The Eyecatchers 2019 - 6 New Bikes That Stand Out From the Crowd

Jan 4, 2019
by Mike Kazimer  
Spinning Circles Mike Kazimer


Winter time always seems to send my level of bike tinkering through the roof, and I've already had to force myself to step away from the bench grinder and get some sleep on more than one occasion this month. The longer nights also means there's more time to get lost in the depths of the internet in search of bikes that stand out from the crowd, bikes that don't look carbon copies (literally) of what's already out there.

What follows are six bikes that caused me to pause and take a second look, bikes that made me genuinely curious as to how they perform out on the trail. There are a few more on my list, but I'm not allowed to talk about those quite yet...





The Starling Cycles Sturn. More at https www.starlingcycles.com starling-cycles-sturn Photographer Ben Broomfield benbroomfield.com photobenphoto


Starling Cycles Sturn

Starling Cycles made the Eyecatchers list last year with the Beady Little Eye, a short travel, single pivot singlespeed, and once again Joe McEwan has managed to create another head turner, the Sturn. It's a steel singlespeed, but this one is a 29” wheeled monster, with 180mm of travel and a design that was inspired by Brooklyn Machine Works' apocalypse-proof creations. The geometry is custom, so you can have one built up pretty much as long and slack as you'd like. I'm sure it's not light, but it also looks as if it could survive some serious bike park abuse, and there's no need to worry about smashing a fragile derailleur to bits.



Forbidden Bike Company

Forbidden Bikes' High Pivot Trail Bike

Forbidden Bikes' high pivot trail bike still doesn't have an official name, but whatever it's called, I'm eager to give it a try. Owen Pemberton knows a thing or two about designing bikes, and this 130mm machine sure looks like it has the potential to deliver a really good time out on the trail. I'm a fan of the way that high pivot downhill bikes smooth out the rough stuff and make it possible to feel comfortable going really, really fast – it'll be interesting to see how that concept translates to a shorter travel design when this bike is launched in the spring.





Terrain Control Industries Prototype

Images of the steel prototype that preceded this carbon creation are what initially grabbed my attention, and a little internet sleuthing revealed the bike was the brainchild of Don Thuren, a truck suspension fabricator based in Bend, Oregon. The overall look is sure to be polarizing, but the design allows the 29” wheeled bike to have 140mm of rear travel and 413mm chainstays. That's a number more often seen on 26” wheeled dirt jumpers, not long and slack trail bikes. I tend to prefer longer chainstays over shorter ones, but I'm still interested what the combination of a longer front center and a super stubby back end translates to out on the trail. In any case, the more home builders out there the better; kudos to Don for getting this project up and running.



Miranda Miller Specialized

Specialized Prototype DH 29er

This one's not a one-off creation built by a mad scientist with a welding torch in a dimly lit garage. Nope, it's the prototype of what's likely the next version of the Specialized Demo. We saw several members of Specialized's DH race team taking laps aboard the yet-to-be-announced bike, which usually means that an official unveiling will happen before race season picks up again.

The frame isn't one-sided, and the suspension design is a departure from what the current Demo uses – the shock is now driven by a vertical link that's attached to the seat stays and a horizontal link that's attached to the main pivot. The Whistler Bike Park is currently covered in a deep blanket of snow, but seeing photos of this bike gets me itching for some sunny summer laps.



Theo Galy s prototype 29 SUNN - Kern LT Finest


Sunn Kern LT Prototype

Sunn don't quite have the global recognition they did back in the late '90s, when Nico Voulloiz and Anne-Caroline Chausson were setting the downhill world on fire aboard their bikes, but they're working on making a comeback. Based on looks alone, the upcoming Kern LT 29 could be a good start. There's no shortage of bikes that use a Horst Link suspension design out there, but the Kern's shape is super clean and stealthy, with the shock almost fully hidden by the interrupted seat tube. Exact geometry numbers have yet to be released, but the bike's said to have 150mm of rear travel. It's unlikely that the production version will be spec'd with the Fast Suspension Holy Grail shock that EWS racer Theo Galy was running, but that's another suspension component I'd love to try.





Ancilloti Scarab EVO

Okay, the Scarab EVO 29 isn't exactly brand new – prototypes were being made in 2017 – but it's still on my wishlist of bikes. Every bike is custom made for its rider, including the shock, so the geometry will always be as trendy as you like. The small Italian company only makes 50 or so frames a year, which means you probably won't see one being ridden on your local trails.

