4 of the Finest New Mountain Bikes of 2020
No section of biking has been formed by so many fads and false begins as mountain biking. We’ve seen the rise and fall of fats and plus-size bikes, whereas wheel sizes proceed to maneuver out and in of style. To not point out part and body requirements which have the life expectancy of a mayfly. Whereas these adjustments might be befuddling and exhausting, there are actual improvements going down that make trendy mountain bikes extra succesful and extra enjoyable than ever earlier than.
Most of the rigs at Outdoors’s 2020 bike take a look at have been case research within the newest geometry and suspension expertise. A few of these improvements will stick round; others could line the dustbin of mountain-bike historical past. Quite than getting misplaced within the tech, we requested our testers to give attention to how these bikes made them really feel. Did they encourage confidence? Did they go sooner? Did they’ve enjoyable? What number of hoots and hollers did they elicit on the paths we have been tackling in northwest Arkansas?
These 4 bikes stood out from the sector.
Pivot Mach 4 SL ($10,399)
The Mach 4 SL is on the forefront of the most recent era of cross-country race bikes designed for World Cup competitors. In contrast to the fire-road cross-country programs of years passed by, at present’s races are as technically difficult as they’re aerobically draining.
This providing from Pivot rises to the problem with a light-weight carbon body, progressive geometry, and Fox’s Stay Valve suspension system. This electronically managed suspension depends on a sequence of sensors to regulate efficiency for max pedaling effectivity. Stay Valve reacts to rocks and roots 100 occasions sooner than a blink of a watch. On the path, this technique is completely forgettable—in the very best approach. Our testers have been free to dash up climbs and plunge down descents with out fascinated with flipping lockout levers.
Past the spectacular suspension, the Mach 4 SL is completely different from different cross-country whippets for its geometry, which is extra according to path bikes than twitchy cross-country race rigs. This makes it an excellent possibility for racers who desire a bike that’s enjoyable to experience past the boundaries of the normal cross-country scene.
Santa Cruz Tallboy ($10,399)
The venerable Tallboy was one of many first “wagon wheelers” that transformed 29er skeptics into acolytes. The primary three generations of the bike straddled the road between cross-country and short-travel path bikes. Now in its fourth incarnation, the Tallboy has left its cross-country roots within the mud. It provides up a little bit of pedaling efficiency and provides a number of grams to its body in trade for improved traction and sturdiness when ridden to its restrict.
On paper, the Tallboy’s geometry seems extra like an enduro rig than a path bike, with simply 120 millimeters of suspension and a 130-millimeter fork. The mix makes for an attention-grabbing experience. With its slack 65.5-degree headtube angle, it should carry you thru the identical sort of terrain as longer-travel path bikes, simply don’t count on to barrel by rock gardens with the identical stage of consolation.
The Tallboy appealed to 2 very completely different teams of riders in our take a look at. Intermediates discovered the lengthy wheelbase and slack entrance finish reassuring in terrain they’d have thought twice about on different bikes. Knowledgeable-level shredders pushed it to the restrict and got here away grinning at how a lot they may get away with on such a short-travel bike.
Yeti SB140 ($7,399)
Greater than three-quarters of the 24 mountain bikes on this yr’s take a look at featured 29-inch wheels. The velocity and rollover advantages of huge wheels are plain. However generally there’s extra to having enjoyable than rushing headlong down the path. That’s the area of interest that Yeti’s 27.5-inch SB140 seeks to fill.
The SB140 sports activities a 160-millimeter fork, with 140 millimeters of rear suspension, and sits between Yeti’s shorter-travel SB130 and the enduro-focused SB150, each of that are shod in 29-inch wheels.
Like all of Yeti’s mountain bikes, the center of the SB140’s efficiency is the Change Infinity suspension system, which permits the primary pivot to maneuver because the suspension runs by its journey. In doing so, Yeti is ready to steadiness environment friendly pedaling efficiency with ground-hugging traction in a approach that few of its opponents can match.
Our riders famous that we’re at some extent the place 27.5-inch wheels generally is a refreshing change. We discovered ourselves searching for out each alternative to pump by turns, enhance off rocks and roots, and catch air on each alt line the singletrack served up. For those who’ve grown uninterested in large wheels, or when you grew up driving BMX, you’ll most likely get pleasure from each minute on the SB140.
Specialised Enduro Elite ($5,310)
The Enduro Elite was one of many longest-legged bikes on this yr’s take a look at. Boasting 170 millimeters of entrance and rear suspension and a 63.9-degree head angle, it lives as much as its moniker as a purpose-built enduro race bike.
Admittedly, a lot of the terrain in our Arksansas proving grounds was higher suited to mountain bikes with suspension numbers within the vary of 120 to 150 millimeters. Even so, the Enduro Elite’s well-rounded demeanor and spectacular climbing means shined in distinction to most of the different bikes within the class. Whereas it was a succesful climber, this bike actually got here into its personal in expertise parks and on the downhill we rode in Eureka Springs. Over jumps, down drops, and thru rowdy rock gardens, it outpaced almost each different long-travel bike in our take a look at.
Quite a few testers commented on how extremely balanced this heavy hitter was. The Enduro Elite has a really impartial really feel, making it straightforward to coax it into motion with out exaggerating actions and expending extra vitality. It’s a superb alternative for aggressive path riders who spend time exterior of the bike park incomes their descents.
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Lead Photograph: Justin VanAlstyne