Building a value-priced trail bike is much like playing fantasy football, You start with a fixed budget, and then have to assemble a winning team from a variety of components that are priced from affordable to outrageous. To win the game, you'll need to narrow your focus to a particular genre, then nail down your key players (like the frame and suspension) without spending so much that you can't afford to fill out the team with a competitive component selection. Want to know how it's done? Look no further than our five nominees:
Marin's $2,749 Alpine Trail 7 shines as an aggressive trail bike with 150 millimeters of travel, 29 inch wheels and basic components which are inexpensive, but trustworthy. Specialized's $3,620 Stumpjumper EVO 29 breaks the bank with a limited-production frame and Fox suspension, but offers bike-park capability at a relative bargain. Transition's $2,999 Scout Alloy NX was designed for the rigors of riding in the Pacific Northwest, and comes outfitted with 27.5 inch wheels and better-than-average parts, sharply tailored to its mission statement. Polygon's $2,499 Siskiu T8, a 29-inch-wheel, great-pedaling trail bike, is outfitted with an excellent chassis, supported by a carefully chosen, but eclectic selection of components.
Each are remarkable performers in their class, but the winner blew us away. It costs only $2,399, has a 170-millimeter-travel aluminum chassis, a 180-millimeter fork, a parts selection that covers every base - and a level of performance that makes its low price seem like a mistake.
Whyte's G-170 S wins Value Mountain Bike of the Year.
Many of us dream of owning the likes of a Santa Cruz Bronson or a Yeti SB130, but the reality is, most mountain biker's budgets would be tapped out purchasing the frame and shock. Whyte managed to stuff all of the essentials that an accomplished bike handler needs, one who is searching for a long-travel monster that can handle anything from a jaunt through the woods to a bike-park road trip - for under $2,500 USD.
Miracle? Perhaps, but here it is: The G-170 S has a bomb-proof aluminum chassis with a 170mm of travel delivered by a Horst Link suspension layout, room for any 27.5 tire you want up to 2.8 inches, and a reduced offset 180mm RockShox Yari fork. The cockpit is perfect - shorty stem, wide bars, a 150mm dropper... We often say "needs nothing," but this thing even has 203mm brake rotors and 2.4 inch tires with reinforced casings and inserts. Give it a go on your home gravity trails and you'll realize what a deal the G-170 S is. It performs laughably above its pay grade.