Gear of the year: Josh Patterson’s 2016 MTB picks

My top bikes, tech and tools from 2016

The curtain has almost closed on 2016. It was a year filled with impressive advancements in mountain bike technology. Here are six items that stood out to me in 2016.   


Santa Cruz Tallboy 3

The Santa Cruz Tallboy 3 is an impressive short-travel trail bike
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

The Tallboy was the first 29er to wear a Santa Cruz headbadge. While the original Tallboy straddled the line between cross-country and trail, version 3.0 is an unabashed trail bike.

In my opinion, a short-travel trail bike such as the Tallboy is the sort of machine that should occupy a hook in every mountain biker’s garage. Then again, I’m biased. I enjoyed the Tallboy so much that I decided I to buy one.

The Tallboy has quickly become my everyday, any trail bike. As a gear tester, it’s handy to have a bike that’s compatible with 27.5+ and standard 29er rubber.

For Front Range riding I prefer to pair the Tallboy’s 110mm of rear travel with a 130mm fork and 29er wheels.

Garmin Fenix 3 HR

Garmin’s Fenix 3 HR is perfect for outdoorsy data nerds
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

Cycling is great, but it’s not my only outdoor pursuit. If, like me, you log a lot of outdoor miles by bike, foot and boards, you might find the Fenix 3 HR useful as well.

I prefer a smartwatch to a standard cycling computer for mountain biking and I’ve also found the Fenix 3 HR useful for trail running, swimming, skiing, hiking, backpacking, kayaking and fly fishing.

In addition to the standard array of cycling metrics, the Fenix 3 HR has a compass, barometric altimeter, step counter and, as the name implies, a heart rate monitor.

Push Elevensix shock

The Push Elevensix shock lead this year’s coil-sprung comeback
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

Push Industries started life as a suspension tuning company. The knowledge gained from improving other company’s products was put into its first shock, the Elevensix.

This year saw many advancements in mountain bike tech and among them was a resurgence in coil-spring shocks. Fade-free performance, small-bump sensitivity and reliability are all reasons why coils are seeing a comeback.

At the head of the pack is the Elevensix. Each shock is custom tuned to you and your bike.

What impressed me most about the Elevensix wasn’t its plush performance on the descents, but how much more traction I had on techy climbs.

SRAM XO1 Eagle

SRAM’s 12-speed Eagle drivetrains hasten the death of the front derailleur
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

SRAM continues to push drivetrain development onward with more cogs, more range and 50% fewer derailleurs.

Its 500% range puts it on par with 2x drivetrains and the new front chainring profile runs quieter in gritty conditions. 

The debate about the merits of 1x versus 2x may persist, but I don’t foresee a day when I’ll ever have a front derailleur on one of my personal mountain bikes again.

Acre Traverse All Mountain Shorts

Acre’s Traverse All-Mountain shorts are well-built with an understated style
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

I’ve ridden in a lot of baggy shorts over the years, but Acre’s Traverse All Mountain Shorts have become my go-to. When I’m not testing mountain bike apparel, these are the shorts I’m riding in.

The Traverse has a fitted cut, but still plays well with low-profile kneepads.

They’re constructed from lightweight softshell fabric that shrugs off trail spray without feeling stifling on hot days. The Acre has a single-sided forward-pull to adjust fit and side cargo pockets strategically placed not to impede pedaling.

Silca T-Handle Folio

Silca’s T-Handle Folio is as beautiful as it is useful
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

Ignorance truly is bliss.

If Silca’s T-Handle Folio hadn’t landed at my doorstep, I would have gone through life without knowing how much more enjoyable bike maintenance is with a quality set of sliding T-handles.

The kit includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10mm hex tools along with t25 and t30 torx tools.


The sliding feature is incredibly useful for times when you need just the right amount of length — slide it shorter to install or remove pedals, or longer to tighten water bottle bosses, or center it with the middle detent to spin any fastener into place.