The latest issue of MBR is out now, and as ever it’s packed full of inspiring ideas and routes to help you find new places to get out and ride. Here’s what you’ll find inside MBR September 2023.
On the cover
The Best mountain bikes under £1000
Buying a good quality hardtail is often the first step on a rider’s MTB journey. And to ensure that you set off on this amazing adventure with your best foot forward, we’re always tweaking our Hardtail of the Year test in search of the best performing bikes for the money. Pre Covid the meant a bumper hall of everything on the market below £1,000, post Covid it was whatever we could get our hands on.
With that in mind, we’ve shuffled the format of the test once again. For 2023, all of the bikes in our Hardtail of the Year test are from direct to consumer brands. So in theory that should mean there are more killer bikes on test and way less filler. We also have two price points; £600-700 and £900-1000, with an even split of four bikes in each category. Inflationary pressure, effectively wiping out our longstanding £500 price point.
So we have eight of the most competitively priced mountain bikes on the market right now. All have aluminium frames, suspension forks, self-adjusting hydraulic disc brakes, sturdy 2-piece chainsets, and short stems and wide handlebars for maximum control. Some even have dropper seat posts, so you can adjust your saddle height on the fly to match the terrain, which is simply amazing. In short, these bikes should have none of the pitfalls that instantly raise red flags on entry-level bikes.
And direct to consumer doesn’t have to mean that your bike arrives on your doorstep in a big cardboard box, even if all of the bands in this test offer that service. Voodoo and Carrera are both from Halfords, which has over one thousand stores nationwide, so you can try the bikes for size before you buy.
AL – aboard
Plastic might be fantastic if you’ve got pockets deeper than the Mariana Trench, but for those of us on more realistic budgets, alloy frames are hard to beat. Which is why the new wave of aluminium e-bikes is music to our ears.
We highlight four of this great value breed, all rejecting the complexity and labour intensive manufacturing of carbon in favour of a frame material that has been serving mountain bikers humbly for the last forty years: aluminium. Yes, this non-ferrous metal might have the atomic number 13, but if you’re looking for maximum bang to buck, it’s your lucky day. Privateer, Vitus, Trek and Intense all have new aluminium e-bikes with up-to-date geometry, plenty of power and range but at keen price points.
Manon Carpenter may have retired from downhill competition, but her new role as a trail advocate is achieving results far beyond the race track. Back in 2013 MBR described Manon as ‘a storm-force blast of fresh air.’ While she’s moved from successful racer to passionate trail advocate, filmmaker and conversation facilitator that statement still very much stands and her winning streak continues.
Today Manon is in the public eye for the work she has done bringing attention to subjects that mountain biking has often shied away from. Manon, in partnership with filmmaker Tommy Wilkinson, has produced two films; Trails on Trial and Winds of Change. Both take a look at some big issues, namely land access and climate change.
Sweat and slate
We ride 140 miles through Snowdonia on Cycling UK’s newest and gnarliest long distance trail, Traws Eryri.
North Wales is the birthplace of UK trail centres. It’s where Coed Y Brenin first introduced us all to a purpose built and waymarked mountain bike route back in 1996, and since then the area has seen an ever-growing collection of centres and trails, all well maintained, signposted and graded to suit every skill and fitness level. This is all very well, but Wales is surely bigger than manmade trail centres?
Cycling UK has the perfect solution in the Traws Eryri, a new long distance route though the Snowdonia National Park from Machynlleth up to the coastal town of Conwy via some of the area’s best trail centres. The 200km (125 mile) ride has around 4,700m (15,420ft) of climbing and is the sixth long distance cycling route to be launched by the charity. Unlike Cycling UK’s other long distance routes though, Traws Eryri is no place for gravel bikes…
Bikes and gear
We give you our initial thoughts on two new e-bikes this month, one full power model and one from the new wave of lighter ‘diet’ machines.
The Relay is Transition’s first lightweight ‘diet’ e-bike, using Fazua for the power with 160mm travel at both ends. All wrapped in a cleanly designed carbon frame.
Cannondale has been in the e-bike game for a good few years but it was high time we took a ride on one of its latest Bosch equipped bikes. How does the Moterra Neo Carbon 2 stack up against our benchmark full power e-bikes?
PB introduces his new ride, a Canyon Spectral:On with Shimano’s latest EP801 motor. Updates on Ben’s Scott Genius, James’s Pivot and Sean gives his final verdict on the Sonder Signa ST before handing it back.
Group test: Bars and stems
A sorted cockpit gives you the confidence to fly down the trail and the control to help you avoid crash landings. We put the latest offerings from Deity, Nukeproof, One up, Race Face and Renthal to test.
Giro Merit Spherical helmet, Gusset S2 grips, Fasthouse Trace Tech Tee and Crossline 2.0 shorts, DMR Stage 2 saddle, 100% Glendale glasses. All reviewed and rated by our team of experienced testers.
Bikes in this issue:
- Calibre Line T3-27
- Cannondale Moterra Neo Carbon 2
- Canyon Spectral:On CFR
- Carrera Fury
- Jamis Highpoint
- One Scandal SX
- Pivot Firebird Pro
- Polygon Xtrada 5
- Scott Genius ST 900 Tuned
- Sonder Signal ST GX
- Transition Relay Carbon GX AXS
- Vitus Nucleus 29 VR
- Voodoo Bizango Pro
Havok Reigns! After a long hiatus, slight relocation and a whole lot of digging Havok Bike Park is back.
Technique: Listen to your friends (sometimes!) In part one of ‘Best Advice’ Andy Barlow helps you sift out the genuine nuggets of useful advice.