As we recently discussed on Episode 39 of the Pinkbike Podcast
, bike brands generally work on 24 to 36-month product cycles for their bikes. While bikes will normally get new specs and colour options each season, after three years it generally feels like time for a refresh. Whether trends have moved on or new standards have come in, brands want to make sure their models are as up to date as possible to be better options for customers.
This is not a hard and fast rule. Some brands, especially those that deal mainly with aluminum frames, work on continuous updates of their bikes, taking them out of the traditional model year format. In some cases, brands will actually work on shorter time frames. Some bikes that were released in 2018 were updated in 2020, just a two-year cycle, some examples would be the Specialized Stumpjumper
and its Evo counterpart
, the Devinci Troy
and the Santa Cruz 5010
. On the other hand, some bikes last longer than that and are still successful long into their lifespan, such as the Scott Spark
that was so progressive for its time it continues to be relevant today.
In an attempt to predict some new bikes that may be coming in 2021, I've gone back to 2017 and 2018 to work out which bikes may be at the end of their cycle and ready for a refresh. To be clear, I don't know anything about any of the bikes listed. I'm not a tech editor and I have been siloed off from any editor who may have some knowledge of any upcoming bikes - there's a good chance a couple editors are privy to specific details that they aren't able to discuss at this time. Nor is this a comment on the performance of any bike listed, I'm not qualified to make those claims and besides, two of them have just won World Championships and the rest are still all as good as the day they were released. The methodology was as simple as going back through our archives and going, "Huh, haven't seen that updated in a while." With that out of the way, let's see what could be in the pipeline for 2021.
Intense's Tracer has apparently been its most popular bike since its inception in 1999. It has been through various guises, but this long-travel, 27.5" carbon bike was released in early 2017 with the 29" wheel Carbine coming later in the year
. The bike has a stunning looking frame and was designed in collaboration with Cesar Rojo and the Cero Design studio and is something we'd love to see continued if it gets updated again soon.
Polygon Xquare One
One of the more eye-catching and radical bikes we've seen in the past few years, the Polygon Xquare One definitely turned some heads when it was released in 2017. At the heart of the bike is the Darrel Voss' Naild R3act that was claimed to give incredible pedalling performance despite the bike's 180m travel.
Polygon later introduced a downhill bike with the same system
and is still selling the bike (although we notice Marin has dropped its version
from its product range). Will we see a modernised variant of this bike or can we expect something totally different again in the future?
Here's one we've already hinted at in our Pinkibke Predictions
article but the Trek Session seems to be in line for a refresh in 2021. Not only was the last major update four years ago but Trek has also been busy bolstering its downhill team
this winter which we would guess is partly to give the bike the strongest debut year possible.
The current Session was the first production carbon 29" downhill bike and has stayed relevant for the past three seasons thanks to that forward-thinking approach. Can we expect to see something equally radical with this new model? Only time will tell.
The asymmetrical Rallon was first released in 2017 but the Spanish brand hasn't been shy about updating it since then. In 2018, a 29" version
came out then in 2019, Orbea released the Rally On linkage kit
that increased travel, sensitivity and progression. This was fitted to new models of the bike but also available as a backwards compatible upgrade for any riders on fifth-generation Rallons.
We'll be interested to see if Orbea continue to roll out updates on the Rallon platform or if something totally new will be in the pipeline for 2021.
The Genius was first introduced to Scott's line up in 2004 and for the 2017 version, it built on the Olympic winning success of the Spark to create a Horst Link driven design that was a lot more conventional than its predecessor. It was a lightweight bike with geometry that was very progressive for a trail bike at the time, including reaches over 500mm and a 65° head angle in the low setting. Also new was the updated TwinLoc system and the introduction of the Syncros one-piece bar and stem.
The overhauled Canyon Torque was released within 10 days of a new Spectral back in 2017
. Given that the Spectral itself just had an update in the tail end of 2020, it seems logical that the Torque may not be too far behind.
The last overhaul turned the platform from a double-crown toting, freeride/park bike into a long travel single-crown, monster-truck. Seeing as that genre of bike is undergoing a resurgence at the moment, the time seems rife for Canyon to take advantage with an updated Torque.
Although the Goatman, horror-themed launch edit
for the Capra sticks in the mind like it was yesterday, the bike itself is approaching its third birthday at this point. In the time since its launch, we've seen some awesome limited-edition versions of the Capra but its age suggests could be due for another update soon.
The last Capra was a huge overhaul that included the addition of a 29er version, an increase in travel and the option of a full carbon frame.These updates meant the bike morphed from an all-mountain machine into something even more formidable, one of the earliest bikes to herald the resurgence of longer travel mountain bikes.
Santa Cruz Blur & Highball
The Santa Cruz Blur and Highball
were released on the same day in 2018 as Santa Cruz overhauled its shortest travel offerings in one swoop. It's an Olympic year in 2021 and Santa Cruz has already shown some serious intent by signing Maxime Marotte and Luca Braidot for its Santa Cruz FSA team
so we expect they will be providing those top-tier riders something new to ride on too. In a world of ever more progressive bikes, we'll wait and see just how 'downcountry' Santa Cruz go with its weight weenie platforms.
The Propain Hugene was first introduced at the Garda Riva Bike Festival in 2018 and brought with it a suspension design that would eventually filter through Propain's entire range of bikes. The Pro 10 range now sits on everything except for its ebike and the downhill Rage - although a prototype version has been raced throughout 2020
If the Hugene gets updated for 2021 expect another short travel ripper at competitive pricing from the German direct sale brand.
Yeti SB 100
The Yeti SB100 was one of our favourite bikes of 2018 and is arguably one of the bikes that spawned the term and trend of downcountry
Short in travel but progressive in nature and full of ambition, the bike was designed to answer Yeti President Chris Conroy's question of ''How capable can we make a 100mm travel bike?'' It answered that question in one word - very. Last year Yeti released the SB115, which uses the same frame as the SB100, but we'll wait and see if Yeti are tempted to make a few nips and tucks or maybe create an entirely new short travel machine at some point this year.
The Canyon Lux was updated in 2018 and under Mathieu Van der Poel and Pauline Ferrand Prevot it has proven to be one of the most successful XC racing bikes. We later used it as our benchmark bike in the XC Field Test
as we believed it to be a yardstick against which the other bikes should be measured. That being said, we felt that geometry could do with some tweaks when we did test it, especially as XC racing continually demands greater descending ability from riders and bikes nowadays. We look forward to seeing if Canyon has anything up its sleeve for the upcoming Olympics.
The Trek Remedy platform dates back to 2008 and since then it's been their ready-for-anything all-mountain machine with enough travel to get you out of trouble, but not enough to keep you from wanting to pedal it thousands of feet up into the alpine. Although the 2019 version looked very similar to its predecessors, it had tweaked geometry and suspension although it remained on 27.5" wheels with the Slash taking care of 29" duties
Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt
The carbon Thunderbolt was released in March 2018 with an aluminum version following in August
. Moving up to 130mm on the normal models, and 140mm on the BC Edition, it placed the Thunderbolt firmly in the trail bike category although it remained stocked with 27.5" wheels only making it a bit of an outlier at that travel range. With short travel bikes becoming increasingly popular, we wouldn't be surprised if Rocky gave the Thunderbolt a few tweaks for 2021.