by Wil Barrett
December 30, 2016
For a multitude of reasons, 2016 has been a gargantuan year – both in the office, and out of it. We’ve had lots of changes going on at our end, along with a number of new faces joining the team through the latter half of the year. We’ve launched a new website, begun broadcasting via Facebook Live, and we had to change the orientation of the Issue number on the spine of each magazine, because once you reach 100 issues, it’s quite hard to fit three numbers on that little space. Oh, and we moved the furniture around in the office, and that has kept everyone on their toes.
We’ve also been busier than ever before. We’ve travelled with our bikes through Europe, over to North America and South America, and we’ve clocked in at all the mega tradeshows including Sea Otter, Eurobike and Interbike. With so many new brands and products hitting the market, 2016 has seen the most number of bike and product tests ever undertaken by our test team. Along with all the product launches we’ve been travelling the world for, we’ve also had a good deal of bikes come through the gates of Singletrack Towers.
Want to know what we’ve tested and reviewed in 2016? Check out each bike we’ve featured in Fresh Goods Friday for 2016, and where possible, the link to the review for each bike that’s been tested this year. And if you want to see every review we’ve published ever, then head to the Review section of our website.
Strap yourself in and grab a cuppa, ‘cos this is a big list!
1. Kinesis Phase
- Price: £399.99 (frame only)
- From: Upgrade Bikes
The latest 27.5in hardtail from UK brand Kinesis was the first official bike to walk through the doors at Singletrack Towers for 2016. Built from alloy tubing and featuring the ability to run 27.5in and 27.5+ wheels, the Phase received a warm welcome indeed. Checkout Tom Hill’s review of the Kinesis Phase to see what he loved, and didn’t love about it.
2. Onza Jackpot
- Price: £1850
- From: Onza
Us Brits love a good steel hardtail, and the Onza Jackpot arrived to answer all of our mud-plugging requirements. It’s got a lovely steel frame, a big ol’ fork on the front, chunky tyres, 1x drivetrain and a dropper post. And just look at that colour! The Onza Jackpot went into the group test for Issue #104 of Singletrack Magazine, though you can read Jason Miles’ review online here.
3. Transition Smuggler
- Price: £2,699
- From: Windwave
One of the biggest trends we’ve watched through 2016 has been the resurgence of the 29er full suspension mountain bike. Technically big wheelers never went away, but the last couple of years has seen manufacturers focus their attention on the goldilocks 27.5in wheelsize. Thanks to improvements such as Boost hub spacing, proper long-and-slack geometry, and quality tyres, the real potential of 29in wheels is starting to be realised. Case in point? The uber-rad Smuggler from Transition, which pairs a 115mm travel back end with a 130mm fork, 67.5° head angle, and a nicely short rear end to create a very fun and inspiring ride. Take a look at Richard’s longterm review of the Transition Smuggler for the full run down.
4. Santa Cruz Hightower CC XO1
- Price: £5,379
- From: Santacruz
Following its epic debut earlier this year in Patagonia, the Santa Cruz Hightower has gone on to become one of the darlings of the mountain bike world in 2016. Like the Transition Smuggler, the Hightower is a nu-school 29er that has benefited from new technologies and reworked geometry over the old Tallboy LT it replaced. While the Hightower originally slotted into Fresh Goods Friday, it also arrived at Singletrack HQ as Barney’s longterm test bike that he first reviewed here.
Then we saw the Hightower return in print form when it was reviewed in Issue #106 of Singletrack Magazine. The bike test was a feature on 2nd iterations of popular mountain bikes, or the ‘difficult second album’ if you will. We’ve published that story on our website, so now you can have a read of our review of the Santa Cruz Hightower and how it followed up on the much-loved Tallboy LT.
But just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about the Hightower, Barney then gave us his final installation of this versatile longterm test machine. Because the Hightower can be setup in both 29in and 27.5+ guises, Barney had been experimented with both wheelsizes, and – as you’ll read in his final review of the Santa Cruz Hightower – both wheelsizes at the same time…
5. Propain Tyee CF Race
- This build: €4,299
- From: Propain
Earlier in the year, German brand Propain sent us in this super bright Tyee CF thumper. With an intriguing dual-link suspension setup and 160mm of travel suspending each wheel, the Tyee CF caught the imagination of David Hayward, who gave it a glowing review. How glowing? Well, read it for yourself here. Oh, and David bought the test bike after he finished the review, and when a bike journo buys a test bike, you know that they had a good time.
