Dream Rides: 2018 Porsche 911 GTS & 2020 Specialized Enduro Expert

Photos AJ Barlas
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Presented By Dunbar Cycles

What posters did you have on your walls as a kid? An Italian supercars of the 80s? A Colin McRae edition WRX? Today's teenagers have even more drool-inducing vehicles to choose from - including modern day Enduro and DH race bikes. While the four-wheeled versions are virtually impossible to acquire, the opportunity to own and ride the same equipment as today's top MTB pros is far more possible. Dream Rides is a column dedicated to the poster-worthy rides out there.

How exactly am I going to justify writing about this? Because I own neither the bike nor the car, it can't be Pistons and Pivots, and really WTH does a car that cost more than 170k CAD have to do with mountain biking? I don't have a clue, but you can bet I wasn't about to turn down the chance to drive the Sea to Sky highway in a 2018 911 with a pair of turbos.


I was a little terrified driving this away from the dealership, but my inner 16-year-old quickly took over.

If you had asked me 6 months ago about the odds of me driving a Porsche Carrera for a couple of days, I would have put them below Kanye's election odds. But my friend Jeremy Schaab, who was at that time the GM of Porsche Vancouver, had a 2018 911 Carrera GTS trade-in that included a rare feature that made it suitable for people like you and I; roof racks capable of carrying a couple of bikes (at over 300 km/h and accelerating them to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds) and he figured it might be a good candidate for Pistons & Pivots. Or something. I immediately said yes to his ridiculously generous offer before he came to his senses. I figured I'd sort out the rest later. Beyond the rack, the part that really had me excited was the 7-speed manual transmission this example was equipped with, like any good sports car should be.


Trucks are convenient, but this isn't a terrible substitute.

While I was keen, I was little nervous about the stick as well. Would the pedal require massive effort? Would the intuition of a sorcerer be required to balance the clutch and gas well enough to get the sweet little jelly bean moving? Before I started driving Toyota Tacoma double cabs, which aren't available in long box with a stick, I only drove 5 speeds, but I'd never driven a Porsche. Alas my fear was entirely misplaced and the clutch was firm but well-balanced and the friction point was consistent and easy to identify. I did stall it once being a little overzealous, but because the car, like most vehicles in Europe, turns the motor off when stopped for more than a second or two, it restarted itself instantaneously after I gave it too much clutch, preventing further embarrassment.


Love the accents. Knock off wheels reduce unsprung weight and make for quick and easy wheel changes at the track.

Early 911s were not known as easy cars to drive, particularly not to drive fast. The rear engine layout biased the weight of those early cars almost 60:40 to the rear. In the words of Vic Elford, a man who had success in Rally, at Lemans, and racing F1; " It’s a car that needs to be gently coaxed, and persuaded, and seduced: but never bullied. Treat it with finesse – everything smooth and gentle, because if you try to bully a 911, it will bite you."

I needn't have worried about getting bitten because this is an incredibly confidence-inspiring machine. The drive-by-wire steering feels direct and precise and gives enough road feel to keep you connected and aware of the trail... errr... road surface. But that steering is doing a little more than normal.


Big brakes on both ends, but bigger up front, just like your mountain bike.

There are Porsche Turbo models (which always have turbo chargers), Porsche S models (which sometimes have turbo chargers), and Porsche GTS models (which currently have two turbo chargers), and Porsche GT3 models (which are currently naturally aspirated along with GT3RS versions). If this doesn't confuse you, there is probably a Porsche in your future. Suffice to say that, while there are faster and more capable versions of the 911, the Carrera GTS is ridiculously fast and nimble. Grip is spectacular and cornering at speeds below 200 km/h is almost comically undramatic. This may be good news or bad, depending on your perspective.


Both A.J. and I thought the wheels had lost anodizing from too many swaps, but we realized afterwards there was a little polish left from detailing and they were pristine.

An element of this calm nature in the twisty bits is Porsche's Dynamic Chassis Control. In the 911 iteration this involves four wheel steering and sensors that prevent the car from awkwardly angling into high G corners. Basically, instead of the body roll you've felt when given'er in every car you've ever driven, sensors keep the car level. This delivers more grip, more composure and next level cornering performance. Even at the GTS level this is optional equipment, and thankfully the previous owner ticked that box. I felt it around the first high speed corner, leaving Vancouver and getting onto the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge. It was noticeable at first but not obtrusive or unpleasant at all.


