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Matt Sklar | 04.18.2018

Mountain bike technology is constantly changing and improving as companies seek to make the most versatile and fun bikes. Trail and all-mountain mountain bikes continue to take cues from enduro racing, beefing up their capabilities with more suspension, 29ers are on the rise once again, and plus-size tires have found a happy medium that is great for some riders. Follow along to explore all of these 2018 mountain bike trends.

1. Longer Travel

For riders looking to go big and fast, bike makers are stepping up their game, introducing models with 170mm of travel, whereas 160mm used to be the “ceiling” on all-mountain bikes. Bikes like the Santa Cruz Bikes’ Nomad, Devinci Bikes’ Spartan, and Transition Bikes’ Patrol all fall into this newer beefier category. This gives them superior downhill performance, and tweaks to geometry help to retain pedaling performance.

Likewise, many trail bikes are getting more suspension, too - like the Yeti Cycles SB5 LR, and Devinci Django. Subtle changes to frame geometry have helped to keep them nimble and pedal-friendly for climbing, while the added travel gives them more cushion for tha pushin’ on descents. Whether you run a  trail bike vs all mountain bike will still come down to your personal preference and the trails you ride, but the bottom line is that these bike are getting bigger and more fun.

Photo: Transition Bikes

2. Not Your Dad’s 29er

No longer are 29ers stuck with old-school geometry, making them no fun on descents. 29ers are now shreddier than ever. A quickly growing segment of aggressive bikes like the Evil Wreckoning, Santa Cruz Hightower LT, Transition Sentinel, and Yeti SB5.5 are pushing the limits of what is possible on a trail bike. We think Evil’s description of the Wreckoning captures this pretty well: “The idea of the Wreckoning began with the idea of a bike that could shred the down like a true DH bike and still pedal pedal up, but retain the sports car feel.” These longer and more aggressive monster trucks are extremely fast, stupendously stable, and shockingly responsive - just keep those big mountain bike wheels spinning!

Photo: Paris Gore/Evil Bikes

3. 29-inch or 27.5-inch+

Fat bikes quickly gained a cult-following, though they’re definitely not for everyone. One thing that can be learned from our chubby tired comrades is that bigger mountain bike tires give better traction and a cushier ride. As it turns out, plus-sized 27.5-inch tires are nearly the same size as normal 29er tires. Thus bike companies have given riders the ability to run either 29-inch wheels or 27.5-inch wheels with plus-sized tires...pick your poison.

While these trends might seem like they’re only beneficial to riders that prioritize the descent over the ascent, in reality they really just show the way in which mountain bikes have become more tuned-in to perform well everywhere. Thanks to advances in suspension, design, and mountain bike geometry, brands are able to add more suspension without losing ride quality. This makes for a more exciting and more capable bike. Look out for these bikes and others like them on your local trails this summer!


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