Mountain Bike of the Year WinnerThe finalists for the 2021 Mountain Bike of the Year were the Trek Top Fuel, Rocky Mountain Element, Norco Range, and the Transition Spire. It's a varied batch, one that runs the gamut from bikes that could be contenders in a cross-country race to burly beasts with handling that's very, very close to that of a full blown downhill bike.
When the dust had settled, there was one bike that stood out from the rest. The winner is....
Norco didn't make any concessions in their quest to make the Range an absolute gravity fiend, and those efforts paid off. It's a bike with an unwavering focus on delivering stability and speed in the gnarliest terrain, with extremely well balanced geometry and a high-pivot suspension layout that allows it to make short work of the chunkiest tracks.
The Range epitomizes the trends that we saw this year in the enduro and downhill worlds, a shining example of the direction things are headed in the near future. When it comes to geometry, Norco remain at the forefront thanks to their size-specific chainstay lengths and head angles – the smaller sizes get shorter chainstays and a slightly steeper head angle in order to maintain similar handling characteristics across the board. In addition, Norco's online Ride Aligned setup guide is one of the best out there, which makes it easier for riders to get their bikes dialed in as quickly as possible.
Don't overlook the fact that the Range can be pedaled back up for another lap, either. No, it's not the lightest bike in this category, but its geometry creates a comfortable, upright position that's ideal for spinning out the miles before dropping in for another run.
At the end of the day, it's the Range's downhill performance that gave it the edge over this year's Mountain Bike of the Year contenders. We all ride for different reasons, but there's no denying that going downhill as fast as possible is one of the best aspects of mountain biking. The Norco Range doesn't seem to have a speed limit, a key factor that led to the decision to award it the 2021 Mountain Bike of the Year title.