Mountain bikes are very capable and versatile things these days, and a decent long-travel trail mountain bike — or ‘enduro’ bike, if you prefer — should be able to turn its hand to almost any type of riding with very little compromise.
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And that’s the category MBUK has focused on for its inaugural Bike of the Year test. Bikes with between 150 and 170mm of suspension travel at a maximum price point of £3,000 have battled it out for the prestigious title.
This price bracket was chosen to be as inclusive as possible. Too low and half the bikes available would be ruled out, too high and the cost would become unrealistic for most. Setting an upper limit at £3,000 meant that just about every major brand and the majority of key bikes in this category could be included.
Team MBUK testing for Bike of The Year in Punta Ala
The bikes were ordered back in September 2016 and of the 30-odd requested, 20 actually made it. You’ll notice that the test is missing bikes from Devinci, Saracen, Specialized and Transition, among others, who just couldn’t deliver bikes to us on time for the test. Thankfully, those included are some of the best available.
Size-large samples were requested — and that’s mostly what was supplied — so that MBUK and BikeRadar’s entire test team, from seasoned DH racers to amateur enduro riders, could throw a leg over them to provide the most rounded feedback possible.
They have then spent the last six months riding each and every one in the harsh and unwelcoming conditions of a typical British winter. They’ve fiddled with set-ups, debated the relative merits and flaws of each and had countless discussions as to which they think has performed best.
Testing at Bike Park Wales: before heading to Italy we put in countless hours riding on home soilSteve Behr / Immediate Media
And after some final exhaustive testing in Punta Ala, Italy — where the trails were drier, faster and even more brutal — the unforgiving terrain exposed weaknesses in some bikes while allowing others to flourish, and we finally came out with a winner.
You can find out who won MBUK’s Bike of the Year along with reviews of all 20 bikes on test in the new issue of MBUK on sale 29 March. And keep an eye out for our reviews and videos here on BikeRadar, too.
The logistical challenge of transporting the whole team and the bikes to ItalyAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
Staff writer Ed and features editor Al sample the Punta Ala dirtAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
Tech editor in chief Rob Weaver was the man in charge of testing all the bikes. Here he puts the Canyon Strive through its pacesAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
Art editor Jimmer railing the Trek through a set of Italian switchbacksAndy Lloyd / Immediate Media
Staff Writer Ed is a downhiller at heart but has been riding bikes of all types since a young age. He’s raced both nationally and internationally in downhill and enduro and has spent several summers living in The Alps and Canada, riding, roadtripping and living the dirt bag lifestyle. He’s also an avid trail builder and has scraped out numerous steep and technical lines in the woodlands of his native North Yorkshire. These days Ed will happily turn his hand to any discipline and he says that the sign of a good week is when every bike in his shed ends up muddy by the end of it.