Every two or three years you can expect to see prototype bikes in development rolling around races and trade shows, but that timeline seems to have slowed down if we recap what bikes we anticipated getting an update by now. That could be due to a couple of reasons, but the ones that stand out the most in my mind are the rate of change in geometry, and of course, covid supply constraints.
Look at our most recent Field Test from Bellingham, which was filled with the latest and greatest enduro bikes. I wouldn’t say the geometry was the same because there were one or two outliers, but the numbers throughout the tests bikes were very, very close.
Secondly, the worldwide pandemic slowed the production of components, mainly drivetrain parts, which meant that bike brands were/are caught in a stalemate. They sat eagerly waiting for the parts to catch up in order to launch a new bike.
Santa Cruz V10
Whether it was planned or not, Santa Cruz stormed into 2022 by uncorking a bottleneck of new bike releases: the Heckler, Megatower, Nomad, Hightower, 5010, and most recently, the Tallboy, all received updates. One bike absent from that list is the V10. The 29” version was officially launched back in Dec of 2018, and the mixed wheel version launched in July 2020.
Aside from a few tweaks to the kinematics and geometry via machined alloy components, the carbon frame members haven’t undergone any changes since then. It’s not like either bike has slowed down their riders, though, with Jackson Goldstone grabbing multiple first-place finishes. Even so, don't be surprised to see Santa Cruz release a new-ish V10 soon.
Commencal Meta P003.1 and Flame (?)
This one seems like a dead giveaway. Commencal appears to be remodeling its full suspension lineup to mimic what they learned from the success of their latest downhill bike. They’ve already hooked us with the bait about a new Meta
, but we’ve seen Commencal affiliate, Cecile Ravanel, rocking a shorter travel whip too, coaching Pauline Ferrand-Prevot through racing lines on World Cup Cross-Country courses.
Considering that Commencal just released the mixed-wheeled Meta SX, it's unclear how that line will evolve since no statistics on the prototype have been shared. The Andorran brand only builds their frames with aluminum tubing, meaning their turnaround time from paper to production could be much shorter than carbon competitors, but I wouldn't be surprised to see both layouts in the program for 2023.
Specialized Demo, Enduro, and Kenevo
Another juggernaut in the gravity world of mountain bikes is Specialized, who have yet to fully unveil their prototype downhill bike. Finn Iles clinched his first World Cup win onboard a prototype
at the 2022 Mont St. Anne World Cup while his teammate, Loic Bruni, locked down his fifth World Championship win using the current Demo. The new platform looks vastly different from the current 4-bar, FSR design which arrived on the scene in 2020.
Likewise, their Enduro model could be in line for an update as well. We don’t expect too many changes there, though, since it uses a finely tuned suspension layout and already has a SWAT box, but it could take on more geometry adjustments like its sibling with a motor, the Kenevo SL.
Speaking of eMTBs, the full-powered Kenevo has also been around since 2019. A carbon version of this monster e-bike with an updated motor and battery system would surely shed some weight.
Devinci launched the Spartan HP last year and we spotted an aluminum mule at Crankworx
under freerider, Cam Zink, that likely has more than 160mm of travel. They weren’t afraid to show off a prototype of the Wilson with an idler through the end of 2019 either.
Currently, the Canadian brand makes the aluminum frame components of the Wilson in their Quebec factory, but that 29er-only bike hasn’t seen a product revision since launching in 2019.
Norco Aurum, and Sight
Another Canadian brand that is still invested in downhill bikes and isn’t afraid to build aluminum prototypes. We’ve seen two-time Canadian National Champ and Norco engineer, Kirk McDowall
, pilot exactly one of those project bikes
to three top-40 World Cup finishes this season. It’s likely that this is a new Aurum, Norco’s dedicated downhill bike, which is different from the reconfigured Range their team has been rocking at World Cups for the last two seasons.
Norco’s popular 150mm-travel Sight could also be going under the knife to see some changes. The mid-travel enduro bike’s capabilities are hard to fault, but if it did receive and update it's not hard to imagine it going through a high-pivot transformation like the Range did.
Scott Gambler and Ransom
I loved when Scott owned the infamous “looks like a Session” comment, referring to the similarities between their Gambler and Trek’s downhill bike, and then turned it into a bike giveaway contest. That was impressive, but so is the bike’s 35 lb weight.
Where do you go from there? The Gambler already has two sets of flip-chips that let you run either rear wheel size and change the suspension’s progression. We’ve seen Scott play around with pulleys and high pivots
at the start of that trend, but it’s doubtful much more weight could be shed.
Another model due which has remained the same since 2020 is their 170mm travel Ransom. One way this svelte-looking, long-travel enduro bike could change would be more integration. Scott pulled that move with their cross-country bike, the Spark, by hiding the rear shock in the seat tube/bottom bracket junction - fellow Pinkbike tech editor and PBR mechanic, Henry Quinney, would love nothing more.
Now we know that the Grim Donut V2
must be the fastest, most capable bike in the world, but might it actually be the new Pivot Phoenix in disguise? Definitely not. Would a new Phoenix receive a vertically mounted shock and get the geometry stretched a little further? Most likely.
As it sits now, Pivot’s downhill rig is the last in their family to receive a new suspension layout. The sizing also tops out at a 485mm reach on the extra-large, which lines up with most manufacturers' large frames now.
August 2018 is a long time ago, but Yeti was on the pulse and the SB150 is still pulling podiums at Enduro World Series events. It’s taken roughly four years to spot a new iteration of the iconic turquoise enduro bike, but there was this version floating around the Crans-Montana EWS pits
. Surely, it will be slacker, and longer, but how much more expensive can it get?
I would have guessed the second version of the SB150 would use the impressive 6-bar suspension found on the 160E eMTB, but I’ve been wrong before. Whatever the moniker is on this new Yeti, it still uses the Switch Infinity system.
The largest producer of bicycles in the world seems to be softly leading up to a new Glory downhill bike. We’ve spotted plenty of prototype models at World Cups over the last few years, but they haven’t produced an updated version since 2018. That was a time when 27.5” front wheels were still in use at World Cups.
With stand-out, seasoned veterans like Rémi Thirion, Giant isn’t sitting still though - just taking their time. Downhill is only a drop in the bucket compared to the number of units sold in other segments, so I wouldn’t expect to see the investment in a carbon frame. Clearly, the prototypes Thirion has been racing were updated since that 2018 model and 2023 could bring along a new kind of Glory.