about bike-test.com, Bicycle buying advice, bike tech talk

How we rate bikes

"Bike tests have to become more objective, more comprehensive and more detailed." That was the idea of Ludwig Döhl, when quitting his job as deputy editor in chief of BIKE, europes biggest MTB-magazine. And a revolutionary way to rate bikes was born.

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Our knowledge is based on our passion

You think of product comparisons on the Internet as dodgy types sniffing out a quick euro. Do us a favor: Close the drawer in your head again before you read on. Bicycles are our life! Our hearts would bleed if we didn’t approach the subject seriously and credibly. We want to help you find your dream bike and have therefore first sat our butts sore on the bike to then really help you with our honest experiences with your bike purchase. You don’t believe us? Maybe these facts will convince you:

 

started at 

311
races

been riding over 

100000
kilometers on bikes

tested over

900
bikes in the last decade

This is how we review bikes

To understand how we rate bikes, you need to know what makes the bike industry tick. The bicycle industry works according to the modular principle. In other words, each manufacturer builds its own frames, but completes them with components from supplier companies to create a bicycle. The best way to explain this is to take the example of bicycle gears. In the over 1500 bikes that we have evaluated for bike-test.com, exactly three manufacturers of bicycle gears come to light. Bicycle gears are therefore either from Shimano, Sram or Micro Shift. We have taken a very close look at the product portfolio of these three suppliers and catalogued them in our database according to uniform criteria. In order to remain as objective as possible, we have only oriented ourselves to facts. How many gears does a rear derailleur pack? What place does it have in the product hierarchy of the manufacturer? How much does it weigh? Then we weighted all these factors according to their importance for the riding experience and formed a score for the rear derailleur. And that’s how we did it for every component. So also for brakes, suspension forks….

This score for each component is assigned via our algorithm to each complete bike in which it is installed. Because we are freaks and want to reproduce the riding experience as realistically as possible, each component has a weighting factor that varies depending on the area of use. On a downhill bike, the brakes are probably much more important than the gears. On a cross country hardtail, the suspension is less important than on an enduro bike. Our rating system reflects all of this. And best of all, we treat every bike manufacturer the same. Because in the end, we don’t know where the individual parts are installed when we rate them. It doesn’t get more objective than that. On our product overview page, you can then filter all the bikes in the market according to your preferences. We then suggest our top recommendations for your personal preferences at the top of the overview page.

What do we rate and what criteria does our algorithm contain?

Our bike-test.com-SCORE for mountain bikes contains the evaluation of the following individual parts:

  • Groupset (Shifting Componentes)
  • Brakes
  • Tyres
  • Wheels
  • Suspension
  • Seatpost (if dropper or not)
  • Frame

In total, we evaluate a bicycle in over 85 different criteria in a standardized manner. The 85 criteria are weighted differently depending on the intended use. Below, we reveal which criteria we apply to the individual components.

The parts we rate next to the frame

For the evaluation of these components, we use these criteria, among others, which we weight differently depending on each the component, to get an really realistic picture of the bikes you are interested in. 

  • Weight of the component
  • Ranking in the manufacturer-specific product hierarchy
  • Product-related physical facts (e.g. larger brake discs have better braking performance. A larger bandwidth of a gear shift is better than a smaller one…).
  • General design-related facts (e.g. folding tyres are of higher quality than tyres with a wire-breed. Air suspension forks are of higher quality than (cheap) steel spring suspension forks).
  • Function of a component
  • Expected service effort
  • Product-specific criteria
  • Material used for a component

Every rating that somehow flows into the bike-test.com-SCORE can be traced back to a fact and not to personal preferences of test riders.

AND MOST IMPORTANT: Every bicycle is rated with the exact same algorithem. So the rating is absolutly objective and fair for all brands on the market.

How do I know which bike has which rating?

Counter question: Which person is better – you or your neighbor? It will be quite difficult to judge. Your neighbor may earn more money. You live healthier or have more friends. Do you even want to have more friends? Is that even a criterion for you in your search for the best person? You realize, this is where the ice gets really thin.

 

A bicycle is not quite as complex as a human being, but it also has many different aspects. We try to give you an impression of how the different assemblies of a mountain bike work with our graphics. But to say that one mountain bike is the best, or better than the other, just because it has the best chassis on the market, would be like saying: Your neighbor is better than you. He earns more money. Such an isolated view does not do justice to a person or a bike.

 

To make your choice as concrete as possible, you have to set the filters on our overview page according to your preferences. The bikes that we then show you as top recommendations are the bikes that we consider optimal for you according to your personal purchase criteria. We do not have to show you a point value. If you set absolutely no filters, then you end up with the selection that is, in our opinion, the best for normal MTB use.

What do the different graphics say about each bike?

With our spider web graphic you can see how valuable the most important components of a bike are in an absolute view. The larger the yellow area in the spider web graphic, the higher the quality of the bike. In addition, you can also see in this graphic super, on which the manufacturer has placed particular emphasis in the specification of the mountain bike. Here you can already immediately question whether the preferences of the manufacturer fit your preferences.

