This month's Star Letter

This month’s Star Letter. A reader writes in: “to just exclude 27.5in bikes is crazy. All you have now is ‘29er Trail Bike of the Year’.”

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Lazy or crazy?

What have you done?! I chatted online last night to a few of my riding mates about Trail Bike of the Year and we all feel the same way. To just exclude 27.5in bikes is crazy. All you have now is ‘29er Trail Bike of the Year’.

We get your reasons, but if the best trail bike for actual riding is a 27.5in then it’s the best isn’t it, even if 99 per cent are 29ers? You even admit there are great 27.5in bikes out there. It’s like saying, “the best football team in the world is XYZ. We know ABC win the league and all the trophies but we excluded them as their players weren’t quite tall enough, and the trend is for tall players.” Wtf?

It almost feels like you’ve gone lazy, in fact, we genuinely do feel like you can’t be arsed, or have ulterior motives. Such a shame.

We’ve been reading your pages for years as you always considered all options, now it feels like your results are skewed. Between the 11 of us we’ve bought almost 20 bikes over the years based on these awards and loved them all. Currently I have a 27.5in that won a couple of years ago and a 29er that came out this year and I still prefer the 27.5in on most rides.

And finally, I feel sorry for those competing manufacturers who don’t do 29ers who you’ve just wiped out of the public eye. Even if their bike came third overall, you’re saying the 10th bike on the list is better. I actually think you have a duty to the industry to make things fair, I don’t feel your reporting is fair anymore.

Bring back the mix of apples and oranges urgently. You’ve totally lost our respect until you do, sorry. Gutted.

Nige Fleming

Ps. We get the split of direct sales versus shop bought – good idea, it makes it fairer. However, you still need to pick a winner – don’t sit on the fence.

mbr – Hi Nige. You’re correct when you state that we have ulterior motives for excluding 27.5in bikes from this year’s test… the main one being that we’re always trying to make it better. And while it is easy to assume that exclusively testing 29er trail bikes is plain laziness on our part, testing bikes that are more closely matched actually makes it harder to detect subtle differences and pick an outright winner. If anything, our job would be much easier if we just got a bunch of bikes with different amounts of travel, different wheel sizes and different price points for the test.

But as a regular reader, you’ll no doubt appreciate that’s not how we do group tests at mbr. We’re always trying to minimise the variables, which invariably means something has to give. This year it was 27.5in bikes. In an ideal world we’d have the resources to test both wheel sizes, shop bought and sales direct, but sadly we don’t. So we prioritise quality over quantity. And in continuing to do so we hope that you, and all of our readers, will be just as happy with any future purchases made on the back of our reviews as those you’ve made in the past.

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All Star Letter correspondents win a Madison Zenith waterproof jacket worth £99.99.