Editors’ Selection: Our Favourite Mountain Bikes Examined in 2020
This has been an uncommon 12 months, to say the least. Whereas our employees hasn’t been capable of journey as a lot as we might have preferred, we nonetheless managed to check greater than 25 nice mountain bikes over the previous ten months. Wanting again, these are those that impressed us essentially the most.
Canyon Spectral AL 5.0
Regardless of the Canyon Spectral being one of many least costly bikes I examined in 2020, it was additionally one among my favorites. From the second the bike field arrived on my porch, the method of getting the bike totally assembled and dialed went easily. All the packaging and supplied supplies are consumer-friendly in a manner that’s certain to provide on-line mountain bike consumers confidence.
We’ve spent the previous few years writing about manufacturers bringing 29er wheels to each possible platform as a result of greater wheels are extra secure, or quicker, or simply “higher.” My private mountain bike secure has been totally 29er since 2009, so it’s bizarre to confess I had a lot enjoyable using this 27.5-inch-wheeled bike.
The Spectral climbs effectively, which isn’t stunning given the truth that it’s a path bike. Nonetheless, the truth that the bike manages to tame 150mm of rear journey when issues get pedally, and doesn’t really feel weighed down by the aluminum body, is spectacular.
On descents the Spectral presents gobs of journey for path using, preserving the rider in management by way of tough, quick descents whereas providing simply sufficient additional insurance coverage for surprising, huge hits. The entrance finish of the suspension curve feels completely groovy; whether or not climbing or descending, small bumps have a tendency to simply disappear. And as a lot as I hate to confess it, the 27.5″ wheels add to the general enjoyable, playful nature of the bike and not using a noticeable hit on buzzy ideas like stability and roll-ability. This 12 months, mountain biking ought to simply be enjoyable, and I discovered the Canyon Spectral was simply the appropriate bike for the second.
Fezzari Delano Peak
Fezzari dropped their Delano Peak in July giving riders an choice between their different two full-carbon, full-suspension MTBs. In between the Sign Peak and the La Sal Peak, the Delano has 135mm of rear journey with a 150mm fork and really trendy geometry. The 29er path bike has a 77.5° seat tube angle and a 65° head tube angle. In a medium, the Delano Peak has 455mm of attain and a 1209mm wheelbase. The geometry is appropriate sufficient for enduros, however not sluggish on the paths it’s meant for.
Fezzari knocked the construct kits and worth out of the ball park on the Delano Peak. Riders can squeeze right into a well-equipped construct with DVO suspension, Shimano SLX elements, a TranzX dropper publish, and respectable wheels for $3,500. Particulars like 800mm handlebars, a Maxxis Aggressor within the rear, and a Minion DHF up entrance let consumers know that the corporate is aware of find out how to spec an aggressive path bike.
Worth and construct specs apart, the Delano Peak is a blast to experience. It’s not essentially the most environment friendly climber however could make it up chopped-out ridges with ease and quite a lot of traction. The path bike maintains a really affordable weight even with the decrease construct equipment, and it’s straightforward to throw round and dive over jumps with. For a snappier model of the Delano, I’d spend slightly bit extra for the Elite Race construct. For $5,500, riders web a Shimano XT groupset, full Fox suspension, and ENVE wheels.
Mondraker Cunning RR
When the Mondraker Foxy RR first whispers in your ear you’ll hear, “shimmy ahead for balanced traction and stability.” Like a stinging nettle, this bike tells you the place and find out how to contact it. The dimensions medium’s 470mm attain and 435mm chain stays make for a fantasticly effectively behaved race machine, as soon as the pilot learns the place to put their weight.
The Cunning made my quick record for 2020 as a result of it’s a enjoyable bike to experience, however much more so as a result of it’s distinctive. Sure, it’s one other long-travel 29er, with 150/160mm of journey, but it surely doesn’t really feel fairly just like the others. There’s a enjoyable, snappy character to the unbalanced geometry that dumps some hot-sauce on acquainted trails. I discovered myself having fun with a steeper close by lunch loop extra on this whip than most others, because the descent felt new and nuanced. As soon as we had been totally acquainted, the frisky aspect of the Cunning got here to mild that may be elusive or nonexistent on comparable long-travel bikes.
Ascending aboard the Cunning falls some place in the course of a supported-to-bobby scale, and so long as the shock is locked it’s good to go. The seat tube angle isn’t depraved steep at 75.5°, and the suspension platform is overtly linear, so a strong “climb change” is clutch with this one.
If I had been going to race the Cunning, I’d go for the longer journey alloy Superfoxy mannequin that has a 160mm rear axle path. The additional centimeter of journey would enable for a broader vary to tune the development curve and may enable for a coil shock with a progressive spring. Aside from the single-ply tires, this RR construct is extra race-ready than any of the opposite bikes I examined this season, and it was a pleasure to experience even with out all of that tape and timers. The XT brakes present a stunning quantity of energy for his or her weight, and the suspension tune has been rigorously dialed to go down.
So there’s a theme. This season I obtained to check a load of lengthy journey 29″ bikes that had been designed for enduro racing. That theme is curated by what bikes can be found, the terrain I want to experience, and a want to create a diversified evaluate combine with our different editors.
Whereas I’m nonetheless testing the Privateer 161, it has rapidly turn into one of the enjoyable bikes that I’ve just lately ridden. It has a grounded grip-grabbing demeanor on descents that speaks to its racing pedigree, and with the Formulation Mod coil that I just lately swapped within the traction feels countless on this bike. Whereas the geometry leans ahead, much like that of the Cunning, the 161 presents extra secure descending sensations — doubtlessly making it a greater bike for all-out racing.
