2017 Mountain Bike Trends
With the advent of new standards, design approaches, and components, there has never been a better time to saddle up a mountain bike. Whether you’re kitting out your trusty steed, looking at brand new whips or just want to stay in the know, we’re here to bring you up to speed on the latest and greatest in mountain bike trends and technology.
Short Travel Bikes
Manufacturers have invested heavily in geometry R&D, paving the way for shorter travel platforms that deliver big performance. More aggressive designs featuring slacker head tube angles, longer wheel bases and longer reach make bikes in the 110-140mm range like the Intense Spider or the Santa Cruz 5010 impressively capable as conditions get spicy.
You’re in for a pleasant surprise when these short travel bikes hit the rough stuff. A smaller package creates a less-cumbersome, more responsive and playful ride. Thanks to the weight savings and better pedal efficiency, you’ll be able to tackle longer adventure rides and less predictable terrain all while boosting your skills!
Pumped Up 29ers
This “less is more” ideology has also trickled down to 29ers. The move towards enhanced geometry has spawned a comeback for these big wheeled beasts. evo’s bike buyer, Jon Kennedy, had this to say – “Because of 1x set ups, metric shocks, etc… there’s more room to play with in frame design – it’s what was lacking in the mid 2000s when 29ers stole the market.” With their more aggressive, slacked out specs, bikes like the Yeti SB5.5 or Transition Smuggler land in a grey area between cross country and more heavy duty all-mountain performance. A new 29er is a must ride, whether you haven’t ridden wagon wheels in a decade or have yet to experience them at all!
Swappable Tire Sizes
Due to the similar circumference of 27.5+ and 29 inch tires, bike manufacturers realized it was possible to swap between the two by slightly widening rear triangle clearance on the right models. (In some instances, the clearance was already there). Bikes like the Devinci Marshall and Santa Cruz Hightower have the extra width to run either wheel setup and are sold with 29″ wheels or 27.5+” wheels depending on the model.
For riders interested in swapping between wheel sets or building their bike from the ground up, this is great news. Newer riders should also be stoked! 27.5+ tires have a wide contact patch for confidence inspiring grip. Great for novice riders! Later, when you find yourself riding faster and more technical terrain, you can swap the 27.5″ wheels out for the 29’s. Consider this added flexibility when comparing bikes.
When first introduced, carbon frames could be found on high end builds only. The appeal has quickly grown thanks to carbon’s lighter weight and smooth, responsive feel, and prices have been going down since. Carbon technology is improving and demand is increasing, so much so that the barrier to entry on a carbon frame is going down as manufacturing is streamlined and R&D pioneers the next generation of lighter, stronger carbon frames.
Brand to brand, these next gen carbon frames can be identified by their model names, such as Yeti’s “TURQ,” Intense’s “SL” or Santa Cruz and Juliana’s “CC.” These frames feature new construction methods with a revamped bonding process for sections and mounts. This means an increasingly stiffer ride and roughly 2-300 grams of weight savings compared to previous generation carbon frames!
Not long ago, many mountain bikers said hello to 1x and goodbye to the pesky front derailleur. Now, the focus has shifted to improving the gear range of the rear cassette. It started with 1×11 drivetrains and a versatile “Granny Gear” for climbing. SRAM has now taken this cassette refinement to the next realm with their Eagle 12-Speed system.
The benefits here are a larger gear range, improved longevity and smoother actuation via a new front chainring, refined crankset and derailleur clutch. Note that this system is exclusive to SRAM’s proprietary XD Driver hub. The added versatility of climbing/descending gears is great for any bike that sees a high variety of pedaling. This is a great upgrade to consider when prepping your steed for this season or comparing builds between new bikes.
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