Trail Bike of the Year 2017 | MBR

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In association with Alpinestars we bring you our rundown of the best full suspension mountain bike in each of three core wheel sizes: 27.5in, 29in and 27.5 Plus.

Say the words “trail bike” and so many different images spring to mind. For some, it will be a 160mm enduro bike, for others, a hardcore hardtail. Terrain, skill level, affordability and even fashion play a big part in how each rider defines a trail bike. Boiled down to its very essence, it’s nothing more than the bike you ride trails on.

That would be far too broad a church for our 2017 Trail Bike of the Year test though. And given that we have our annual Hardtail of the Year bonanza coming up soon, and we’ve covered enduro bikes extensively this year, we decided to concentrate on the middle ground to find the best full suspension mountain bike for regular trail riding.

The best full suspension mountain bike

Even then, there’s a broad spectrum of mid-travel full suspension bikes to choose from. After much deliberation and chin rubbing we decided to split it into three distinct categories, each defined by wheel size. Yep, that’s right, travel takes a back seat in this test.

We have 12 bikes in total at capable trail bikes: four with 27.5in wheels, four 29ers and four 27.5 Plus bikes rounding out the test.

To minimise overlap, as lots of models are available in multiple wheel sizes, and to cover the widest ground possible each category has been focused at different price points too. The 27.5in bikes hit the £2.5k sweet-spot, the 29ers are all around the £3k mark, while the Plus bikes push the budget all the way up to £4K. Something for every pocket and riding style then.

This year’s winners

27.5 Trail Bike of the Year

Commencal Meta TR V4.2 Essential

Back in black, the Commençal Meta TR V4.2 Essential is anything but dull. With a shape profile, killer geometry and suspension that can handle anything, it’s a total trailblazer.

Commençal’s Essential component selection leaves nothing wanting either. The sizing is comprehensive and the suspension is a breeze to set up. It’s everything a 130mm bike should be: it’s tight, it’s reactive and it’s very effective. It’s no slouch on the climbs either; you never feel like you’re over-biked. It’s been a long time coming but the Meta is back where it needs to be.

29in Trail Bike of the Year

YT Industries Jeffsy CF Pro 29

The Jeffsy CF Pro is one of the fastest 29er trail bikes we’ve tested with a turn of speed that literally takes your breath away. It’s also tons of fun and will flatter and rider, no matter their ability. With 140mm of travel it can get a bit out of shape on steeper, rougher tracks, the flip side being that it’s incredibly agile, and can still punch its way out of most skirmishes.

Mesh this stand-out ride quality with the parts adorning the Jeffsy CF Pro, and you literally have one of the best pound-for-pound 29er trail bikes on the market today.

27.5 Plus Trail Bike of the Year

Scott Spark 710 Plus

As you’d expect from a pumped-up XC race bike, the Spark isn’t intended for ploughing down trails and riding passively. You need to work your limbs to make up for the shortfall in travel, but the rewards for your efforts are spectacular. We were constantly in awe of what this bike can do. Yet unlike a highly-strung athlete, it’s neither nervous nor neurotic, and its confidence is infectious.

Already it has been ridden to two Olympic gold medals; well now it can add our Trail Bike of the Year award to its glittering palmarès.

This year’s test bikes

Don’t forget to pick up the new issue of MBR – on sale right now – to read reviews of all the Trail Bike of the Year bike tests.

Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 EX £2,346.98
Commencal Meta TR V4.2 Essential €2,899
Giant Trance 2 £2,399
Whyte T-130 S £2,550


Cube Stereo 140 C:62 SL 29 £3,299
Specialized Stumpy FSR Comp Carbon 29 £3,400
Whyte T-129 RS £2,999
YT Industries Jeffsy CF Pro 29 £3,399

27.5 Plus

Santa Cruz Hightower C £4,399
Scott Spark 710 Plus £3,899
Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Expert Carbon 6Fattie £4,450
Trek Fuel EX 9.8 Plus £4,100


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Will Snibson says:

Why do u never do giants i live in aus and thats all any body has for all categories

Brett Mason says:

Direct sales vs dealer bikes seems a bit controversial when using price as the baseline. Would of been nice to see an apples to apples comparison on spec and let the buyer decide if the price point is justifiable. I understand the need to show value for money, but I would appreciate an opinion based on chassis alone as well.

J LAW says:

Jeffsy 27.5???

paulfocus23 says:

No Marin?!

eskimo joe says:

why are these so expensive?

Rouault Recording says:

When will u do the hardtail of the year again. Like the Vitus Nucleus won last year.

JD says:

At £550 I think my Heist 3.0 is the winner!!

W B says:

how about the YT jeffsy 27.5″? is it equally good?

Lawson Ireland says:

thinking of getting a Scott spark 920,what you guys think it’s my first full sus???

Stozzy66 says:

Bike of the year,strange have we just not gone into April sure we have twelve months in a year ,would this not be best done in the back end of the year for a better result ,sure we will have a fair few more models out by then .still some nice choices there guys

Parham Saeidi says:

They seem to be mtb, not trail. right?

Amade Colenbrander says:

commencal 4 life

The Cranemeister says:

Any pivots tested?

Elvis Tam says:

YT! YT! YT!… sorry I’m a fan boy

rayred74 says:

Do me a favour – next year standardise the test. I do not want to know that a bike won because it had better tyres on – that is a consumable and very replaceable product. have the frames on standard wheels and tyres – this way you are comparing like for like in terms of geometry and spec.

Ismail El-Shalh says:

Seriously I am confused … I can’t count how many bikes won this year!!! I will buy them all :p

ThunderStruckCoach says:

Good stuff!

round around says:

that was short… :/

Richard Tann says:

Where the heck is that track. Looks awesome

Jordan Keeler says:

No transition scout or patrol??? That surprises me, considering the raving reviews.

St Hr says:

I’ll take my 429 Trail over any of these even though they are all very, very nice.

Michael Clark says:

Thanks! Very informative

oliver denning says:

I literally just got my commencal meta Sx v3 today, and at £2000 it has to be by far the best deal. It’s fucking amazing

jaybs 25 says:

Can you guys check on the Dartmoor Primal27.5 when you do a hardtail of the year? I bought their frame but Dartmoor is unfamiliar to me. I don’t see them on your tests either.

kre sho says:

what about spectral cf (8) instead weakest 6.0 AL

Trevor Bohnsack says:

Can’t believe Trek fuel isn’t in this!

Class Act Racing says:


Jamie Smith says:

i keep with my voodoo bizango 29er

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