With 2018 officially in the rearview mirror, we’re taking a look back at the Mtbr posts that drew the most attention during the last 12 months. Not surprisingly it was a mix of hot new bikes and tech, buying advice, and a few untimely crashes (and near misses) that led the way. Here’s a round-up of Mtbr’s Most Read Posts of 2018.
Buying Advice for Bikes and More
Leading the way in 2018 (as is the case most years) were a handful of posts aimed at helping you the consumer sift through the noise and find the best mountain bikes and mountain bike gear for your needs. That included round-ups of the Best Mountain Bikes Under $3000, Best Mountain Bikes Under $2000, and, you guessed it, Best Mountain Bikes Under $1000. Also drawing lots of attention were posts on the Best Bike Racks for Mountain Bikers, Best Mountain Bike Helmets, Best Mountain Bike Saddles, and a round-up of the Best New Flat Pedals. If there’s one takeaway here, it’s that there are a ton of great products on the market right now — and you don’t have to take out a second mortgage on your house to get some of it.
New Bikes From Yeti
For several years now, Yeti has had a passionate trail/enduro bike following thanks to its widely acclaimed Switch Infinity suspension design that really does deliver the best of both worlds in terms of uphill pedaling performance and rough-and-rowdy downhill capability. But the Colorado bike maker always took a hit for the lack of water bottle space inside their frame’s main triangle. That all changed in 2018 with the launch of the new Yeti SB130 and SB150 (the numbers corresponding to amount of rear wheel travel) which both have space for liquid carrying where it should be. Yeti also pushed the boundaries of new-school geometry, steepening seattube angles to 77 degrees while slackening out the front ends to 65.5 and 64.5 degrees respectively. Both bikes were much loved by Mtbr testers with the Yeti SB150 receiving a 4.5 out of 5 rating, while the SB130 scored a perfect 5 out of 5.
Shimano 12-Speed XTR: What You Need to Know
Arguably the most important product launch of 2018, Shimano finally got into the 12-speed mountain bike drivetrain game with the launch of its latest (and potentially greatest) XTR groupset. The headline was the jump to a true wide-range 1x system that boasts a monstrous 10-51 cassette (take that, SRAM). But the real game changers may end up being the near-flawless shifting performance and essentially silent rear hub. The new set-up also delivers superb brake modulation, tighter gear steps where it really counts, and overall what our Mtbr review called a high functioning drivetrain that delivers new levels of precision — and silence — along with the requisite wide gear range that’s come to define the modern mountain biking experience. Let’s just all hope that the big news in 2019 will be the launch of a more affordable XT version.
Tire Talk and More Tire Talk
Tires are always a popular topic on Mtbr and 2018 was no exception. From news about new tread patterns to long term reviews on performance and durability, we posted numerous stories about the one piece of equipment that touches the ground when you ride. Among the most popular were this explainer on how to choose the right mountain bike tire for your needs, a deep dive into the realm of plus tires and what their current status is within the wider market, and an extensive look at the massive (and wildly popular) Maxxis mountain bike tire line-up. Finally in 2018, Mtbr published an expansive cross-country tire shootout with multiple reviews on key offerings from the top manufacturers. Here’s the First Look post that outlines which tires were tested and how we tested them.
There’s an old saying in the TV news business that, “If it bleeds it leads.” You could apply this same logic to the MTB world, where no one likes to crash but everyone can’t avert their eyes from a good (and occasionally gruesome) crash video. Two of the most popular in 2018 were this breakdown of how not to ride steep drops (with accompanying example) and this insane video of a rider narrowly missing getting hit by a deer only to see the deer get nailed by a car coming in the other direction. Warning: This video is not for the weak of stomach.
Massive Bike Theft
It seems that everyone loves a crime story — and that includes the mountain bike world where this post detailing the heist of some 164 Rocky Mountain bikes from a container that was on the grounds of the bike maker’s North Vancouver headquarters drew many thousands of eyeballs. The 160 bikes were all brand new 2019 models, which if you use a conservative estimate of $3000 per bike, adds up to $480,000. Let’s hope they caught the bums. Bike thieves suck.
E-Bikes are Here
Love them, hate them, or reside somewhere in between, E-Bikes were a constant source of mountain bike news in 2018. Nowhere was that more evident than with the launch of the new Specialized Turbo Levo, which was developed in part by a team of 19 engineers. What they came up with is a 150mm travel 29er based on the new Stumpjumper. This new e-steed is also significantly lighter than the old Specialized Turbo Levo and has much-improved battery capacity. You can learn much more in the Mtbr First Ride review — and be sure to check out the accompanying video below. It was definitely one of the best marketing efforts of 2018.
Which were your favorite Mtbr posts of 2018? Let us know in the comments section below.