Subtle racing stripes.

Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control; In simple terms, the tyres and vehicle hold the road better and you can steer through corners faster and in a more relaxed manner. Which is why PDCC sets standards for driving performance, ride comfort – and driving pleasure.

Bring everything you want. All of our bike gear fit in the 'frunk' but we could have put more in the rear seats if we needed to.

Basically this is a race car you can drive to work, but with every luxury you can imagine. Doc Ferdinand would probably roll over in his teutonic grave if he were able to get a load of the bells and whistles included in a modern 911. But times have changed, and there was very little to dislike inside and out of the car I was lucky enough to borrow.


Of course the headlights turn when you turn. This sort of feature is old news for drivers of German cars.

Anyone who appreciates fine machining and beautiful finishes, like you might experience with Chris King Components, would be right at home in a Porsche living room. The original owner chose extras like option 90027; Steering Column Casing with Stitching in XSC Contrasting Thread and option XHH; Gear Lever in Carbon Fiber. It's obvious this guy was a mountain biker.


For years I appreciated the dedication to performance Porsche represented, but I wasn't as enamoured by the aesthetics of the 911. The modern iteration with 20" wheels up front and 21s in the rear acheives a spectacular balance for me and I could look at a car like this all day.


The speed-sensitive whale tail is old news for Porsche, but on most cars it would be a significant development.




The least satisfying element of the modern 911 in my view is the engine compartment. There is very little to fawn over when the rear hatch is opened. This isn't going to be the choice of the home mechanic.


You can however add fuel or oil yourself.


Of all the beautiful precision bits on the car, the polished aluminum inserts on the steering wheel impressed me most.



The dash is uncluttered but all the information you need is there.



The clock is perfection.


Every click is startlingly satisfying. If there is something to turn or press, it has been engineered to be pleasing to the touch.


There is of course no key slot. With the fob in your pocket you simply turn this lovely aluminum dial.


The shifter feels and operates as perfectly as it looks.


Of course the door sills are carbon fibre.


This embossing, on both seats and the centre console, is a $700 option.




I took the whole family for a ride on the first evening we had the Carrera GTS and we happened to pass some friends on the highway. The dog is on my wife's lap and my two teenagers are crammed in the back. I was having no fun at all.


This was my last look at the 911, with a Rocky Mountain Powerplay on the roof to get me back to North Van during deep Covid.


2020 Specialized Enduro Expert

When I told Rob from Dunbar Cycles we wanted to shoot a bike with a Porsche, a black 911 with red accents, he had just the bike. A shiny new 2020 Specialized Enduro with a unique paint job. It first appears to be black or maybe unpainted carbon, but closer examination reveals red highlights activated at the correct angle.


I haven't ridden the new Enduro, and that isn't entirely accidental. Everyone I know who rides one seems to want one immediately and I have more than enough bike lust right now. This is one of those bikes that people in the industry talk about and even the most jaded expert riders want to get their mitts on. As a result demand was outstripping supply even before the whole global pandemic got rolling.


My two best riding buddies are now on this bike and I've noticed both of them getting faster. Which is annoying. This is clearly one of the most capable long travel 'enduro' bikes available at the moment. The Elite model isn't quite as swanky as the S-Works but it gives away little in performance while saving you a whack of cash.





Pairing this bike with this automobile got me thinking about the two passions and how they compare. One thing I realized is that both of these vehicles are made to allow you to squeeze maximum performance out of your physique. I have never raced or driven cars on a closed course, but I have done some bike riding and racing without speed limits or performance barriers. And pretty much every time I go for a ride I'm able to push my bike as far as I'm willing to go. Driving the Carrera GTS between Vancouver and Squamish, a spectacularly curvaceous stretch of road, at times felt like riding DH bike on a sidewalk even when I exceeded the posted limit some. This was a car that needed track time which got me thinking about the cost comparison of these two high performance pursuits.


Fortunately I have two friends who ride and race mountain bikes and who also race and drive their cars on the track. My friend Mark is a member at a private track in B.C.'s Okanagan region known as area 27. But he drives elsewhere as well, as he explained; "But tracks get boring, and learning a new track is super fun, so you will end up doing track days different places even if you ponied up for a private track membership. You’re gonna ride outside the bike park even if you have a seasons pass, basically."



