Stevens is the newest brand in our test gallery. It comes from Germany, it already has a history of more than 20 years, and is based in Hamburg, same as their design center. By the way, 8S can really serve as an example of how to design a bicycle: thin tubes, quality welds and last but not least, low weight.
8S Stevens was also the first candidate for our new testing procedures: after having to prove its skills on the trail, the bike arrived at our workshop where it was disassembled. Frame and the most important components were weighed and then the frame was tested with our new devices which can reveal its rigidity. Here’s something more about stiffness.
With a price tag of 1.000 euro, Stevens 8S seems to be the ideal bike for those who are looking for good performance at a decent price. Componentry is good enough for mountain trails and also suitable for those who take part in XC or Marathon races, while the low weight (12.4 kg for the18 inch frame) also recommends this bike.
The frame design of 8S has thin tubes in the swingarm area while trapezoidal tubes have been used for the front triangle. Thus, the bike not only offers sporty look, but also makes the rider bend forward to grab the handlebars. This position is not necessarily the most comfortable, as it requires getting used to it, but it also helps you be more aerodynamic and control the bike better.
Attention to detail is also reflected in the dropouts, very well finished and bearing an embossed logo, Stevens managing to add extra-value to the bike. Stability is provided by a headtube measuring 67 degrees, and also by the best figures revealed by the rigidity of the frame in this area. As a result, when cornering, 8S firmly keeps its line. As for the frame weight, stiffness is 104 Nm / degree, which makes it suitable for heavier riders, and when we say this we are considering the 90 kilos plus cyclists.
Climbing is an easy task thanks to a seat tube angle of 73.5 degrees. However, when it gets steeper, you have to get out of saddle and stand up on the pedals, as the front wheel tends to lose contact with the ground.
As for details, 8S catches the eye with its slightly lowered top tube, the chain protection already installed on the swingarm and a matte paint. It is scratch resistant but a finish lacquer would have been even more pleasing to the eye. A direct postmount for the rear brake caliper saves a few more grams from the frame’s weight and is located directly on the chainstay and not on the seat stay as for most bikes.
The drive train installed on 8S is a real delight: a Shimano XT rear derailleur, providing excellent performance and a Shimano SLX front derailleur, both operated by levers from the Shimano SLX range. In addition, you have a 10 gear cassette, so you’re free to choose the best gear ratio, no matter what the track can throw at you. The Hollowtech crankset is another asset found on this bike, with its sculpted arms for extra-weight reduction.
Brakes come from Shimano and even despite their striking resemblance with the Deore model, levers and the calipers have only have engraved the Shimano logo. Levers have superb grip and their performance parallels the Deore line, while we also find a 180 mm rotor on the front wheel and one 160 mm rotor wheel for the rear brake. Anyway, it’s no longer a secret that in 2012 Shimano has managed to provide exceptional disc brakes.
The Rock Shox Recon air fork has 100 mm of travel and fits to the character of this bike, although a lighter model wouldn’t have been bad at all. But, as this would have increased the price of the bicycle we had to make do with the Rock Shox. For more convenience, the fork lock switch is installed on the handlebar.
The wheels weigh a total of 4.64 kg, including tires and axles, an acceptable value for this segment. The Deore hubs work on cup and cones but they promise to be very durable. Conti X-King tires are delivered in their cheaper version (Made in India, not Germany), hence the lack of traction on highly inclined sectors. However, I needed a lot of speed to make them slide into corners, and I was quite satisfied by their behavior. In any case, it’s worth replacing them with lighter, better compound tires and you will also have the opportunity of decreasing the weight with 1-200 grams. Not to mention the better grip when you’re riding on steep terrain.
For better control when turning, personally, I would have picked a wider handlebar. The standard 630 mm handlebar is really at its limit, and a 660 mm one would be preferable to further enhance 8S performance on descents. Speaking about controls, I must mention the grips, which I consider to be the most comfortable on the bikes we tested in 2012.
With a huge tuning potential, Stevens 8S comes with a complete package for those who are ready to seriously start mountain biking. It’s in the class of 1,000 euro bikes where fun really starts, but you have to be ready to pay for it. If you’re in for a better price, you should wait for the discount season.