Time to commit another year to the record books and 2018 has been one of the most controversial in modern memory… and that’s before we even get to the push bikes.
As always, we’ve had 12 months of new tech, incredible racing, awesome action and, of course, stoke but here are the seven things that are totally unique to 2018:
29 inch downhill bikes are here to stay
29 inch downhill bikes burst on to the World Cup scene at Lourdes last year. They were immediately proven to have raw pace as Loris Vergier qualified fastest at that very race on a brand new bike. The chocks were kicked out from under the bandwagon and sooner or later most World Cup teams were chasing it down. The sticking point last year seemed to come from rushed prototypes and components that simply weren’t up for the job, so the year ended with a 650b still marginally ahead.
This year, that all changed. Under the flying French, 29-inch wheels took the majority of wins in the elite men’s competition and there were at least two 29ers on every podium. Are they a Midas touch? No, they currently don’t seem to work for every body type but those that they suit often remark they feel like they are finally riding a bike that fits.
What starts in the realm of racing often doesn’t last there long. We’ve had Aston down in the workhouse (well… bike park) testing every production model he can get his hands on and it’s safe to say he’s a big fan. We’ve even named the Commencal Supreme 29 as our bike of the year
. The best thing is, these bikes are only two years in development and are only going to get better.Aluminium is making a comeback
Spearheaded by Pole’s decision to ditch their prototype in September 2017, was 2018 the year that mountain bikers grew a carbon conscience?
Carbon fibre used to be reserved for the very finest mountain bike models, while cheaper options were aluminium by default. This is no longer the case, look at brands like Pole, Commencal (who have been banging this drum for years) and Last, all of whom manufacture exclusively in aluminium. Bigger brands are now getting in on the act too and it all culminated with a limited edition, raw aluminium, top spec YT Capra
selling out in less than 2 hours in Europe on Black Friday.
It’s not just environmental issues at play here. Lots of reviewers are turning away from the lightness and stiffness of carbon to favour the compliance and durability of aluminium. The truth is, there’s probably no ‘best option’ but with a trend towards high spec aluminium options appearing, it’s great that consumers now have an even larger choice of options to spend their money.XC is just as exciting as downhill or enduro
It’s simply not possible to dismiss cross country racing as ‘a bit lame’ anymore. If you’re still in the mindset that XC racing is just roadies on dirt, it’s time to tune in and think again. Take a look at our breathless review of the [L=https://www.pinkbike.com/news/finals-photo-epic-la-bresse-2018.html]La Bresse women’s race[/L], where we described, “drama; crashes, mechanical problems, position changes but most of all - pure, passionate racing up until the very end.” It was one of the most intense 90 minutes of sport of the year and well worth catching up on if you haven’t already seen it.
Week in, week out, we now get technical courses, close racing and incredible stories. Long live down countr…er XC!Freeride ain’t dead
Three words: Jordie f*ckin’ Lunn. Enduro racers can fail drug tests too
The toughest pill to swallow this year was the doping scandal that erupted at the tail end of the year. Doping whispers circulated enduro for years but for the first time, evidence of it was uncovered and made public. Jared Graves and Richie Rude both admitted returning Adverse Analytical Findings in Olargues
and now await punishment for their actions. Hopefully, with the UCI on board to step up anti-doping next year, this is something we’ll be able to forget in 2019.The Triple Crown is achievable
The biggest crown in slopestyle is also one of the biggest tests of consistency in mountain biking. Winning one Crankworx slopestyle final is hard enough as you have to go bigger and be more progressive than everyone else while also not putting a foot wrong. To win the Triple Crown you have to do it three times in the space of six months.
Rogatkin became the first man to nail the Crown on the biggest stage of all at Joyride this year. He won the prize with the very last run of the day, something that hasn’t been done in 15 years of Crankworx at Whistler, for a grandstand finish and $25,000 for his troubles.
The Rheeder/Rogatkin battle is compulsive viewing, and long may it last.Long form media still rocks
For those of us fed up of middling, three-minute, goggle-shot-packed edits, there’s great news this year as long-form video has come back with a vengeance. Gamble, Reverence, North of Nightfall, The Moment, Beautiful Idiot and more proved that people are willing to invest an hour of their time, switch off and enjoy some top quality filming.