Trail Bike of the Year 2018 | Overall Winners | Mountain Bike Rider

Year after year, the relentless march of progress brings the full-suspension trail bike inching ever closer to perfection. | Click here to subscribe:

And while it’s easy to bemoan the lack of standardization and inherited obsolescence that goes hand in hand with progress, it’s this constant evolution that makes every generation of trail bike that bit more capable than the last.

This year is no exception.

Take the Canyon Spectral CF 8.0 for example.

Bar a slightly longer reach and a smidge lower BB height, its vital stats are virtually identical to the old Spectral.

But these subtle improvements to the geometry and fit, combined with a revised suspension layout and fatter 2.6in tyres, make it a completely different proposition in the dirt.

It’s fast, it’s confidence inspiring, and best of all, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

And that’s before we even mention the build kit.

Factor in its direct to consumer business model, and only the Commençal Meta TR comes close to matching the Canyon’s value for money.

Taken as a package, there’s no disputing the Spectral’s pedigree, and it’s easily deserving of that coveted ten out of ten rating.

The 29er category was the most hotly contested this year.

Proof, if it were needed, that 29er trail bikes haven’t lost any of their momentum.

And, despite strong opposition from Whyte, YT and Trek, it was a wild-card entry from Vitus that won the day.

A result made all the more impressive considering it’s the cheapest bike in the test by quite some margin.

Once again, it was the details that really made all the difference.

Little things like the wide trail up front to improve cornering confidence, and thicker-casing rear tyre to help avoid punctures.

The RockShox Lyrik fork also gave the Escarpe 29 VRX a distinct advantage over its rivals with the excellent Charger RCT3 damper absorbing everything we could throw at it.

The Escarpe offers room for improvement, though.

The seat tube needs to be made shorter to better accommodate a 150mm dropper, and the bottom bracket could do with being a bit lower.

Ironically these are both criticisms that were levied at last year’s winner, the YT Jeffsy.

Seeing as both of these brands are young and dynamic, we suspect that neither will take our feedback lying down.

For now though, Vitus has the upper hand.

Winning Trail Bike of the Year in the Plus category two years on the trot, it’s fair to say that Scott is on a roll.

With the most progressive sizing and geometry in class, the new Genius takes the winning formula first developed on the short-travel Spark and applies it to a 150mm platform.

Scott is so far ahead of the competition, no other bike even comes close to challenging its supremecy.

However, when you’re paying upwards of four thousand pounds for a bike, you can afford to be fussy, and much as we love having the two travel settings on the rear of the Genius 720, we don’t want it hooked up to the fork and we see no need for the full lockout.

That’s the only fly in the ointment, but it was enough to stop the Genius 720 getting a perfect 10.

So those are the headlines, but if you want the full scoop, be sure to watch our full reviews on all three winning bikes.

These videos will be dropping next week, so stay tuned.

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mozzyforest says:

Where are the hard tails??

mjs1231 says:

Well that was misleading as f. Inconclusive testing video lol. Funny how the cheapest and aluminum was chosen lol. Carbon is crap and over hyped giant.
1 pound diff at double the price AHAHAHAHAHA. SCAMALOOSKI.

Christian Larsen says:

Where were you shooting this video?

jonboy1066 says:

Good to see the review rides being done on “Thick n Creamy” I ride there a lot & sometimes struggle on that trail so to see a bike that I might go for being tested there is great.

Rab. C. Nesbitt says:

Four bikes in each class, thorough test then.

Max Vermaesen says:

150mm isn’t really trail

Dirt Storm Troopers says:

I use a genius 720 non plus its great!

Benny Cheng says:

Where’s the dream bike version of this?

Don Cadavona says:

No pricing or value scoring? You cant match a $5000 bike to a $2000 bike.

