2022 Pinkbike Awards: Outlier Bike of Year Winner

Dec 27, 2022
by Mike Levy  

Outlier Bike of Year Winner

Contra MC

There was no shortage of interesting bikes in 2022, and any of our four nominees would have been more than worthy of winning this very subjective category. Reeb, Antidote, and Digit are all doing some really neat things that set them apart, but it was Contra's MC enduro bike that we all decided on in the end. The Contra's small-diameter, rootbeer-colored steel tubes and aluminum dual-link layout, large idler, and a bunch of chain mean that it'll never be mistaken for anything else, and it delivers on the trail as well.

Kazimer reviewed the MC back in August and had this to say:

"I wasn't surprised to get my fastest timed lap on the Contra, and Matt Beer had the same experience. This is a bike that comes alive at higher speeds and on rougher trails, with loads of traction that keeps the rear wheel glued to the ground no matter how slimy the conditions are. That stuck-to-the-ground feeling doesn't mean it can't jump, though, it just means that it feels most at home on bigger hits rather than hopping and popping over little mid-trail hits. It would make a great park bike, especially for riders that like to mix it up, hitting chunky DH tracks one lap and floaty jump lines the next."



Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 69 2
 Contrary to the motor this is pretty cool and deserving
  • 22 6
 Would you say 'Contra' to the motor?
  • 6 10
flag mi-bike (Dec 27, 2022 at 7:10) (Below Threshold)
 @Gregmurray50: Looks like @binkpike420 Steamrolled into the comment section, missing the obvious pun. For shame!
  • 21 1
 @mi-bike: The only thing I steamrolled into was your mom
  • 36 1
 Up up down down left right left right b a
  • 2 0
 All I can think of every time I see or here anything about this bike.
  • 2 0
 Finally you are here!
  • 5 0
 I too would like unlimited lives when I'm out riding my bike.
  • 25 6
 Nah dudes nah *pedals away on Reeb with middle finger in the air*
  • 5 0
 Right there with ya! Smile
  • 5 0
 Agreed, that's exactly how I feel about the digit. That reeb is a gorgeous looking bike too!
  • 11 2
 For real, this bike is magic. Evan has spent a massive amount of time getting the ride characteristics and details just right and it shows. I hope you all get a chance to put a leg over one regardless of your armchair opinions, because this thing is so will deserving of the award. Congrats Evan and Contra! I can't wait to get one of my own.
  • 6 0
 I personally would buy the Reeb bc it’s really just an awesome bike and i’m admittedly conservative about bike tech. The contra is totally unique and worthy of the award but conservative me not buy it over the Reeb.
  • 3 0
 That’s cool,
Either way you fly your flag, support these guys in what they do by buying a bike!
Or a frame
Or some swag, he’ll even a sticker!
  • 8 0
 CONTRAption.. It's cool but idk if a bike needs to be this busy to be effective.
  • 3 0
 Well deserved, this was a great group of nominees!
I sincerely hope this means enough funding for Evan to have a bigger (or at least a second!) production run so that I might have a chance to get one!
  • 3 1
 If you really want to unlock this bikes potential: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start button.

Seriously though, I love new bikes that think outside the cube…
  • 5 0
 Rideable art. Support your local artist/bike builder.
  • 2 0
 Love this bike design. Would love to own it one day! Expensive and on the heavier side but would be an absolute beast in the bike parks
  • 3 0
 Absolutely stunning bike and well deserved!
  • 4 4
 Can someone please explain to me the draw of a steel frame. Is it novelty? I don't get it.
  • 17 1
 Sure, here goes, now my explanation might not be to everyone’s sensibilities, it fits mine for sure.

1. I love the delicate looking nature of the smaller tubesets, alu gets kinda chunky looking, especially when lower grade alu is used. Carbon gets real chunky looking, my Spire has a top tube that I could roll out a picnic blanket on.

2. Some will claim a certain ride feel, if we were talking about road or gravel bikes, then absolutely, but that ride feel gap gets smaller then more big tires, and supple suspension get thrown into the mix. Steel does have a great ability to dampen out some of that high frequency noise that can tire you out.

3. It’s easier to build with, with more traditional building methods. You or I with little investment could be up and running building frames in our shed, the quality would be questionable unless we had some skill and knowledge, but alu, titanium, carbon, etc require larger investment to get rolling. You can build stronger for relative investment.

4. Post building process can be a little easier as well, or more accessible anyway,
Painting, etc can be done by just about anyone. Alu, titanium, etc require a bit more post build work to get ready for paint.

