Mountain Bike of the Year NomineesChoosing the bike of the year is always a tricky proposition, a guaranteed source of controversy and contention no matter what make and model emerges as the winner. We published nearly 40 long-term bike reviews in 2017 – that's a lot of new bikes to pick from, a selection that includes everything from shorter-travel, trail machines all the way to downhill race bikes. Even making it to the final round is a feat in and of itself, and plenty of heated debates sprung up when it was time to narrow down the list to the five finalist listed below.
Who will emerge victorious? Transition's Patrol Carbon took the crown in 2016, but you’ll need to wait a little longer to find out this year's winner. In the meantime, read on to find out exactly why these five bikes were nominated for the Pinkbike's 2017 Mountain Bike of the Year.
Why it's nominated
The updated Norco Sight may not be breaking any new ground as far as aesthetics go, but wild looks aren't a requisite to be considered for bike of the year. With 130mm of rear travel and 29” wheels the Sight sight sits in a category where the competition is fierce and the expectations are high for both climbing and descending. The Sight delivers on both fronts, with excellent traction and easygoing manners that make it well-suited for everything from long, cross-country rides to diving into rougher, steeper terrain.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to consider calling the Sight into duty for an enduro race or two either – its build kit is certainly up to the task, and on the right course it could be a worthy contender. Norco also deserve props for using different chainstay lengths depending on the frame size, preserving the bike's well-balanced nature even on larger sizes. From the review: Why it's nominated
The 2017 Slash actually emerged at the tail end of 2016, but our long-term review aired in 2017, which puts the red speed-demon in the running for Bike of the Year. It's that unabashed need for speed that helped cement the 29”-wheeled Slash's nomination – this is one fast bike, a purebred enduro race machine if there ever was one.
With 150mm of rear travel, a slack, 65-degree head angle and a stiff, full carbon frame the Slash excels in the steeps, but remains manageable when it's time to climb back up for another lap. Trek's Knock-Block feature, which prevents the fork from smacking into the frame when the handlebars are turned past a certain angles, did raise a few eyebrows when it debuted, but it didn't cause any trouble out on the trail. More than anything, the Slash helped usher in the next generation of 29ers, and there's no doubt that we'll be seeing even longer and slacker options hit the market in the near future. From the review: Why it's nominated
Mini-DH, freeride; no matter what you call it, the Supreme SX is a formidable machine. It's basically a pedal-friendly version of Commencal's Supreme DH 4.0 downhill bike, with the same high, single-pivot design and seatstay-mounted, idler pulley. The Supreme SX's looks make it stand out from the sea of cookie-cutter frame shapes out there, but they aren't just for show. On the trail the Supreme SX is nearly silent, and with 180mm of rear travel there isn't much out there that will slow its forward progress. Want an even longer and slacker ride? The straight 1.5” head tube makes it possible to adjust the geometry by swapping out headset cups.
Add to all of that the fact that Commencal's consumer-direct model allows them to offer an outstanding value and you have one solid contender for Bike of the Year. From the review: Why it's nominated
Cannondale have always marched to a slightly different beat, but the latest iteration of the Jekyll may be the most conventional-looking version of that model yet. There's no Lefty to be seen, with a 170mm Fox 36 taking the place of the conversation-starting, one-legged fork. Of course, it wouldn't be a Cannondale without at least a couple unique touches, and in this case it's the bike's adjustable travel (a bar-mounted lever is used to choose between 130 and 165mm of travel) and an asymmetric rear end that make it stand out.
But it's the 27.5" Jekyll's handling that truly earned it the nomination – with a generous reach and stubby chainstays the Jekyll is a riot to ride, a bike that can be pulled up into a manual at the blink of an eye, yet still possesses enough stability for racing and bike park usage. From the review: Why it's nominated
Santa Cruz released both the new Nomad and the Hightower LT this year, but it's the Hightower LT that gets the nomination for bike of the year. With 150mm of travel, the LT has the chops to mix it up on the Enduro World Series, but at the end of the day it's more of an all-rounder rather than being purely focused on the podium. That's not a bad thing, though; most of us aren't lucky enough to have EWS-level descents in our backyards, which means that climbing performance can't be tossed completely out the window.
As Mike Kazimer wrote, “there are longer, slacker, and even stiffer bikes out there, but part of what makes the Hightower LT so fun is that it's not a demanding bike to ride.” Looking to get extra-rad? It's easy enough to toss on a longer-travel fork for extra smashing power up front, but out of the box the Hightower LT is raring to go, no matter which direction your ride takes you.From the First Ride:
There you have it - the five finalists for this year's Bike of the Year. Carbon and aluminum are both represented, as are 27.5" and 29" wheels. The bikes do trend towards the more aggressive side of the spectrum, but they all have distinct personalities out on the trail. Which one will take the win? You'll have to wait until next week to find out.