Our sister publication What Mountain Bike recently put no less than 28 of the best mountain bikes to the test for its Trail Bike of the Year Awards, and along the way the test team noted some interesting things in the development of bike tech for 2016. Combined with their already impressive knowledge, plus a dash of insider info here and there, technical editors Jon Woodhouse and Tom Marvin share with us the biggest trends and forecasts for mountain biking in 2016.
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The main trends they've pulled out involve wheel sizes – 27.5, 29 and of course plus-sized – groupsets and changes to geometry.
- SRAM dominated Shimano by a 60/40 margin on the Trail Bike of the Year finalists. It may be a case of being forced to catch up to SRAM as a result of pressure from the market, as 1x increasingly becomes the norm.
- On a related note, the front derailleur ain't quite dead... but it may be on life support. Several of the bikes tested had Shimano's updated Side Swing front derailleur, but it's likely this will become an increasingly rare sight.
- The new Boost 148 axle size doesn't seem to have grown as fast as expected, with many trail bikes still featuring older standards. But it's likely this will change as bike companies update their frame designs.
- Bike geometry is progressing, but few brands are going to Mondraker-esque lengths just yet. It's more a little increase to the reach here, a little more slack on the head angle there, but nothing revolutionary.
- 29ers are getting more grrr, thanks to more versatile geometry built around the larger wheel size, stiffer wheels thanks to the Boost axle standard and the presence of RockShox' popular Pike forks up front.
If you're thinking of buying a new mountain bike this year, this is essential viewing!