Mountain Bike of the Year Nominees
The nominees for the 2022 Mountain Bike of the Year are all prime examples of just how good modern mountain bikes have become. Whether it's the USA-made Allied BC40, which mixes fast with fun in just the right way, the ultra-versatile Trek Fuel EX, or the refined big hit capabilities of the Santa Cruz Nomad, there's something for almost everyone. And don't forget about the high pivot Deviate Claymore that impressed us at the Enduro Field Test, and the shapeshifting Canyon Strive that Seb Stott said was the best enduro bike he's ever tested.
As always, there can only be one winner. Last year it was the Norco Range that took home the trophy. Which bike will it be for 2022?
Why it's nominated
The name may be the same, but the new Fuel EX is an entirely different beast than the previous models. Yes, there's more travel, and the expected longer and slacker geometry, but that's not the whole story. Trek also added in geometry and leverage rate adjustments that allow it to be set up with a head angle as slack as 63.5 degrees all the way up to 65.5 degrees, and run with either a coil or air sprung shock. On top of all that it's mixed wheel compatible, available with either an aluminum or a carbon frame, and has room for snacks in the down tube.
The list of adjustments and features is extensive, but what really matters is how a bike rides, and the Fuel EX doesn't disappoint, no matter if the trail is pointed up, down, or something in between. We put in a ton of miles on this yellow machine (yes, there are other color options – the black paint scheme is a lot more palatable) during the Whistler Field Test, and the Fuel EX didn't flinch. Where the previous version could feel a little overly-active at times, that's no longer the case. The suspension is noticeably more supportive while pedaling hard or pumping through rollers, while still being supple enough to provide grip in slipperier conditions. There's also no more proprietary shock or steering-limiting Knock Block, a welcome return to basics that helps make this the most capable Fuel EX yet. From the review:
|The Fuel EX is much more fun than the old bike when the trail was smooth and more level than down. Yup, despite it having more travel on both ends and being a much longer, slacker bike, it's much easier to pump and carry speed on the new Trek, a notable trait for a bike meant to be ridden everywhere and anywhere.— Mike Levy|
Why it's nominated
Santa Cruz updated almost their entire lineup this year, much to the delight of riders who like having a hole in their downtube for stashing breakfast burritos and gummy bears. The new Hightower, Tallboy, and 5010 all ride very well, but it was the Nomad that floated a little above the rest, with a rock solid, ready-for-anything feel. That's thanks to geometry numbers and a mixed-wheel setup that seems to hit the sweet spot for a very pedalable gravity-oriented bike, along with suspension kinematics that make the most of the Nomad's 170mm of travel.
The frame itself upholds the high level of quality that Santa Cruz has become known for, and while there's no getting around that high price tag, there's also no reason it shouldn't keep on performing well for years to come with only minimal maintenance.From the review:
|In this case the Nomad's numbers equate to a bike that's easy to stick into corners or tight, awkward maneuvers while also retaining its composure when bombing down a steep straightline. |
The Nomad's rear suspension provides a supportive platform that leaves enough millimeters of squish in reserve for sudden bigger hits, while also making it possible to get the bike airborne without feeling like you're getting sucked into a waterbed.”— Mike Kazimer
Why it's nominated
The previous Strive was released back in 2019, and even when it was brand new it was a little steeper and a little shorter on travel than its competitors. Canyon fixed that with the latest version, bumping up the travel to 160mm, and radically changing the geometry. The reach of a size XL is a whopping 530mm – there's a good chance that tall riders looking for a bike that actually fits them will find it here. Other riders may end up going with a size smaller than they typically ride, but that has more to do with Canyon's size labeling than anything else – I don't think anyone would have batted an eye if the medium was called a large, the XL and XXL, etc...
Even though it's designed as a purebred race bike, it's also a versatile all-rounder, thanks in part to the Shapeshifter feature that allows it to be switched from 160 to 140mm with the flick of a lever. That does add a layer of complication and potential for issues compared to bikes without this feature, but the flip-side is that it can easily be transformed for climbing or riding smoother, flowier trails. However, it's the Strive's downhill capabilities that cemented its spot on this list, thanks to supple, ground hugging suspension that remains stable on rolling terrain. From the review:
|Purely in terms of how the Strive rides, it is in my opinion the best enduro bike I've tested so far. |
It's a good climber (as long as you're willing to push the seat forwards and use the Shapeshifter), but it's an even better descender. The suspension is very supple and ground-hugging, but supportive enough to remain stable and dynamic on rolling terrain. The Shapeshifter takes this further, as it can be used to improve responsiveness on mellow descents too. That makes the Strive surprisingly versatile for an enduro race bike. It's on steep and technical descents where it really shines, with bags of grip, stability and composure, but without being too tricky to manhandle through the tight stuff. It's a thoroughbred racer you could ride every day.— Seb Stott
Why it's nominated
Allied got their start in the road and gravel world back in 2016, but given that Lea Davison and Payson McEveen both ride for the US-brand, it wasn't exactly surprising to see a mountain bike added to their lineup. The BC40 is a 120mm bike that Allied says, “blends XC race with downcountry abilities.” Those claims held true during the Downcountry Field Test in Quebec, where testers praised the BC40's ability to feel fast without feeling sketchy, a balance that not every bike in this travel bracket achieves.
