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The best mountain bikes for the 2020 season

August 13, 2019
The best mountain bikes for the 2020 season

There's plenty of exciting new bikes on their way for the coming 2020 season. Here's the best off-road bikes released so far, with plenty more to come don't forget to check back over the coming months for more exciting new releases.

2020 Trek Top Fuel

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More suspension, new geometry, old race genes: The new Trek Top Fuel starts with a new chassis as a versatile race full suspension bike with trail ambitions in the 2020 season. Continuing with the new "Downcountry" trend, the new Trek Top fuel comes equipped with more travel than before: with travel growing to 120mm up front and 115mm in the rear. As well as more travel the top fuel adopts the longer, lower, slacker trend with completely updated frame geometry. The Head tube angle slackens by 2.5° from 70 ° to 67.5 °, the reach increases to roomy 440mm for a size medium. In keeping with the downhill friendly updates, the new models also feature wider handlebars, shorter stems, dropper seatposts and a TwistLoc dual remote lockout. The new Top Fuel comes equipped with various levels of SRAM Eagle drivetrain, Bontrager tires and rims and Fox or RockShox suspension depending on model.

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Scott Gambler

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After quite a wait, the long standing Scott Gambler downhill mountain bike has been completely revamped for 2020. The new Scott Gambler 2020 is barely recognisable from previous iterations but has plenty of new technical features if you look beyond the updated aesthetics. The new Gambler is one of the lightest downhill bikes available (only 15kg with steel spring and aluminum wheels). As a complete bike, the Gambler will be offered with 29er wheels for the first time. However those who prefer the agility of a 27.5er, can easily retrofit the smaller wheel size with the Gambler's adjustable geometry. To this point, adjustability is one of the Gambler's unique selling points. As well as compatibility with 27.5" and 29" wheels you can also adjust the chainstay length, bottom bracket height and headtube angle via flipchips and adjustable headset cups. In terms of features Scott relies on a Fox Factory chassis with 200mm travel, SRAM X01 7-speed drivetrain and Code RSC brakes. The new Gambler also introduces an eye catching one-piece bar and stem combo designed to bring a sleek, integrated cockpit suitable for the toughest downhill applications.

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Specialized Demo 29

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Another downhill bike that has already proven itself on the world cup circuit is the long-awaited Specialized Demo 29. The legendary downhill bike from the Californian brand gets updated to 29" wheels for 2020 and with Loic Bruni already three wins in and leading the current DH World Cup season on this new bike, the new bike is clearly proven at the highest level. Barely recognisable from the previous generation Demo, Specialized have completely redesigned the new demo from scratch with a totally different suspension platform, optimizing every aspect of development with sophisticated prototyping - from expert rider feedback to thousands of data readings collected in the field. The result is in addition to the new 29er aluminium frame and a new FSR rear suspension with 200mm travel and an additional link when compared to previous versions of the FSR platform. While the suspension has received a complete overhaul, on the other hand, geometry has only received minor tweaks - Reach and steering angle have changed only minimally, The chainstays, however, have grown compared to the predecessor. The bottom bracket has been lowered by 25mm and the seat angle has become steeper with 76 ° to 77 °. The demo 29 is available in two build kits and as a frame set. For € 4,699 there is the Expert model, for € 6,699 the high-end variant with Öhlins suspension, SRAM X01 group and SRAM Code RSC brakes.

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KTM Sonic Scarp & Scarp MT

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Sonic Scarp

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Sonic Scarp MT

KTM has been digging deep to achieve the lightest weight possible for 2020 and presents the Sonic Scarp, a full suspension XC race machine weighing in under the 10 kilogram limit. 200 grams were saved at the frame compared to its predecessor and in addition, the new, curved down tube allows space for two bottle cages in all frame sizes. The well-known SLL rear suspension produces 95mm of travel in the rear, with a 100mm fork in the front. Like many other brands KTM are showing that XC bikes are not limited to the racetrack with a brand new Scarp MT version (pictured in the black Prestige Version) specced with increased travel and a more trail focussed build kit. Based on the same frame platform KTM squeezes and extra 20mm of travel in the front and rear with 115mm travel from the marathon version (MT) thanks to a new rear triangle and a longer 120mm fork. The headtube angle is slightly slacker in comparison, and dropper seatposts are equipped as standard on all MT models. Prices follow.

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Orbea Occam

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Orbea are definitely one of the early starters in the mountain bike season: With the Occam, the Basque company have made another completely redesigned bike ready for the coming 2020 model year. With 140mm of travel the The Occam is aimed at all mountain riding and should shine with in both fast downhill sections as well as extended climbs. A balanced suspension design and geometry draws the best qualities from the highly regarded the Rallon enduro bike and Oiz cross country bike. Compared to the previous version the bottom bracket of the 29er is a little lower, the headtube angle is more relaxed and the reach is longer. These geometry changes in conjunction with the asymmetric frame achieve a lighter weight and higher stiffness. Aluminum models start from 2.299 €, and from 3.799 € you get the carbon variant.

