Choosing this year's nominees and the winner for this year's Trail / All-Mountain Bike of the Year Award was no easy task. 2014 produced a bumper crop of bikes with genre-defying abilities, ones that can tame the trickiest climbs and then rally on the descents without flinching, which is why we chose to combine the Trail and All-Mountain categories into one award. When you have bikes like Yeti's 127mm SB5c being raced at the Enduro World Series, or Santa Cruz's 165mm Nomad gunning for the podium at the Trans Provence, it's solid proof that today's mountain bikes are more well rounded than ever. Trail / All-Mountain Bike of the Year
Santa Cruz Nomad
This year's award for Pinkbike's Trail / All-Mountain Bike of the Year goes to the Santa Cruz Nomad. The latest version of the bike burst onto the scene last April decked out with an aqua and magenta paint job that, love it or hate it, certainly turned a few heads (the stealth black version is more our style
). But the updated Nomad received more than a splashy paint job and 27.5” wheels – Santa Cruz tweaked and refined every detail of the bike, and the result is nothing short of perfection.
A 65° degree head angle used to be reserved for downhill bikes, but times have changed, and long, low and slack is the name of the game for today's top all-mountain rigs. Although Santa Cruz didn't push the 'long' portion of that trifecta as far as other companies like Kona, Orbea, and Mondraker have done, the new Nomad still gained an extra inch of room in the cockpit, giving it additional stability for the high speeds that the bike begs to be ridden at. As we said in our review
, “The Nomad has the feeling of a big bike, in that it can be ridden full speed into the roughest sections of trail and come out none the worse for wear on the other side, but it also has a nimbleness to it that you wouldn't typically expect from a bike with this much travel.” And when it comes time to head back up the hill, “the VPP suspension design's pedal-friendly performance combined with the bike's 28 pound weight make the Nomad able to keep up with shorter travel trail bikes and then leave them in the dust once gravity takes over. Even on five or six hour outings with 6,000+ vertical feet of climbing, rides with enough pedaling where a trail bike would typically be the machine of choice, the Nomad did just fine, and was definitely worth it on the way back down.”
|The Nomad is a bike that would have been a daydream only a few years ago, when the technology didn't exist to create a 28 pound bike with 165mm of travel. Luckily, those dreams have come true, and the reality is even better than anyone could have imagined. - Pinkbike, June 30th, 2014|
The Nomad's excellent geometry and suspension design make it a worthy nominee for the Trail / All-Mountain Bike of the Year, but it's the little details that truly pushed the Nomad to the front of the pack. To go along with the well crafted, eye-pleasing frame design, features like a threaded bottom bracket shell, internal housing guides made from carbon fiber tubing, expanding collet pivot hardware, and the ability to fit a water bottle inside the front triangle are just a few examples of the details that show Santa Cruz did more than blindly latch onto the latest trends when updating the Nomad. Quality like this doesn't come cheap, and Santa Cruz's top-level builds do retail for over $10,000, but the base model is still very well equipped, and at $5599 is nearly half the price.
It seems fitting to close with the same words that concluded our review of the Nomad, since the sentiment still holds true. “The Nomad is a bike that would have been a daydream only a few years ago, when the technology didn't exist to create a 28 pound bike with 165mm of travel. Luckily, those dreams have come true, and the reality is even better than anyone could have imagined. This is a bike from the future, except that it's available now.” www.santacruzbicycles.com