An avalanche of hot metal and fantastic plastic as we run through the most exciting bikes released recently for model year 2024.
We’re approaching the end of the year, and by now most manufacturers have launched their model year ’24 (MY24) bikes. What better time then, to run through some of the highlights we can expect to see on the trails next year? In no particular order, here’s MBR’s selection of the hottest XC, trail, enduro, and freeride bikes for 2024.
Nicolai Nucleon 16 €7,499
Want radical? Well look no further than the Nicolai Nucleon 16. It gets the innovative Supre Drivetrain with a rear mech tucked behind the dropout to keep it out of harm’s way. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also a high pivot idler design, which should give it five star plushness on rough alpine descents.
Compared to a gearbox (such as the Pinion), the Supre Drive system claims to enjoy reduced friction, offer excellent shifting under load, and a wide 510% gear range from the 12-speed cassette. It’s certainly madcap, as the chain tensioner is actually sprung and damped by its own shock hidden within the down tube, and the ‘derailleur’, in inverted commas, utilises just a single pulley wheel. Other features of note are the low standover height, five frame sizes and MX wheel compatibility.
In a market of increasingly homogenous designs, the Nucleon 16 is a whirlwind of fresh air.
Deviate Highlander II £2,666 (frame only)
There’s no Sean Connery in this sequel, but the updated high-pivot Highlander is an even mightier weapon to wield during big mountain insurgencies. Travel has been drawn out to 145mm, which is 5mm more than the old bike and 10mm more than we measured when we tested the Highlander v1.
Deviate also claims it’s lighter than the original thanks to a new carbon lay-up, without sacrificing any of that Celtic fortitude along the way. Updated sizing and geo includes a 2º steeper seat angle, zero point five degree slacker head angle, and longer reach. And for shorter riders there’s now the option of a small frame.
Rocky Mountain Slayer €6,900
Like a grizzled old vet’ in the corner of a dingy bar, Rocky Mountain’s Slayer ‘was there from the beginning, man’. The beginning of freeride, obviously, when it was the bike that launched a thousand hucks under the era-defining Froriders.
This latest iteration is available with either a carbon or alloy frame, both of which are certified for bike park laps and freeride shenanigans. Rocky retains its Ride-4 geometry chip and adds a two-position rear dropout design for ultimate flexibility. The bike is compatible with both MX wheels and full 29in set-ups, with smaller complete bikes getting the mixed wheel option and larger frames rocking the bigger hoops. A neat touch is that internal frame storage is now standard on the carbon frames.
All bikes get coil shocks and 180mm of rear travel, but special Park editions also come with 200mm dual crown forks for anyone aiming at that Red Bull Rampage wild card spot.
Cannondale Habit 3 £2,950
Divide and conquer; that’s the strategy with the new Cannondale Habit, where long travel, short travel, alloy and carbon frames all come together under the same broad umbrella. But the best bit about this updated trail bike is that prices start at just £2,100 for the Habit 4 alloy, making it competitive even against direct-sales brands.
This Habit 3 demands an £850 premium, but shares the same SmartForm C1 alloy frame, with 130mm travel, as the rest of the range. Want more oomph? Then the Habit LT uses the same frame but gets a burlier 150mm fork and longer stroke shock to boost rear travel to 140mm.
Proportional Response Suspension and geometry aims to keep the ride experience the same whatever your height and weight, and Cannondale has tried to ensure the bikes are as user-friendly as possible in the workshop, by speccing standard headsets, threaded bottom brackets and UDH mech hangers.
Devinci Chainsaw $3,899
Built to pay homage to DH legend Stevie Smith, a portion of Chainsaw sales goes to the Canadian racer’s legacy foundation. As you’d expect, it’s a bike built for logging air miles, slicing through tree-lined DH runs, and dropping the tallest of features, with a high-pivot idler configuration and 170mm or 180mm of rear travel being the technical highlights.
Run it as a full 29er or with mixed wheels. Dual-crown forks for DH or single-crown for enduro. Coil for ultimate grip or air for easy tuning and weight saving.
Norco Fluid FS C3 £4,199
Cop a load of the new Norco Fluid FS. Now available with a carbon front triangle, the lightweight front end is claimed to save 600g over its alloy counterpart. Looks rather stunning, all chiselled and bronzed, doesn’t it?
Yes, the stays are still alloy, and the travel hasn’t been touched at 130mm rear and 140mm front, but the Fluid is already an accomplished trail bike, making this weight saving the icing on the cake. Other things we like about the Fluid are that the shock specs are kept high-end throughout the range, so you don’t have to skimp on suspension performance. And Norco’s Ride-Aligned program means that rear centre lengths and seat tube angles vary with frame sizes, which helps riders of different heights achieve a more optimal weight balance and riding position.
Pole Vikkelä €4,490
It’s been ten years since Pole cruised onto the strip with its stretched limo Evolink. To celebrate this milestone it has refined its range to consist of six customisable models, all about as striking as you’d expect from the Finnish brand.
Alongside motor-assisted options, the Vikkelä mixes the travel and attitude of a downhill bike with the climbing position and go-anywhere versatility of an enduro bike – Pole calls it ‘downduro’, ‘cos MTB really needs another sub-category.
Like one of those stir-fry restaurants where you choose your ingredients, the Vikkelä can be anything you want it to be. Select 29in wheels front and rear, or go MX. Run a dual-crown fork up front for ultimate swagger, and match it with 190mm of rear travel. Or go for a single-crown and 168mm of rear travel. The choice is yours.