6. Boardman MTB Pro FS
- Price: £1499
- From: Boardman Bikes
Despite its modest price point, the Boardman FS impressed us when it first turned up at Singletrack Towers. The matte electric blue paintjob is killer, and the value for money is evident in the well-thought out parts spec. Antony span hundreds of thousands of pedal strokes aboard the 27.5in full suspension rig, and published his review of the Boardman MTB Pro FS here.
7. Chromag Wide-angle 27.5
- Price: £549.99 (frame only)
- From: ShoreLines
Also hucking into the office for our ‘ardcore ‘ardtail bike test in Issue #104 of Singletrack Magazine was the lurvely Chromag Wideangle. A stout steel frame, fat tyres and a big arse fork quickly showed everyone what this bike’s intentions were. For your reading pleasure, that review is now available online, so get stuck in to see how the Chromag Wideangle faired in our review.
8. Nukeproof Mega 275 Comp
- Price: £2,599.99
- From: Hotlines
Another longterm test bike. This time, a big travel Nukeproof Mega for Crayons. Having gone to the Nukeproof launch for the new Mega 275 and Mega 290, Crayons came back with the smaller wheeled version for a proper longterm test on home trails, and away from the high-sheen world of bike product launches where you’re fed caviar and only ride on just-groomed singletrack under blue skies and sunshine. How did the Mega 275 Comp go on our steep, rooty, muddy tech-trails under dreary grey skies? Read Crayon’s recently published longterm review of the Nukeproof Mega 275 Comp.
9. Focus SAM C Team
- Price: £4,999
- From: Focus
The SAM has represented a significant turning point for German brand Focus. Following years of ‘ok’ full suspension mountain bikes, the long travel SAM broke through with a super plush suspension design, a gorgeous carbon fibre frame, and on-point geometry. We received the SAM earlier in 2016, where it went head-to-head with two long travel bikes from Specialized and Scott in a battle of the bruisers. That review was in Issue #107 of Singletrack Magazine, but you can now read the whole review of the Focus SAM C Team online here.
10. Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL
- Price: £3,400
- From: Trek
We test all kinds of different bikes here at Singletrack, and our team of testers varies from lightweight spandex climbing types, through to full-face wearing gravity bombers. That said, we will admit that overall our general riding style errs on the more trail side of the spectrum. You know, comfortable and capable bikes that you can ride all-day long that’ll climb well, before descending down steep, gnarly and techy singletrack.
Sometimes it’s nice to ride a really, really fast and light bike. A carbon hardtail with ridiculously quick handling and super efficient power delivery for absolutely hammering along fast and flowy singletrack. In Issue #105 of Singletrack Magazine, we did just that. We pitched three lightweight race hardtails together in a ‘Flat Out Race Bike’ group test. The Trek Procaliber was one of those bikes, and you can check out the full feature (and video) here.
While Olly conducted the Flat Out Race Bike Group Test, Wil was also reviewing the Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL Down Under. Wil had been riding the Procaliber for about 9 months, so he gave us a different take on the ins and outs of living with such a lightweight race machine. If you get the chance, check out his longterm review of the Trek Procaliber 9.8 SL here.
11. Niner Air 9 Carbon
- Price: £3,299
- From: Jungle Products
One of the other carbon hardtails that turned up in Fresh Goods Friday part way through 2016 was this black and white number from US brand Niner. The Air 9 Carbon is a brutally fast carbon race bike that features 29in wheels and the ability to run a 120mmt ravel fork. As you’ll tell from Olly’s review of the Niner Air 9 Carbon, there are lots of clever little details on this bike.
12. BMC Teamelite TE01 XT 2016 Mountain Bike
- Price: £3,499
- From: Evans
Rounding out the three-way group test for the Flat Out Race Bikes was this exotic Team Elite from BMC. Equipped with a compact shock absorber located at the top of the seat stay junction, the Team Elite TE01 showed a radical return to the soft-trails of the past, albeit with a superlight carbon frame and lots of high-tech features and modernised geometry. It’s a ripping race machine, and it is highly comfortable too. Want to know how it performed alongside the Trek and Niner? See the full review of the BMC Team Elite TE01 here, along with a short little video from Olly.
