It goes without saying that there’s been plenty of mud-spattered mountain bike gear action on BikeRadar in 2014 – but which bits of it have floated the boats of you our readers? Below you'll find a list of the bikes, kit and advice that have attracted most attention on the site over the past 12 months.
Shimano XTR Di2
Electronic shifting made the migration from road to MTB in 2014
The biggest story of the year has to be that of Shimano’s long awaited XTR Di2 transmission.While roadies have had the luxury of being able to choose electronic shifting for a good few years (provided their pockets could take the strain), dirt surfers haven’t had the option to go digital. Shimano says the XTR Di2 system offers faster, more accurate shifting. There’s also Syncro Shift – one-handed shifting through the ratios over multiple front chainrings. That could be a game changer.
Find out more in our Shimano XTR Di2 preview and Shimano XTR Di2 first ride. For those who want top-shelf Japanese shifting without the complication of electronics then Shimano's XTR M9000 mechanical groupset was also revealed and reviewed.
YT's Capra left a big impression on us, and on you too
One bike that made a big impression on us in 2014 – and earned full marks in the process, one of only a handful of mountain bikes to do so in the last couple of years – was the YT Industries Capra Comp 1.
With the Capra Comp 1, the direct-sell German brand has combined stellar performance and awesome kit spec for the price. In fact, our reviewer called it “The fastest, best value enduro all-rounder we’ve ever ridden, if you don’t mind DIY setup.”
Read the full YT Industries Capra Comp 1 review.
SRAM X1 took one-by systems to an almost sensible price point
Of course, 2014 has also been the year of the one-by, or rather, the continued trickle down of one-by systems. This is witnessed in the popularity of our first look at SRAM X1, which is opening up single-chainring drivetrains to an even bigger audience.
Read the full SRAM X1 first look.
Affordable upgrades that make a real difference
We highlighted the affordable mountain bike upgrades that make a difference in the real world
Upgrading mountain bikes isn't a cheap game at the best of times – and it's possible to spend large amounts of money on upgrades that will make next to no difference to your riding. We want you to avoid doing just that, and so earlier this year we put together an article listing the cheapest ways to make a real difference to your bike.
Manufacturers are still toying with wheel and tyre sizes
A lot of us are familiar with the 29+ concept, which adds wider, semi-fat bike rubber to 29in hoops, but our US-based technical editor Josh Patterson took a closer look into a new idea – 27.5+ – and discovered something that could well be the next big thing in the world of mountain biking.
27.5+ adds tyres that occupy a middle ground between two existing platforms: fat bikes, with 26x3.8in and (ever larger) tyres, and traditional mountain bikes, whose tyres generally range from 2 to 2.5in wide, to bikes using the halfway house 27.5"/650b wheel size.
Our team's favourite gear picks
This is the gear that the BikeRadar writers loved this year
This year our writers ‘got all subjective’ about the gear they adore and the reasons for their infatuations. From bikes to pedals and chainrings to pumps, there’s a bit of everything from our global team.
Check out all our editors’ picks.
Canyon Strive CF
Canyon's shape-shifting carbon enduro bike, the Strive
After seeing Canyon team riders such as Fabian Barel and Joe Barnes riding heavily guarded prototypes with cloth shrouds covering the suspension systems, we knew the German direct sale giant was up to something special.
Under the wraps was the Strive CF, a bike that features a new concept called ShapeShifter. It’s a relatively simple but effective way of adjusting geometry and suspension kinematics on the fly, switching between what Canyon calls XC and DH modes.