The bike has an 80° efficient seat tube angle. Yup, 80°. Not a typo. The steep dropper makes the 161’s lengthy attain really feel notably quick whereas climbing and it’s straightforward to maintain the entrance tire weighted within the grime, free from wandering. It additionally permits riders who would in any other case slam their saddle ahead on lengthy/slack bikes to dial in saddle placement over a wider vary of the rails. On flat trails, the upright place can really feel slightly unusual initially, however we’ll get to extra of that within the coming evaluate.
Tire clearance and cable routing on the 161 had been clearly designed by somebody kind the UK, the place a day within the slop is simply one other day. The seat keep bridge is skinny, with no floor space to gather mud, and the chain keep clearance is about as open as it might probably get. Cable housing and hoses are held tightly to the body, making for a quiet and tidy exterior routing association over the alloy body.
We’ll have this bike round for one more few months earlier than swapping the elements over to the model’s 141 mannequin, so preserve a watch out for the forthcoming evaluate.
Whereas nearly each new bike has manufacturers claiming that their bike climbs prefer it has 25% much less journey, I’ve discovered that declare extra based on Pivot’s revised Switchblade. No, it’s not an ideal bike. Extra consumers would seemingly contemplate shopping for it as a frameset if the rear finish weren’t spaced for SuperBoost 157. Extra consumers would seemingly contemplate shopping for the Switchblade if it wasn’t as costly; pricing for the frameset is $4,100 and full builds begin at $5,500. With that value, it higher be good and thankfully, the Switchblade delivers.
Pivot classifies the Switchblade as one among its two enduro bikes, with the Firebird as their longer-travel enduro bike. The Switchblade has 142mm of rear journey and comes with a 160mm fork. It’s enduro-capable and confirmed by Eddie Masters, and what I preferred concerning the bike most is that it evokes confidence for almost something on the way in which down, however climbs with the vitality and pep of 120mm journey bikes I’ve ridden.
The Switchblade rockets up the hill, is alive when climbing and negotiating between thick-wooded singletrack, and retains its energetic really feel on the descents. The 66° HTA provides it exact steering and the Switchblade snaps to consideration when you have to rapidly change course. It’s mild and stiff and has a playful character and it pops off kickers and roots with ease. Often bikes this succesful are a dread to climb with and lose a few of their liveliness downhill, however the Switchblade balances these traits extraordinarily effectively.
If a hardtail mountain bike prices simply shy of $8,000, it higher be superb. The Sage Powerline does, and it’s.
Apart from being a pleasure to experience on the whole lot from buff, XC-style trails to extra technical, gnarly stuff, the Powerline is the type of bike a rider buys, and holds onto for an extended, very long time. In spite of everything, essentially the most progressive bike at this time is only a stepping stone to tomorrow’s subsequent huge factor. The Powerline is sort of a model new home with all the trendy conveniences of at this time, however the traditional styling of a Nineteen Twenties craftsman bungalow. It’s concurrently trendy and traditional, and I find it irresistible.
The titanium body is exceptionally effectively crafted with a pure end and stylish, refined graphics. Patrons can run a dropper publish and tires as much as 2.5″ broad, and builds characteristic trendy touches just like the Sage-branded, stubby saddle. Swapping only a few elements can take this body from XC race machine, to on a regular basis path rider, to bikepacking chariot and again once more. When different bikes are not value upgrading, the Sage Powerline will nonetheless be part of riders’ stables, prepared and keen for a brand new set of tack.
Santa Cruz Megatower C
The Hillside Singers recorded a jingle in 1971 expressing their want to “purchase the world a Coke.” If given a swimming pool full of gems, I’d love to avoid wasting everybody these dental payments and purchase the world a Megatower. Practically anybody may benefit from the bike’s straightforward adaptability and customarily enjoyable path demeanor. This was my favourite take a look at bike of 2020 by a sliver.
I spent some completely satisfied days within the bike park aboard the Megatower and loved numerous lunch rides at house. The bike’s 29″ wheels pair effectively with 160mm of balanced journey to create a succesful platform that my abilities and guts may by no means discover the bounds of. With enduro-race-inspired geometry and a construct meant to maintain up, this bike may comfortably take the place of a various quiver if it needed to. I really like bikes that may do all of it, and the Megatower’s low weight alongside its tendency to provide again what the rider places in makes it enjoyable on any path. The distinction between plow and play on the Megatower is just a few minor suspension changes.
Some new take a look at bikes really feel homey and simple to experience from the leap, whereas others ask us to strive a special using fashion on for the day. The Megatower falls arduous within the easy-rider class. When the shock’s low-speed change is clicked closed the bike spins uphill in lockstep with the very best long-travel machines, and the inventory RockShox coil presents ample help in a dash.
This isn’t a “race solely” whip underneath the pull of gravity. Whereas professional shredders like Iago Garay haven’t any hassle piloting it at turbo pace, the platform doesn’t require that pace and talent to be loved. In truth, the Megatower has such a flexible descending character that I’d decide it first for a steep and rowdy backcountry bikepacking tour. It’s the form of bike that can surprisingly prevent from drained errors late within the day. Oh, and it seems rattling good in that USFS, after-dinner mint paint job.
That’s it for 2020. Keep tuned for one more 25+ bike opinions subsequent season!