The info Mark provided is too detailed and interesting not to share, so here's how he laid out the costs of driving a car like the 911 GTS at a track. And remember, this does not include the price of the car.

Let’s lay it out like this, and assume we’re talking about tracking a street car: no matter what used car you start with (Cayman, Mustang, Corvette, 911, M car, etc) if you want something that "feels fast" you’re looking at 300+ HP and is reasonably modern. You’re gonna be in it for $50-$75k for anything that ticks those boxes, IMO. An old Miata is its own class, basically, and while they’re fun as hell they’re not fast. People feverishly debate that it can be done for half that, but they are wrong. You will need quality suspension, brakes, etc, whether or not they came in the car and by the time you’re done dealing with whatever you skimped on in the initial purchase it all averages out to around $75k. Running costs for this sort of car, no matter the badge on the hood, will be roughly the same. My experience is it’s rare for anyone to do more than 20 track days a year. Even that is a lot. Like, really a lot. But let’ say you’re ambitious it’s a useful number because at 20+ days you will see a full “duty cycle” on ALL the consumables so you get a bit of a worst case for your wallet situation.

  • $6000 - $300 x 20 - admission (or club fees)
  • $4000 - $200 x 20 - two tanks of fuel a day, easy
  • $12000 - $3000 x 4 - tires (more is doable but pushing it, so I’m saying 4 days to be safe)
  • $800 - $200 x 4 - oil
  • $300 - brake fluid swap at start of season
  • $500 - $250 x twice a season - brake pads
  • $2500 - brake rotor

I’m ignoring services costs that are just part of owning but not tracking a sports car.
Total: $26000. $1300/day. In reality you’re probably not gonna do a fully duty cycle of everything because you probably won’t do 20 days in a year, which is why I ballpark it at $1000/day.
Do you add depreciation?

  • $5000k/year - minimal viable depreciation assuming the car wasn’t brand new, this could easily be 4X that..
  • +$5000/year - I want the stickiest street tires, Trofeo Rs, mofos!
  • $1000/year - safety gear is a wear item too!
  • $1000 ooooh new lap timer with predictive capabilities!

So it could easily be $40k/year or $2k/day.

My guess is the average track enthusiast does 12-18 days, learns how to get 5 or 6 days out of tires, and can stretch pad and rotor life out, etc, and therefore it’s $1000/day for a slower car and $1500/day for a fast car pushing hard sometimes but not al the time, $2000/day if you’re hot shit trying to set lap records in a GT3RS every session.

$15k-$25k / year feels like it would be pretty typical to go play on the track.


My friend Tim Coleman, whose name you may recognize, was just on his way to be a guest at Area 27 when I spoke to him, He does things differently and on a tighter budget. He races autocross, which is basically racing through a complicated pattern of cones on a large area of tarmac, and does a few track days a year. His car is a Honda S2000 and it's lighter and less complicated than a 911 and less expensive to run and repair. As Tim puts it, cars like his or the Mazda Miata are, "not great for dick measuring at the pub, not great for red light drag races, but a ton of fun and fast on a track in the right hands." He figures he spends around $3000 a year by driving his car to and from events and using street legal tires for Autocross, and urging them past their optimal lifespan.


Just a little something to think about the next time you're pondering how expensive mountain biking is. Driving up to Squamish in the 911 with our bikes on the roof was a great way to spend the day. Getting my hands on that fresh Enduro would have made it even better! Thanks to Porsche Centre Vancouver for the car and to Dunbar/Corsa Cycles for the bike!

The 911 is still available at this link if you are interested.

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+6 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major AJ Barlas Beau Miller Todd Hellinga ChocolateThunder

Aaaaand this is why I just go to Dirtfish and flog other people's cars. 

$1,000-1,300 per day. No capital cost. Fully covered by insurance if you bin it in to the ditch. Fully caged. Comes equipped with human in right seat to yell at you to do it better. 

Not included: infinite frustration of driving a fast car at 1/10th of its abilities 99% of the time.


+2 Cam McRae Cooper Quinn

I want to Dirt Fish so badly. We were in touch once upon a time, I'd better dig up that email...