The carbon frame and the aluminum linage are made in the USA, which means that this one doesn't fall into the affordable category, although it's not as eye-wateringly expensive as you might expect, especially compared to other top-level options from big brands that are made overseas. If the term 'downcountry' leaves a funny taste in your mouth, think of this as a modern XC bike, one that excels on trails that are a little more wild than mild. It'd be ideal for something like the BC Bike Race, a multi-day event that's doesn't involve doing circles on the same sanitized trail. From the review:
|It manages to be efficient when you're on the gas, supple at the top of the stroke and around the sag point, and it also has more than enough support and bottom-out resistance for whatever you're doing that you probably shouldn't be doing. That's a wide performance and set-up window, especially as many bikes in this category seem to be making sacrifices in one or more areas to benefit another.— Mike Levy|
Why it's nominated
Deviate's a much, much smaller brand than the likes of Trek or Canyon, but they came out swinging this year with the Claymore. It's an idler-equipped high pivot bike with 165mm of rear travel that ended up being the surprise favorite at our Enduro Field Test. High-pivot bikes can often have a slightly sluggish, stuck to the ground feel that works best in chunky, technical terrain, but Deviate's latest creation proves that doesn't always need to be the case.
The Claymore ended up having a much more energetic feel than we expected, with a lightness to its handling that kept it entertaining even on slightly tamer trails and at slower speeds. Fast is fun, and the Claymore does love to go fast, but it's also nice to be on a bike that doesn't need
to go fast to come alive. From the review:
|It never felt unwieldy, and its smooth, comfortable ride put this bike on all of our short lists of favorites.|
Overall, the Claymore would make for a great race bike, or a long-travel do-it-all machine, with enough travel to handle unexpected surprises, and geometry that allows it to shine on a variety of tracks.— Mike Kazimer
That being said, I always thought the Remedy was a much cooler name.
I remember the 2015 or 2016 Sun Peaks enduro. A legit mountain with hard trails in that race. There were dudes on thunderbolts and fuels trying to throw down. Run what ya brung!
Now, other than a handful of groms, the smallest bikes you see are like Instincts and Troys and stuff. The All mountain is the new trail bike.
Genuine question, maybe I’m missing something in the fine print between this and any other bike that has a geo flip chip.
The best part is, neg props, internet points, etc have little to no meaning in real life, so don’t let it get to you
.5 degree flip chip still changes the handling, just by a smaller margin.
I’m all for the radical adjustability built into the Trek,
But it’s done with headset cups that need to be pressed in, which is fine, but you can buy those for virtually any bike out there.
Thate Stumpy EVO is the real winner when it comes to mainstream adjustability like that, and anything by Nicolas or Geometron
I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of us couldn’t tell our ar$ehole$ from our own heads sometimes (for those that are gonna get their knickers in a bunch, I’m including my self in that statement).
We get wrapped up in silly numbers, and hyped up marketing, bad wanting so badly to justify our vanity purchase that we will fight to the death on 5 mm here and there.
I had a fairly spicy argument on here with severe allergies people assuring me that they could feel every millimeter of difference when it came to bits and bobs. I think that most people think that in order to be a “good”mountain biker, they need to be able to discern every .5 degree of angle difference, every 10mm of suspension travel, every 5mm of CS, and I don’t think any of us can….
Willing to spend a day with anyone who wants to prove me wrong, while we do blind test runs, and I incrementally change your bike…..I’ll even buy the beer
I’m usually a little more concerned with geo than travel.
A 140mm travel V1 Sentinel is a much more confident descending bike than a Cannondale Jekyl with 170 travel, and 160mm travel.
Geo works everywhere, all the time, suspension only works some of the time
I think you can get a Warden at 30%off right now, smokin deal, on a smokin bike.
Rides like it’s built to be ridden hard, and put away wet. I took it on trade from a buddy for my V1 Sentinel, also a bike that punches above its weight (or travel) would have you believe.
Fugitive was over forked, and was a great all around bike. I’ve since short stroked it in an attempt to build a short travel ripper.
I think it’s the bike/company that I’ll look to for any future bikes. The details are incredible, access door on the underside of the top tube to help route cables, the cable stops, the titanium hardware, the bottomless suspension feel, the quality alu tubes and welding…..I’m even overlooking the fugly duckling frame design..
Tell me more please!
Keen to see what they do with the 2024 model though.
I think it's going to be same suspension design as Finn/Loic bike that's been hidden up.
I vote for whichever bike Max is riding cause it will win social media dominance. Orbea for the win!
1. What's the point of this contest if a bike with seat mounted so much forward wins? Understand personal preferences but it's silly.
2. Chainstays too short for that long front-center in bigger sizes.
3. No build-in tubes for cables
4. Only 2 build options
5. No alloy option
6. Yes, don't like canyon however new spectral and torque looks much better than this...
The reason behind canyon bikes is that they don't have trunnion mount shocks and that's the only reason why I moght want one od their bikes.
Re:2 the guy that tested it rides a big size and liked it. So maybe indeed you should stop reading PB reviews if their opinions on bikes are so far off yours.
Every major MTB innovation was invented because someone has different opinion.
The trek looks cool.
The Nomad is a bit meh,
I’ve never heard of the Allied,
And the canyon can lick my scroat.
I guess its a good bike but doesn’t excite me.
"Most environmentally friendly packaging"
Nominating: Spot Bikes for their minimal packaging. Everyone else wastes a lot of material in shipping.
What is in a Clamato?
Water, Tomato Concentrate, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Monosodium Glutamate, Salt, Citric Acid, Spices, Onion And Garlic Powder, Ascorbic Acid (to Maintain Color), Dried Clam Broth, Vinegar, Natural Flavors, Red 40, Red Chili Pepper.
Besides, good clamato is never complete without red 40. All my homies love red 40.
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