13. Cannondale Fat CAAD 1
- Price: £2,599.99
- From: Cannondale
With everyone losing their shit over e-MTBs and plus bikes for 2016, the previously steady march of the fat bike eased off somewhat this year. While they haven’t been marketed heavily, there are still plenty of new options available though. And for those brands sticking to their guns and hoping that this wasn’t all just a fad, they’re putting some seriously good kit out there. Case in point is the swanky Fat CAAD from Cannondale. Arriving as a new longterm test bike for Sanny, the Fat CAAD has already had its first date, and you can check out the preliminary review of this jumbo jet here.
14. Merida One-Twenty 900 27.5
- Price: £2.400
- From: Merida
Another top value rig for 2016, and this time it’s from Merida. The One Twenty is (we’ll give you three guesses) a 120mm travel trail bike adorned with 27.5in hoops. It’s got a shapely hydroformed alloy frame, a single-pivot suspension design with a rocker link activated rear shock, and a very tidy build kit courtesy of Shimano and Sun Ringle. Tom got down and dirty with the black and green machine, and you can see his full review and video on the Merida One Twenty here.
15. Norco Optic C 7.2
- Price: £3,299
- From: Evans
Aiming for a very similar market segment as the Merida is the all-new Norco Optic. Like a number of bikes on the market for 2016/17, the Optic can be had with either 27.5in or 29in wheels. We got a top-level 27.5in model that strolled into the office with this lovely fluoro carbon fibre frame and Fox suspension package. Ali spent some quality time on the Optic’s saddle whilst riding some of Calderdale’s techiest trails. How did the 120mm travel trail bike cope with the gnar-tech? Get the lowdown with our review of the Norco Optic C 7.2.
16. Orange Segment RS
- Price: £3,700
- From: Orange
Also featuring in our ‘Second Album Group Test’, the Orange Segment turned up at Singletrack Towers as a thoroughly modern 29er trail bike that brought with it some subtle upgrades over the original Segment. Like the Transition Patrol, the Segment rocks a short-travel 110mm back end with a compact RockShox Monarch damper anchoring down the single-pivot swingarm. As the Segment would prove in its grin-inducing ride quality, travel is but a number. Chipps gave us his thoughts after several months aboard the Segment with his review of the Orange 29er here.
17. Singular Swift
- Price: £399.20
- From: Singular
We’re quite familiar with the Singular Swift. It’s a bike we’ve reviewed before, though multiple staff members at Singletrack have had the pleasure of swinging a leg over a Swift at some point or another. This particular rig is the latest version of the Swift, and it comes with multi-wheelsize compatibility and a few other key updates over the much-loved original. You would have read this review in Issue #106 of Singletrack Magazine, and now you can read it full on our website too.
18. Canyon Nerve Al 7.0
- Price: £1449.99
- From: Canyon
German brand Canyon has been making significant progress in 2016, with a new factory coming online that has allowed the company to speed up its direct-to-consumer delivery process. We rode a whole shwag of Canyon mountain bikes in 2016, including the Nerve. Now called the Neuron (same-same, but different name), we’re informed this is Canyon’s most popular mountain bike. It’s got 27.5in wheels and 120/130mm travel (or 110/120mm travel for the 29in option) and an upright and comfortable riding position. As Antony detailed in his review of the Canyon Nerve AL, it’s a bike that doesn’t quite live up to what you’d expect on the trail…
19. Canyon Spectral Al 8.0 EX
- Price: £2,849
- From: Canyon
The next Canyon that featured in Fresh Goods Friday in 2016 was the Spectral. Bumping up travel over the Nerve, the Spectral rocks 140mm of bounciness and a longer frame that extends the wheelbase out further for increased high-speed stability. With a Cane Creek Double Barrel overseeing the four-bar rear suspension, it has a much, much nicer suspension action compared to the Nerve. How nice? Tom Nash delivered his ride report with a comprehensive review of the Canyon Spectral here.
20. Canyon Strive Al 6.0
- Price: £2,299
- From: Canyon
We told you we had a lot of Canyons on review for 2016! Moving further up the travel bracket is the enduro-ready Canyon Strive. Ridden between the tape by the likes of Fabien Barel, the Strive has been causing quite the stir thanks to its incredible Shapeshifter technology. With the ability to adjust geometry and suspension feel on-the-fly, the super slack Strive offers its pilot two-bikes-in-one. Were both of those bikes good though? David Hayward got stuck in with his review of the Canyon Strive here.
