Winner: Trek Slash
To win Mtbr enduro bike of the year honors, you have to do something a little different and separate yourself from this very crowded field. Trek did just that with this newest Slash 29er that sports 150mm of rear travel. Focused on going fast and winning races, Trek made some hard choices by not trying to meet all demands. They determined that it had to be carbon and had to have 29er wheels to put forward their best effort in the category.
It is stiff, rivaling Trek’s Session downhill bike in many measures. The key to the Slash’s lateral rigidity is a huge carbon downtube that does not bend or contort to meet the head tube. Instead it goes in a straight line with no size reduction, producing the strongest and lightest bond possible. But the fork can hit the downtube in this configuration, so Trek developed two key technologies in the headset and on the downtube to avoid any damage to fork and frame.
Geometry is aggressive, with a 65.6-degree head angle, which is very slack for a 29er. The 1187mm wheelbase for a medium bike almost matches the Trek Session, and the 434mm chainstays are short for a bike with 150mm travel that allows 2.6″ tires. The bottom bracket, which sits at 13.5”, is low but not too low to pedal through rocky descents.
We rode this bike at the Whistler Bike Park and truly felt on top of the world. No other bike we’ve tried combined confidence-inspiring descending with agility and pedaling prowess. This truly is a big bike for big terrain — down and up.
The top end 9.9 model is perched at $8000, and the 9.8 version is at $5000. We particularly love the 9.8 with its carbon frame, RockShox Lyric fork, Super Deluxe rear shock. SRAM X1 drivetrain, and well designed Bontrager wheels and dropper post.
Runner Up: Evil Insurgent
Among Mtbr’s 100-plus forums, one jumped up 10-fold in traffic the last couple years, the Evil Bikes forum. Most of this surge can be attributed to a new crop of bikes including the Insurgent. This new 27.5 fun machine is the follow-up to the beloved 26-inch Uprising. Like its predecessor, rear suspension duties are performed by Dave Weagle’s Delta System. This modified single pivot design has a dual-leverage rate curve and allows the geometry to be adjusted via flip chips in the linkage. Head angle is a devastatingly slack 65.6 degrees — or 64.8 in slack mode. And it all works incredibly well with revolutionary geometry that descends and climbs with superb efficiency. The full carbon frame is available in S, M, L and XL. A frame with shock will set you back $2,800, while complete bikes start at $5,300.
Honorable Mention Part I: Specialized Enduro
The Enduro is a special bike indeed, with its chameleon-like 29er, 27.5, and plus versions. We’re also enamored with Specialized’s 2.5” Butcher tires, which help make a great bike even better. Price for a blinged out S-Works version is $8500, but the Comp model with 1×11 and dropper post checks in at reasonable $3200.
Honorable Mention Part II: Yeti SB6c
This bike has a cult-like following and with good reason. It pedals and descends with conviction. Plus it is quite a looker, with beautiful lines topped off with Yeti’s signature color. And if further testimony was needed, team rider Richie Rude took on the world’s best and won his second straight Enduro World Series title aboard this capable steed. Price is $4800 for the Shimano XT/SLX mix, and $10,600 for the loaded SRAM Eagle spec version.
This post is part of the Mtbr Best of 2016 awards series. You can see all this year’s announced winners here.