Hope that helps, all of these bikes are outstanding in my opinion, I love the Reeb, and lust after the Contra…..the Darkmatter is like looking at an untouchable hypercar.
  • 8 10
 @onawalk: Thanks for this. For me then, there is still zero draw.
1. I like the carbon/alu frame shapes.
2. I ride 140mm - 170mm bikes
3. I don't build bikes.
4. I don't build bikes.
Thanks again.
  • 8 1
 Some people just like to ride something different and unique in a sea of Santa Cruz and Specialized super bikes. Steel is also near indestructible and completely repairable without the need for fancy welding methods, heat treating or specialist carbon repair.
  • 1 0
 @rrolly: you see it a lot with these smaller niche builders - I think it spawned primarily as a way for small builders to produce in house / local(ish) frames easily. From a technical perspective I don't think steel has any benefits on a FS frame outside the fact that it allows you the opportunity to buy a niche frame from a small manuf. and they can innovate quicker and you may get some custom features.

It's not that they are producing steel frames because they necessarily believe the material is the best for the job but rather because it's what they have to work with that will do the job.
  • 7 0
 They make your mustache that much more noticeable
  • 9 1
 If I smacked into an off angle rock or root at speed on my Aluminum bike I felt like the whole thing could get shoved off-line regardless of whether the impact was with front, rear or both wheels. On my steel bike that impact is much more muted, and either end of the bike snaps back on line much quicker, especially the rear. Like either end is less bothered from an impact on the other wheel. The tinny feeling of aluminum and most of my arm pump is virtually gone. Somehow less vibrations reach my hands, feet n butt regardless of the terrain. Pumping through berms and whoops feels like there's stored energy that gets released for airtime or a faster directional change if I'm paying attention to how I can pivot using the tires available grip. ...and yess thin tubes are just pretty. Plus I cracked the chainstays on my last aluminum bike and just didn't want to struggle with anyone's warranty department ever again. Before steel became en vogue it was the cheaper option, an because I'm a big guy who rides with a backpack I don't give a shit about a few extra pounds because it turns into a dead eyed cruise missile downhill.
  • 5 0
 To add to what @onawalk said, steel is more easily repaired than aluminum frames. Aluminum frames typically need heat treating after welding, but not steel frames. An exception is the aluminum alloy 7005 that doesn't need to be heat treated after welding (it just needs to be aged at ambient temperature), but when dealing with an aluminum frame in need of repair, without knowledge of the alloy, one should assume the worst which is that the alloy requires heat treatment after welding. The need for heat treatment after welding is a common reason for aluminum frames not being repaired. On the other hand, steel frames generally don't need heat treatment after welding so they are more repairable.
  • 3 0
 @rrolly: cool man,
As with anything, it’s always worth giving things a try if you get the chance.
  • 3 0
 @onawalk: On a personal note; I feel like aluminium tubes and welds on aluminium looks very low quality and screams of mass production. whereas steel tubing and welds on steel is more a work of art.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-jon: nah, my Knolly looks premium af
My Sentinel did as well
  • 1 0
 @mtb-jon: lots of mass produced steel frames and boutique alum frames, regardless of how you feel. Banshee's are pretty slick as is my custom alum Rock Lobster...
  • 2 0
 @onawalk: Fair. I can appreciate the craftmanship, but since I'm not into building frames it's not something that pulls me. @GorgesIthacan made some points that have me a little intrigued. Thanks for the insights. I was genuinely confused about the attention on steel.
  • 2 0
 @rrolly: that was my second point, @GorgesIthacan out it far more eloquently than I did.
As a note, not all steel frames are created equal, as can be said for alu, and carbon ones.
Steel frames done poorly don’t offer any particular benefit over a good quality alu or carbon one.

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of Canadian Tire steel mountain bike frames, they don’t ride any better than an alu one from CT. You get the point.

There’s some great steel bike frame builders out there, and you can get pretty much any custom geo you want, that’s part of the draw as well. Along with the ease of frame building, comes a custom experience that is much harder/expensive to get in alu or carbon. Just cause you don’t build frames doesn’t mean that there aren’t inherent benefits from the ease of manufacture, you just need to read between the lines a bit
  • 2 1
 Great award and well deserved. They'll still only sell like 10.
  • 1 0
 I personally know they've sold more than double that all ready.
  • 1 0
 "And the best new bicycle of 2022 is.... a motorcycle!"

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