21. Specialized Enduro Expert Carbon 29
- Price: £4,500
- From: Specialized
Part-way through 2016, Specialized dropped its brand new Enduro in both 27.5in and 29in forms (with plus-size compatibility of course). About 6 months before that announcement, we got our dirty little mittens on this stunning Specialized Enduro Carbon 29er. With 155mm of travel and the Ohlins air shock, the Enduro impressed with its crisp handling despite the wagon wheels and huge wheelbase. Barney put the American through its paces on some properly muddy British trails, and delivered us his full review in Issue #107 of Singletrack Magazine. And he’s very kindly published his review for you to all read online here.
22. Islabike Creig 26 Pro Series
- Price: £1499
- From: Islabikes
Kids bikes are not something we see that often at Singletrack Towers, but when one of the Pro Series was offered to us from Islabikes, we couldn’t say no. Just look at it! With 26in wheels, a lightweight alloy frame and Stans No Tubes Crest wheels, this lightweight mountain bike is designed for kids who want to ride proper mountain bike trails, and don’t want to lug around a super heavy bike that’s got every chance of turning them off cycling. Fast-man Jason Miles got his little groms to put the Creig 26 to the test, and it sounds like he may have created a monster…
23. Specialized Rhyme FSR Expert Carbon 6Fattie
- Price: £4,800
- From: Specialized
We’re not going to lie. Since they first arrived several years ago, we’ve always had mixed experiences aboard plus bikes. Whether its a hardtail, a full suspension bike, a lightweight carbon whippet, or a burly long travel rig, there have been moments where we’ve loved the chubby tyres, and plenty of moments where we’ve cursed them. It seems that the current crop of 2.8in-3.0in tyres on the market are more targeted towards dusty Californian trails and hardpack trail centre-type trails, rather than steep and sloppy British valley singletrack.
Hoping to have her opinion changed on plus tyres, Hannah got a brand new Specialized Rhyme FSR full suspension plus bike. Being a womens specific model, there was a lot to be impressed about on the Rhyme. But did it win Hannah over? After a solid 6 months aboard the carbon chubster, Hannah delivered us her verdict on the Specialized Rhyme FSR Expert Carbon 6Fattie that you can read here.
24. Stif Morf Hardtail
- Price: £500 frame only; £1999 built
- From: Stif
For 2016, Stif Cycles dropped its first ever bike called the Morf. With a slender steel frame, uber-slack and long geometry and a big dose of British practicality, the Morf has been very well received amongst Singletrack readers. Every time we post up something on our Facebook page about the Stif Morf, everyone loses their shit. And rightfully so – just look at it! David Hayward has certainly fallen in love with it, and had nothing but good things to say about it in Issue #110 of Singletrack Magazine that is currently on the shelves. However, for the price of a Costa coffee, you can grab a digital copy of the magazine to read right now. Get in!
25. Intense Spider 275C FTY (Factory spec.)
- Price: £7,999.99
- From: Saddleback
Intense Cycles is another company that’s had a ripper 2016. The Californian company has released its first plus bike in the ACV, along with a brand new 29er trail bike called the Primer. Because of embargo shenanigans, neither of those two bikes made it into Fresh Goods Friday, but this stunning Spider 275 did. Also new for 2016, the Spider was the first bike from Intense that came with the new JS Tuned rear suspension design, along with lots of other frame updates. Crayons decided to see just how capable the new Spider could be, and took it for a trip over to Morzine to give it an absolute hiding. Did it fall apart? Find out with his longterm review of the Intense Spider 275C Factory Build here.
26. Scott Genius LT 700 Tuned
- Price: £6,099
- From: Scott
Coming in as the final test bike for the “Real Mountain Bikes” group test in Issue #107 of Singletrack Magazine was the incredible Genius LT from Scott. The Genius has been around for over a decade now, and the latest version packs in all of the improvements and features that have been developed since that first bike hit shop floors all around the world. Standing for ‘Long Travel’, the Genius LT is the biggest of the bunch, with 170mm of travel front and rear. How did it stack up against the Specialized Enduro and Focus SAM? Get the scoop in Barney’s review of the Fluoro Euro here.