+4 Cam McRae Pete Roggeman AJ Barlas ChocolateThunder

Maybe for the next nsmb social?? Settle this for once and all..



Sure but we won't be picking up the tab on that one!



Hahhaa. Sounds like a hella humbling experience. Count me in!


+4 Angu58 Dan Pete Roggeman Cam McRae AJ Barlas Beau Miller

Seriously good article Cam.

I've been a car/truck enthusiast almost as long as I've been a bike enthusiast, and I've also been a tightwad about it for 99% of the time. The idea of tracking a car is amazing, and then the reality sets in that there is really no cheap way to do it. Even autocross eats through tires/suspension/brakes due to the very aggressive turning and braking - you're either 100% on the throttle, 100% on the brakes, or 100% turning (within traction limits of course). Outside of that, you're relegated to driving a quicker car on the streets and trying not to be too much of a dick about it.

But on the 4x4 truck side, I would compare that much more closely to MTB. We have managed to find cheaper ways to build 4x4s and wheel them pretty hard on technical PNW trails. Some would call this "rockcrawling", and the trails are definitely rocky, but it's just PNW 4-wheeling to everyone around here. Compare this to building a decently good MTB from parts, or buying a previous year mid-range MTB and then pushing it to a decent level of performance for a weekend warrior. It's all about having fun in the woods for me.


+3 Angu58 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

I would also say that the progression/evolution of MTB and 4x4 are pretty closely matched. I started playing with trucks in the late 90s, and everything was pretty rudimentary with mediocre performance at best. There was a bit of aftermarket upgrades but not cheap and easy to attain for a young broke kid. I got into BMX as a kid in the 90s, and MTB in the early 2000s, when bikes were starting to get pretty darn good (2003 Kona Stinky Deelux FTW). Nowadays, you can buy something off the shelf for both hobbies and get right onto the trail the same day. Or if you're building a truck, parts are much cheaper and simpler to bolt-on with little mechanical or fabrication know-how. The barriers to entry are much lower as long as you can afford it.


+3 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae Pnwpedal

Good observation! There was a recent post on Jalopnik where the journo took a stock Jeep Rubicon from the Hertz rental lot out to Windrock ORV and had a blast. Can't imagine doing that 20 years ago. Lotta good bikes these days, and a lot of capable factory-built offroaders, too.



We're definitely spoiled with all the information and ease of shopping online. Want to get into MTB? Read some articles and reviews online, buy a great bike and some gear online, watch some how-to videos, install Trailforks, and go riding.


+1 Pnwpedal

Great points!


+4 Pnwpedal Cory Booker Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

Then there are go karts. Costs seem wildly cheap comparing them to the track and autocross cross and they’re a bucket load of fun!


+4 Dan Pete Roggeman Cam McRae AJ Barlas

Great article and amazing photos! Those early 911 turbos were a real handful to control on the track. As a previous Porsche owner, was invited to the old Westwood race track back in the late 80's to learn the limits of our vehicles. Lost the rear end several times when exiting the hairpin and 360'd on to the grass run out... good times! The new models are much more driver friendly.


+4 Cam McRae AJ Barlas Pete Roggeman Kerry Williams

Post covid, you guys should organize an auto/bike show and shine at cartes park or something of that nature with that local exotic car dealer.


+3 Dan Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

There's also moto trackdays which IMO is a more visceral experience. About $200 bucks per day in Mission with WMRC, obviously more with fancier tracks like Area 27 or the Ridge. Outside of liter-class sportbikes, most don't burn through gas, brakes, or tires nearly as quick. 

I run a 650 twin (Suzuki SV), and they're quite cheap on consumables in general. At novice-intermediate pace you can pretty much run street tires, or even sport-touring tires. Ninja 250s are even cheaper to run.


+3 Pete Roggeman Luix Beau Miller

Nice to see CenterLock on the Porsche. 

That Enduro is grossly under shocked.


+3 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Cam McRae

I really enjoyed this article! Nice to see the cost comparison at the end. I used to do some drifting back in the day just with janky cars and tires sourced from the local tire shop's discard bin in the dead of night. It was still expensive with such junk cars. Biking has an amazing cost to adrenaline ratio.


+1 Velocipedestrian

I like the cost:adrenaline ratio concept. Nice one!