The frame delivers 160mm of travel via Ancilloti's unique 'Pull Shock' design. The name's a little misleading, since the layout doesn't actually pull on the shock itself; instead, the swingarm pulls on a link that compresses the shock. In any case, the shock sits nice and low in the frame, and the geometry can be fine-tuned via a threaded rod that sits underneath the bottom bracket. The fact that the Scarab doesn't really look like anything else out there is part of its appeal – it's purpose built for a select few, and that's unlikely to change any time soon.


156 Comments

  • + 162
 @mikekazimer it does have a name, we just haven't told anyone what it is yet...
  • + 7
 Looking forward to this frame! My guess for the name is Taboo Big Grin
  • + 3
 The Age
  • + 31
 @BigAge:
I'm going "Glory hole"
My wife forbids it ????
  • + 8
 @WheelandBlade: Good guess but that's not it!

We're gearing up to launch in a few months so if you're not already, give us a follow at www.instagram.com/forbiddenbikecompany or www.facebook.com/forbiddenbikecompany

Cheers!
  • + 8
 Cheeky Canadians Smile
  • + 3
 Pleasure
  • + 1
 @WheelandBlade: It's completely off limits!
  • - 2
 Forbidden Current

(no e-bikes, current design)
  • + 4
 Plateau?
  • + 1
 How about the Sick AF! nice looking bike
  • + 3
 Forbidden frootloop
  • + 1
 List year!
  • + 1
 sexy bike! If it rides half as good as it looks.. how much?
  • + 3
 Thats the worst marketing strategy ever
  • + 2
 Bullit? Oh, wait a minute... Wink

