Before we hurtle into next year it’s time to grab our brakes and reflect on the flowy run that has been 2017. Below you’ll find the significant events, products and trends that made 2017 another great year for mountain bikers.
The 29er downhill bike
Yep, big wheels made a serious impact in the world of downhill this year. People stopped grinning when Greg Minnaar took the first World Cup win at Fort William aboard a highly modified Santa Cruz V10 with 29er hoops.
The success kept coming too, and although these bikes didn’t prove ideal for each track and rider, they’re now considered a valid alternative to smaller wheel bikes.
The whole thing kicked off something of an arms race among other teams and before long most key players had at least the option of a big wheel downhill bike. You can even buy a production one from Trek.
The demise of plus tyres
Plus tyres appeared to have left almost as quickly as they arrived, just as Jon Woodhouse predicted in this article.
Still, they’ve left a high volume legacy that has been embraced by the wider industry and are part of the reason that many of today’s most popular trail bikes are coming with 2.6-inch tyres as standard.
Nino won it all
If you didn’t know who had won an XC race in 2017 then the chances are it would’ve been Olympic and World Champion Nino Schurter.
Schurter tallied an unprecedented perfect World Cup season after he swept gold at all six rounds of the 2017 Mountain Bike World Cup series with a perfect 1,500 points.
e-MTBs got a whole lot slicker
Despite their controversy, e-bikes went from strength to strength in 2017, with a whole array of machines that were lighter and better integrated than in previous years.
One of our favourites was the Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay which took us by surprise with its unique motor system and conventional suspension and geometry.
We reached out further
Just as we can be sure that handlebars will get wider and cassettes will gain more cogs, the longer front triangles of mountain bikes are continuing to grow, well, most of them.
This progressive move in geometry won’t be a surprise to anyone who has been into mountain bikes over the past few years.
One major adopter of longer bikes this year was Scott, which pushed its Genius trail bike to a considerable 445mm of reach in a size medium, while an XL version of the same frame will arrive with a whopping 505mm of reach, figures that were once only reserved for geometry experiments by very tall riders.
Are we approaching a point where reach figures will stop growing? Quite possibly.
Direct sale model continues to dominate
More and more companies have switched to sell their bikes directly to consumers as the internet continues to alter the way we purchase our bikes.
Most recently we’ve seen Felt and Intense cut out distributors joining the likes of Canyon, YT, Radon and Rose with a direct sale strategy.
12spd revolution – Eagle everywhere
We think very few people would have predicted that 12-speed drivetrains would become as popular and readily available as they already are in 2017.
In little over a year SRAM has launched three versions of its Eagle 12-speed drivetrains with the cheapest — GX Eagle — offering the same 500 percent gear range as the flagship parts but at a fraction of the price. It’s quickly becoming our go-to trail groupset.
Better quality OE tyres
Here’s one we are particularly happy about, you should be too. Bikes in general, and in particular cheap mountain bikes, are coming with considerably better tyres than they did a few years back.
The demise of hard compound, plasticky OE tyres means that new riders can better get to grips with their bikes, which saves them from spending extra cash on swapping out the naff black circles that used to spit them off at the first opportunity.
XTR Di2 got the trickle-down treatment
2017 saw Shimano deploy its trickle-down ethos to electronic mountain bike gearing with the introduction of XT Di2.
We think it’s still too expensive though, and at present it only really makes sense to those who value tech over total gear range.
Here’s the full review if you’re interested.
Have we missed off anything big? Let us know in the comment box below