We completed the 2019 Outside Bike Test, and even as the lineup of mountain bikes becomes higher than ever, I’d symbolize 2019 as a yr that’s greater evolutionary than revolutionary for the dust crowd.
The plus-motorbike craze has more often than not receded, with tires settling in round 2.5 and a pair of—6 inches on the maximum trail and all-mountain machines. Design tendencies are still shifting towards longer, lower geometries, even though on the chunky, step-weighted down trails in Grand Junction, we found that’s now not constantly a perfect aspect, often main to bashed pedals and frames. And while conventional information was that long-travel suspensions and 29ers have been jointly exceptional, this year, the biggest growth category changed into huge wheels with 150 millimeters of travel and up. We’re nonetheless riding tough to determine the prevailing motorcycles for print and complete reviews online. In the interim, the following had been a number of the maximum exciting and properly preferred bikes of the take a look at to date.
Transition Smuggler Carbon X01 (from $three,999; $five,999 as examined)
This path 29er proved to be the sleeper of the check. For a motorcycle with now, not several travel—one hundred twenty millimeters outback and one hundred forty millimeters up the front—the Transition feels notably capable, and a manufactured from the relaxed modern geometry: short chainstays, along the front-center paired to a short stem, and a 66-diploma head angle. Yet, not like a great deal of the extraordinarily lengthy and low competition, Transition has stored the lowest bracket at an affordable height, so pedal moves weren’t a problem. We also favored the high value over excessive intercourse issue build, along with an X01 Eagle drivetrain, Stan’s Arch MK3 wheels, and 2.3-inch Maxxis Minion tires. Unassuming, pretty cheap, and equipped to tackle more than its numbers advocate, the Smuggler could make a really perfect each day motive force in all but the most rugged places.
Lenz Behemoth 29+ (from $4,500; $8,200 as tested)
The Behemoth will not be for every person, but it’s far the motorbike I had been waiting for ever seeing that I rode my first 29+, the Surly Krampus, returned in 2012. Other groups have tried to mate these oversize wheels—three inches of rubber on 29-inch hoops—to complete suspension; however, the Behemoth is the first bike that manages to get both the rollover and suspensive blessings of the scale without feeling like a John Deere. The mixture of supershort chainstays (424 millimeters, as brief as many avenue bikes), tight wheelbase, and center-of-the-road suspension numbers (125-millimeter Monarch shock paired to a hundred and forty-millimeter Lyric fork) made this bike feel nimbler and quicker than the whole thing within the check, other than the XC bikes.
Meanwhile, the high bottom bracket and tall wheels made easy paintings of the nastiest, rockiest terrain. It’s dumbfoundingly mild (28.2 pounds) given the alloy frame and all that rubber, a result of some of the coolest, wildest wheel tech we’ve visible in years: The DT240s hubs are laced to Nox carbon rims with Berd nylon spokes, which might be approximately a third a load of typical metallic but almost twice as sturdy. That makes the wheels now not the most effective helium mild but also extraordinarily compliant. The motorbike’s oversize appearance and tender journey earned it the slightly mocking moniker the Yoga Ball. Still, time after time, testers took it out and got here again with the beatific smile of someone who’s just completed a rolling meditation. This motorcycle feels right.
Mondraker Foxy Carbon RR 29 ($7,2 hundred)
This Spanish company’s concept of forwarding Geometry—long top tube and short stem—has driven the broader marketplace. Yet, the Foxy Carbon 29 remains on the edge of this movement, longer and lower than pretty lots something in the test. The position feels unusual on the path at the start. However, the stability of the long wheelbase and the direct, steamrolling trail manners made it famous with quite a good deal each tester, from move-country workhorses to DH shredders. It’s a beautiful, exclusive-searching motorbike and right on point with long-tour 29 traits, with a hundred and fifty millimeters of travel out returned with the Fox DPX2 Evol surprise and one hundred sixty-millimeter Float 36 fork upfront. A specialty device for crushing the trail and racing enduro, the Foxy 29 doesn’t have a mild contact; however, it’s hard to conquer if speed and stability are your recreations.
Esker Elkat ($5, two hundred)
Dave Weagle has created many of the most famous and successful suspension designs on nowadays’s mountain motorbike marketplace—DWLink for Ibis and Pivot, Split Pivot on Devinci and Salsa Delta for Evil—so we were thrilled. At the same time, we heard the tiny new brand Esker could unveil his present-day platform on its debut bike, a one hundred fifty-millimeter carbon 27.5er. With its roots in moto, the Orion Suspension, in reality, has a unique and extremely positive sense, with a planted, nearly glued-to-the-floor sensation both whilst mountain climbing and on high-velocity descents. The design also makes for one of the cleanest-searching motorcycles we’ve seen in a while. And the clever elements spec—Shimano XT, Stan’s Baron rims on Industry Nine hubs, Fox Transfer dropper—speaks to an organization greater interested in building a killer journey than ticking the boxes of what’s brand new. This is one hell of a debut all-mountain gadget, though numerous testers wanted the platform to have been released on a 29er. Also, we loved the traction of the Terrene Chunk tires. However, the grippiness made the motorbike experience like we were driving thru quicksand, up and down.