Everybody wants to have the latest and greatest gear for the new season of any sport; mountain biking is definitely no exception. Every year top brands like Trek and Specialized offer their new lines of bikes with additions varying from a complete remodeling of the suspension triangle to just a new paint job. Sometimes a paint job is all that needs to happen; sometimes a model is so dialed-in, it’s like having your mom on speed dial #2. No need to change that. You’re a good son or daughter, right?
1. Specialized Demo 8 FSR, $4,400
This beast probably won’t even need to ride along the trail to get down the mountain! Specialized has partnered with Ohlins suspension to deliver an excellent bike, suspension combination. The Ohlins TTX 22m shock; “TTX is the only shock technology that truly offers low hysteresis damping performance. This translates into a ride quality of bump absorption and traction that is unmatched in our industry today. This performance gain is substantial and easily appreciated by the rider as straight line stability and corner speed improves dramatically. The shock uses Öhlins patented twin-tube design to separate compression from rebound, and has been custom made for only Specialized. The TTX also uses spherical bearings on the forward shock mount to allow the shock to rotate while the bike is under side-load, an advancement proven in the motocross industry by greatly improving cornering traction on rough terrain.” Basically, Specialized has taken their superbly designed Demo and added a top of the line suspension system used in off-road motor bikes. I’m really impressed! It even has spherical bearings to allow the shock to rotate for side-load.
2. GT Fury World Cup, $ Unreleased
GT has really changed this baby up. The chassis shares very little with last year’s model…and it’s all for the better. According to the designer Etienne Warnery, it’s 26% stronger on the head tube and about 50% more rigid at the BB. In case you’re a tired racer, GT threw in an Independent Drive suspension reconfiguration for more efficient pedaling. The dropouts are hollowed, and the Fury’s swingarm has pinch-bolts to keep your rear axle locked on (don’t want to lose that on a wall-ride!).
3. Giant Glory, $3,200
Giant went downhill…in the bad way, with the new Glory. Geometry will stay the same, but the suspension and components will not impress. The Domain fork on the 2014 is a downgrade from the Boxxer RC on the 2013 Glory. Even the Vivid R2 rear shock is lighter and more adjustable than the 2014 Kage R. Why is the Giant Glory 2014 on this list? Because the 2013 was an amazing bike and in the 2014 season, it will still be an amazing bike.
4. Trek Session 8, $4,200
“World Cup champion Session is proven to be the fastest downhill mountain bike. And with its amazing suspension, it’s the overall best downhiller the scene has ever seen.” That’s what Trek says anyways, and there are a lot of people who would full heartily agree. The well-performing EVO Link rear suspension linkage will be on the 2014 yet again. It’s a great system, and they made the right choice not to change it. Combined with the adjustable rebound and low-speed compression of the RockShox Boxxer Race with coil springs and you have enough suspension to roll over car sized boulders.
5. Kona Carbon Operator, $4,100
Kona is making a big push to make it big this year with the addition of the Carbon Operator. Rear travel of 200mm combined with a frame weight of only 7.29 lbs will make any riders mouth water. Seeing the bike will only create more riding hunger (the green and black version is one sexy piece of bike). It has all the stuff you want and none of the stuff you don’t: tapered head tube w/o aluminum sleeve, aluminum chain and seat stays, four-bar suspension layout, aluminum/carbon rocker arm, and nice easily maintainable large cartridge bearing at all pivots.