Year after year, the relentless march of progress brings the full-suspension trail bike inching ever closer to perfection. | Click here to subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/user/MBRmagazine?sub_confirmation=1
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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