Glideman says:

That droll voice makes me cringe

Luke Brooks says:

Was the 4 bikes per wheel size all the bikes that were tested

Andrew Mayer says:

I dare you to get a motobecane 527ds…

marko zuurveld says:

would you do the same with hardtail trail bikes,just like this video

kre sho says:

For Spectral 2018: “…make it completely different proposition in the dirt (then the last 2017 model),
its fast, its confident inspiring blablabla” you are trying to tell 2017 model is slow, confident uninspiring, and booring, havent you said the same story for Spectral 2017 previously? wtf

rascal1234 says:

I have a Scott spark 920, with the lockout. For the XC bike, I really like having the front locked out while I climb. I agree with the shorter wheelbase, but I wonder how the Genius would do on a bike park as a DH bike. I really like my specialized enduro for this purpose (I changed the wheel-set, tires and rear shock to a RockShox monarch plus RC3). Overall, the Spark is a better trail bike for me.

hapiman97 says:

Not super impressed with my Vitus escarpe. After paying import duties to the us you would be much better off with a YT jeffsy. Much of the manufacturing of the frame is cost> function with the horrible split seatstay design that leaves your dropper cable wearing at your linkage. Also regarding droppers I would only recommend a hydraulic actuated post or externally routed post as the internal post routing is terrible. Not a bad bike for what you pay for it but you get what you pay for. I would only recommend it if you can catch it on one of crc’s many 30% off sales with duty paid.

Dog House says:

Re Scott the dual lock out is perfect. Opinion depends on riding context. If you don’t want it just unhook it!

Jun Tion says:

no cube

Calvin Chang says:

Want to see DH of the year

mjs1231 says:

Without watching this. I say since the industry has been pushing 29 like crack dealers im going to say 29. Ok now i will watch.

Bishop Kalliko says:

Please do this on all these amazing long travel 29ers out this year.

PetitTerrible says:

26″ IS NOT DEAD !!!

AF25 says:

It’s April

OG Kushmaster says:

No Evil Following MB, Wreckoning, or Calling 🙁

The FPV Life says:

I find this episode is based on more opinion than fact.

Not a robot says:

Enduro bike of the year i bet is the capra 29er

MrVandall82 says:

Why not use scott 920 /720 with 29 whels and compare with whyte /trek

Jason Fry says:

Recently bought the Jeffsy 2018, love the Canyon but with a limit of £2200 the Jeffsy blows the Canyon away spec wise. Love that frame tho.

Cal says:

No 5010, no Ibis?!???

Billy Borthwick says:

Take it all with a pinch of salt.

j m says:


Billy Burn VanDusen says:

Please release the individual bike reviews first next year!

MAGNUM 0522 says:

I’m a 26″ all-mountain trail bike….. So shout with me 29″ ARE GAYYYYYY

Scott Sheldon says:

Evil Calling…nuff said

Gabriel Villegas says:

What about Orbea Rallon?

Alex Nikon says:

Yes. VITUS Escarpe 29!! I made a good purchase in 2018! I bought the Escarpe, due to the outstanding specs and the conservative price. I just DO NOT, understand how the “Popular,” bike brands you see in bike shops over the USA, can charge a thousand dollars or more, for MTBs that are spec’d with eight and nine speed components and then charge multi$thousands for eleven & twelve speed. What need is there for all those gears? I been riding for over two decades. Ten to fourteen thousand miles per year. And my only need is for eight or nine speed.
At the rate bicycles with mass-manufactured components using the cheapest grade metals are over-priced in bike shops (weight weenies & those that shell-out thousands I’m sure will argue), but many community bike shops are definitely headed for extinction in favor of on-line shopping.

Charlie Cartolano says:

Complete rubbish. No Yeti, Santa Cruz, Pivot, or Ibis in the 29er trail category? I hope you were paid well for this commercial/review

Sohaib Younus says:

Can’t wat for the full reviews of each of the bikes in the test, also the Enduro and Hardtail of the year as well!

Amir Azemi says:

Stupid review, they took cheapest bikes as winner.

RedWings-44 says:

No Diamondback Release 4C or 5C….wanted to give the field a chance 😉

Trevor Zimmerman says:

Test the 2018 Specialized Camber Expert Build

Bota Liviu says:

Wow! ;)) This one made me laugh hard :)))))

lizzie McDonald says:

why do they only test one category of bike, why not test the best bike for tall people or short people or even kids bikes or even best bike that average people can afford that won’t cost more than your car.

EvanTTX says:

the specialized stumpjumper is way better than the scott for sure, also they offer a bike for all 3 of the wheel sizes. you may have found that you like one wheel size more than the other. the plus and 27.5 model are both different bikes its not just wheel size difference, the 27.5 comes with more travel than the plus and 29er bikes

viciousme90 says:

I agree on the Scott bikes having the dual lockout switch no point on having full fork lock just need climbing and open

Jar May says:


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