Seriously though, it looks really nice and if it pedals well I'm sure it'll be awesome.
  • + 1
 @ForbiddenBike: I'm jealous Thomas got to tire it Frown
  • + 1
 What’s the base price on this bike? And wheelsize?
  • + 7
 @nlibot33: Wheelsize is 29". We haven't released our pricing yet as we are still a couple of months away from launch. Best thing to do is follow along on our social channels and we will be releasing everything you could ever want to know once it's ready. Cheers.
  • + 1
 This forbidden thing looks pretty deadly!
  • + 1
 pwnt
  • + 10
 Forbidden Donut! Mmmmmm Donut.
  • + 2
 If you guys think it looks good in the photos, wait till you see one in the flesh. The design details and packaging are as good as it gets.
  • + 17
 I like the sound of Forbidden 404 error.
  • + 6
 Black and sleek.... the new Forbidden Lafonda going to crush it...
  • + 3
 @ForbiddenBike: i would like to be sponsored and represent your amazing company. Just send an xl frame and a box of oreos as a retainer. Double stuff. Ill be all over the social media.
  • + 2
 The “swoppity poop scoop”
  • + 1
 @LuvAZ: double stuff lol
  • + 0
 @tipsword: Owen is a Brit import to Canada, but responsible for all the great Norco bikes I've ridden over the last few years Smile
  • + 1
 Desire
  • + 3
 @ForbiddenBike: any plans for a little bit longer travel 29er?
  • + 4
 @Kickmehard: I like your thinking but forbidden error is actually a 403 Wink
  • + 4
 @Creg: Damn it! Out nerded!
  • + 1
 @Jimmy0: Dirt Spider
  • + 2
 @ForbiddenBike Are you guys planning on doing a longer travel version too?
  • + 1
 @ali-chapple: Local detected!
  • + 2
 Lambada..... the Forbidden Bike..... with featured rider....Antonio Banderas..... Muy caliente!
  • + 3
 @ForbiddenBike: If you're not calling it "Fruit" I don't know what else it could be.
  • + 1
 Forbidden Trail, let your imagination run wild
  • + 1
 @sheepstar: Was just about to say that.
  • + 1
 the Forbidden Not Allowed Carbon
  • + 1
 The Boss's Daughter....
  • + 2
 @Forbiddenbikes, considering your brand name and inevitably high price, you should call it YUP - You Unworthy Peasant.
  • + 2
 Forbidden Talent
  • + 1
 Finger Cuffs?
  • + 1
 Forbidden Pivot
  • + 1
 @tipsword: careful youngster, jealousy will get you nowhere
  • + 1
 Forbidden Roughneck
  • + 1
 @ForbiddenBike: companies that advertise exclusively on social networks rather than an open www website are easily missing at least 40% of their potential market reach. Not only were many people never members on facepalmbook, the platform is dying as those who realized their mistake are now fleeing ...
  • + 1
 @TheUnknownMTBR: Instagram is currently a good channel for advertising. Can’t imagine sites like Bikeradar, Pinkbike, Vital to be bad place for advertising. I don’t know what you mean, Magazines are dying. Who reads that?
  • + 91
 Pretty shocking surprise to be scrolling down the page, and to see my bike! Thank you so much! Rear swingarm redesign molds were just paid for yesterday, and hoping just a month or so for the new test unit. New rear swingarm version looks much better, will be stronger, let me raise the BB 8mm as it was just TOO low, but hell no not lengthening the chainstay at all! The short CS is a critical part of the design. Perfectly tuned coil shock to eat up the shop and outweigh the stability drawbacks of the short CS, slack HA for the steeps, but still super poppy and and can change directions in an instant with the short CS.... If the desire for the bike grows, the larger sizes would have a proportionally longer CS though, as for riders over 6'2" or so, 413mm CS would admittedly be a bit short.
  • + 4
 Its an awesome looking machine Smile
  • + 1
 Beautiful work, Don! I love the swingarm, it definitely conjures memories of some classic DH rigs in a contemporary package. Clean and interesting lines!
  • + 12
 Here is a picture of the updated swingarm in the works.... www.instagram.com/p/BsI6nSIloPJ
  • + 1
 @FullTiltBoogie: Thank you!
  • + 1
 @thuren: Sexy machine
  • + 33
 That Scarab is so sick. Chrome, old school graphics, just super clean. I must ride it...
  • + 4
 i need one more italian mistress next to the beta.
  • - 1
 It's not chrome....
  • + 2
 @stumpymidget: haha, yeah in my stupid mind anything metal and shiny is chrome. You left me hangin by just saying it’s not chrome. What is it? Polished aluminum?
  • + 4
 @mph51: It's polished aluminum and the Decals are just stickers. The company owner's reasoning behind this is that after a hard season racing you just take a bit of polish and can fully restore the "new bike look" in no time.
  • + 1
 Brook MacDonald used to race on Ancilloti if anyone remembers back to 2008/2009. The DH bike he rode was neat. Weighed about 38lbs if I recall correctly.
  • + 23
 Where´s the angry welder mob? We MUST talk about the welds on the Ancilotti.... we must.
  • + 6
 So true. The mob of angry expert armchair welders.
  • + 5
 Having been talking to a small ti bike maker, his clients do value nice welds. Same with other small brands I spoke to. 99.9% of their clients have no clue about welding but when they pay extra they want nice stuff. They can easily tell good looking welds from messy welds, they are neither blind nor stupid. Ancilotti which is not cheap makes welds like this student who was making shitty 100$ cro mo frames for some of my friends. It is understandable that he did this, but when you want to be treated seriously as a bike maker, you better step up your game. If you cannot grasp the importance of esthetics, then I guess you have a hard time in your engineering/ welding business.
  • + 1
 @WAKIdesigns:
The Ancilotti scarab is about 3000€ wich is not cheap but also not as expensive as you would expect for a custom geo bike. I think it'd good they saved the money for better looking welds. m.pinkbike.com/news/ancillotti-scarab-evo-prototype-2017.html
  • + 3
 @emptybox: you are delirious if you think than 3k is not a lot for an alu frame. 2k is the limit. You get a nice complete YT or Spec in that price while increase in performance is arguable, you are left with emotional value.
  • + 4
 @WAKIdesigns: Well put sir. Aesthetics are definitely important even if the ugly weld is structurally sound. I work for a company that does plenty of metal fabrication and just because a weld meets code it doesn't mean it is acceptable to a customer. A good looking weld bead will give your customer peace of mind that everything is build with good quality. I very much appreciate attention to detail especially when your talking about an expensive machine that could kill me if things go wrong...
  • + 1
 @millsr4: Most all those beads are good looking if you know what your looking at. The only ones that get a bit ugly are the headtube gusset. And that's entirely due to using a flat piece of material around the many contours of the junctions. You could add another pass and sand it smooth but that only proves you're a good grinder, not a good welder.
  • + 1
 @drunknride: I'm more worried about the welds on these bikes that I saw in the past... I see voids and potential inclusions on the below head tube welds that appear to be more than just aesthetic... I'm sorry but in my opinion a good welder has structurally sound welds that ALSO look good. I'm a PM and buyer of metal fabricated assemblies and I know I would not be happy with these welds on anything I purchase.

