[Video] $3,000 vs. $9,000 Mountain Bike - What's The Difference?

Intro

One of the most common questions we get is, “How does an entry-level bike compare to the higher end of the same model?” Using two Devinci Troys, we are going to break that down and get into the details, from weights and part specifications to overall ride feel. We have a Devinci Troy NX build at $3,199 as well as the Devinici Troy X01 build at $8,799, two ends of the spectrum. While $3,199 is still a lot for a mountain bike, it's on the more entry-level side of bikes and one of the only bikes we can test that uses the same suspension platform and frame geometry so we can have an equal comparison. 

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Initial Differences

Of course one of the most noticeable differences is the weight, as the Troy X01 build is about 4 lbs lighter than the Troy NX build. While the frames are a different material, carbon versus alloy, there are also a lot of weight differences in the components. For starters, the SRAM X01 Troy build has much more carbon all over the bike. Handlebars, wheels, and cranks are all carbon while the same parts on the NX Troy are alloy or aluminum. 

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These differences all have to do with weight, but there are also a few that have to do with feeling as well. The forks, a Pike and a Revelation, not only weigh differently but also don't share the same internals, so there is a ride difference. The brakes also vary quite a bit, as the X01 Troy comes with SRAM Guide RSC brakes while the NX Troy comes with SRAM Guide T brakes. The lever feel changes quite a bit between the two, as the Guide T’s don't have much adjustment, and the reach adjustment is also done by a tool, whereas the Guide RSC brakes have a tool-free reach adjust and also have a contact adjust that helps a ton in getting the brake to feel just how you want it. Another thing that is noticeable right away is the engagement on the hub, which is how often the pawls inside the hub engage. On a nicer wheel, typically the hub will engage faster, leaving less dead zone when you go to start pedaling either from a stop, out of a corner or on a technical climb. The X01 Troy comes with some nice RaceFace Vault hubs that feature 120 points of engagement. Anything over about 80-90 is pretty much as good as you need it. The NX Troy, on the other hand, has a more basic hub that features a lower engagement. While it still works great, in comparison to the Vault hub it's a drastic difference. 

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When the testers, Jeff, Zack and Jared, initially got on both bikes, the first differences they pointed out were the weight, rear hub engagement, and shifting performance. While the shifting on the Troy NX build isn't bad by any means, (I think SRAM NX Eagle is really damn impressive for the price), it's just a difference in direct comparison to the SRAM X01 Eagle on the Troy X01 build. 

Click Weight Chart to Zoom

Devinci Troy Weight Chart

On the Trail Thoughts and Differences

I feel like a broken record, but the weight is noticeable especially when climbing or on slower, more technical sections of trail. The weight on the Troy NX build slightly hinders the playfulness of the bike, but once up to speed, it's hard to really notice the weight. Actually, I liked the alloy Troy NX when the trail pointed down as it felt very stable and it smoothed out the trail a little more. With a few upgrades, I think the Troy NX could be a killer mid-level priced bike, and I'll get into that a bit more with other upgrade options. Of course, the wheels of the Troy X01 build felt much faster and smoother, along with the engagement being much higher, but that isn't to knock the wheels on the Troy NX. The NX has wide profile rims and that gives the tires a very nice profile that helped contribute to the overall predictable feel of the Troy NX. 

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For the most part, once the suspension is set up, there is very little difference between the two bikes, as I think the last few years suspension has come such a long way that now even some of the more entry-level parts can compete with the top-shelf products. I'd say if it were a blind test between the two, I would have a hard time telling the difference from either bike’s suspension spec. The Guide T brakes still deliver enough power to stop on even the steepest terrain. What you notice with the less expensive brakes is the lever feel and the slight brake fade over long descents compared to the Guide RSC brakes. That just comes from more quality internals and while the Guide T will stop you, it could be worth it to you to upgrade down the road to a nicer brake spec. 

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Entry Level Upgrades

When many of us mountain bikers are in a position to buy a new bike, our taste is usually that of top-shelf champagne, but our wallets are more like some tall can malt beers from the corner store, or maybe I'm just the only one. Either way, I think if you can only afford to start with the Devinci Troy NX build and then upgrade some parts over time, you're going to not only end up with a bike spec that you love, but it's probably going to be pretty badass. As I mentioned above, the Troy NX still rode very nicely and with the upgrade of a few parts, you can have a really nice feeling rig for much less than the $8,799 Troy X01. 

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So keeping with the theme of weight, hub engagement, and shifting, I think the first and most beneficial upgrade would be wheels. We actually did a video on the best wheels under $750 to upgrade on your bike and I think any of those would make a great option to put on this Troy NX. Since we are looking at cutting some weight I would suggest the Industry 9 Enduro S 101 wheels, as they have 90 points of engagement and are also on the lighter side for a wheelset of that price. So that checks two boxes of weight and hub engagement. 

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Another worthy upgrade would be on the shifting. Going with an X01/GX combo would help save weight, especially going with an X01 Eagle cassette. The NX Eagle cassette weighs 623g compared to the SRAM X01 Eagle cassette that weighs almost half at 356g for a savings of 267g, over half pound in rotating weight! Also going with say a GX or even X01 shifter and rear derailleur will improve shifting quality and make those crisp gear changes that feel oh-so-good. The SRAM GX Eagle crank is also pretty heavy in comparison to a SRAM X01 or something else like a Race Face Next R. Either of those would drop a significant amount of weight. The SRAM GX Eagle crankset weighs 646g and the SRAM X01 crankset weighs 508g, which is another chunk of weight shredded off like a block of cheese at a fancy restaurant. 

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The other few upgrades you might consider on a bike at this level would be the brakes. Going with some SRAM Guide RSC’s or even another brand like TRP or Magura would help get just a bit more braking power and consistency over the stock Guide T brakes. Also some smaller things, like a dropper post remote, would make a pretty noticeable difference. While the stock one sits below the bar, a better quality remote like a Wolftooth Components, OneUp Components, or PNW Components remote improves feel. While not a huge part, if you ride like me the remote is being used almost as much as shifting your bike, so having a nice feel to the remote bumps up my experience. 

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Final Thoughts

Is there a difference between a bike that costs $3,000 and one that almost costs $9,000? Well, the answer is yes, but they might be a bit more similar than you think. Yes, you get much more carbon with the higher price tag, it's lighter, and you ultimately would be changing less in the long run. But is that to knock the lower-priced bike? Not at all. In fact, I think if you can't justify pulling the trigger on a bike that costs $8,799, and not many of us can, or even if it's a stretch but you could make it happen, I think there is something to be gained going with the less expensive bike and putting in some solid upgrades.

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With things like wheels, shifting groupset, brakes and little details that are easily changeable, there is a lot of value to be gained going with that route. At the end of the day, these two bikes share the same suspension layout and frame geometry and both are amazing bikes. I personally prefer riding alloy or aluminum frames with nice parts. There is a certain feeling to them and the ease of mind when you crash that you might not ruin your bike is almost priceless. And if you are still not able to afford either bike, that's ok, just get out and ride something anyways! 

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November 13, 2019

Devinci › Full Suspension › product comparison › video ›

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