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NS Synonym

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NS have traditionally been a gravity focussed brand but for 2020 the polish brand enter the cross-country race and light trail category with a completely new model called the Synonym and quite a different approach to many other brands. Two versions will be available: The NS Synonym RC is aimed at XC racers with 100mm of travel front and rear. The synonym sets itself apart from other cross-country bikes with really extreme geometry and for an XC race bike it takes the long, low and slack theme to the extreme. With an extremely slack 67 degree head angle, massive reach (500mm for size large!!) and an expansive wheel base the Synonym is definitely aimed at racers who don't like to hold back on the downhills. The synonym TR, in contrast, is aimed at the Trail riders: with 120mm travel, an even slacker headtube angle and a shorter stem the TR provides an even more capable and confidence inspiring ride aimed at the aggressive short travel trail category. Dropper posts across all RC and TR models and remote lockout for both the front and rear suspension across all models reinforce the up and down capability of this new model. Prices for the RC model start at € 4,799 with the TR model available €100 cheaper at €4,699

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Santa Cruz Megatower

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While the Hightower LT has been a popular model for the Californian brand for several seasons, Santa Cruz's enduro racers have been experimenting with ways to eek that additional bit of travel out of the Higtower LT needed for top level enduro racing. Finally having already launched the new V10 downhill bike Santa Cruz bring to market the long awaited enduro ready long travel 29er with the new Megatower. A completely new model, the Megatower delivers exactly what we expect from Santa Cruz: with 160mm travel, carbon frame, VPP rear triangle, two flip chips and a hefty price tag of € 4,799 for the cheapest Megatower CR model. The Simply eye-catching design shares the basic silhouette of the latest V10 and Nomad with a low slung shock position, two flip chips, long low and slack geometry and ample room for a waterbottle in the main triangle. A progressive compression ratio, coil shock compatibility, chain guide, down tube protector and bashguard all hint the Megatower's big hitting capability. In true Santa Cruz style, geometry is up to date but not extreme with a 65 ° degree headtube angle, 76° seattube angle and 470mm reach on a size large bike although riders have the freedom to adjust the geometry slightly with the inclusion of adjustable flip chips and adjustable chainstay length. Taller riders will delight at the inclusion of an XXL framesize for the Megatower.

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Mondraker F-Podium Carbon

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The Mondraker F-Podium Carbon is a constant progression. Initially released as a prototype in 2017 and used on the worldcup circuit for two years without being officially released to the public. Finally released in shops in 2019 the boutique racer featured in our Mountain bike Highlights of 2019 but since then the F-Podium carbon has received further updates thanks to input from the Primaflor-Mondraker pro-team. The striking silhouette remains mostly unchanged but subtle changes have been made to the geometry. The seat angle is now even steeper at 76.5 °, the headtube angle is slightly slacker (from 69 ° to 68 °) and the reach even longer. The very short fork offset of 44mm should also ensure a confident steering feel in the increasingly technical XC courses. The Spanish company's well-known Zero Suspension System has also been adopted to provide efficient pedalling, braking and improved traction. The prices for the futuristic racer are between €4000 and a whopping €13.500 for the absolute deluxe version F-Podium RR SL incl. eye-catching Bike-ahead 5 spoke wheels (This model is limited to only 100 bikes).

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Scott Contessa Ransom 901

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After the new ransom hit the 2019 season like a bombshell, Scott pushes for the upcoming model year 2020 to include a Women's specific variant. the frame mirrors the men's version with the main changes being a specific colour option, specific components to fit the female body shape and a custom tuning of the damper. The Contessa Ransom will be available for the time being only in the 901 version with big wheels and in one color. 170mm of travel, 14.1 kilograms of complete weight and excellent features from SRAM GX Eagle on the latest Shimano XT brakes to women-specific Syncros components. The damper features three settings for the Fox damper, thanks to Twin-Loc. A flip-chip allows the driver to fine-tune the geometry and seating position.

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Specialized fuse

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Previously a 27.5+ only bike the Specialized fuse range gets its first major overhaul for next season. Now a great value trail shredding hardtail there will be 29" and 27.5+ options, and the geometry will be updated to make the Fuse longer, slacker and more fun. A Reach the increase of 20mm across all sizes shows the new fuze's fun loving intention. Standover height has also been reduced for more room to manoeuvre. A thicker down tube increases the rigidity in the bottom bracket, while the new seat stays support tire sizes of 29x2.6 "or 27.5x2.8". There's 3 models currently offered ranging from €1149 for the fuse 27.5, €1499 for the fuse comp and €1899 for the range topping Fuse Expert 29 equipped with a 130mm Rockshox 35 Gold Fork, SRAM NX Eagle drivetrain and Tranz X Dropper Post and Specialized's own brand 29x2.6 tyres. The fuse looks like a great value and exciting trail ready hardtail perfect for new comers looking for a bike they can improve with or more experienced riders looking for a fun winter shredder or a do it all bike to add to their fleet.

