The market for all-mountain full suspension and trail bikes – the can-do-it-all bikes for (almost) any situation – was a growing one, says MountainBIKE in its current (March 2017) edition. Besides touring and marathon fullies with 120mm and all-mountain fullies with 140mm of travel, in recent years there’s an increasing number of so called Plus Bikes with 27.5” wheels and 2.8” wide tires. Reason enough for the editors to test the current models, among them the STEVENS Whaka+ ES.
This fully with 140mm of travel and 2.8” tires would embody what Plus Bikes are all about: Lots of comfort and control, especially in the downhill. Since the large tires are safe to ride with lower pressure, the tires’ profiles can sort of hug wet roots and slippery rocks and claw into the surface.
”Grip and traction reach unprecedented dimensions”. Especially for beginners this literally would offer a plus of security. Also the more flexible tires would clear obstacles such as smaller rocks a lot faster.
Provides Confidence in Your Riding Capabilities
The STEVENS Whaka+ ES was a comfortable ride, too. You sit upright and right in the middle of the bike. ”Everything is a perfect match from the beginning and provides the rider with confidence in the bike and his riding capabilities.” The bike also delivered lots of stability, even in ”rough terrain with slippery roots and cabbage-sized rocks.”
The chassis contributed greatly to the handling, since fork and rear triangle were in ”perfect harmony” with each other: The suspension components ”respond very sensitively, never bottom-out and do their work very inconspicuously, in the best sense of the word.”
Uphill the Whaka+ ES behaves very relaxed while its chassis still performed convincingly. ”Uphill the four-link rear triangle wobbles only slightly when climbing out of the saddle, yet it never bottoms-out and always provides lots of traction” traction was also added by the wide tire profiles.
Less Weight, Same Price
Comparing the current with last year’s model, the editors write about the specs: ”The Shimano XT logo now is everywhere (2x11-speed drivetrain, 203/180mm hydraulic discs), the suspension components are from Fox’s Performance Elite line and the cockpit parts from Spank are ergonomically perfect.”
Also the dropper post now delivers 125mm of travel and the tires 2.8” of width. This results in a lower overall weight of the Whaka+ ES, yet the price will fortunately stay the same.
STEVENS Whaka+ ES in a 2016 Long-Term Test
Only two editions prior, in issue 1.2017, MountainBiKE had published an extensive report about the long-term test over 3,500km and 84,000m of vertical climb.
The STEVENS Whaka+ ES proved to be very robust throughout the test period of one year. ”Wear and tear? Defects? – at 1,650km the chain broke, at 2,500kmchain number two plus chainrings and cassette became scrap metal – a little early, yet there was nothing else to complain about despite the high mileage and the sometimes aggressive riding in Alto Adige/Southern Tyrolia region around Brixen and Latsch.
All in all, MountainBIKE concludes that ”wear and tear was nothing special – neither on the positive nor on the negative side.”
Conclusion: The Whaka+ ES 2017 turns out to be a highly reliable companion that cannot be stopped even by difficult downhills. Yet, it climbs hills in a rather calm fashion.
The STEVENS Whaka+ ES in Electric Red is available in sizes 16”, 18”, 20” und 22” for 3,399 Euros. The entry-level Plus Bike STEVENS Whaka+ in Lemon Green is available in the same sizes for 2,799 Euros.