the primary goal of going downhill quickly. Because of that, you’re going to pay a bit of a penalty on the climbs. That said, none of these are bad climbers. In fact, one of them I’d even put on par with the Ibis Ripmo in the climbing department. We’re going to break climbing performance down into a couple of factors—efficiency and technical ability.
Efficiency comes down to how well the body position, geometry, and suspension work together to keep the bike moving forward as quickly and easily as possible. For me, the places you notice a bike’s efficiency the most are on smoother sections of trail, on lower angle grades, and open fire roads. These are the kind of places where you just put your head down and slog out the miles. The two bikes in this test that I think perform the best in the efficiency department are the Rail 29 and the Rallon. They both do an excellent job of mitigating pedal bob and driving the bike forward with every pedal stroke. There’s not a lot of energy wasted on these two bikes. The Megatower probably slots in after these two with the Altitude and Spire close behind. All of these bikes are on the long-travel end of the spectrum so a little inefficiency is to be expected, but compared to enduro bikes from even a few years ago, they’re a definite improvement.
Next up we have technical climbing ability. What I’m talking about here is steep uphill terrain filled with bumps, rocks, roots, and tight corners. A bike that can be maneuvered easily or one that provides a ton of traction will do well here. Again, the Rail 29 shines when pointed upward. It’s not only efficient, but it’s also quick, nimble, and smooth when things get tough. The suspension does a great job of keeping the rear wheel digging into the dirt. Pair that with nimble geometry and the shortest wheelbase in the test, and you’ve got yourself the best technical climber here. The runner-up is a toss-up between the Rallon and the Altitude. They have similar handling characteristics, but where they differ is in the suspension feel. The Rocky is a bit softer, providing more traction, and the Orbea is a bit quicker on the pedals. The Megatower falls in line after these with the Spire being the toughest bike to manage on tight technical climbs. It’s not a suspension problem, in fact, it might offer the most traction out of all the bikes, it’s just a sheer size issue. The Spire is very long, making it more suited to wider, straighter climbs.
Overall, you can’t beat the Rail 29 on the climbs. It’s quick, efficient, and easy to manage. It definitely stands above the others in the test when it comes to going uphill.
Now we get to the fun part. There’s something special to riding nasty, rough terrain on a bike that thrives when things get mean. These bikes all crave rocks, roots, drops, compressions, and air time. Sounds like a good time if you ask me. Rating downhill performance isn’t as simple as saying “this one is the most capable therefore it’s the best descender.” A lot of factors go into how a bike goes downhill. Not everyone is looking for wheels-on-the-ground capability. Some folks might prefer a more playful or agile descender. So we’re going to look at a few factors including suspension feel, handling, capability, and fun factor.
Suspension is one of the biggest factors in determining how a bike feels out on the trail and the Santa Cruz Megatower hits the nail right on the head. It strikes the best balance between plush and playful out of all the bikes in the test. It is as plush as you’d want a bike to be without any of that dead, wallowy feeling. The Rail 29, surprisingly, felt very similar albeit with less travel. It’s soft off the top with a lot of support throughout the rest of the stroke. Both of those bikes are incredibly fun to ride. They make bumps disappear and have tons of pop when it comes time to get the wheels off the ground. The Spire is the plushest bike in the group. It has a way of turning the rockiest terrain into what feels like a paved sidewalk. In the Spire’s case, it might be a combo of the suspension and long wheelbase that makes the bike so smooth in rough terrain. The Altitude feels rather close to the Spire in terms of plushness and suspension feel. It’s soft, gooey, and ground-huggy. The Rallon stands out as the outlier when it comes to suspension. It feels quick, responsive, and firm rather than ultra-plush. It’s the kind of suspension that just feels fast as you’re pumping through rollers and berms.
The handling on all of most bikes lands on the more stable side of the spectrum. They’re big burly bikes with slower, more deliberate handling. The two exceptions to this are the Altitude and the Rail 29, and it makes sense given their respective head tube angles. They are the steepest in the bunch. Not only does the steeper HTA make for a quicker, more responsive feel, it shortens up the wheelbase as well. Those two things are going to make the rail and Altitude feel quicker around a corner and easier to change lines. Both of those bikes are very fun and playful, with the Rail 29 being ultra-nimble. Conversely, the Spire and Megatower have the slackest head tube angles and longest wheelbases making them the most stable bikes on offer. They are happier to plow through rough terrain rather than go over or around it. The Rallon falls in the middle. It corners with the best of them, without ever feeling too twitchy or squirrely.
