Next week, on Tuesday 9 April, What Mountain Bikewill reveal their 2013 Trail Bike of the Year, setting the benchmarks by which our testing team judge bikes throughout the year.
This year, we’ve got a shortlist of 25 bikes fighting it out for 10 top spots. The WMB team threw their net wide open on price to start with, for as complete a picture of trail bikes today as possible.
However, the top 10 soon evolved a ceiling of £3,000 (roughly US$4,500) as value matters: £2,500 (US$3,700) is a clear sweet spot for hi-tech, low-compromise kit that makes the most of the frames before the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
What mountain bike trail bike of the year 2013
The WMB Trail Bike of the Year 2013 will be announced shortly
With so many different variations and approaches to the ‘ultimate’ trail bike, the test team had to decide just how you truly define one. The first point was easily settled: concentrate on bikes that make the most of recent technological advances, so hardtails were off the roster straight away.
Then the arguments started about how much suspension qualifies as trail territory, with bikes such as the 160mm front/140mm rear Mondraker Foxy XR breaking the agreed-upon 150mm ceiling, and several 100mm 29ers proving themselves brilliant and race-fast.
Weight limits were also hard to finalise, with the team wanting to bear in mind the importance of rider preference. While 30lb seemed like a reasonable cut-off point for all-day, hilly adventures, some people don’t care how fast their bike goes as long as they can enjoy descents.
In terms of wheel size, the Trail Bike of the Year shortlist sees 29ers battling it out against 650b bikes and 26in wheels, with each category offering distinct pros and cons.
Must-haves, though, were tapered front ends, screw-thru axles and post-mount rear brakes, with recognition room for handy futureproof features such as chainguides.
Twenty five bikes are in contention for the trail bike of the year 2013 title: twenty five bikes are in contention for the trail bike of the year 2013 titleRussell Burton/Future Publishing