27. J. Guillem Tomir
- Price: EUR3,499 / EUR1,799 Frame only
- From: jguillem.com
“And now for something complete different“. Following Barney’s test of long travel enduro shredders, we decided to go to the other end of the spectrum, with three highly exotic titanium hardtails going tête-à-tête in Issue #108 of Singletrack Magazine. One of those bikes was the Tomir from J. Guillem, which had everyone in the office drooling at its incredible attention to detail. Sure, a rigid bike might not be to everyone’s tastes, but as you’ll read in Jason’s titanium hardtail feature, there is a certain je ne sais quoi about this gorgeous steampunk machine from the previous owner of Van Nicholas bikes.
28. Canyon Exceed CF SLX 9.9
Arriving a bit late for our Flat Out Race Bike group test, the Canyon Exceed decided it didn’t want to share the spotlight with anyone else anyway. And why should it? With a claimed frame weight of 890 grams, sharp geometry and an angry-looking RS-1 fork on the front, the Exceed is certainly a striking machine that gives very little confusion about its intentions. In fact, so fierce was its appearance that we struggled to find an appropriate tester to reign it in. In the end, it was Wil who donned the spandex and got all racerboy with the Exceed, which he reviewed in Issue #109 of Singletrack Magazine. As Wil found out, there’s a lot more to the Canyon Exceed than first meets the eye…
29. Stanton Sherpa Ti
UK company Stanton delivered us this very tidy Titanium version of the Sherpa for our Ti hardtail group test. Despite the lightweight frame, Stanton built the Sherpa with the right geometry numbers and a 120mm travel Fox 34 fork for shredding good times. It’s no XC race whippet, but as Jason divulged in his review of the Stanton Sherpa Ti, it has got a whole lot to offer in addition to its gorgeous frame.
30. Scott E-Genius 720 Plus
From: Scott Sports
Easily the most controversial bike to be featured in Fresh Goods Friday of 2016 was the E-Genius Plus from Scott. While the wild colours and plus tyres would normally stand out on any other bike, it’s the Bosch 250W motor and battery pack that has left everyone staring at the E-Genius. Despite its controversy, the E-Genius has been one of the most-ridden test bikes we’ve had come through Singletrack Towers – this thing is BAGS of fun, and it can literally climb up ANYTHING. This one’s up for a longterm review, so keep your eyes on the website for a proper rundown once we’ve got a solid winter aboard the electric pedal-assist e-MTB.
31. Kona Honzo Ti
- Price: £1669 (Frame only)
- From: Kona
The last and raddest bike to slot into our titanium hardtail group test was the much-anticipated and very rare Kona Honzo Ti. Another stunner that received universal love amongst the Singletrack test crew, the Honzo has got words like “Bodacious!” and “Tubular!” written all over it. Built from shapely titanium tubes, the Honzo Ti drops weight over its steel siblings, while maintaining the super-short rear centre, low bottom bracket height and beefy fork that made the original Honzo such a ripping 29er. If you want to know how much trouble this bike got Jason in, check out his review of the Kona Honzo Ti here.
32. Cotic Flare Max
- Price: £1499 (frame w/X-Fusion shock)
- From: Cotic Bikes
Whilst not strictly a bike, the Cotic Flare MAX turned up at the tail-end of Summer as the foundation for James’ new longterm test rig. Coming from the Cotic crew in Sheffield, the Flare MAX runs a Reynolds steel front triangle much like the Soul, Solaris and BFe hardtails, but uses a suspended rear courtesy of the DropLink suspension design. Whereas the Rocket is the 6in big travel enduro slayer, the Flare runs less travel at 120mm, while still maintaining fashionably slack and long geometry. James is loving the bejeesus out of the bike, so if you want to peek at what it looks like with a fork and wheels on, have a gander at his First Look Review of the Cotic Flare MAX here.
33. Intense Recluse Elite
- Price: £6600
- From: Saddleback
Another jaw-dropper from Intense, and the latest model to emerge from SoCal in 2016 is the Intense Recluse. A brand new model, the Recluse is like a Spider on steroids. It ups the travel to 140/150mm and features a full carbon fibre frame. There are actually two carbon frames – the regular model, and the pricier ‘SL’ version, which drops 250 grams off the frame weight by electing for a higher modulus carbon fibre and titanium hardware. The model we’ve been putting through the grinder is the Elite, which features this no-holds-barred build kit that includes brand new carbon rims from Intense. You’ll be able to read our longterm review online soon, but in the meantime, take a closer look at the Intense Recluse here.
