THESE STELLAR OPTIONS CAN GO ANYWHERE AND DO ALMOST ANYTHING
The best mountain bike can be a lot of things, depending on your personal riding style, tastes, budget, and local trails. Like other segments of cycling, the mountain bike pie continues to be sliced into thinner pieces–niches within niches–in the hopes of creating a bike with a distinct flavor, as well as optimizing it for an intended use. There is a bike for everyone from the cross-country racer who is all about climbing speed to the park rider looking to go big and everything in between.Most of the bikes in this slideshow have between 120mm and 162mm of travel, which puts them in the trail or enduro category (you might also hear them referred to as “all-mountain” bikes) and maks them ideal for riding any trail. We’ve also evaluated the top downhill mountain bikesof the year and the best hardtails. Check out those reviews if you’re looking to enter an XC race or use ride lifts. For everyone else, one of these 20 bikes will meet your needs.
Here are a few themes we’re seeing in 2018:
Longer Reaches and Longer Front Centers
If you’ve been following the mountain bike market, no doubt you’ve noticed that “longer” is the most popular word going. Reaches are getting longer, which–along with increasingly slack head tube angles–also lengthens the bike’s front center and wheelbase. This additional length centers the rider between the wheels more, and makes bikes feel more stable, more secure in steep terrain, and smoother overall. To counter the additional length, brands are equipping bikes with shorter stems (as short as 30mm isn’t uncommon) so the stretch to the bars doesn’t change much. Longer isn’t always better: it can make the bike less stable at slower speeds, harder to maneuver in tight terrain, and requires the rider be judicious about putting weight on the front wheel when cornering.
Seat Angles Are Steeper
Mountain bikes are starting to get seat tube angles more commonly associated with triathlon bikes: as steep as 76º, or more. This is usually pitched as a way to get a rider in a more favorable climbing position, which is partially true, but (in typical bike industry marketing fashion) is also not the whole story. For example, you can make any bike’s effective seat tube angle steeper by pushing the saddle forward on the rails, or, if you have a setback post, switching to a zero offset, or forward offset, seatpost. But steeper seat angles also are tool that allows frame engineers to move the seat tube out of the way as they try to to increase travel, decrease chainstay length, and fit bigger wheels and tires in their frames. Steeper seat tube angles also prevent dropper posts from binding at the top of their travel.