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Carsten Schabacher

”Sensationally Well-Spec’d For All Mountain And Enduro Rides”

The Stevens Whaka Carbon Max does not need to shy away from challenging Enduro trails, Mountainbike Rider magazine’s editors say

STEVENS Whaka Carbon Max
STEVENS Whaka Carbon Max

The Whaka Carbon Max is the top model in STEVENS’ all mountain range, and ”thanks to its top-of-the-line specs it bridges the gap between all-mountain and enduro”, is Mountainbike Rider magazine’s introduction to their extensive test report. There is no need for getting used to the bike, and ”from the very first descent I let it roll like it had always been my own bike. It just shows a feel-good character, and that’s already worth a lot,” says the tester about his first-ride impression.

Thanks to its top-of-the-line specs ”it bridges the gap between all-mountain and enduro”, and because of these different intended uses, the editors say, ”we rode this bike on totally different kinds of environment” – like the local enduro trails as well as on the Trailground Brilon (in the Sauerland region in North-Western Germany) and the Warstein Bikepark (in the Palatinate region, Central-Western Germany).

Going uphill the rider is well centred above the bottom bracket due to the ”nicely flat” steerer angle and a rather steep seat angle of 75 degrees. ”This way you can move this fly weight uphill very easily and indeed very efficiently.” The tester says: ”Without any greater effort I pedal up even steep ascents and can feel that I only have to propel just a little over 12kg (26.4lbs) under me.”

In frame size 18in the tested fully came in at 12.27kg (27lbs) – ”a real statement”. In addition to the light components this was contributed by the ”extremely light” frame of less than 2,000 grams (4.4lbs).

But the centred position is especially useful in the downhill. In addition to getting used to the bike in an instant, it also shows true feel-good character. The Fox chassis is in perfect harmony. The classic four-link rear stays reacts very sensitively at first which provides vast amounts of comfort as well as traction. Yet it wouldn’t devour the complete travel at once but instead became increasingly progressive.

”This makes the bike very easy to accelerate extremely fast but also offers enough reserve for when the going gets really tough.” It took really not that much effort to get up to speed, ”so even not that steep downhill trails are hugely fun to ride.”

The testers continued to praise the bike: ”No matter if gravel or root section, the Stevens always adapts to its environment and due to its well-tuned suspension characteristics provides lots of security. Even when airborne the bike delivers convincing performance with its well-balanced, compact handling. It is very easy to perform show-off manoeuvers and tricks just as it is to rip corners.” The 430mm chainstays are neatly short and made the Whaka Carbon Max ”wonderfully nimble.”

The Specs
”Let’s be honest, at almost 6,000 Euros everything on the bike has to fit perfectly, and all the parts have to put a smile on your face,” is the editors’ opinion about a bike’s relation of prize and performance, immediately followed by their statement: ”When you look at the Stevens’ spec list you won’t be disappointed.” One of the definite highlights was the Shimano XTR Di2 group. ”It not only shifts extremely precisely. The gears switch with no effort, and when you keep pressing the shift lever the chain continues moving until you release the lever.”

The all-mountain ”bridges the gap to enduro” with its ”34 Factory Float” fork with 160mm of travel and a ”Float X” rear shock with 150mm at the rear. In the test both were in perfect harmony and offered a matching set-up for any kind of trail. Only the rebound-setting dial for was a little hard to reach.

Shimano’s XT brakes offered enormous amounts of power, the standard-spec chain guide put emphasize on the enduro-oriented design. Apart from that there was nothing to complain about: ”Carbon cranks, Syntace finishing kit and super-light DT Swiss wheels. … The Schwalbe ”Fat Albert” tires proved to be very easy-rolling, but where somewhat overwhelmed by rough enduro trails or riding in the bikepark.”

The whole frame was designed – the same applies for the less expensive Whaka Carbon models – to accommodate electronic shifting. ”It features dedicated internal routing for those delicate electric wires as well as a well-hidden battery compartment in the bottom bracket area.” This way Stevens manages to make the bike appear very clean despite all the cables. The frame decals are nicely matched to the suspension elements which simply results in a very harmonious overall appearance.

Conclusion: ”The Stevens is an absolutely classy and sensationally built all-mountain bike that does not need to shy away from challenging enduro trails. The rear triangle works very sensitively but at the same time efficiently and delivers a great ride feeling with lots of traction.

Those who have the right amount of money and are looking for a bike that flies uphill and strongly powers downhill are very well served with the ”Whaka Carbon Max”.

The STEVENS Whaka Carbon Max is available in sizes 16, 18 and 20in. Based on the same frame the Whaka Carbon ES and Whaka Carbon (with aluminium rear stays) with price appropriate quality specs are available, too.

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