34. Genesis Core 30
- Price: £999.99
- From: Madison
While most of the Singletrack crew were loaded in the van on their way to Eurobike in Germany, the remaining part of the team back at Singletrack Towers welcomed this tidy hardtail from Genesis into the building. Arriving for the group test in Issue #109 of Singletrack Magazine, the Genesis Core 30 rocks a sticker price on the right side of £1000, and shows just how good of a package you can get for your pennies these days. As an entry-level hardtail, it comes with a 120mm travel fork, confidence-inspiring geometry, quality Shimano stoppers and tubeless compatible wheels. If you’ve already got your copy of Issue #109, well, we hope you enjoy! If not, then you can still read the full rag in both print or digital formats here.
35. Whyte 529
- Price: £875
- From: Whyte Bikes
The next bike in our Humble Hardtail group test was this lovely Whyte 529. Like the Genesis Core 30, the 529 also features an alloy frame and a 120mm travel fork, but Whyte pushed the geometry envelope even further with its entry-level hardtail with a dramatically slack 66° head angle. Whyte do this to extend the wheelbase and increase stability for the rider, which is of great use to beginners and intermediate riders looking for a bike to progress their riding on. But how slack is too slack? Wil investigated with his review in Issue #109 of Singletrack Magazine.
36. Diamondback Heist 3.0+ 27.5″
- Price: £895
- From: Diamondback UK
The third and final bike in our Humble Hardtail group test was the Diamondback Heist 3.0+. If you’ve read the feature, you’ll know just how impressed we were with this bike. And especially for the money. For under a grand, you’re getting a dropper post (internally routed no less), an air-adjustable fork, 1x drivetrain and Boost hub spacing. Combined with 2.8in plus tyres and an upright riding position, the Heist 3.0+ is a super comfortable and cozy bike to ride with. Stay tuned to Singletrackworld.com for the full review on this bouncy black bike.
37. Focus Jarifa I29 Pro
- Price: £3,299
- From: Focus Bikes
What?! Another e-MTB?? Yes, another e-MTB, but this time it’s a hardtail 29er from Focus. We’ve actually tested a whole bunch of different pedal-assist mountain bikes this year, but most of those have been outside of the office, whereas this one came direct to us. The Focus Jafira is also available with plus tyres, though we went full XC for this test bike, which worked its way into Nicole Mallett’s hands after she suffered a broken leg during summer of 2016.
It’s got a semi-integrated battery and motor system, and is designed to add power to your pedalling with multiple modes depending on the terrain in front of you. Like every other e-MTB, once you hit 25km/h, the motor tops out, and then you’re on pedal power alone. Want to know what it’s all about? Check out Nicole’s recent review on the Focus Jafira and how it’s helped her rehabilitation from her busted leg – it’s a terrific story of an athlete coming to terms with a sharp change in lifestyle.
38. Whyte T-130 S
From: Whyte Bikes
Resuming normal programming in the middle of spring, we received a 2017 Whyte T-130s test bike that arrived to fill the role as Wil’s new longterm test bike. With 27.5in wheels, Boost hub spacing, 130mm of suspension front & rear and Whyte’s progressive frame geometry (read: a hoooge front centre and tiny little stem), the T-130s has been one of the biggest success stories for Whyte in 2016. In fact, the 2017 Whyte T-130s was awarded the best bike under £2500 in the Singletrack Reader Awards back in September. So it was fitting that we would receive the exact same spec barely a fortnight later for Wil to use a test bed for different wheels, forks, dropper posts, tyres, bars and all sorts of different components on test. As for the bike itself? Make sure you get your hands on the upcoming issue of Singletrack Magazine to hear about Wil’s experience with the T-130s after travelling all over the UK with it.
39. Trek Stache 9.8
- Price: £3500
- From: Trek Bikes
As the weather got colder towards the latter half of 2016, it appeared that the wheels got bigger for our test bikes. One such balloon bike was the brand spankin’ Trek Stache 9.8. Already released to the world in alloy form the year prior, the Stache has been reimagined with carbon fibre tubing, showing Trek’s commitment to the 29+ segment. Chipps first spotted the new big wheeler back at Trek World in August, and a couple of months later, we had a real one turn up at the office for Fresh Goods Friday. Barney is currently putting this rig through its paces in preparation for a 29+ group test in the next issue of Singletrack Magazine, so put your ears to the wind for news on that one as it comes.
