THE TEN BEST TRAIL BIKES FOR 2024

From climbing to descending, these all-around versatile mountain bikes can shred on almost any trail

THE TEN BEST TRAIL BIKES FOR 2024

Trail bikes need to be versatile and capable machines, both uphill and downhill. They are designed to handle anything from a quick afternoon flow ride to all-day epic pedal missions and everything in between.

 

KNOLLY ENDORPHIN 6.0

Featuring an all-new design and frame aesthetic, Knolly aimed to improve on all aspects of the Endorphin lineup over the previous generation. The Trail version of the Endorphin 6.0 has dedicated mixed wheels to keep things agile and 135mm of rear-wheel travel, along with SuperBoost (12x157mm) spacing for the rear wheel. Cables are routed through the head tube (not headset routing) on the aluminum frame, and there is now an extra-small option to help suit riders with a shorter inseam. With a 29-inch front wheel, the Endorphin 6.0 is spec’d with a 140mm fork, a 64.5-degree head tube angle, and chainstays that grow from 428mm to 436mm. There is a flip chip at the lower shock mount that allows for a Neutral or Slack mode, slightly altering the geometry to prioritize either agility or stability.
Price: $2,499–$5,499
Contact: www.knollybikes.com

YETI SB135

Yeti Cycles has been a staple in the high-end mountain bike community since 1985 and show no signs of slowing down. There’s a dwindling desire for 27.5” trail bikes, but Yeti isn’t letting them fall with the tide. Their new SB 135 has now replaced the SB 140 27.5”, bringing with it all of Yeti’s most recent innovations in suspension and geometry. Yeti always marketed the 27.5” SB 140 as a bike meant to hit every transition and jib every feature and with the SB 135, that mantra hasn’t changed one bit. The SB 135 has a 14% progression rate and Yeti paid more attention to the tune on the Fox Factory Float X to help that 135mm of travel to be as smooth as possible. Even with only 135mm of rear wheel travel, Yeti spec’d a 160mm travel Fox Factory 36 fork with the GRIP 2 damper to lead the charge. Fpr all the details and ride impressions, check out our long term review of this super fun bike here.

Price: $6,000–$10,000

Contact: https://yeticycles.com/

 

CHROMAG DARCO

Building on over 20 years of knowledge and experience hand-crafting hardtails, Chromag Bikes designed the Darco to draw upon these roots and become a “hardtailer’s full suser”. The 120mm-travel frame is built from 4130 chromoly steel, with the linkage being made of 6061 aluminum, and it is spec’d with a 150mm fork, though a 140mm or 160mm can be used depending on the terrain you ride. A slack 64-degree head tube angle is paired with a fairly steep 78-degree seat tube angle, making this an effective climber and descender on paper. It is available in five frame sizes, with longer-than-average reach numbers ranging from 450mm to 530mm.
Price: $3,450–$5,860
Contact: www.us.chromagbikes.com

 

FORBIDDEN DRUID

Forbidden Bikes took their highly successful first-generation Druid and made it even better for the second generation. Built to be a modern and capable carbon trail bike, it is designed around 135mm of frame travel with their high-pivot Trifecta suspension system and a 150mm fork, with either dual 29-inch or mixed wheels. Forbidden specs three different build kits with either SRAM’s GX or XO Transmission along with a frameset option. There are four different frame sizes to choose from, with the reach numbers growing from 440mm to 500mm with a 65-degree head tube angle and 77-degree seat tube angle. The Druid is truly a versatile machine capable of racing the Enduro World Cup under Rhys Verner to an afternoon at the dirt jumps.
Price: $3,799–$8,899
Contact: www.forbiddenbikes.com

 

TREK FUEL EX

Now in its sixth generation, the Trek Fuel EX is built to be more capable than ever with more suspension travel and more adjustability. While it comes with dual 29-inch wheels on all builds, the Mino Link allows for a mixed-wheel configuration without the frame geometry being affected, and a flip chip at the lower shock mount lets the rider alter the progressivity of the rear travel. The Fuel EX is built around a 150mm fork and 140mm of frame travel with the ability to run up to a 160mm fork for more aggressive riding and can handle an air or coil shock. Aftermarket headset cups allow the head tube angle to be slackened or steepened by a degree from the neutral 64.5 degrees. The effective seat tube angle slackens slightly across the six frame sizes, from 78.6 degrees on the XS to 76 degrees on the XXL, and chainstay length grows proportionally from 435mm to 450mm.
Price: $4,999–$10,999
Contact: www.trekbikes.com

