Mountain Bike of the Year NomineesThere was no shortage of new bikes this year, with over 50 reviews and first rides making their way onto the Pinkbike homepage over the last 12 months. There were a few notable trends, including the fact that the push for longer and slacker geometry is continuing, and numbers that once seemed insane are starting to hit the mainstream.
29ers continue to gain traction (no pun intended), and while they didn't completely dominate the DH World Cup scene like some expected they certainly made their mark. Don't worry, though, 27.5” bikes aren't going away any time soon, and several excellent options rolled out this season.
After plenty of heated arguments and name calling sessions we narrowed down our favorite bike of the year to the following five contenders. The nominees run the gamut from World Cup capable DH race rigs to do-it-all trail machines, a smorgasbord of 2018's top bikes.
Why it's nominated
If you took an Ibis Ripley, combined it with a Mojo, and then stretched things out a little bit, you'd get the Ripmo. It's a light and spirited 29er that can still handle plenty of punishing terrain, with 145mm of rear travel and a 160mm, reduced offset fork up front. Ibis managed to bake in their trademark liveliness into the Ripmo - this is the type of bike that encourages its rider to get airborne at every possible opportunity.
It may have debuted on the EWS circuit, but it's really more of an all-rounder than an outright race machine, with impeccable climbing performance that matches well with its descending capabilities. That balancing act is what placed the Ripmo on our list of nominees for Bike of the Year – there aren't many bikes out there that are as easy to ride up and
down just about anything.From the review: Why it's nominated
After much internal debate, it was Yeti's SB130 that ended up earning the nomination, edging out its longer travel sibling, the SB150. Both bikes live up to the Super Bike moniker, but the SB130 excels in a wider range of terrain; the 150 needs some proper rowdiness to really come alive.
It's certainly not an inexpensive option, but that's not as much of a factor when it comes to choosing the Bike of the Year. Performance is the focus here, and the SB130 delivers a smooth, balanced, and efficient feel, and makes the most of those 130 millimeters of travel out on the trail. Yeti's new geometry is right on target, with a roomy front center that creates a stable ride while descending, and a steep seat tube angle for climbing comfort. Of course, the fact that it now holds a water bottle in the right place is a welcome improvement, but even if it didn't there's a good chance it would have still earned a nomination due to its excellent ride quality. From the First Ride: Why it's nominated
A string of World Cup DH victories doesn't guarantee a Bike of the Year nomination, but the performance of Commencal's Supreme DH 29 under Amaury Pierron sure didn't hurt. The Frenchman racked up three victories aboard the aluminum rocketship, a testament to just how capable this chassis truly is.
The high-pivot suspension layout isn't a new design for Commencal, but for 2018 they added in a big-wheeled option, and increased the frame's reach. It's the Supreme's combination of stability and traction that elevate it above other current downhill bikes, delivering controlled comfort even at warp speed. There's also the fact that Commencal's consumer direct sales model allows them to offer the Supreme DH at a very reasonable price, making it an extra-appealing option for aspiring DH racers. From the review: Why it's nominated
Santa Cruz gave the Bronson a full revision this year, changing the suspension layout in addition to making it a little longer and a little slacker. It still has 150mm of rear travel and 27.5” wheels, but those alterations created a bike that somehow manages to feel better in the rough stuff than the previous version, while still offering excellent climbing performance.
For riders looking for a bike that can be used for a big enduro race one weekend, and a long backcountry adventure the next, the Bronson is a worthy option. The fact that Santa Cruz didn't go too
crazy with the geometry updates is part of what makes the Bronson so enjoyable – it feels just right, right out of the box. From the First Ride: Why it's nominated
That's right, another high pivot downhill bike made it onto the Bike of the Year nominees list, and for good reason. Norco's new Aurum HSP is a force to be reckoned with between the tape, capable of maintaining a blistering pace with ease. The suspension design allows it to glide through whatever nastiness lays on the trail without losing speed, and it feels right at home in steep, rough terrain.
Norco earn extra credit points for giving the Aurum HSP different rear center lengths and tubing stiffnesses for each size, a feature other manufacturers would do well to adopt. It was the 29” version that won us over, but there is also a 27.5” option for those who prefer the smaller wheel size. Overall, it's a highly adjustable race bike that can be fine-tuned to exactly suit a rider's preferences, and one of the best out there for DH riders with a need for speed.From the review:
Remember, there can only be one winner of the Pinkbike Mountain Bike of the Year award. Last year it was the Trek Slash - any guesses as to who will take home the prize this year? The victor will be revealed next week, but until then let the debating begin.