What doesn’t change is the head-turning CNC aluminium frame, radical elevated chainstays, and blinging annodised finish.
Commencal Meta SX V5 T-Type £5,899.02
Continuing Commencal’s long lineage of desirable trail bikes is this, the fifth iteration of the Meta. It’s still made from alloy, just like the original (even if Commencal did briefly flirt with carbon in the late-two thousands), but the new bike uses the Virtual Contact System. This employs short, counter-rotating links, rather than the old single-pivot design, and delivers a generous 165mm of travel.
With a low standover height, short, steep seat tubes, two chainstay lengths depending on the frame size, and mixed wheels, the new Meta SX looks seriously shredable – if that’s a word.
With over 30 gold medals under its belt, one would think Trek’s Supercaliber had found the ultimate recipe for XC success. But in order to stay ahead in a sport with an insatiable need for speed, Trek has teased out sufficient improvements in the original design to come up with an even better Supercaliber. And somehow Trek has resisted renaming it the Ultracaliber, or the Hypercaliber.
But while the name remains, the frame gains, now boasting an extra 20mm of travel at the rear for those gnarlier World Cup courses. There’s a new IsoStrut shock, too, from RockShox this time, giving Trek racers the ability to run the new electronic Flight Attendant system.
To make it a more capable handling rig, the reach has been lengthened, travel has been increased, and the head angle slackened. And the weight for the top of the range SL R 9.9 XX AXS? Just 9.3kg according to Trek.
Rose Scrub DC 1 €3,299
In the tradition of all good gameshows, here’s what we could have won if we’d stayed in the EU. Yes, Rose is one of the brands that has ceased to ship bikes to the UK post-Brexit, which means us Brits will have to travel to Europe to get our mitts on one of these rad new Scrub freeride bikes. Fortunately Rose has stores all over Germany, and a few in Switzerland, so you can click and collect, then head to one of a litany of nearby bike parks to get it bedded in.
The alloy frame is built tough enough to take either dual crown or single-crown forks, and it runs a mixed wheel set-up. Choose between coil or air shocks to deliver the 200mm of rear wheel travel, and there’s a progressive spring curve suitable for sending huge moto jump lines. While the Scrub’s 7-speed drivetrain and fixed seatpost makes it a shuttle-only option, at just €3,299 for the entry-level model, you should have cash left over for a few lift passes.
Ibis HD6 GX £5,699
Looking for something boutique that’s not a Yeti, a Santa Cruz, or a Pivot? Well how about the new Ibis HD6, an enduro bike from a brand with over 40 years of history in the sport.
The mixed wheel HD6 gets 165mm of rear wheel travel using a DW-Link suspension design. It’s compatible with coil and air shocks and comes in a generous five frame sizes. And in a nod to the original steel Ibis frames, you can choose your HD6 in one of three colourful paint options.
Merida Big.Nine TR 600 £1,400
The budget hardtail market has taken a battering recently thanks to inflation, so it’s always exciting when a new affordable option drops. This one is from Merida and it’s an aluminium 29er with a 120mm fork. The full Big.Nine range includes racy, XC options, with 100mm forks and carbon frames stretching price points to a heady £10k, but it’s the down-to-earth TR models that really float our boat.
Longer forks matched with slacker head angles bring sure-footed handling, while all models come standard with a dropper post. The frame includes a tool mount and two sets of bottle cage bosses, a SRAM UDH mech hanger and a nice, low standover height for maximum confidence.
At the other end of the travel spectrum, Merida has also launched a new version of the One-Sixty. It’s called the One-Sixty FR, and as the name suggests it’s primarily designed for bike park laps.
As such it gets 180mm travel up front and 160mm of coil-sprung plushness out back, giving the FR more of a bias to durability and heavy-hitting suspension performance over pedal efficiency and weight saving. Reinforcing that theme is the all-alloy frame, even down to the radical alloy flexstays. That keeps the price keen, with the top of the range model coming in at a realistic £3.5k.
But at 17.2kg, you’re going to develop some serious guns getting it on and off the uplift trailer.
Trek Slash from £4,250
No self-respecting hottest bikes rundown would be complete without touching on the new Trek Slash. A high-pivot idler design and mullet wheels have transformed this seminal enduro bike for 2024.
To help improve pedal efficiency and reduce drag, the new Slash comes with a larger idler wheel, and in a nod to practicality, Trek has incorporated internal down tube storage for all your trail essentials. With 170mm travel, five frame sizes, and seven models with frames in both alloy and carbon, the new Slash is more than just making up the numbers.
Orbea Occam LT and SL from £2,999
Orbea has shunned symmetry once again with the design of the new Occam. The Spanish brand’s trail bike offering still gets an offset frame reinforcement that gives left handed people a distinct advantage when it comes to staying hydrated.
To maximise the bike’s appeal, you can choose between LT and SL options. The SL gets 140mm travel front and rear, while the Long Travel model gains 20mm up front and 10mm at the back along with slacker angles. Adjusting the geometry is quick and simple thanks to an eccentric flip chip, and there are clever integrated tools and down tube storage to help you ride pack-free.
It’s a handsome looking steed, and one that you can really make your own using Orbea’s MYO customisation program.
Mondraker F-Podium from £6,299
On the subject of Spanish brands, we also need to shine a spotlight on the new Mondraker F-Podium. The old was one of the first race bikes that really punched above its weight on rowdy trails. But the new version looks even spicier, with a revised frame layout, updated Zero suspension system, wafer-thin top tube, slacker head angle and 10mm extra travel out back.