THE TEN BEST BIKES AND GEAR OF 2023 – MBA EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARDS

The best of the best

2023 MBA EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARDS

2023 was an exciting year full of innovative new products and bikes. There were so many, we had a hard time settling on a final list, but a select few stand out and rise above the rest, earning a call-out from the MBA editors and wrecking crew.

PIVOT SHUTTLE SL

Weight is a major separator in overall ride feel and performance between mountain bikes and electric-assist mountain bikes. Even with some stiff competition, particularly from Trek, the Pivot’s Shuttle SL gets us closer to a regular mountain bike feel out on the trail than any other ebike we have ridden. Fazua’s drive unit features a surprisingly powerful motor combined with its 430-watt battery for many smiles per mile and one of the most fun electric mountain bikes we’ve ridden this year. It sets the standard for the lightweight eMTB category. Read our long term review here. And see how lightweight electric mountian bikes stacks up against a full powered versions in our comparison video here.

IBIS HD6

What we think about when riding an enduro bike is balance in both climbing and descending. The Ibis HD6 is an excellent balanced bike that complains little on the ascents and allows its rider to nail each corner, rock section, jump, and chute with composure. The suspension is both supple and supportive, meaning traction and small-bump absorption are at a premium while not sacrificing big-hit resilience. This bike has us impressed to the point where we have multiple wrecking crew test riders conspiring to buy the bike even from the first ride. Watch our video review here.

 

SRAM EAGLE TRANSMISSION

Drivetrain technology has evolved slowly over the years, with the last big innovation being the switch to 1x systems. SRAM has pushed the needle once again with the introduction of its Eagle Transmission drivetrains. The shifting smoothness under power and ease of setup is unmatched. You give up shifting speed, and not everybody loves the shifter layout, but for most riders, even those who despise batteries, the pros far outweigh the cons. See our long term review here.

MAXXIS FORECASTER TIRES

Maxxis took its wet-weather race tire and morphed it into what has quickly become one of our favorite all-around trail tires. The Forekaster is fast rolling and offers predictable grip across a wide range of conditions. It’s light enough to add front-end grip to an XC bike and has low-enough rolling resistance to give an all-mountain bike a boost of speed as a rear tire. Where they really excel is right in between those categories, making it the perfect all-around do-anything trail tire and one of our new favorites. Read our long term review here.

YETI SB135

It’s hard to find a bike that doesn’t have at least a 29-inch front wheel these days, as most brands see the dedicated 27.5-inch wheel-size bikes as a dying breed, but Yeti perseveres. The SB135 has everything we could want from a 27.5-inch steed, bringing excellent climbing performance with smile-inducing playfulness that keeps you reminiscing about the ride long after the day is over. It’s a bike that’s just as comfortable on bike-park jumps as it is on your local city trails with its sharp handling and surprisingly stable platform. We never missed a side hit on this bike and always wanted more when we were finished. Check out first ride impression video here and our long term review here.

SPOT RYVE

More than one MBA wrecking crew test rider was caught off guard by just how good Spot’s Ryve is. It’s the epitome of the modern cross-country bike with ultra-crisp pedaling performance and efficiency married to a surprisingly capable appetite for descents. The Living Link leaf-spring-style lower pivot seems like it won’t do anything different from a standard one, but there’s definitely some magic going on with the design. This 115mm-travel cross-country bike was one that really wowed us and stood out among a lot of truly impressive bikes we tested this year. Read the full review and watch our video here.

REEB SST

We have one editor in particular who absolutely fell in love with the Reeb SST. He raves about its technical abilities and all-around excellent performance wherever he would ride it. The steel frame damped trail chatter on rough descents and brought a pleasant spring to pump tracks and dirt jumps you can’t quite get from alloy or carbon. Its weight was a non-issue when climbing with its simple yet efficient suspension system. It was surprisingly capable and always fun making this bike worthy of “dream bike” status in our minds. Read our long term review here.

 


AMERICAN CLASSIC VULCANITE TIRES

American Classic’s Vulcanite tires surprised us from the moment we touched the tread to dirt, even feeling confident enough to compare them to the significantly more well-known and accepted Maxxis Assegai. Sure, they’re heavier than the Assegai, but they performed similarly in all situations we put them through at about half the price. This is a tire we continue to swap from bike to bike with the idea of pushing the bike to its limits while testing. We have full faith in these tires and will happily recommend them to any rider we come across. See the full review here.

RESERVE 30 SL AL WHEELS

The winners of our value-wheel shootout continue to impress us with their overall performance, style, and durability. The real kicker is that the 30 SL AL wheels come with the same lifetime warranty that Reserve offers for its carbon wheels. With a winning combination like that, it’s really hard to justify the few hundred-gram weight savings by going carbon unless you’re building the ultimate dream ride. Even then, we’ve ridden these wheels on high-end builds and didn’t miss the carbon hoops one bit.

7MESH WTV

We’ve heard all sorts of wild claims over the years about magic fabrics that promise cold resistance while moving sweat away from the body. While some have gotten close, none had actually delivered on this promise until we tried 7Mesh’s WTV apparel. This wonder material moves moisture like nothing else we have ever tried. Even under hard anaerobic efforts where sweat is often a problem, we stay noticeably drier and warmer while wearing these pieces than with anything else. One test rider likes the Chilco Anorak so much that it has become his favorite new top for skiing. None of 7Mesh’s apparel is inexpensive, but it has become our most worn piece of gear in cold, dry conditions and a true advancement in apparel technology. Check out the full review here.

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