This year's contenders for Mountain Bike of the Year included everything from a nimble trail bike to full-on downhill race machines. What's the reasoning behind grouping such different bikes together into one category? Well, for one thing, many of today's bikes don't really fit neatly into one pre-determined segment. There are so many sub-genres that it makes more sense to take a look at all of the bikes that we spent time on this year, and select the standout contenders from there.
That's how the Ibis Ripmo, Yeti SB130, Santa Cruz Bronson, Commencal Supreme DH 29, and Norco Aurum HSP ended up in the final round, but as we all know, there can only be one winner. And the winner is...
The Commencal Supreme DH 29 turned heads this year, in part because Amaury Pierron was a blur aboard it as he raced his way to the World Cup DH overall title. The bike's big wheels and high pivot suspension layout make it a dowhill rocketship, and the fact that Commencal's consumer direct sales model gives it a relatively affordable price tag is the icing on the cake.
The aluminum-framed Supreme DH 29 is the evolutionary result of the 27.5”-wheeled bike that Commencal revealed back in 2015. That first iteration had plenty of potential for speed, but the geometry code hadn't been cracked yet, and its extremely short reach held it back. That's no longer the case, and the longer reach and 29” wheels of this year's model create a formidable machine that's ideally suited for tackling the roughest tracks around.
As Paul Aston wrote, “The stiff but not harsh front end, combined with a fairly flexible swingarm, allows enough give at the rear wheel for fantastic tracking and line-holding through rough and off camber sections, without the springiness found with some carbon bikes.” Traction is the name of the game when it comes to holding a line at race pace – if a bike is overly stiff it's more likely to get deflected and bounced around, rather than slicing through the chunder like a hot knife through butter. That exactly what the Supreme DH 29 does, and the stable, comfortable, and fast ride that it delivers is a large part of why it earned the Mountain Bike of the Year title.
The Supreme DH 29 is also a good representation of the state of the downhill world: 29" wheels are here to stay, high pivot suspension designs are experiencing a comeback, and the fact that a bike can't be bought in a brick and mortar store doesn't mean it doesn't have podium potential. The Supreme DH 29's success between the tape will undoubtedly inspire other manufacturers to do some off-season tinkering with frame designs as they prep for next year, but in the meantime, congratulations are in order to Commencal for winning the 2018 Pinkbike Mountain Bike of the Year award.