www.pinkbike.com/photo/14358817

www.pinkbike.com/news/ancillotti-scarab-evo-prototype-2017.html

www.pinkbike.com/news/ancillotti-scarab-29er-bike-check.html
  • + 1
 @millsr4: The one in the first link has some ugliness for sure. I agree if you can't make a short fillet weld with a uniform bead you need more practice. The one in the bike check looks like it was welded by a different person and is much cleaner.
  • + 17
 Why is it that the metal ones look glorious and the plastic ones look boring as fook. Long live metal bikes!
  • + 1
 Yes Man!!!! ;-)
  • + 10
 That high pivot bike seems rad...I'd love to ride it...probably be great in the chunder!
  • + 1
 The Craftworks ENR has a high pivot too. It's been a while since I've been looking at their bikes so I'm not sure how long it's been around, but it does look cool!
  • + 9
 Starling seems to hit one home run after the other in my book.
  • + 5
 Yeah I've been putting off buying a new bike for the past year. Just window shopping and kind of jaded with all the fancy plastic/aluminum super complicated machines. Starling was so out of left field and so refreshing that I eventually just happily bought a murmur which should be here any day now. Too bad PB comments hate Starling because of the Murmur review snafu. Oh well, they hate everything.
  • + 5
 @generationfourth: I have a Starling Swoop and it rides like an absolute dream, you will not be disappointed. Wishing you a happy new-bike-day!!
  • + 7
 Bar the Spec, all of these look absolutely rad. Smaller brands definitely seem to be making a lot of the prettier bikes these days.
  • - 4
flag plyawn (Jan 3, 2019 at 12:53) (Below Threshold)
 The thing that jumped out at me was that with the exception of the big S, each bike had a specific purpose for it's unique design: custom sizing, super short chainstays combined with slack front end, high pivot on a trail bike, etc. Specialized is just different because".

I may be cynical but my gut says to sell new bikes...
  • + 5
 Where is @protour to tell us how bad it'll ride?
  • + 7
 Per instagram, the Terrain Industries chainstay is getting a big makeover. I wonder if different lengths are being considered.
  • + 4
 new swingarm give it a much more "traditional" look. Really interested in this bike. The Loam Wolf did a writeup on their 50lb steel prototype. looks bad ass.

theloamwolf.com/2018/09/06/something-new-is-brewing-in-bend
  • + 2
 sngltrkmnd not making longer stays yet, as it's working perfect for the current frame size(470mm reach), but if I make a 500mm'ish reach bike I will lengthen the stays a bit for sure.
  • + 1
 @thuren: Sick! 6’5” here so 430-440 stays would make this whip even more attractive
  • + 3
 Whats with Forbidden and not having a website??? Multimedia is Okay but for the consumer standpoint we would like to see a tech based website that includes details of current makes and models and a history of the company and so on.....
  • + 6
 Alright. So I guess that I just need to put 29ers on my 2013 Specialized Demo. Then i'll be up to date again.
  • - 4
flag The-Mango-Kid (Jan 3, 2019 at 12:14) (Below Threshold)
 An eyecatcher, because 29ers just look wrong, but it catches your eye.
  • + 1
 @The-Mango-Kid: more of a taint-catcher...
  • + 1
 SUNN does boring plastic bikes nowadays. What a shame!!! 0% risk-taking and 100% market-sucking.
Buy a british steel bike instead. At least the Brits put some passion and originality in what they`re doing.
French bikes DO NOT exist -anymore- unfortunately., and don`t tell about Lapierre otherwise I puke.
  • + 2
 Should have included the Bold Unplugged. I guess their hidden shock design isn't new for 2018 but this latest iteration really looks interesting and also has all that adjustable geometry stuff.
  • + 1
 I agree, that design looked incredible
  • + 4
 None of these are as good as the bike I would make if I knew how to make a bike...jk. Nice bikes, all of them.
  • + 1
 It looks like a lapierre, it looks like a Norco, it looks like an Orange, it looks like a canyon, it looks like a Morpheus, it looks like an old Commencal.. well that’s just what I think
  • + 3
 Specialized mechanics must have missed wrestling dampers out of that impossible shock tunnel
  • + 2
 I like the Sunn bike. That thing looks sweet!! The Sunn brand new super unique! However the forbidden bike has my interest as well....
  • + 1
 www.marinbikes.com/bikes/2019-mountain-full-suspension-trail-29-wolf-ridge-pro should be on the list simply cuz, man.... it's oddly different
  • + 1
 I've ridden an ancillotti back in 2010 i think or earlier, wouldn't go there to be honest. The guy who lent it to me was super-happy with it.
  • + 1
 That Terrain Control I bike is not a polygon ex9, I repeat, it is NOT a polygon ex9. Ignore your brain, it has a record of lying. Also, don't lookup the polygon ex9.
  • + 3
 I’d call that Forbidden bike the fruit!
  • + 2
 Never mind