40. Kona Hei Hei DL 29
- Price: £4099
- From: Kona
Another brand to have a strong presence in 2016 is Kona Bikes. One of the ‘core mountain bike brands of the past, Kona has marched forward in recent years with genre-bending bikes like the Honzo, along with geometry-pushing bikes like the Process. The Canadian brand has got a killer lineup of XC bikes too, though as with everything the designers do at Kona, they’ve made sure their XC bikes still put the emphasis on fun. That’s no more apparent than the Hei Hei DL, which we first heard about back in May. We’ve since nabbed one for a longterm test, and by the sounds of Mark’s first ride reports, it’s certainly got a lot to offer.
41. Specialized Camber Carbon Comp 29
- Price: £2,900
- From: Specialized
Also green and also featuring 29in wheels is this shapely carbon trail bike from Specialized. Turning up as the first bike in the most recent magazine group test, the Camber is a 120mm travel trail bike that can be had with 29in wheels, or with 27.5in wheels (130mm travel). For 2017, the Camber actually rocks the same front triangle as the longer travel Stumpjumper, which gives it a very burly and purposeful aesthetic. The back-end is all unique to the Camber though, and it also ditches the Brain shock from last year in favour of a cleaner and simpler Fox Float DPS rear shock. Wil has been taking this one all over the place, and he has plenty to say about it too in the current issue. Get your peepers on the review here.
42. Brother Cycles Big Bro
- Price: £499 (frame & fork)
- From: Brother Cycles
Easily one of the hottest bikes of 2016’s Fresh Goods Friday compilation is this stunningly simple-yet-beautiful number from UK micro-brand Brother Cycles. On paper, it shouldn’t blow anyone out of the water – it’s made from 4130 cromoly tubing, it comes equipped with a matching rigid fork on the front, and it’s geometry sits in the XC camp. But with its eggshell blue paint job and every Hope component known to mankind, the Big Bro reaches a new level of hotness that is the perfect antidote to excruciatingly expensive carbon fibre superbikes. If you can pick your jaw up off the ground, you’ll see the Big Bro comes with mounts for multiple Anything Cages, mudguard mounts, front and rear pannier rack mounts, and plenty of bottle cages too. And with clearance for up to 2.4in rubber, this thing is ready to rock your next off-road bikepacking adventure. You’ll be able to read Wil’s full review of the Big Bro soon, but for a closer squiz in the meantime, have a look at his initial video review here.
43. NS Bikes Eccentric Cromo
- Price: £1649
- From: Hotlines UK
You’ve probably picked up that we love steel hardtails here at Singletrack Magazine. So it would make sense that NS Bikes would send us their latest 29in steel hardtail, called the Eccentric Cromo. It’s the Polish brand’s first 29er mountain bikes, though the designers have made sure it’s equipped with plenty of dirt jump DNA, thanks to a low slung top tube and a compact rear triangle. Andi has been giving this particular test bike the run around, and he’s kindly put together a mid-ride report for us to see how the NS Eccentric Cromo is rolling on through winter.
44. Trek Fuel EX9 29
- Price: £3,200
- From: Trek Bikes
In our Big Names group test for Issue #110 of Singletrack Magazine, there really are few bigger brands thank Trek Bikes. With an enormous global reach and a product line up that goes well into triple digits, there was never any doubt that we’d feature one of Trek’s mountain bikes in this particular feature. And the bike we chose? The Fuel EX 29er in its alloy form; the EX 9. As one of Trek’s most popular models, the Fuel EX is a competent and capable trail bike that draws heavily from the Remedy and Slash models, while offering its pilot a lighter and more efficient platform that makes the Fuel EX an ideal all-day trail bike. Wil really, really dug this particular bike, and it’s got lots of bells and whistles to get excited about. See his video sneak preview of the bikes featured in Issue #110 here.
