Last year saw us present our inaugural mountain and gravel bike of the year awards and 2019 sees us back for more with just a slight tweak to the format. We've picked out an ultimate mountain bike of the year here, with separate prizes for the best bargain, the benchmark bike and the desirable editor's choice award. Read on for our mountain bike awards and the reasons we think these bikes are so good....
Without wasting any time, let's get on with presenting the awards. We will start with our Benchmark Bike, following with the Bargain Buy, the Editors Choice and finally the Mountian Bike of the Year in 2019.
Benchmark Bike - Mondraker Foxy Carbon 29 RR
Our Benchmark Bike is the one that offered the highest level of performance outright - it's a bike that sets the technical and performance standards against which all the rest are judged and price didn’t even come into it. Think of it as the money-no-object dream bike.
Just like last year, this award goes to Mondraker, but this time for the Foxy Carbon 29 RR, a bike that our Jon sums up as a "superbly lithe and efficient long-travel trail bike". We reckon Mondaker deserve this win again as they are genuine class leaders in terms of bike design, pushing the boundaries and steering bike geometry in the direction we want it to turn.
In this bike Jon found confidence inspiring geometry, perky pedalling prowess and above all a capable machine that he says he'd take anywhere from all day rides to steep and tech. He still also really rates the Forward Geometry concept stating is still delivers the good when it comes to the bike handling although concedes it's not as radical as it once was with other brands following suit. When it comes to suspesion Jon says it feels taught and offers superb pedalling performance, both of these things coupled with a lithe carbon chassis and a mostly good spec offers a great ride feel.
Yes, it's pricey, we realise that and that is the reason that this bike only scored 3.5 stars out of five in the review. Remember though this is the money no object category so forgetting the cash, if we had it we'd splash it on this bike.
Bargain Buy - Rockrider AM HT100
The Bargain Buy is the bike that we feel gives the biggest bang for the least buck; basically picking a superb riding bike but with an emphasis on value for money.
The Rockrider AM HT100 was the undisputed winner here and that's really saying something as we've tested a lot of very reasonably priced bikes this year! This hardtail from Decathlon flew to the top of our shortlist, with its good geometry, a dropper post, excellent tyres and SRAM NX drivetrain.
As well as a great spec for the money the Rockrider get good geometry too, with numbers that are more relaxed than the usual "XC inspired" hardtails found at this price point. A 66 degree head angle sets the tone and although the reach was a tad on the short side for our tester, Dave, he says he didn’t feel cramped and longer climbs were dispatched in comfort whilst being fun to ride and easier to ride on technical terrain than many hardtails at this price
Dave says that it would be easy to pick apart the Rockrider AM100 but taken as a whole and considering the price, it’s a decent bike. He reckons that if his very first mountain bike had been half as good as this brand new Rockrider AM100, he would have been a very happy little boy.
Editor's Choice - Calibre Bossnut
A bit like our 'Best Buy' award from last year, the 'Editor's Choice' is a bike that, in our opinion, gives the best combination of performance and value for money. It's a bike that is not just a good bike for the money; it's a bike that's more than capable of shaming machines double or triple the price.
The winner of this award goes to the 2020 Calibre Bossnut, a bike that received 5/5 on test with updated to the frame and spec this year ensuring this version of the Bossnut us even more fun than its predecessors and even better value to boot.
The 130mm travel full suspension bike comes in at £1,300 (with Go Outdoors store discount card), for which you get a trail ready bike with at 1x 12 speed drivetrain, decent tyres and other well thought out parts. The geometry gets slacker and even more capable this and at 14.9kg (32.13lbs) we were pretty impressed by the weight. Ok, so it doesn't get a dropper and it's not got a Boost spacing front or rear, for that you'd have to stump up more cash and get the Beastnut instead.
Rach says she loves this budget busting trail bike, "its fun, it's upgradable and in its full suspension form it’s a great, accessible introduction to mountain biking".
2019 Mountain Bike of the Year - Calibre Sentry
The 'off-road.cc Mountain Bike of the Year' is quite simply the best mountain bike we have tested in 2019. It's a bike we can safely say is the best due to its great performance and good value for money. With this bike you don't just get a cheap bike, you get a proper bang for your buck and a shed load of trail prowess too. It's a bike that we reckon, should you drop the dollar on buying one, will last you a lifetime and will be easily upgradable when and if the time comes.
The 2019 winner of the 'Mountain Bike of the Year Award' goes to the Calibre Sentry, the 29er, long travel trail ripper from Go Outdoors brand, Calibre. It's a bike we think has re-written the rule book where budget bikes are concerned matching great geometry with a decent price and producing a bike that performs well out of it's presumed league.
At just £2,000 the 150mm Sentry gets a great spec to include a 160mm Rockshox Yari fork, a Rockshox Deluxe R shock dealing with bumps at the rear, a SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and powerful Guide RE brakes. If that's not enough to get you interested then the geometry might, this 2k bike gets a progressive 64 degree head angle, a 76 degree effective seat tube angle and a long 487mm reach on a size large (size small tested).
In her review Rachael said; "The Calibre Sentry will make riders and bike manufacturers rethink the rulebook where bike design and pricing is concerned. The geometry of this bike makes it a perfect platform for more aggressive riders and racers alike, it’s very well specced for the money and a bike you can jump on and ride straight away and have an absolute blast at the same time." With words like that, it was a clear choice to win our mountain bike of the year award.
Listen up gravel fans - yesterday we handed out the Gravel and Adventure Bike of the Year awards, check out this link for our top ten,
overal winner, plus the Bargain, Benchmark and Editor's Choice awards.
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