2008 news round-up: Our most popular mountain bike stories of the year

The highlights of a great year for mountain biking

Packed with exciting new gear and thrilling international competitions, 2008 has been an amazing year for mountain biking.

Thinking back to January, who would ever have predicted that Britain would see Rachel and Gee Atherton become its first two downhill World Champions, or that Julien Absalon would bag a second Olympic gold medal?

It would also be hard to foresee Greg Minaar’s storming return to form in the downhill World Cup, or that Trek would produce one of the most talked-about bike ranges of the year.

But as we come to think back on the year, it’s not necessarily the success of pro athletes that set you aflame – there's been some amazing kit on show too. Join us as we look at the stories that proved most popular on BikeRadar in 08.

5] Core Bike Show: New off-road goodies

Core is a show where the UK distributors of top-end brands such as Rocky Mountain, Orange, Kona, Pace and Marin get together to show their wares to dealers and the media. The accent is on higher-end, specialist bikes and products aimed at the core bike market.

We were there in January to bring you a plethora of bike bling and a selection of sweet new rides, and you responded by viewing our coverage in droves.

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4] Norco Performance Bikes 2009

With a huge range all the way from cross-country up to full-on downhill race bikes, Norco have a fantastic range of bikes at all price points for 2009.

Our highlights include the Empire 5 slopestyle bike, which is the most fun looking bike we’ve seen, and their all-mountain Fluid and Fluid LT bikes impressed us too.

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3] Latest forks and shocks from Fox Racing Shox

Fox unleashed their new range of forks and rear shocks in April to a storm of controversy. The instigator was the introduction of the new ‘15QR' 15mm through-axle standard, which the company offers as optional equipment for all of its 32mm-leg forks (with the exception of the F29).

Meanwhile the Fox 32 fork received an overhaul and the 36 and 40 took on more subtle changes, as did most of the company’s rear shocks.

Hit the links for our reviews and opinions on the changes.

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2] Specialized’s 2009 mountain bikes

Back in July, we were getting hot and bothered about Specialized’s new Epic suspension rig, women’s Era equivalent and S-Works Stumpjumper hardtail.

And just when we thought that was more than enough to take in, there came news of the new SX Trail, Big Hit, Enduro and other new treats from the big ‘S’.

We’ve been testing them ever since and we’re just astounded at what Specialized have managed to achieve this year.

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1] Shimano’s new SLX groupset

Shimano’s new SLX groupset was unveiled in February, aimed at the all-mountain end of the riding spectrum.

Since the release, we’ve had time to thoroughly test it and we’ve concluded that it’s the best off-road groupset Shimano has made to date.

We’ve also seen the company revitalise the hard-hitting Saint groupset, reinvent LX and continue to refresh its other ranges.

There’s no doubt that we’re excited to see what Shimano will show us in 2009.

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