45. Giant Anthem 1
- Price: £3349
- From: Giant Bicycles
And the final ‘Big Name’ rig for the Issue #110 group test is the Giant Anthem 1. While the Trek and Specialized models are well-known and well-loved trail bikes, the Anthem has previously been a hardcore XC race bike. Not for 2017 though. Whilst still rolling on 27.5in wheels (we have word that a new 29er is on the way soon…), the 2017 Giant Anthem has swung away from its hardcore XC image. Giant has bumped up the travel – 110mm on the back, and 120mm on the front – and it has updated the geometry too. There’s a slacker head angle, longer top tube length, and the components have changed to suit. Rather than skinny race forks, there’s a Fox 34 on the front, and clearance for up to 2.4in tyres front and rear. Wil had plenty of love for this machine, so check out his video preview of the Giant Anthem 1 here.
46. Ibis Ripley LS
- Price: £2999 (frame only), or £5699 (complete as built here)
- From: 2pure
Ibis Cycles kicked off the new year when it released the brand new Mojo 3. With plus tyre compatibility and geometry inspired by the bigger travel HD3, the Mojo 3 caught plenty of riders imaginations. Wil reviewed the Mojo 3 back in February, and it was also awarded a Singletrack Reader Award in September. While the Mojo 3 has been basking in all the glory, Ibis Cycles other trailbike, the Ripley, has been quietly doing its thing in the background. Ibis recently updated the Ripley, and they sent us in the Longer and Slacker version – aptly called the Ripley LS – for Crayons to use as a gateway drug into the world of 29ers. Thus far he is getting on just fine with the gloss orange Ripley, though you’ll be getting a full rundown with his first look review very soon…
47. Jones Plus Frame & Fork
- Price: £1640 (Frameset)
- From: Biff
These days, it’s kind of hard to make a bike stand out from the crowd. That is, unless you’re Jeff Jones. With its wild trussed steel fork and curvy handlebars, the Jones Plus is as progressive as it is distinctive. It’s a 29+ mountain bike that Barney is ripping around on alongside the Trek Stache in our upcoming 29 plus group test. It may not have a big travel fork, adjustable geometry or a funky rear suspension design, but there’s a surprising amount of capability and versatility in this unique collection of steel tubing. Get ready for the full review of this one soon…
48. Orange Five Factory
- Price: £5100
- From: Orange Bikes
Back at the product launch of Orange Bikes 2017 range, Chipps got a look in at some of the changes being made to the venerable Four, Five and Alpine Six models. He also managed to get a ride in on some of the new bikes (labelled as ‘Strange’ prototypes), and was very impressed with the new Five. With a curving top tube, the Five gets a more compact front triangle that is stiffer and stronger, though the reach has been lengthened to extend the front centre. At the same time, Orange has shortened the rear centre, while retaining the classic single pivot suspension design. There’s lots of other updates, and combined with the Float X rear shock and bigger Fox 36 fork on the front, the Factory spec model looks to be the most capable Five to date. Read below for what we’ve got coming with this one…
49. Salsa Woodsmoke
- Price: £1799 (frame only)
- From: Raleigh
Just sneaking into the list of 2016 Fresh Goods Friday bikes is this intriguing carbon number from Salsa Cycles. Featured in today’s edition of Fresh Goods Friday, the Woodsmoke is our third and possibly most polarising test bike in the 29+ group test. Like the Trek Stache, the Woodsmoke makes use of an elevated drive-side chainstay to help slam the rear wheel in as tight as possible. Without the stay in the way (YES!), there’s clearance for the chainring and for big fat tyres. Speaking of, you can fit multiple wheelsizes into the Woodsmoke with its adjustable Alternator dropouts – regular 29in, 29+ or even 27.5+ will all fit in here no worries. But does the versatility come at the expense of purpose? Barney is already knee deep into testing this one, so we shall wait and see.
50. Robot Bike Co. R160
- Price: £4395 frame only, around £8000 this build
- From: Robot Bike Co
And the last, and final bike for the 2016 Fresh Goods Friday list is appropriately one of the most anticipated bikes of the year. And we think you’ll agree, one of the coolest too. It’s the Robot Bike Company R160, and this is one utterly unique machine. Built in the UK with 3D printed titanium lugs and high-tech carbon fibre tubing, the R160 is custom built for each and every customer – you tell Robot your measurements and angle requirements, and they’ll do the rest. It’s a 160mm travel banger, and it is loaded with lovely details – as it should be for the sticker price. We’re going to be battling this rig head-to-head with the Orange Five. Both bikes are British made, and both bikes are aimed at trail riders. But both are very, very different machines. Who will come out on top? Keep track of Singletrackworld.com, and ye shall be rewarded with photos, words and video.