From Specialized to Santa Cruz, here are 11 refreshed bikes mbr's Editor, Danny Milner, expects to see released this year.
As mbr’s Bike Test Editor already pointed out in his article predicting five new enduro bikes due for an update in 2024, you don’t need to be able to read tea leaves to make a pretty accurate guess of what new bikes are coming down the pipeline. You simply need to look back through the news archives at what models were released when. Anything that last saw an update in 2021 or earlier is likely to be on the road map for a relaunch.
And while the bike industry is not in great shakes now, major brands find it very difficult to take their foot off the development gas pedal, as they’re locked into production cycles and model year cycles that were decided during the heady peaks of Covid, when anything with two wheels could be sold at full price without even lifting a finger. A few brands may have backed off, but even those more agile brands still need to keep up with the Joneses or they’ll be left behind at the tills when demand picks up again.
Making it even trickier for brand managers is that there are so many model categories in mountain biking that ranges are becoming out of control and difficult for consumers to navigate. Covering every possible travel and wheel size application is an impossible task for all but the biggest brands, then throw in the need to offer analogue models, full-fat e-bike options, and the growing mid-power sector, and it’s enough to make your brain melt. So, while lots of models will be updated this year, it’s likely we’ll also see some completely new models emerge, and quite possibly a few bikes quietly disappear from ranges as well, as brands attempt to streamline out-of-control model line-ups.
So, that’s my top line view of what we’re going to see happen over the next 12 months, but what about the specifics? Here’s are some key brands and models I expect to see revamped in 2024:
Specialized Demo, Enduro, Stumpjumper Evo and Turbo Levo
As you’d expect from a brand with the motto ‘innovate or die’, Specialized has some of the shortest model cycles in the industry. And the most obvious release coming down the pipe is the new Demo. Seeing as it’s been in very public development for a couple of years under Loic Bruni and Finn Illes.
I expect the production model will use a full carbon monocoque front triable rather than the lugged tube construction used for the development bikes, but that the funky UBB suspension layout will remain. I have no doubt that it will cost a pretty penny, but I’m also sure that won’t stop it being one of the hottest and most lusted over DH bikes ever made.
Leafing through the archive, the Enduro is now four years old, the Stumpjumper Evo is three and a half years old, and the Turbo Levo is nearly three years old. Which, in Specialized terms, makes them antiques. So my money would be on at least one of those bikes getting a major refresh this year. Possibly all three.
Will the Enduro get a version of the UBB system from the Demo? Will the Turbo Levo get the SRAM motor? Will the Stumpy Evo lose the Sidearm frame design to align itself with the new Levo SL? My hunch is yes to the last two.
Santa Cruz Blur and Bullit
Santa Cruz’s XC flagship race rocket, the Blur, came out in June 2021, and may well get an update in time for the Olympic Games this summer in Paris. It’s unlikely Santa Cruz will rejig the frame to run the shock through the seat tube, as that’ll add too much weight, so I don’t expect the design to change dramatically, but we might see some subtle geo tweaks and changes to the carbon lay-up to save grams.
The Santa Cruz Bullit is also three years old, so while it was a pivotal e-bike for the boutique brand, it’s a model I’d guess is due a refresh in the not too distant future. Will Santa Cruz stick with the Shimano motor? Or will it switch to a SRAM or Bosch unit? My guess is a SRAM motor.
The most obvious candidate for a makeover at Trek is the Rail e-bike. Although it had a couple of minor updates in 2022, the bare bones of the Rail are now four years old, and in the e-bike world, that’s a lifetime. So I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a new Rail emerge in the next 12 months.
It might get similar styling to the Fuel EX-e, with sharper styling and more adjustability. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trek replace the side-entry battery compartment with a fully enclosed down tube where the battery slides in from beneath. And in terms of motors, I reckon the Rail will stick with the Bosch CX system as it’s popular and proven.
YT Izzo and a new diet e-bike
Turning our attention back to analogue bikes again, the next model due for an update is the YT Izzo. This down-country model delivers a scalpel-sharp ride, and sleek good looks, but it’ll be four years old in July. And with lightweight, capable trail bikes becoming increasingly relevant as longer travel riders gravitate towards motor-assistance, the Izzo could well be honing its blade for a relaunch. There’s potential for YT to move to a flexstay design to save weight at the back end, and reinvest that weight saving into internal frame storage like that just released on the Jeffsy.
YT is also missing a lightweight e-bike model to complement the full-fat Decoy. So maybe there’ll be a newborn duckling hatching in 2024. Probably with a TQ or Fazua motor and travel and geo based on the Jeffsy.
Canyon lightweight e-bike
Likewise, Canyon is another brand conspicuous by its absence in the lightweight e-bike market. And being that the direct-sales behemoth likes to plug every niche going, I’d be surprised if it didn’t have a diet model on the calendar for release in 2024.
With the Paris Olympics on the horizon, I expect a pack of new XC bikes to be jostling for gold this year. The Scott Spark, so successful in the hands of Nino Schurter, will be nearly three years old by the time the starter’s pistol is fired, so I’d be surprised to see him on the current bike. No doubt Scott will keep the Spark’s hidden shock, but we could see the Twinloc remote removed in favour of a wireless electric system, such as Flight Attendant. And Scott’s engineers will also have been hard at work trimming any excess fat they can find from the already lean chassis.
Nukeproof Mega and Reactor
Nukeproof’s future is currently uncertain owing to CRC/Wiggle being in administration along with parent company Signa Sports. But I’m quietly confident that a buyer will be found and Nukeproof – and Vitus – will survive into 2024. If that happens, new versions of both the Nukeproof Mega and Reactor trail bike could be coming our way.
The Reactor was our best trail bike in 2020, and the current Mega launched not long after. For the Reactor I see more modern sizing and geo in our crystal ball. For the Mega, any revisions are harder to predict. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see internal frame storage appear on one or both models.
Merida Ninety-Six and eOne-Sixty
A fresh XC bike could be on the menu from Merida, as its Ninety-Six racer came out in 2020. Ditto the brand’s eOne-Sixty e-bike, which was also launched in 2020.
Yeti DH bike and 160E
It’s no secret that Yeti has been developing a DH bike, probably for Richie Rude’s return to full-time downhill racing, so there’s a slim chance we might see that come to market this year. But what’s more likely is that Yeti will update the 160E. Now three years old, I think it’s unlikely that Yeti will abandon Shimano as the motor supplier, given the long partnership between the two brands. But maybe we’ll see a third party battery employed to boost the range, a shorter seat tube, and maybe a mullet option.
Calibre made a welcome return to the market last year, and the brand went straight to the top of our hardtail charts with its Line T3 27. I hope that the next big release for the brand is the pioneering Bossnut, a bike that redefined the performance of budget full-suspension bikes. It’s been missing from the affordable options for a few years now, and although brands like Vitus and Polygon have filled the gap admirably, we’d love to see some more choice in the sub two grand category.
For that price, we expect Calibre to keep it simple, maybe update the sizing and geo a touch, but the key at this level is to make sure the suspension is well-tuned and the price is competitive. All the other aspects of the old bike were totally on the money already.