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Orbea Laufey

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Trail hardtails are in and like other manufacturers Orbea have updated their Laufey range to include more progressive geometry and more compatibility with multiple wheel sizes. The new bike is significantly longer and shallower than the outdated predecessor and has a generous 140 millimetres of travel on the front. Instead of 27.5 "wheels, the Laufey now rolls on the big 29er with a tire width of 2.6 inches. The Laufey is outstanding value for money with the entry-level model Laufey H30 available for just €1299. Another neat feature is that all models are fitted with size appropriate dropper post with 125, 150 or 170 millimetres depending on frame size.

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Orbea Rallon

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With the introduction of the brand new Occam the 2020 lineup, the Rallon has been subtly tweeked to be an even more refined enduro ready machine and to differentiate it from it's new little brother. An updated linkage design increases rear wheel travel from 150mm to 160mm and travel is increased up front with the spec of a 170mm fork. The updated linkage gives the Rallon and even more progressive suspension characteristic with a compression ratio going from 8% to 20% for this year. The aim for this was to provide more mid-stroke and bottom out support and to provide more composure and control in the roughest terrain, the bonus is even better compatibility with coil shocks. Still keenly priced with builds starting at €3,999 for a full carbon frame equipped with fox suspension and Shimano's new 12 speed drivetrain. With Orbea's MyO program you can also customise the build and aesthetics of your Rallon to meet your specific taste. The other great news is that owners of the older Rallon can purchase the updated linkage separately as a standalone upgrade kit (€249) to bring older frames up to spec with the latest model.

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Santa Cruz Hightower & Juliana Maverick

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Santa Cruz Hightower

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Juliana Maverick

While the release of the Megatower has attracted the most attention in the Santa Cruz camp, The Hightower also receives the new rear triangle, and VPP suspension layout mirroring the other models in the Santa Cruz line up. Geometry is also updated in the current flavour of lower, longer, slacker. Reach has been significantly increased, headtube angle is slacker and seattube is steeper to create a ride that is more capable on the ups and the downs. The geometry is also subtly tuneable with an integrated flipchip. In tandem a new bike has been added to Santa Cruz's Women's specific brand; Juliana. Called the Maverick, the bike is essentially identical except for the specific suspension tuning, paint and component spec. While the cheapest aluminium Hightower build starts from €3.399, the Juliana is only available in Carbon.

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Nukeproof Mega 290 WORX

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The Nukeproof Mega has been the stalwart in Nukeproof's lineup for close to 10 years. As ridden by Sam hill, and Irish national Champ Kelan Grant from the Chainreaction Cycles enduro team, Nukeproof have released this limited edition mega completely outfitted to the highest spec. The 170mm chassis in the WORX special edition receives a new lyric Ultimate Charger fork and a specially tuned Super Deluxe Ultimate RCT steel spring damper, the wheels are the DT Swiss EX 1501 Spline One's outfitted with Michelins latest enduro specific rubber. Available in incredibly limited numbers only 50 of these bikes have been released for purchase.

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Pivot Mach 4 SL

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The pivot Mach 4 has a colourful past behind it. Launched as Pivot's first 29er full suspension bike in 2010, it has since gone through a carbon variant, a 26 "offshoot and a 27.5" XC race version. For 2020, Pivot has completely overhauled the platform combining the best aspects of the old models into the new Mach 4 SL, a World Cup racer with 29 "wheels and a new frame that is supposed to be lighter, stiffer and, above all, significantly faster. Grams have been saved on the frame compared to its predecessor and has already been successful at the highest level. Geometry has been modernized for an XC bike with 120mm fork and 100mm of travel in the rear - slacker headtube angle and laonger reach numbers across all sizes draw inspiration from Pivot's latest generation of trail bikes. Perhaps the biggest news for the new Mach 4 is the inclusion of Fox suspension's new Live-Valve system - With a completely electronically controlled damper on the fork and shock, this intelligent system ensures riders are in the correct pedalling platform for the exact terrain down to every impact. This removes the need for a user controlled lockout system on the handlebars and aims to achieve maximum efficiency, control and comfort on varying terrain.


KTM Ultra Evo

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For trail-hungry MTB newcomers, KTM offers an Evo version of the well-known Ultra series for 2020. This is a sturdy, uncomplicated aluminum frame with 130mm fork in the front, Boost standard and extremely relaxed steering angle of 66 ° should be a confident inspiring option for new and more seasoned riders alike. The price is affordable for a solid build at €1.399.

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