The big-hitting rigs you need to look out for in 2020
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Enduro has arguably done more for the development of mountain biking in the last decade than any other genre within the sport. The bikes have to be flat-out fast on the descents, yet not such sluggers that they’re exhausting to ride uphill.
The result is a category of bikes that is as versatile as they come that have driven developments in frame design, geometry, suspension kinematics, tyre construction and drivetrain technology
2019 was a bumper year for new enduro bikes, so we’ve drawn together a list of the big-hitting rigs you need to look out for in 2020.
Giant Reign 29
The 2020 Giant Reign Advanced Pro 29 0.Giant
The Reign has been in the Giant range for the last 15 years and has always been its gnarly, terrain eating all-rounder. For 2020, it now comes with 29-inch wheels.
The Reign has a fairly conservative 146mm of rear-wheel travel, but as we all know, it’s quality not quantity that counts.
Giant has stuck to its ever-faithful Maestro suspension linkage, which is no bad thing. In our experience, it offers trail-smoothing competence with pedalling efficiency that shouldn’t leave you gasping at the top of every climb.
The Reign’s geometry is bang up to date, with a 65-degree head angle, 76.8-degree seat angle and reaches ranging from 428 to 516mm.
As you might expect from Giant, there are plenty of buzz-words connected to the frame’s construction, with Boost, Megadrive, Powercore and Overdrive to name a few.
GT’s Force 29 drops its i-drive suspension in favour of a Horst Linkage back-end.Steve Behr
Another bike that’s now sporting the larger (and dare we say it, faster) 29er wheel size is the GT Force.
2018 saw the release of the updated Force, with GT dropping its i-drive suspension in favour of the more commonly seen Horst Linkage style back-end. That bike was 650b only, and it’s taken until this year for GT to give us the Force 29.
While many brands try and tell you just how good their bike is at pedalling, GT has gone the opposite way, and isn’t hiding the fact that its bikes have lower anti-squat figures than many.
The reason for this? To give even better suppleness when tracking over rough descents, which should hopefully improve grip, control and, we hope, that all important enduro speed.
To further counter where other brands are heading, GT even recommends using less sag; down to around 25 per cent rather than the usual 30 per cent on enduro style rigs.
With lower anti-squat giving the more supple suspension, you can run slightly higher shock pressures without compromising grip and comfort. These higher pressures then start to aid pedalling performance.
Orange’s Switch 29 mullet bike: 29in on the front and a 650b at the rear.Dan Milner
Could the Orange Switch be a taste of things to come? While not a completely new concept, 2020 really could be the year that the mullet bike takes off outside of downhill.
Yes, the Switch joins the rather small ranks of production bikes designed to run a 29-inch front wheel and a 650b rear — which are frequently referred to as ‘mullet bikes’.
Whether this works for you or not will largely come down to personal preference, but in our initial testing of mullet bikes there don’t seem to be many downsides
It’ll be no surprise to anyone that the Switch uses an aluminium monocoque, single pivot design — it’s an Orange, after all.
There’s 145mm of travel at the back and 160mm up front, but unlike a lot of the mullets out there, Orange is keeping tyre widths similar front and back, with 2.5in and 2.4in respectively.
Geometry is on the money for an aggressive trail and enduro bike, with the size large having a slack 64-degree head angle and steep 76-degree seat angle, all paired with a lengthy 484mm reach.
You’ll certainly be monster-trucking on this bad boy.
Great geometry, well-considered kit and a balanced ride mean it’s certainly not afraid to go fast.Steve Behr/MBUK
We’re afraid that this bike is rather UK-centric, given that it’s only available from the Go Outdoors superstore, but we still think it’s a bike well-worthy of its place on this list.
The Calibre Sentry is, we reckon, one of the best value, budget enduro bikes out there, with a price tag of £2,000 (assuming you have the all important £5 Go Outdoors Discount card). And if you don’t have that, you’re missing a trick!
Not only does the Sentry have great kit for the cash – a Yari, Guide RE brakes and an NX Eagle drivetrain – but it also has super progressive geometry, proving good design doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
If you’ve slightly deeper pockets, an extra £800 gets you a top-end Lyrik RC2 fork and super-deluxe coil shock with a remote lockout.
Bang for buck, we don’t think there’s a better EWS-ready bike on the market right now.
The Enduro has been developed alongside the Demo downhill bike, with a focus on making it as smooth, and therefore as fast, as possible down a hill.
The new linkage, with the shock mounted low in the belly of the Enduro, gives a more rearward axle path to help get the rear wheel out of the way of harsh edges, meaning less rear wheel hang-ups and a buttery smooth ride.
While it’s carbon only, and far, far, far from cheap, Specialized has pretty much defined the enduro category, and this generation Enduro shows no sign of giving up its stellar reputation in the gravity-fed market.