In terms of capability you can’t beat the Spire in this test. It’s the bike I’d grab for the roughest and nastiest trails around. It has the most rear travel as well as the slackest and longest geometry. It makes short work of the roughest terrain. The Megatower isn’t far behind. It is still a bit of a monster truck, but it suffers less of a penalty on slower, mellower terrain than the Spire. The Rallon and Altitude both fall on the more all-mountain side of the enduro category when it comes to capability. They’re a little shorter and more maneuverable without being too short for rough terrain. Both of these bikes do very well on the EWS circuit which makes sense given the tight, twisty nature of those trails. The Rail 29 is the least “smash-worthy” bike in the test. It’s more of a scalpel than it is a chainsaw.
While the Rail 29 isn’t the most capable of the bikes in the test, it tops the charts when it comes to fun factor. It’s quick and nimble and when you combine its steeper geometry with the amazing CBF suspension, you have a bike that likes to jump, pump and goof around. The Rallon and Altitude are the next most playful bikes in the test. The Rallon feels a bit more racy and firm while the Altitude is more plush and gooey. Still, they both are happy enough to get the wheels off the ground. The Megatower isn’t far behind thes first three bikes here. There’s something special about that Lower-Link VPP Suspension that goes a long way in making a big, burly bike feel way more nimble than it should. Still, it’s tough to make 165mm of rear travel feel like 120mm. The Spire is the least playful bike of the five. It’s a little too plush and too long to be described as jibby. It’s not as one-trick-pony as it might look on paper though. It still does a decent job of getting its wheels off the ground, even if it’s only because you’re going way faster.
Overall, each of these bikes is a great descender in its own right. The Rail is quick and nimble. The Spire and Megatower are big and sturdy. The Rallon and Altitude fall somewhere in the middle, offering a ton of versatility. They will each suit a different type of rider well.
2022 Enduro Bike Showdown: Awards
You’ll see that each bike wins an award, and a lot of you probably won’t like that. I grew up in the days of participation trophies, sue me. Also, I think each of these bikes is really good in its own way. They each have strengths and weaknesses and the awards below reflect each bike’s best characteristics.
Best Climber – Revel Rail 29
On the surface, this one makes a lot of sense—It has the least travel and least aggressive geometry. Digging deeper, the suspension design is amazing and really good for long days in the saddle with lots of vert.
Most Capable Descender – Transition Spire
Can you say planted? Long geometry and dialed suspension make the Spire the easy pick for the most capable descender.
Best Suspension Design – Santa Cruz Megatower
Can’t beat it currently. Ultra plush and somehow still super playful and fun. No slouch on the climbs either.
Most Versatile – Orbea Rallon/RM Altitude
Both have 29/MX options and adjustable geo. Both geo and suspension lend themselves to a wide variety of terrain.
2022 Enduro Bike Showdown: Buying Advice
Here’s the part where I help you try to decide which bike you should buy. I’ll try to condense all of the information above into simple rider profiles. Pick the rider profile you most closely resemble and that’s the bike I think you should buy.
The Full Facers – Megatower & Spire
These are the folks going fast, going big and they never back down from any feature. They’re not only surviving steep, rugged terrain, they’re trying to find more speed or unlock bigger lines. They rarely find themselves on greens and only ride the occasional blue as a “chill” lap. Their warmup trails more closely resemble mere mortals’ hardest trails.
The Half Shells – Altitude & Rallon
These folks are riding all types of terrain, although not always at mach-chicken speeds. They’ll find their way down just about any trail you take them on, but they won’t always be hitting the hardest lines. They also find themselves doing big climbs from time to time and need a bike that will leave them with some energy for the descent.
The No Knee pads – Rail 29
Knee pads are too enduro for these folks. They are more balanced in how they like to ride bikes. They don’t only survive the climbs, they might actually try to push the pace on the group ride. They still get after it on the descents, but they’re happier to goof around and have fun rather than go “full-metal” on every descent. They enjoy greens, blues and black diamonds alike.
So there you. have it — 2022 Enduro Bike Showdown. Hopefully this guide helps you decide which long-travel bike is best for you. Please let us know if you need help finding one of these bikes. We are happy to answer any questions we can through the comments here or our webchat feature on the site.