+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

Another great post, Cam. Despite (or perhaps because of) the myriad configurations and dizzying array of option$ on modern Porsches (That's two syllables, people. Pushes glass up.) the classic 911 silhouette just gets better and better with each iteration. What I wouldn't give for some windshield time on the Sea to Sky Highway in any 911... 

Two small observations: I had a '91 or '92 Stumpjumper M2 S Works that had a very similar paint job. I *think* it was called Black Cherry. There was a very subtle metallic red flake glint that was visible at certain angles. Second - the carbon door sill photo - isn't that the carbon trim on the dash above the glovebox? (Pushes glasses up for a second time.)


0 Pete Roggeman satn

Good eyes, Dan. Yes, that is the carbon trim across the top of the glove compartment. This thing had all the carbon though, it was everywhere, including the door sills.


+2 Pete Roggeman Cam McRae

I really enjoy the fact the rpm dial is the focus of the dash and the speed is secondary. Porsche’s priorities are always on track with the 911. 🙂


+2 Cam McRae AJ Barlas

It's that way in all their models. Heres a Boxster S.

*maybe not the SUVs. Correct me if i'm wrong.



That’s precisely why I kept it to the 911. I don’t know about the SUVs.



Macan is same way (tach in middle). I assume the Cayenne is too, then.


+1 SixZeroSixOne

Firstly, I love to argue about mountain biking being expensive (when there are myriad other domestic things that get in the way of me buying my first new bike in 10years *sobsob) even if you're measuring it against a super car habit. 

Also, surely I can't be the only person to read this article and notice that the bars of the Enduro are off kilter to the fork! I love the paint finish but that's a fireable offence!


+1 Pete Roggeman

Absolutely loved this article Cam. Love the series in fact. My buddy and I talk about this topic all the time. When I start thinking about getting a sports car, I start thinking about the consumables and maintenance in general, and then I look at my Insitnct BC that reguarly gets beaten up down mtb trails 2 times a week. Bikes are such a bargain but they seem expensive. People who own side by sides are constantly repairing them, motos and quads always need gas, bikes can be ridden as hard as we feel comfortable pushing them and they always encourage more. I was lucky enough to drive a Porsche 911 GT3 at a track in Vegas a couple years ago and I will never forget how cool and once in a lifetime that experience was. But, it pales in comparison to riding my bike and slide around and hit rock sections with your buddies hooting and hollering all around you. All that said, I would jump at the chance to drive another Porsche, they are unreal cars. Thank you Cam.


+1 Pete Roggeman

Mmhmm snowmobiles are the only motorized sport I've had experience with and they make mtbing look cheap too. Add the logistics of storing/transporting, and lining up the good weather days with good partners to go with means its hard to get the same fun per dollar as a mtb.



What kind of roof rack can you trust a 10k bike with while driving a Porsche up the sea to sky highway?


+2 AJ Barlas Timer

I didn't even look at that! I just trusted my bike and my wife's bike on top and drove like the roof was bare!


+2 Cam McRae Timer

Pretty sure that's a Yakima. We can check though.

Edit: yep, Yakima High Road. My review here: https://nsmb.com/articles/yakima-racks-dr-tray-and-high-road/



"There are Porsche Turbo models (which always have turbo chargers)"

Haha... except, and this one really irritates me... the Taycan Turbo S.  Nothing even close to a turbo in that monster.

I love it... but why Porsche, why!!



“Turbo” is a trim level, not an engine add-on guarantee.



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A much cheaper way to have fun at the track is on a motorcycle as it has a lower cost of entry, lower cost of consumables, typically lower track fees, etc. However, when things go wrong, the potential for hurt is much higher than in a steel box - aka car. From my perspective, the motorcycle is way more fun.



Honestly I was more interested in the car. Maybe that’s because Porsches are truly amazing, and Specialized has not only not been innovating, but actually avoiding improvements proven to be advantageous. I would not lump these 2 together. I feel like Unno should have been paged for this one. I scrolled right past all the Spec stuff - just uninspiring (no fault of the author).



I love to argue about mountain biking being expensive (when there are myriad other domestic things that get in the way of me buying my first new bike in 10years *sobsob) even if you're measuring it against a super car habit.

Also, surely I can't be the only person to read this article and notice that the bars of the Enduro are off kilter to the fork! I love the paint finish but that's a fireable offence! TelltheBell


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