 

CANYON NEURON

From multi-day bike-packing trips to afternoon party laps, the Canyon Neuron is built to be the ideal all-rounder. It is available with either an alloy or carbon frame with 130mm of travel and a 140mm fork. The 66-degree head tube angle and 76-degree seat tube angle make this an efficient pedaler and agile descender, and the chainstay length sits at either 430mm or 440mm depending on the frame size. The cable routing goes through the headset, with tube-in-tube internal routing to protect the frame and keep rattling to a minimum. Canyon offers the Neuron in five different frame sizes and four different build kits to suit a wide range of riders and riding styles.
Price: $2,099–$4,999
Contact: www.canyon.com/en-us

 

NORCO FLUID FS C

The aluminum version of the Fluid received high praise for its versatility and performance out on the trail, so Norco made this same platform with a carbon frame. They built it to be a durable all-around trail machine, emphasizing that the Fluid wants to have fun just as much as it wants to go fast. The 130mm of rear-wheel travel is custom-tuned to maximize small-bump sensitivity while still being a supportive and progressive platform for bigger hits, and there is a 140mm fork up front. The frame is available in four sizes and has a Universal Derailleur Hanger, which is compatible with SRAM’s Transmission system. The head tube angle sits at 65 degrees, while the effective seat tube angle is between 76 and 77 degrees, depending on which size you are on. Check out our review of Norco’s Fluid FS A1 here to get an idea of how the Fluild FS C might perform.
Price: $2,599–$5,999
Contact: www.norco.com

 

DIGIT RING

Digit bikes shook up the industry when they launched their Datum frame design with its integrated analog rear shock and domestic manufacturing ethos. All frames are designed and manufactured in Southern California by the man himself, Tim Lane. The shock is really a strut since it is designed to take on side loads like the stanchion and leg on a fork. The newest offering from Digit Bikes, the Ring, brings this same design and philosophy into a shorter-travel trail package with 127mm of rear travel paired with a 140mm fork and 29-inch wheels. There’s room for three water bottles on the frame and a straight seat tube, which can accommodate virtually any length dropper post. The claimed weight for a complete bike is approximately 30 pounds, depending on the components used.
Price: $10,895
Contact: www.digitbikes.com

 

TRANSITION SMUGGLER

Transition insists that the Smuggler is the “go-to bike for any trail pointed up, down and all around,” and on paper that seems to fit the bill. They integrate a fairly progressive leverage curve to get the most out of the 130mm of rear travel, and a 140mm fork is burly enough for aggressive riding yet efficient enough for long days in the saddle. Five different frame sizes allow the Smuggler to fit riders from 5 feet to 6-foot-8, and there are four different complete build kits to choose from, with either an alloy or carbon frame, along with a carbon frameset option. All frame sizes have a 65-degree head tube angle, and the effective seat tube angle ranges from 79.3 to 77.3 degrees depending on the frame size. For more details see our first look story here.
Price: $3,699–$8,499
Contact: www.transitionbikes.com

PIVOT SWITCHBLADE V3

Pivot’s third-generation Switchblade is set to build on the model’s reputation as a do-almost-anything mountain bike. According to Pivot, the new model excels in an even broader range of terrain and that’s saying something because it’s that versatility that MBA test riders have loved ever since the model was first released in 2016. At a casual glance, the new Switchblade frame does not look all that different from the V2 model. Its carbon front and rear triangles have very similar lines and shapes overall but the top tube is a bit thinner. A significant update on the frame comes in the form of new geometry. In the low flip chip setting, its head angle is .8 degrees slacker at 65.2 degrees, the seat angle a half-degree steeper at 76 degrees, and the reach is about 10mm longer. Perhaps the biggest update on the new Switchblade comes in the form of all-new suspension kinematics. Wheel travel is still the same at 142mm but it now features a longer lower link that is more like what you see on the Firebird model. For more details, check out our first ride impression story here.
Price: $2,199–$10,799
Contact: https://global.pivotcycles.com

 

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