www.swarfcycles.co.uk/contour-29er-fs.html


Definitely not a turner sultan.
  • + 1
 For me it was the 77designz high pivot 4-bar prototype. Those guys really seem like they have it figured out... or maybe it's too good to be true.
  • + 3
 Forbidden bike is literally the best looking bike ever made
  • + 2
 Thanks for pointing out that you meant it literally. Otherwise I would have thought you just meant it's the best looking bike ever made.
  • + 2
 Forbidden Kingdom, would be awesome name
  • + 2
 I’ll take a Starling and a Forbidden please!
  • + 1
 That starling could use a sturmey archer 5 speed hub in that seat tube axle... Is that brass brazed?
  • + 2
 Quazimodo was eye catching as well...
  • + 1
 That forbidden bike looks like a promising bike, when is it coming out and price on that bad girl?
  • + 2
 Many of these look rather EVIL’ish
  • + 2
 Except Evil is only beginning to deal with the super slack seatpost angle. Once they nail that (and they know), they will have a quiver killer. Notice the changes in geometry we are already seeing.
  • + 2
 The Forbidden looks Rad !
  • + 1
 Thanks!
  • + 2
 @mikekazimer Great selection of bikes Mike! Nice.
  • + 1
 Waaaiiiiiitttttt, what about that Evil with the trust linkage fork!?!?!






Is it just because it was just the fork?
  • + 3
 What a time to be alive.
  • + 1
 Didn't Neo say that same thing?
  • + 1
 The resemblance between the Sunn Kern LT and the new Lapierre Zesty is euhm... eyecatching
  • + 2
 I miss head tube gussets.
  • + 1
 DEMO is the most expected.
  • + 1
 nice rigs but none with a gearbox,.. they are the future
  • + 1
 !!! Ancilloti 29" is one of the Top Bikes Ever ridden !!!
  • + 1
 oh look, the Furax got repackaged and is now called the Scarab...
  • + 1
 That Spec has a bit of cage nostalgia from the old Demo 9
  • + 1
 Some cool bikes great article.
  • + 1
 That Forbidden bike, very nice.... Game Master?
  • + 1
 I love short Cs. 413 sounds sweet to me
  • + 1
 What about that carbon bike the guy in Idaho made in his garage?
  • + 0
 what about the NS bikes nerd with one a 29er wheel upfront and a 27.5 down back
  • + 1
 Thank you for this article.
  • - 2
 Cool bikes but no Pole? I feel like the Pole Evolink & Machine started a lot of this progression. Now the Pole Stamina doesn't make a list of bikes some of whom a clearly Pole-inspired... Weird.
  • + 3
 We already covered the Machine a bunch last year, and there’s a long term review of it on the way.
  • + 1
 I thought the same thing, but figured that PB was working on the full review. There's others stateside / Canada that are coming up with some related revolutionary geometry. Good comment, not sure why PB users are hating other than for hating sake.
  • + 1
 Ancilloti welds are the best! Viva Italia! Bellisimo!
  • + 0
 No E-bikes! Nice, give the people what they want.
  • + 1
 Eminent Haste?
  • - 1
 The Terrain Control is not standing out in a good way. Call it the Homely Hawg, Wart Hawg ect.
  • + 1
 looks like a session.
  • + 0
 I'll take 413 chainstays over looks ANY Day.
  • + 1
 Lol... specialized
  • - 1
 Ancilloti carbon...
  • - 1
 #Swarfwasrobbed
  • + 2
 Don’t worry, we have a Contour FS in for review.
  • + 0
 @mikekazimer: I'm jealous.
  • + 1
 What is a countour fs?@mikekazimer:
  • + 1
 cool looking bike. But what is it the Swarf does that someone didn't already do? Genuinely asking, though I admit I didn't spend too long looking...
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