3 Mountain Bike Trends in 2018

Mountain bike technology is never stagnant; bike makers are always seeking to progress.

Lately, manufacturers have put their focus into making bikes that ride better going downhill without sacrificing the ability to climb uphill. Continuing this influence from enduro racing, trail and all-mountain mountain bikes are adding additional suspension, but retaining a focus on pedalability. Likewise, 29ers are back again, and plus size tires have found a great niche for some riders. Follow along to explore all of these 2018 mountain bike trends.

Longer Travel Trail & All Mountain Bikes

Most all-mountain bikes used to top out at 160mm of travel. This is no longer the case, with bike makers stepping up to 170mm travel on some models. The additional cushion makes these bikes even better on the downhill. Bikes like the Santa Cruz Bikes’ Nomad, Devinci Bikes’ Spartan, and Transition Bikes’ Patrol all fall into this newer beefier category. These new and revised models offer plenty of bike for most riders taking on the bikepark. This eliminates the need for a dedicated downhill bike for many riders who might only ride bikepark a couple days a year.

Many trail bikes are following their longer travel companions getting more suspension themselves. Bikes like the Yeti Cycles SB5 Lunch Ride, Devinci Django, and others fit this bill. These bikes have received subtle tweaks that aim to keep them pedal-friendly and nimble, despite the added plushness. Whether riders choose to run a  trail bike vs all mountain bike will still come down to what types of rides they plan to conquer, but the bottom line is that these bike are getting bigger, more capable on descents, and more fun.

Big Wheels Are Back

You’ve probably heard it before, but 29ers are back, for real this time. No longer are these big-wheeled bikes stuck with old-school geometry, thanks to new progressive designs. A quickly growing segment of aggressive 29ers 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. These bikes pair the larger, faster, wheel size with modern slacked out geometry that reclaims some of the nimbleness that the wheels sacrifice. We think Evil’s description of the Wreckoning captures this pretty well, saying “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 - as long as you can keep those big wheels spinning!

You Choose: 29” OR 27.5+

Fat bikes own their own niche in the mountain bike world, and they’re certainly not for everyone. Trail and all-mountain bikes are taking cues from the fatties, however, sporting wider tires, and with plus size emerging as a nice in-between. These wider mountain bike tires give better traction, and a cushier ride. On the plus side (pun intended) it turns out, plus-sized 27.5” tires are nearly the same size as normal 29er tires. Thus, bike companies have given riders the ability to run either 29” wheels OR 27.5” wheels with plus sized tires on some frames.

These trends definitely prioritize fun, stability, and confidence while descending. Behind the scenes, however, manufacturers have made small tweaks to suspension design and mountain bike geometry allowing these bikes to stay nimble and able to climb with ease. This makes a more fun and more capable bike. Look out for these bikes and others like them on your local trails this summer!

Published: July 16, 2018

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Matt Sklar

Seattle