The absolute consideration of the bicycle equipment is interesting and important. If you are directly before a purchase decision, but you probably have a certain budget that you want to spend on your bike, in mind. That the absolute consideration (spider web graphic) of the attachments of a 10,000 euro bike is different than a hardtail for 1,000 euros should be quite logical. We have therefore also compared each bike with its direct market environment. In our bar chart you can see how the individual assemblies of a bike compare to bikes in the same price range and the same area of use. A yellow bar means: “Yeah! This assembly is better than average for this price range.” A black bar in this graph means, “Other manufacturers are building higher quality components in this price range.”  

Of course, we also took a look at the geometry of the bikes

Of course, we also took a closer look at the geometry of all the bikes. After over 100,000 kilometers on more than 800 different bikes, we have developed a feeling for which geometry data influence the riding fun. Even more important than a single geometry dimension is, of course, the interaction of a wide variety of dimensions. Geometries that are pretty good according to our understanding get a high geo-fun factor from us. You can see this value in the spider web graph. Beyond the pure fun potential, we have still worked out the character of the bike in more detail. So we can tell you how the handling and seating position of your future bike will turn out.

The seating position of a bike should be a key creteria when looking for a new one

In order to give you an impression of how the bike rides on the trail (in addition to the equipment of the bikes), we have also analysed the geometry of each bike. Taking into account the interaction of various geometry data, we can tell you whether you will sit comfortably, balanced or sporty on the bike. The seatingposition is a key-fact when buying a bike and every rider has its personell prefernces on this point.  Currently we are working on a blog to explain you more about the seating position of a bike. Take a look at our bike buying advice blog to get detailed information. 

A comfortable seating position is a bit upright, with lots of load on the saddel and relaxed arms. 

 

A moderate seating position on a bike tries to combine the best out of the two extrem positions on the left and on the right side.  

A sporty seating position is has low handlebars according to the position of the saddle. It is very efficient for pedalling but may stress your back, neck or arm muscles on long rides if you are not familiar with it.  

And how does the bike ride on the trail?

 

We go a step ahead of the seating position and we will also tell you whether the bike will be playful, balanced or smooth in his handling on the trail. These statements should help you to better assess the character of a bike. We believe that a smooth-riding bike with a sporty riding position is no better or worse than a playful bike with a comfortable riding position. They are simply different bikes with different characters. You have to decide for yourself which bike suits your preferences best. Experience has shown, however, that bikes with extremely smooth handling are only really fun if you have very good bike control and can ride extremely fast in technical terrain. Beginners often find playful bike handling more pleasant.

A playfull bike handling makes tight corners easy to handle and feels very good especially for beginners, or riders that do not go extrem fast on the trail. 

A bike with balanced bike handling stays stable at a good speed, and runs through tight corners with no problem. It can handle every rider and every trail, but is just not perfect in one special situation.  

A bike with smooth or calm bike handling needs a bit of power from the rider to change the direction. But therefore it gives you a secure feeling when entering gnarly or very steep trail sections at high speed. Perfect for racers or extrem experienced riders. 

We ride a lot, but we haven´t ridden all the bikes on this website

First of all: We have not ridden every bike that we have on our platform ourselves. But our rating  is based on the experience of almost 1000 bike tests and well over 100,000 kilometres in the saddle over the past decade. So you can be sure that our assessment is based on solid know-how and, above all, reflects the reality in practice. Over the years as test editor and deputy editor-in-chief at BIKE magazine, Ludwig Döhl – the founder of bike-test.com – has noticed: “Every product feature of a bike can ultimately be traced back to a fact that is hidden somewhere in the lush product data.” We have catalogued the relationships between riding characteristics of mountain bikes and product data and developed an algorithm on this basis. This allows us to automatically analyse the product data of bikes and then rate the bikes uniformly and absolutely objectively. So we can promise you, that we have taken a closer look on every bike on this website just to help you finding the right bike for your need. 

Use the filter function to find the best mountain bike for you from nearly 1600 Bikes on bike-test.com

The price, the look, the weight, the specification or rather the area of use? Anyone who wants to buy a bike faces the challenge of weighing up many different factors. What sounds simple is extremely complex due to the many product features of a bicycle. The bike with the highest bike-test.com score may not be the best choice for you because it does not take into account your other preferences. That’s why we advise you: Use the filter function on our product overview page and find the perfect bike for you with just a few clicks.

About Ludwig

Ludwig Döhl is known as fulltime bike nerd. He is riding, racing and working on bikes for over 20 years. He grew up screwing in bikeshops and racing the european cross country worldcups. With getting older he managed to live as enduro-mtb pro racer, before he was working as deputy editor in chief for BIKE - europe´s biggest bike magazine. Now he is trying to get even more people excited about a lifestyle on two wheels with this website. His knowledge about bikes depends on over 100.000 km in the saddles of over 800 different bikes he rode in the last decade. Having any question for Ludwig? Just drop it down in the comments and he will answer as soon as he is back from his ride.